Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Cost of Living & Downtime Activities

Finding ways to bleed cash from PCs has been a fairly standard struggle since D&D began. If you're not careful they'll have piles of it!
The main things I'm doing are giving people better healing rates if they pay for a place to stay, and giving them the ever-popular option of frivolously wasting their money in exchange for exp.

And so -

Carousing and Philanthropy prices and tables here
The "Mead &Mayhem" referred to in the Carousing effects table is this rather excellent product - http://www.rpgnow.com/product/141550/Mead--Mayhem


The Cost of Living

LotFP's equipment list differentiates between four different levels of food, drink and five different qualities of lodging
5e has no less than seven available lifestyle levels, ranging from lowly squalor to lording it up with the toffs.
And really, who cares? It's all fluff, and if there's one thing I can be certain about when it comes to PCs it's that they won't spend a single coin if they can get away with it.
I once had a player say that he was eating dog food for the rest of his life because it's a fraction of the cost of standard rations in Labyrinth Lord. That's the kind of people you're dealing with here.

So I made better sleeping conditions mean better healing, and cut the choices down to an easily graspable set of three tiers.
- Vagrant is living in a bin
- Comfortable is living at an inn
Splendid is living like a king

The costs are different based on whether you're in a village, town or city.

The main mechanical difference is healing.
Vagrant is even worse than default LotFP crappy healing rates and healing to full health might mean weeks of recovery at higher levels. Not so bad if you're good at Bushcraft because you can live in the woods and catch rabbits.
Comfortable is the standard room at the inn or sleeping in a barn option. 0 to full health in 3 nights.
Splendid is best. 0 to full health in a single night. Stay another night and you get a bonus HD-worth of health.


Vagrant: This is what you're doing when you're hunkering down like a hobo or living in the woods.
Gain your Bushcraft score in HP.
If you try this in big cities you can get flogged for vagrancy. Pass a charisma check every night to avoid getting flogged within an inch of your life.

Comfortable: This is standard lodging in inns and people's houses and stuff. You can manage a Comfortable night's sleep if you've got a tent and hot food (read: cooked standard rations) in the wilderness.
If you've got no health, gain 1 HP. If you've got less than half, heal up to half. If you've got more than half, heal up to full.

Splendid: Five star accommodation, baby! This is staying in the best place in town and living in style. Peasants look at you in envy.
Splendid living heals you to full in a single night! Now that's some cushy living! If you've already got full health, you get an extra HD-worth of bonus health. Extra HP above max wears off at the end of the day.



Downtime Activities

It's been more than 5 years since the famed Mr Rients invented carousing, ending an age of people getting drunk for no reason. Since then, many adventurers in my campaign have pissed away in a night more money than your average joe makes in a year.
Hell, even 5e has Carousing now.

Keeping people poor via downtime activities is remarkably easy, and so I've recently expanded and codified my available activities into the following:
- Carousing. The classic. Swap a random amount of hard-earned cash for experience points, and maybe accidentally make interesting things happen.
- Philanthropy. Give your money away to the needy. Swap a specified amount of hard-earned cash for slightly less experience points, and maybe have good things happen.
- Investment. Risk your hard-earned cash on investment opportunities where you might earn more cash. Make your money work for you!
- Banking. Just put your hard-earned cash in the bank for a small but reliable return and the knowledge that your money is as safe as it can be in these troubled times.
- Construction is so you can make your own house to live in and store all your loot! Amazing.
- Magical Research. Spend your hard-earned cash on spell research, transcription, scroll-making, and all the rest. Something of a gamble if you rush it.

So Carousing. 1:1 silver-to-exp exchange, spend a random amount of money depending on the size of the town you're in. Since you already got exp for claiming the loot from dungeons, carousing effectively doubles your exp per coin. Hurrah!
The downside is, of course, that you could get yourself into all sorts of interesting trouble.
Your Wisdom modifier applies to the Save vs Poison to see if you get in interesting sorts of trouble.  You might think if would be Constitution, but a wise man who can't hold their drink knows when to stop.
It's also worth +10% exp on the weekend because I enjoy the idea of people saving up their cash for a big weekend blowout.

While Carousing is pretty excellent, sometimes people go "oh I don't think my character would get trashed" or "I don't want to spend a random amount of money" which is fair enough.
For gentle flowers such as these, Philanthropy is available.
It's like carousing, but you have the possibility of good side effects (amazing!) and you choose how much you spend. As a downside, you only get 80% of the value as exp.
There is a minimum spend based on the size of the town because a huge act of charity in a podunk village doesn't even ping the social radar in a big city.
Your Charisma modifier applies to the roll on the Philanthropy effects table.

For those who want to make their money work for them, Investment opportunities are available. All is as per LotFP standard, save that your investment is calculated monthly. Considering the general pace of my game, a year is way too slow.
I make people invent what they're investing in because it means they might be able to influence their investments via their actions.
You'll have to travel to wherever your investment is to pick up your earnings, of course, unless you've made other arrangements.

If you want something safer than Investment, you can put your money in the Bank. It's reliable and gives you a steady 2% p.a. interest rate, compounded monthly. Yes, I have a spreadsheet for it. No, I do not actually use it for my own finances.
If your character dies you can withdraw your cash with another character. A 10% death tax applies, but your new character is going to be way better off than the usual handful of coins you start with.
Conveniently you'll find a bank in any big city, making it an easy way to keep your savings safe as you travel across the land. The Knights Templar are my "no look it totally has a historical basis" defence of this policy.

Construction is because getting a castle and minions to lead is pretty Classic, I've never had it happen in a game yet, but the option is there.
They'll have a choice between choosing something off the 5th ed stronghold list, in which case it'll be a fairly generic example of the form,  or they can DIY it off the ACKS list and thereby customise it.
Domain-level play unconsidered at this time, especially since early modern Europe wasn't exactly big on the feudalism.

Finally, because it definitely fits into Downtime activities, Magical Activities are as specified in the LotFP book.
Everything as per LotFP baseline because it works out fine in play.
The best thing about Magical Activities is that they present a natural (and player-chosen) way to skip the timeline forward, meaning all sorts of crazy stuff can happen in the interim. The way things usually work out in the game so far, it's the Magical Activities that really dictate how long people hang around and carouse for. While the wizard's up in the tower his friends are wasting all their money in the town below.


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Snakes and Ladders: Nature's Pursuit Mechanic

This is a simple one, but so good.

Behold, the game board of OS&L (That's Original Snakes and Ladders to you plebs).


Basic idea:
- It's Snakes and Ladders, everyone knows this game.
- Your encumbrance dictates the die you roll.

That's it!

Die Sizes
Going by LotFP's 5 encumbrance tiers:
1d12 - Unencumbered
1d10 - Lightly Encumbered
1d8 - Heavily Encumbered
1d6 - Severely Encumbered
1d4 - Overencumbered

Just eyeball monster based on their movement speed.
Zombies pursue at d4, Wolves pursue on a d12.
Spiders pursue on a d30 or something. They're faster than speed.

In general you don't have to outrun the bear, just the other guy.



Other issues (You know how your game works and can work it out as you go along, but here's what I've been doing)

- Each square equates to about 10' of movement. If it's a dungeon, give the old "left or right?!" whenever people run far enough to reach an intersection/door. It's generally assumed that people are fleeing (and pursuing) towards the most obvious exit point. Also useful when it comes to ranged weapons.
- Fleeing people roll first, then pursuers. Animalistic pursuers fall upon the first person in their path, more intelligent pursuers might leave one of their number to tie up prey and keep chasing.
- People can run in either direction. This might come in handy if they're running back to save a friend.
- If you roll low/high or hit a snake/ladder, feel free to invent why that happened. "I tripped on a tree root!" or "I scampered up a tree!" are opposing examples.



Unexpected but welcome effects of using Snakes and Ladders to model pursuit

- Everything is fucking chaos in the first round of pursuit. Things start to even out once the laws of averages begin to assert themselves and people get into a rhythm.
- Everyone understands what's going on, even newbies.
- People can evade via snakes and head back towards the starting point, splitting the party in a way that feels natural.
- Big groups are less likely to escape easily than small groups. Some idiot is going to roll a 1 as they try to escape, and suddenly everyone else is wondering whether they should run back to help.