Tuesday, December 9, 2008


This is the first of a series of blogs that I am going to write up that center around definitions of ideas.

fea-ture. noun, verb, -tured, -turing.
1. a prominent or conspicuous part or characteristic: Tall buildings were a new feature on the skyline.
2. something offered as a special attraction: This model has several added features.
3. Also called feature film. the main motion picture in a movie program: What time is the feature?
4. any part of the face, as the nose, chin, or eyes: prominent features.
5. features, the face; countenance: to compose one's features for the photographers.
6. the form or cast of the face: delicate of feature.
7. a column, cartoon, etc., appearing regularly in a newspaper or magazine.
8. feature story.
9. Archaic. make, form, or shape.
–verb (used with object) 10. to be a feature or distinctive mark of: It was industrial expansion that featured the last century.
11. to make a feature of; give prominence to: to feature a story or picture in a newspaper.
12. to delineate the main characteristics of; depict; outline.
13. Informal. to conceive of; imagine; fancy: He couldn't quite feature himself as a bank president.
14. Older Use. to resemble in features; favor.
–verb (used without object)
15. to play a major part.

It is easy to get caught up in the discussion around mechanics and methodology, but I think it's the canon and campaign features that hold the most interest for me. One of my first blogs was on canon, and I will be expanding on canon in a future blog. For this discussion, I want to focus in on features. What is featured in your campaign? The question for me is, what will I feature in my campaign? I am not referring to geographic features, although that clearly falls into the definition, but rather what special rules will be present to give the campaign flavor that would other wise be lacking. Some folks call these house rules, but before I design house rules, I want to define a style of play, and then add house rules to help bring that flavor out. When one just looks at the mechanics of play, they are devoid of flavor. Its up to the designer/GM to breathe flavor/fluff into the game. In some instances, the fluff goes beyond description, and becomes a feature of the game.

In my last campaign game, I added Hero Points to give the players a feeling that their characters were not just any old character in this world, but rather that they were special and they were called to be heroes. The game started out with the call of the hero, as I had an off scene NPC send them a note asking for help, implying that this was bigger than what they were doing before. Hero Points were a feature of that campaign. As a mechanic, I tried to keep it simple and balanced, but I wanted this to be more than just a mechanic. I wanted a resource for the players to manage, that would give the players a heroic feel to their characters. All in all, I think I was successful. They were used, and they were fun. For my next campaign, I will again use Hero Points, but I do want a different feel to this game than what was present before.

For my next campaign, I am looking for a slightly different style of play. As my last campaign centered around characters being heroes, I want this adventure to center around the characters as treasure hunters. I liken them to an Indiana Jones type character, rather than a point of light hero. It’s a bit more than just a subtle difference. I want to create a sandbox adventure, with the emphasis on the characters deciding whether they want to explore or they want to play the role of the hero. Its up to them.

With that in mind, there are a couple of things I am going to house rule:
1) Characters get experience points for treasure found. This re-enforces the feeling of characters as treasure hunters. I will probably end up discounting experience points through combat in order to balance the two out. The net effect should be the same, but I am hoping that this will influence play.
2) Hero Points will work a little different. In stead of the characters being "heroic' in nature, they are more "lucky' or "experienced," and the Hero Points will reflect that.

In addition to the items listed above, I am thinking about adding corruption points into the mix. My rough idea will be to have corruption points count against wisdom. When wisdom - corruption <0, then bad things happen to the character. I like a dark, gritty fantasy, and the characters will come into contact with items possessing a dark nature. The players then have the choice to use the item or not use the item. However, there is a penalty for using a corrupted item. It’s a spin on how much do you want to evil magic items knowing that it does give you power, but there is real penalty involved, not just a fluff penalty. I am still thinking about the mechanics on this. The goal is to keep it simple, and yet give the players a choice on the how much to use these corrupted items. There will be trade offs that they will need to consider. I am hoping that this creates a gritty feel to the campaign. This will be a featured item in my campaign.

As a final though on this, one of the reasons I started this blog was to figure out how to add a bit of old school into a new school system. I do consider Pathfinder to be new school, but I think I can create an old school feel, using this rule set. While the mechanics maybe new school, I want the features to be old school.


Sham aka Dave said...

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Dave Bowman

Mr Baron said...


Many thanks! As they say in China 非常感谢. I really appreciate it.