23 July 2010

Testicular Fortitude Is What Drives Us!

An idea from this blog post:

In summary: Fantasy heroes, even theives, don't scavenge bronze coins from the bottoms of wells, or pry silver filigree from carvings in old temples, instead preferring to steal ancient priceless artifacts and great gems.

An old, unfinished system I once drafted had levels based on how much fame your character had amassed and had increasing power levels based on exactly how much Rank you had, where Rank was the numeric signifier of your fame/infamy. It encouraged heroes to go forth and brag about themselves, and do accomplish goals that were just difficult enough to get people to notice them; in other words, to seek out challenges. It was the only way to gain experience and to become ever more powerful.

As an example, a common man could gain rank by, for example, helping defend his town against barbarian slave raids. He would have a little bit of recognition, but not much, but if he kept on track, then he could continue gaining prestige and power and maybe become a local celebrity.

On the other hand, if Odysseus stole a couple of gold from a beggar, nobody would much care. It wouldn't add to his fame in the least- the man had already blinded a cyclops and slain harpies and braved the song of the sea nymphs and all sorts of other interesting goals. It's simply not important enough to be part of his legend after his death. If anything, it'd decrease his fame, as people would say, "Oh, yeah, he tells people he's a big hero, but I saw him bully money out of some homeless drunk. What kind of hero is that?"

It makes for egotistical and self-centered adventurers, and certainly changes the style of the game from penny-pinching theives into Greek style heroes who don't have any problem telling people exactly who they are, where they come from, and why they're here.


  1. "Are all men from your time loud mouthed braggarts?"

    "Just me, baby, just...oh, no, you're right, we all are."

    I like it. Might be kind of hard to peg to solid game mechanics though. Maybe if using the Arneson carousing rules for XP for gold?

    Definitely something to think about.

  2. It's true that solid mechanics are hard to get right, since it is such a subjective system. Still, I think it's at least worth considering. After all, there has been plenty of work put into how much experience one gets from defeating creatures of X strength and stealing Y amounts of gold while acheiving Z quest goals, so maybe it's just a question of looking at it a little more obliquely than usual.

  3. Cool ideas - definitely along the lines of what I was thinking about.