10 October, 2012

More Ghostbusters adaptation: Brownie/Fate/Luck/Hero Points

In the Ghostbusters game, Brownie Points serve four purposes: they allow you to increase the chances of success when you attempt something, you can spend them to save your butt if you're in over your head, you mark them off when you take damage, and you can turn them in to increase a Trait, so they're also kind of like experience points.  
Ghostbusters doesn't focus around physical combat, so marking off Brownie Points for damage works well there.  But how well will it work when combat is a more important part of the game?  Ghostbusters start with twenty Brownie Points.  I've never played the game for more than a few sessions concurrently, with the same characters, so I don't know how often advancement, or Trait increases, is liable to take place over a long period of time.  For a short-term game it shouldn't matter as much, but if you get into a heap of combat and run out of points, your chances of advancing are slim.

So another question that comes to mind is: how important is advancing your character?  Well, I expect it's going to depend at least in part on how difficult you make things.  With starting stats (12 points distributed over four Traits, none higher than four), the most dice you'll naturally get to roll is seven (if you're attempting something that falls under your Talent in a Trait with a score of 4).  Brownie Points notwithstanding, as every BP you throw lets you roll an extra die (and makes it a little less likely you'll be able to trade in thirty points for a Trait point later on).  With the Skull Die's six equalling zero, seven dice nets you a minimum of 7 and a maximum of 41.  Not  being much with the statistics I'm unsure of quite how to work out the most likely set of numbers from a roll like this, but the average value between 7 and 41 is 24.  Difficulties are unlikely to be higher than 20 unless you're trying to do something really hard (and probably suicidal) at least at early stages.  And again, it's hard to really track what the PCs' abilities will be because the players can spend Brownie Points to add a die.  So if the party thief wants to climb a particularly slippery and sheer cliff face to avoid Certain Doom (TM) in the form of a horrible, slobbering monster he woke up trying to steal the Gem of Unparallelled Beauty, he can always toss in a few extra Points to help ensure he won't fail (fickleness of the dice notwithstanding).  But the spending of Brownie Points will always be tempered by slower advancement.  I suppose that's the choice, then.  If you play it safe (and we're adventurers here: risk-taking is one of the prime requisites, is it not?), you may gain some Trait points more quickly than Mr. I'm Stealing The Biggest Treasure Guarded By The  Biggest Monster over there.  But he might wind up with the Biggest Treasure, while you've gained in ability, which serves to give you a better chance to gain some Big Treasure of your own later on.

So how important is advancement to your average player?  Is it possible to have fun and not become level twenty-seven billion in two months' play?  I think so.  But it still bears thinking about and discussing and testing.  Once I get this thing cobbled together I'll likely play out a mini  beta test on my own.  Just to see how many Brownie Points get spent in the course of exploring that weird old temple outside of town...

09 October, 2012

You characters got no class! Classlessness in the adapted Ghostbusters system

The GB system is classless -- in the original game all the PCs are Ghostbusters, 'nuff said. But you could build characters that lean toward some of the archetypes by putting points in appropriate Traits: Muscle/Strength for fighters (maybe also Moves/Dexterity if you're more acrobatic or swashbucklery), Brains/Intelligence for wizards or other scholarly types, Moves/Dexterity for thieves, and, well, I'm kinda down on clerics these days. Sorry, clerics, it's nothing personal. But a healer type could be cool, and if you sock some extra points into your Cool/Charisma Trait, you can calm panicking people or something. 
So rediscovering magic spells: maybe anybody can try to cast spells. Even Joe the Fighter, who has trouble remembering which end of the spear points at the bad guys (Brains/Int 1). Note that if Joe tries to cast even a Rank I spell, he's gonna have to nail it, 'cos with only one die you get to roll the Skull Die alone, and the most you can get on that is a 5. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should necessarily try. But this classless thing would eliminate the sometimes annoying effects caused by class abilities. Wizards can't wield swords, fighters can't spellcast, etc. Probably, as noted above, they oughtn't, as a spellcaster with a Muscle/Strength of 2 isn't going to be of much good in a fight with a six-pack of burly beastmen.

08 October, 2012

Spellcasting in the adapted Ghostbusters system

In the Ghostbusters system everything you try to do (beyond normal mundane things like tying your shoe -- unless you're playing a three-year-old) is given a difficulty number.  You roll the number of dice in the related Trait and try to equal or beat the number.  Why not so with spells?  So my spellcaster  has a Brains/Intelligence of 5.  Let's pretend I have a list of spells, divided into ranks by their relative power.  To steal some from D&D, a Magic Missile might be a Rank I spell, a Fireball a Rank III.  Just for a baseline test.  So I'll decide, at this early juncture, that Rank I spells are difficulty 5, Rank IIs are 10, and Rank IIIs are 15.  Now my spellcaster wants to cast Magic Missile.  Or: let's give it a different name like ... Arcane Bolt.  I dunno.  So I roll five dice, including the Ghost/Skull Die, and I get a 12, with a 4 on the Skull Die.  That's more than 5, so it's a success.  The spell goes off, and the nature of the spell means it automatically hits its target.  No Skull, so yay for me -- no complications or other things that will help my opponents.  But what if later I try a spell I barely know, or maybe one I've just learned recently from a musty old scroll I brought back from an adventure -- Claddadh's Thundering Inferno, a Rank III spell.  So my target number is 15.  Again, I roll four dice plus the Skull Die.
Uh-oh, I rolled a six on the Skull Die, which is the skull. It counts as zero and means I'm due for trouble, regardless of whether I succeed.  The rest of the dice total ... exactly 15.  Whew.  So, in the course of my first attempt to cast this probably ancient spell, I barely manage to keep it from burning out my cortex and instead it burns my enemies.  But wait: I rolled the Skull too.  The GM lets me know that the thundering ball of fire does indeed incinerate my degenerate foes, but also catches the old chest in the corner of the room, which, being it was actually an incredibly rare sculpture made of highly flammable but valuable material once used by some people who are all dead now, this probable archaeological treasure goes up in flames, destroying it and whatever nifty secrets it may have contained.

I think it's workable.