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...

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