Monday, September 9, 2013
Player Characters and their “Bench”
A while back I wrote how I would love to have a campaign where the main party had a “bench” - a group of other adventurers they could use is they ever needed to. Why? Well, what if the mission is to sneak into the enemy castle by scaling a wall, picking the lock on the castle safe, and escaping without ever being seen. Not exactly a job for a pally, now is it? In fact anyone in heavy armor is a detriment to accomplishing the task. But, if you had a bench, then the guy who normally plays the hulk in heavy armor can just pull out his thief or illusionist character and be of help to the party. For me, being a role-player, this matters because there are missions that I just don’t think my character would want to go on. (I do normally play characters that in other game systems would be considered pallys.) So, how? OK - This is NOT realistic or perhaps even reasonable, but imagine if every player in the party had three characters. Every time the party had an adventure, the player would choose one character to use. But, at the end of the game, every one of the three would get the same experience and possibly even gold. They would not (in my opinion) get extra magical items, and would be forced to pass any items they might have around. So does this work? Well, it eliminates the issue of trying to keep the characters all generally at the same level of experience, though admittedly in a very artificial way. It probably under powers the party, because they would have fewer magical items (since they are likely sharing them amongst more characters), but the GM could compensate for this in some fashion. It also weakens the party because the player will not be as good at playing that type of character as they might have been, but this seems a little too whiny. If a player is good, he/she should be able to play one of three characters without being a fool. Problems? Oh yeah! Now that you have three characters, what if you want to bring two on a particular adventure? In fact, you’d most likely want to, and the rest of the party might think it is a good idea too (OK, everyone bring their huge fighters and their healers!). Now, the GM might allow this, and then cut the experience by splitting it amongst the number of characters in the mission. (My game tries to measure threat when awarding experience, not simply tally up points for dead monsters. So the idea of losing points due to more guys only affects experience if it lowers the presumed threat level.) Is this too big a problem? Maybe not. So what is the excuse? the rationalization? While the main party is off adventuring, the ones who stay at home are doing similar, but undefined tasks. I think the whole team (players times their three characters) would have to be an organization of some sort to make this work. Maybe they are an adventuring guild, or a military unit, or an organized crime gang, or a religious organization (a cult, but not in the bad sense of the word), anything to tie them together and justify them staying together as a team. Hey - It works for the Avengers and the Justice League, why not fantasy heroes?