Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

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Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  KevinBlaze on Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:36 pm

The main idea I've been working around for the next Sanban is a Steam punk tech level, at least in the most advanced areas, in a points of light world. Points of light referring to the idea of small clusters of civilization scattered and separated by vast wilderness. Which would be in contrast to Thiefo's "highly civilized" land, full of people and cities and politics. Or to Mazruk Madein's "border of civilization", where there is a line and once you're past it you're in scary Fallen, Valley Rock, and rogue goblin land.

Also to consider is where to cap the epicness of epic people. DnD has this flaw that 20th level people just dont jive with the economic and political situation as its sold. Frank and K make an excellent argument about this in the Dungeonomicon (Links to the Economicon, Thermodymaninomicon, Socialnomicon, and Lexiconinomicon). The TT article is a good one itself. One idea is to do something like Epic6, where marginal power advancement takes a steep decline at a much earlier level than 3rd ed DnD, a world where manticores and wyverns remain dangerous to individuals.

Also partly a setting is defined by its rules system and options, so which classes people can build from, or the fact there is a class system says something about how things work. So that'd also have to be figured out, I'm a large enough fan of class based advancement and DnD playing such that it is pretty much the core of how Sanban 12 will work. But that leaves a lot of room for the particulars [what classes, what do they do] and flavor still.[u]

EDIT to Include Steampunk summary
Historical Steampunk
Historical Steampunk basically takes place in a recognizable historical period (sometimes an alternate-history version of an actual historical period) where the Industrial Revolution has already begun but electricity is not yet widespread [Though sometimes it is in some specific fashion], with an emphasis on steam- or spring-propelled gadgets. The most common historical steampunk settings are around the English Victorian Era [mid to late 1800s]..

Examples:
Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series
Van Helsing starring Hugh Jackman
The time period Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World series is set in
Brotherhood of the Wolf starring Samuel Le Bihan
Neil Gaiman's Stardust

There's also western Steampunk. Like Will Smith's Wild Wild West, or The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

Then we have Fantasy Steampunk, which is the direction I'm leaning. Fantasy Steampunk, a fantasy world that's rich in steam tech and is somewhat similar to the Historical version except as modified by the high magic or alternate history.
Examples are the works of China Miéville, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series [The Golden Compass is the first book], to draw upon some anime examples: Fullmetal Alchemist, Last Exile, Steamboy, and Howl's Moving Castle are all rather epicly steampunk settings. Final Fantasy VI and Wild Arms make good examples too. Final Fantasy VII goes over the top with Midgar, but much of the rest of the world gives a Steampunkish feel. Its gritty, industrialized, but at the same time somehow romanticized.

I hope we can relate on at least some of these examples :-).


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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Wade8813 on Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:56 am

"Points of light" could be fine, depending on how it's handled. I have no problem with vast areas of wilderness, but civilization provides a place you can go to get food, and where you can recover from a tough fight (unless you're in Bavaria). Not having a city with clerics you can pay to heal you can delay things, since you have to wait for the party cleric to do it, and then you have to let the cleric get their spells back. Of course, if you don't have a cleric, it'll take that much longer.

As far as steam tech, I don't know. It may be more fun, it may be less fun, it may be about the same. I'd probably prefer trying it out before devoting an entire Sban to that style of play.
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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Joaneh on Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:07 am

A setting based around the steam punk technology level with points of light in the world has the possibility of being quite awesome. As a general genre base steampunk has become one of increasing popularity amongst a few different groups of people. That being said I'm starting to get into role-playing it in an attempt to better my own writing abilities, so having it in the Sanbanushi world would be super awesome. As for points of light in the world, I'm a bit so so with that concept. Over all it has the capacity to be pretty awesome, but it would be something to adjust to after the set up over the current Sanbanushi world set.

Joel brings up a good point though about trying steampunk out before devoting an entire campaign to it.

- - -

After reading through Epic6 I am a bit of a fan of it. One of the current problems with the set up is yes dangerous creatures of the world stop, well, being dangerous to adventurers. It takes time certainly, but being able to easily defeat some enemies can detract from the fun sometimes. It sort of cuts out the strategic planning and some potential role-playing scenarios. If I can run up and destroy the crowd without a problem time after time how much do I continue to act instead of go I do what I always do? Hmm.


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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  KevinBlaze on Tue Feb 19, 2008 6:52 am

I'm thinking multiple kingdoms each of which are separated by great wilderness areas, but with fantasy steam tech they are linked by steam boats and airships, and the like.

That way it explains how there could be an adventurer caste as well as urbanites and rural people.

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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Alfax on Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:57 am

Steam tech could work fine, I see no problems with it. I also see no problem with the pinpoints of light world.

The E6, however, could be kind of dull. Personally, I've not seen rapid level gaining in SBan as a problem or even something that happens. So instead of slowing down for levels in SBan we'd slow down for feats in E6 style. Sure, some monsters cease being a threat or 'scary' to high level adventures, but I don't really see a problem with that. If you and some pals can end Darkfire the black dragon of the scar hills maybe you should be able to handle a group of orcs or what-have-you.
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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Wade8813 on Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:27 am

I don't think I want to do E6. I'm willing to try it for a limited time, esp since Joan seems enamored of it, but I don't want to commit to it for any amount of time. I disagree with some of the premises the article makes.
1. Very fast play at every level of the campaign.
2. Focus on planning, not levelling. To defeat the black dragon Zolanderos, the CR 10 terror of Staunwark Island, the heroes will need help, special resources, and information. I want to further encourage party-directed adventuring, and if the heroes want to take on something 4 to 6 CR above them, then that's what they will require.
3. A low magic game that everyone knows how to play.
4. Never a need for meaningless encounters. The players can be involved in a dozen or so major combat scenarios (perhaps more than one encounter each) and have proven themselves and made a major accomplishment. See Lord of the Rings movies, or most fantasy novels.
5. Classic monsters stay classic throughout the campaign; Chimeras and Aboleths start scary, and stay scary. Dragons are always exciting encounters.
6. Even legendary heroes remain mortal; while a 6th level fighter who has taken toughness several times can take on a good mob, he isn't invulnerable. The sorcerer's 6d6 fireballs are phenomenal, but not so powerful that he can destroy a village and not fear retaliation.
7. Quicker prep. Make a 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 6th version of a sorcerer, and now you have a whole sorcerous dragon-cult that can last you through your whole campaign.
8. You can put what you've learned of the rules to good use. It's hard to know every 4th through 9th level spell out there; they're the ones we see the least. But we've seen 0th through 3rd level spells many, many times, and mastery over them is relatively simple.
9. E6 is a great system for on the fly GMing. If you’re reasonably familiar with what a 2nd level threat looks like, power-wise, you can probably get away with running it without stats handy.
* Our campaigns have almost never seemed to have a lack of a focus on planning. I seem to remember some rather elaborate plans from our mid to high level teams.

* We've never had a need for meaningless encounters, at least AFAIK. We've had characters prove themselves, and have major accomplishments, even at high levels.

* While some classic monsters don't remain a threat, I think it's kinda cool to be able to mop a floor with a wyvern sometimes. And gaining levels the normal way opens up the door to face other classic monsters that you wouldn't even consider before. I don't care how many extra feats you get, there are some monsters you never want to face if you're level 6. I think being able to beat things too easily only becomes a problem if it happens too often.

* We've never had a problem with characters "not remaining mortal". I seem to remember some epic level characters who were quite worried about dying (well, being nova-ed...). They compare L:16-20 to Superheroes, but they die all the time - even Superman died.



I'd say the only real advantage I see is that this solves the high level spellcaster dilemma. That is a big advantage, but not the way I'd want it solved (at least not a permanent solution).


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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  KevinBlaze on Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:47 am

I mainly got E6 out there to get people thinking a bit outside the box. Its especially interesting because its a very simple idea [cap an existing system], but its a novel approach to level based advancement. Personally I like the idea of heroes eventually able to tackle flights of Wyverns, that has some coolness to it, but I also could get behind the idea of meaningful specific monsters, due to E6 style capped power.

Like why are there Wyverns in the hills outside of Ardarmoore? Well the reason is really whack: A successive, but unrelated line of necromancers have wanted to keep them around to make zombies out of them, currently that person is Lord Eek. That is they've been backed by varying high powered bad or good guys. But when there are people at lv20 type power levels you have to wonder why they aren't squashing out such horrible beasts. People like Zel have already demonstrated that they are willing to go door to door kicking butt in the name of cleansing the land of evil, good natured high powered people are not very compatible with a world of mid powered evil monsters. At least it would seem difficult to recconciliate those things. Thiefo ecology seems stable in that way. There are high powered good guys, there are not mid powered evil monsters. They'd get killed cause they're not cool.

In re: to the super hero level, I guess Joel you're saying 16-20 is over Super Hero level? Cause they can't die unless they suffer a total team wipe, cause knowing 1 guy who can cast true res that's part of your extended posse is enough to keep you rockin' it. Wipe someone's whole posse and they are basically toast then. Until some upstart who becomes a fan of theirs later on wants to res them.


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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Joaneh on Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:58 pm

Hmm, that's all true. I suppose the real lure for E6 to me is the fact that it's a new system to try out. Though I'm not sure exactly if a whole campaign, for as long as ours are, would continue to work out with it. It is true that even our higher level teams have fears and are required to think through situations presented to them in order to get the necessary results.

Having meaningful encounters rather then roll of the dice encounters are nice for the higher level characters. Such as we are going off to defeat the fallen army. They're not randomly attacking us from the bushes with slings, but instead have their own army and are coming with some thoughts behind what they're doing. Not the best example, but eh.

Perhaps instead of embracing it whole heartedly we should find the main aspects of higher level characters that aren't exactly working out. Such as the high leveled spellcasters. Hmm.

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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Alfax on Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:58 pm

The Wyvrens! I knew there was something I should have been genociding. Totally forgot they inhabited the hills out there. Need to put that on the list.

Back on track, it sounds like we'd want to try out the E6 system of play before we did anything with it. So should we then implement that plan or try to figure out a different strat? I don't know of a different way (not that I knew of this one) and trying to come up with a fix is currently beyond My reach. Maybe Kevin knows of some out there, maybe not. Maybe Joel has his own fix he's been hiding, probably not.

I think what Joel was getting at is that while 16-20 may be Superhero level, that doesn't mean it isn't dangerous. You could still be killed by something, or something worse could happen to you.
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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Wade8813 on Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:13 pm

Like why are there Wyverns in the hills outside of Ardarmoore? Well the reason is really whack: A successive, but unrelated line of necromancers have wanted to keep them around to make zombies out of them, currently that person is Lord Eek. That is they've been backed by varying high powered bad or good guys. But when there are people at lv20 type power levels you have to wonder why they aren't squashing out such horrible beasts. People like Zel have already demonstrated that they are willing to go door to door kicking butt in the name of cleansing the land of evil, good natured high powered people are not very compatible with a world of mid powered evil monsters. At least it would seem difficult to recconciliate those things. Thiefo ecology seems stable in that way. There are high powered good guys, there are not mid powered evil monsters. They'd get killed cause they're not cool.
Here's the thing. Yes, Zel & co. can go around committing Wyvern-icide. And I'd imagine that once in a while, they do. But Zel has a whole list of things to occupy his time, many of which are much more urgent. So what happens? Some Wyverns get whacked, but most live to reproduce, and try to kill Myid Wink .

In re: to the super hero level, I guess Joel you're saying 16-20 is over Super Hero level? Cause they can't die unless they suffer a total team wipe, cause knowing 1 guy who can cast true res that's part of your extended posse is enough to keep you rockin' it. Wipe someone's whole posse and they are basically toast then. Until some upstart who becomes a fan of theirs later on wants to res them.
Well, there's dying, and there's staying dead. We all know Superheroes don't stay dead either...

I think True Res is a whole separate discussion.
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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  KevinBlaze on Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:08 am

True Res is at the heart of the discussion of death and dying for the so-called "super-hero" level.
Irl if you die, you lose, its over.

"Death" at the superhero level is totally different. The fact you can still "die" doesn't mean anything if its a spell and few k of gold away from being fixed. The word used is the same, but it doesn't mean the same thing.

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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Joaneh on Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:21 am

I wish I could remember which thread it is that you showed me and who said it first, but one of the things brought up with dying was rather then having death there is the loss of something important to the character. Such as a paladin losing his paladin abilities - think of Zel losing his paladin abilities. It wasn't completely devastating, but it does cut back on the power of the character.

One of the things I like about Sanbanushi is despite how easy it would be to go you're an x level cleric, cast true res. it's not a spell that works. Instead Kevin has introduced different ways for it to possibly happen, but it isn't exactly a guarantee.

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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  KevinBlaze on Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:56 am

Well X level Cleric in this case would be lv. 17, ;p.

I've certainly been working on alternative penalties for 'death'. Including ideas as far as what I'd call the "cinematic" rule: Characters can't die from the combat mini-game, unless its a TPK perhaps, as per a FF7 kind of rule, Shinra soldier X just downed Cloud, meaning he's incapacitated for this fight, but when the scene clears, he's not in good shape, but he's not dead. People could still die when rules outside of the combat mini-game come into play; A dagger in the eye is a dagger in the eye. Sephiroth guts Aeris with a scary big sword, she's dead now.

A Sanban example may be like: Rolf the Bandit and gang down Jeremiah and Roga Danar, they'll recover if the team can pull it through, oh but its wipe + a flaming building falls on them? It's over. Which is how it happened, but the difference would be the removal of the dumb stabilization rules [or introducing ones that don't risk your random short term death]. Also that a single blow wouldn't risk killing anyone [This is the hardest one to come up with how to work right, since it seems like to have a legitimate fear of death you have to be able to die from a positive hp total from the combat mini-game. But maybe people being able to be all cool and heroic is all right.]

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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Wade8813 on Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:26 am

I like the Ravenloft thing (which IIRC, is based on a lower level Res spell). You come back, but you lose a level, so there's some drawback. With the actual spell, it can be hard to come back - the rest of your party has to rescue your body, you lose a level, the party has to find someone who can cast Res, etc.

Although even with True Res, it can scuk if whoever killed you took all your stuff. Losing a couple hundred thousand worth of stuff ruins anyone's day.
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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  KevinBlaze on Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:46 am

Losing a couple hundred thousand worth of stuff ruins anyone's day.

Level based wealth by gold count is pretty whack, for like 2,000,007 reasons. Much better than AD&D 2nd's uh good luck figuring out whats level appropriate magic gear, because there is no such thing. Not sure I'm ready to dive into all the issues going on with wealth [in gold] by level.

In regard to what you were saying specifically: Losing gold isn't a big deal at Super Hero level, by then you're dealing in the Wish Economy, it is very annoying in the short term though.

In a TPK situation, where they stick all your souls in a jar after you die, you are close to dead in the normal sense. To get True Res'd then someone would have to go get your souls back first, almost certainly requiring a showdown with the guys who have them.

You come back, but you lose a level, so there's some drawback.

Some? Some!?!? You lose a freakin level, thats like losing who you are. Particularly in Ravenloft it's like losing. period. That downward spiral of losing levels and facing more wicked foes doesn't work for very long. Experiences like Ravenloft that I've had and conversed with others about have definitely convinced me, that level loss rule sucks, same with level drain, it just blows. At the least I was thinking, keeping other DnD rules constant, of changing Raise Dead's penalty to you get a negative level that goes away only upon gaining a new level, at least then you aren't down XP permanently compared to your companions.

Add those to the list of things looking to be addressed: Character Wealth by Level, Death and Dying, and the Death Penalty [Not the kind you'd first think of =p]

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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Joaneh on Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:10 am

Losing a level in Ravenloft was like death times ten.

But yes, losing a level simply sucks.

Korohit wrote:At the least I was thinking, keeping other DnD rules constant, of changing Raise Dead's penalty to you get a negative level that goes away only upon gaining a new level, at least then you aren't down XP permanently compared to your companions.

Something like that could work. You do not come back completely whole, but nor do you come back an entire level lower. I think that a handicap like that could work out.

But eventually it comes down to how much experimentation do we use in Sanban 12? And how much will be set?

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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Alfax on Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:22 am

[quote="Korohit"]
You come back, but you lose a level, so there's some drawback.

Some? Some!?!? You lose a freakin level, thats like losing who you are. Particularly in Ravenloft it's like losing. period. That downward spiral of losing levels and facing more wicked foes doesn't work for very long. Experiences like Ravenloft that I've had and conversed with others about have definitely convinced me, that level loss rule sucks, same with level drain, it just blows. At the least I was thinking, keeping other DnD rules constant, of changing Raise Dead's penalty to you get a negative level that goes away only upon gaining a new level, at least then you aren't down XP permanently compared to your companions.
That would be a good villain strat. Kill a hero. Then be sure to raise them first to make them lose a level. Rinse and repeat until they're a nobody. Twisted Evil

And yea, negative levels suck, but you can move on from the -1 all too easily. I don't feel that it's a very big penalty for having your life ended. Some sort of temporary penalty to all your stats perhaps? Like a -2 all stats until you gain a level. It's more punishing, but hey, you're the one who died.
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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  KevinBlaze on Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:47 am

I don't feel that it's a very big penalty for having your life ended.

We do all know that a Negative Level does fuck you proper, even before the Germans get there, right?

SRD wrote: Each negative level gives a creature the following penalties: -1 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, ability checks; loss of 5 hit points; and -1 to effective level (for determining the power, duration, DC, and other details of spells or special abilities). In addition, a spellcaster loses one spell or spell slot from the highest spell level castable.

Yeah....... -2 all stats is more punishing, true, its like a negative level, but they keep you around for the proverbial Germans [p.s. Go Indiana Jones!]. Dying should gimp you, but how gimpy is too gimpy? -2 wis might steal a spell level, on top of more spells lost vs. a negative level. Fully boned.

I think as long as the penalty is steep enough that people consider death, Something To Be Avoided it's working all right. Again I emphasize that my proposed negative level rule was keeping all other DnD rules constant. If we rewrite enough some other rule may be a better fit, the negative level proposal is going in the right direction, though, same even for "the Germans are Here" upgrade to -2 stats. Losing XP is wrong because it permanently makes you suck relatively to your posse.

Re: Plan Raise someone to death
You can't, Evil or Very Mad, sorry to burst your evil bubble. Raising someone requires them to willingly come back, to pick up the phone as it were. That is some excellent sinister plotting though :-).

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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Wade8813 on Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:48 am

(What the fish. I was posting, then it said there was another post while I was typing mine. Now mine isn't even showing up at all! Evil or Very Mad )

That would be a good villain strat. Kill a hero. Then be sure to raise them first to make them lose a level. Rinse and repeat until they're a nobody.
That would be quite a strat, although it's a huge drain on resources to do that very often.

And yea, negative levels suck, but you can move on from the -1 all too easily. I don't feel that it's a very big penalty for having your life ended. Some sort of temporary penalty to all your stats perhaps? Like a -2 all stats until you gain a level. It's more punishing, but hey, you're the one who died.
You're proposing an even stiffer penalty on dying?

Anywho, my point was basically that yeah, losing a level hurts, but most of the world ISN'T Ravenloft. You shouldn't get into a death spiral. If one level was the end of the world, a lot of our teams wouldn't function, because we're not all the same level. Slipstream's lower level than Myid, but is definitely a valuable member of the team.
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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Alfax on Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:11 am

Wade8813 wrote:Anywho, my point was basically that yeah, losing a level hurts, but most of the world ISN'T Ravenloft. You shouldn't get into a death spiral. If one level was the end of the world, a lot of our teams wouldn't function, because we're not all the same level. Slipstream's lower level than Myid, but is definitely a valuable member of the team.
Starting off lower level isn't the same as losing a level. I'm more opposed to the lose a level penalty because of the time and morale punishment. Because it takes a lot of work and time to gain that level, especially at higher levels. Losing it is a punishment beyond measure. If Zel were to lose a level, I think he'd just stay dead instead of coming back lower since it's such a morale killer that he may as well stay dead.

Which is why I propose the hurt to other places that feels bad still. A neg lv doesn't hurt all that much at lv 8ish. You lose an attack roll and 5 hp, but who cares? Skills already don't matter. It could hurt your saves and losing the spell could hurt as well, but I don't think that much.
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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Wade8813 on Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:38 am

So basically, losing a level is psychologically worse, if not in actuality. (BTW, it's morale, not moral).

But I agree that for a lot of characters, 1 neg level isn't too big of a deal. Although for other characters, it's really close to being the same thing...
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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Alfax on Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:57 am

Wade8813 wrote:So basically, losing a level is psychologically worse, if not in actuality. (BTW, it's morale, not moral).
No, I miss represented the entire problem. Not only is it psychologically worse, it's also actually worse. Losing a level is probably the worst fate someone can do to you.
Wade8813 wrote:(BTW, it's morale, not moral)
I don't know what you are talking about.
Wade8813 wrote:But I agree that for a lot of characters, 1 neg level isn't too big of a deal. Although for other characters, it's really close to being the same thing...
Could you explain this a little more, I'm not sure what you mean.
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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Wade8813 on Thu Feb 21, 2008 4:13 am

No, I miss represented the entire problem. Not only is it psychologically worse, it's also actually worse. Losing a level is probably the worst fate someone can do to you.
My point is that yes it feels horrible to lose a level, but it's not actually the end of the world. You can still function as a character, and be a valuable asset to your party.


I don't know what you are talking about.
Nice editing.


Could you explain this a little more, I'm not sure what you mean.
I'm more or less agreeing with you.
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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Alfax on Thu Feb 21, 2008 4:22 am

Wade8813 wrote:My point is that yes it feels horrible to lose a level, but it's not actually the end of the world. You can still function as a character, and be a valuable asset to your party.
This is true, but there are ways to hinder you in a similar fasion that don't involve the trauma of level loss. Which is why I suggested the Ability penalty, it's similarly punishing, but is less dibilitating and is temporary.
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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

Post  Wade8813 on Thu Feb 21, 2008 4:29 am

Stat loss isn't always less painful. If you suddenly don't meet the prereqs for something important to your character, you're in for a world of hurt. But I see what you mean.
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Re: Setting: Steampunk in a points of light world?

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