Starting Attributes

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Dr Magister
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Starting Attributes

Postby Dr Magister » Thu May 27, 2010 11:20 am

Quite a while ago I ran a Maelstrom game for a few friends, and we weren't really satisfied with it. One of the main problems that we identified was that the attributes start too low for most characters to do even the things they're supposed to be good at very well.

With 10 Attributes (including Missile Skill) and only 50 points to spend, no character is going to be too good at anything. And with a max starting score of 50, even a min-maxed character only has a 50% chance of succeeding at their area of expertise.

There was only a single combat in the game I ran, and two of the three PCs were Mercenaries. However, the combat took absolutely ages because combatants were rarely hitting, and if they did there was a chance they'd be parried. Eventually the PCs won, Francis Walsingham was rescued and the fiendish Spanish agents were foiled, but everyone agreed that it was simply too hard to do anything in game which required a roll. Also, XP wasn't accruing rapidly enough to offset this.

I'm planning on trying again, but I'm going to give players 100 points to spend, with a max of 30 points into an Attribute. I should add that I am very much a fan of under-powered heroes (they're more heroic that way) and dislike high-level roleplay games, but to us, the starting power of Maelstrom characters was almost unworkable.

What do people think? Once I run a game, I'll see if I think the characters are too powerful or not, and report.
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bottg
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Postby bottg » Fri May 28, 2010 10:02 am

There are a few things to bear in mind with the game as written.

Firstly, characters can improve fairly quickly. A character will recieve an experience roll in most encounters, and indeed fights can produce multiple rolls. A character with 50 in an attribute may well gain 2 or 3 points in several attributes in a single session.

Also, using the advanced rules gives each profession an extra D6 in appropriate attributes (Maelstrom p172+)

I think that rather than giving a flat 100 points, allow the characters to take the base 50, plus up to 50 more, but add 1 year for every 10 additional points taken. That way you can still have the mercenary, just discharged, or the older and wiser veteran.
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PaulB
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Re: Starting Attributes

Postby PaulB » Sat Nov 06, 2010 8:22 pm

Dr Magister wrote:One of the main problems that we identified was that the attributes start too low for most characters to do even the things they're supposed to be good at very well... I'm planning on trying again, but I'm going to give players 100 points to spend, with a max of 30 points into an Attribute... Once I run a game, I'll see if I think the characters are too powerful or not, and report.

I'd love to hear how things turned out - it's been a while since you last posted. I have to say, different groups of gamers will play games in different ways. Some will enjoy the challenges of gathering experience and starting weak (those are the people who chose to play a Wizard in the Red Box days of D&D and managed to survive despite the lack of spells...). Others will prefer a higher powered game where competences comes from the word go.

You might consider the approach that 4th Edition D&D has taken and make sure that only the key NPCs pose a threat to the player characters, while the other foes are dispensable minions. Either give them sub-par Endurance, or simply have them drop on the first Would inflicting hit to avoid any need for record keeping. Once the players gain experience, drop the numbers of minions. A few make the players feel strong and in control, but back them with a big bad guy and however many lackeys he needs to make the combat a challenge.

Artificially bulking out statistics with more points speeds the game towards the point where combat and encounters don't challenge any more because of over-competent. It could become difficult to keep things interesting.

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