Thursday, July 08, 2004

D20 Sacrilege?

posted by Doc Blue

I realize I have been remiss in my posting duties. For this, I apologize. I can only offer one excuse - City of Heroes. As predicted, this game is attempting to eat my soul. I have managed not to lose wife or job yet, but the temptation to just lock myself down in the basement with standing orders for the pizza guy to pass food through the window once every couple of days is distinctly there....

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

My Exalted: Sixth Age game (a campaign for Mutants and Masterminds) is continuing a pace. The PCs have stopped a behemoth (who turned out to be a golden age Lunar trying to get their attention), obtained a manse (the Lunar's secret lair), and hearthstone bracers (belonging to the Lunar's deceased partner). They fought a battle against Task Force X of the Vigilance League on a Super Brdige project that was designed to never be completed and unknowingly befriended the ghost of a Golden Age Solar.

This week is *Lunar Week*. The PCs are going to start on the stepps of the ruined Lincoln Memorial and learn just what's dwelling in the forests that are dominating the East Coast. They are going to help settle a rebellion and learn the fate of the original Green Man (they met and fought his replacement last session). And maybe, just maybe, they will gain new allies in the process....

What does all that have to do with the topic? Well, running this game (as well as the Gamma World game) has got me thinking alot about the D20 system. On many levels, I love the crunchiness that D20 allows me. I love tweaking my own character or the ability to spend hours poking at creature stats to get them 'just right'. But in practice, I *dread* the actual stat'ing of NPCs and opposition. Writing down and tracking all those details, all those options. So much so, in fact, that we ran the last episode of Ex:6A diceless. I just talked them through the session and described combat rather than worrying about what the dice said.

I've also noticed that for players unfamiliar with D20, leveling doesn't really happen without a lot of involvement of someone else. Not that this is necessarily bad, it means that I understand their characters perhaps a bit better than other player's characters, but it does take up what should otherwise be playing time.

This leads to my sacrilege. I have half a dozen or so NPCs to stat up for the next session (probably for each of the next few sessions). I find myself wanting to ignore points, levels, etc., and just stat them in "Over The Edge" format. That is, pick a handful of defining traits, apply modifiers to each of these traits, assume base modifiers for any other rolls, and run. This completely circumvents one of D20's strengths (the crunchiness) but somehow feels more satisfying to me for the way I run games.

Does anyone have any thoughts and feelings on this? Has anyone done anything similar and if so, what have been your experiences?


Doc Blue