Sunday, January 15, 2017

"Traits for Town," for Stericksburg

I'm thinking of making some of the "Traits for Town" from Sean Punch's excellent article (reprinted in the Pyramid issue Dungeon Fantasy Collected, discussed here) in my game.

Some of them seem very useful and relevant for PCs with points to spend and annoyances to avoid. Although "town" is just a series of rolls in my game, punctuated with color to make it a weird mishmash of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories told second-hand plus "Another Day, Another Dungeon," video game towns, and one-upsmanship jokes about Raggi and/or Dryst's Create Servant abuse, these traits can help. Mostly because they really do spin the focus from what you'd expect - focus on town - to the DF standard - focus on the dungeon itself.

Here are ones I think are especially useful in Stericksburg, although I'm open to arguments for specific others from my players if they like them.

Claim to Hospitality already exists; it's possible to get it for Stericksburg. You do have to name the inn you stay at or the association or family you're working for, though, under pain of me naming it for you. Heh.

Legal Enforcement Powers is also fine. Both levels - Town Watchman and King's Man - make sense in this game. The second is probably overkill, but if you really want to spend 15 points to make ration expenses a thing of the past, you're welcome to do so. Naturally, you can't requisition Elven or Dwarven rations. The first level is a good deal, though - 5 points, as long as you don't do "work"-like actions you get paid enough to cover basic upkeep, and the ability to do a shakedown for cash with weapon skills augmented by a complementary skill roll.

Thinking of using weapon skills for shakedowns, I'd probably force you to float that to the worse of DX or IQ, on the assumption that you need smarts to know who to do it to and agility to pull it off. That's slightly more complicated but it seems appropriate. Still for most of the PCs this is a 15-20!

Legal Immunity is only really worth it in my game if you're seriously going to attempt criminal acts every time in town and expect to roll badly occasionally. Skippable.

Rank is priced appropriately and I'd allow it as written. I'm not sure how useful it would be. One issue I'd see with this is that players will want to leverage rank to sell things in town even when it's inappropriate - "Can I fence this jewelry to the Thieves' Guild for extra cash based on Rank? How about this Wand of Destruction and that owlbear pelt? No? Then the wizard will sell those to the Guild and use his bonus!" Broadening it would make it more useful, but then it'll trample over Wealth. Mostly useful for a bonus to rolls with your own in-group and the professional discounts. Allowed but make sure you're really benefiting here without arguing that your barbarian tribe or church or whatever wants to buy used orc swords at a higher than market rate. Where this overlaps with DF17, we'll use DF17.

Reputation works as written and already exists; it provides a bonus to all rolls in town in Stericksburg. Yes, all of them, unless it's not an effect roll (+1 on the rumor table = why, exactly?) or really bizarre (like spell rolls). This one you need to earn, though, not just buy - kill the dragon, then buy Dragonslayer - which keeps the heroic PCs more heroic.

Status doesn't give you anything that ignoring town except as color does not already. We enforce no consequences for either wandering around town in armor or armed, or wandering around without any. The other effects are cheaper on their own. Skippable.

Tenure is a good deal, but implies a lot more acceptance in society than I think is funny. So I don't plan on using this.

So if you like town more than Survival rolls to live outdoors in the Birdbear Woods, but want more bonuses and less consequences to actions, take a look at these. I'm open to the ones I rejected if one of my players can make a case that it is useful and appropriate to their PC without turning the focus to town. Town is just a way to explain all the stuff we do outside of adventuring. We may do an urban fantasy game someday, do a "serious" game that involves town with real consequences again - and may even do that using Stericksburg. But for now, this should suffice to make town more interesting or less annoying with just a few points.

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