"Oh cool... So you're STILL working on this?" -- A guy at GenCon

"If I see Drah-koo-lah, I will. kick. him. in. the eye!!!" -- My 4 (almost 5) year old daughter. She GETS it!

"Meatpie Forever!" -- A playtester at GenCon 2013

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Happy 5000th

It's hard to imagine that the marketing blitz for Transylvanian Adventures began over on the DCC RPG forums. It seems a long time ago. I suppose it was. Just since that thread started a whole lot has happened in my personal life.

But that's a blog for another time. I still seem to be doing okay, even with a rough 6-8 months behind me. And TA/TG keeps rolling along.

The interest in TA/TG, meanwhile, has been inspiring and humbling. I do appreciate everyone who takes the time to follow that gargantuan thread on the DCC forum and reaching 5000 views is amazing. In gratitude, I wanted to share something out of the books and asked over there what you all would like to read about. 

grald_the_hunter was the first on the scene and asked about multi-classing in TA/TG.

So here goes...

Talking about multi-classing in TA/TG is complicated. It's slated to be included in the Grimoire -- which is still in development/ideation/awaiting draft. So I'm putting to pixels something that exists in notes, observations and outline form. That doesn't make it any less real. But it does mean things might be subject to change, although I don't foresee any dramatic changes on the horizon.

Multi-classing in TA/TG is difficult to discuss as well because one would have to first understand how TA/TG classes "level up" to understand multi-classing. This is something that is drafted in Transylvanian Adventures, so that's pretty easy to share.
Each class has several unique Class Features that help reinforce their archetype and allow players to customize characters in a number of different ways. Each Class Feature comes with optional Upgrades that can be purchased when a character reaches a level where an Upgrade is available. No Class Feature can be upgraded more than three times because it just gets silly after that point. An upgrade may also be used to receive training in new weapons and increase a character's Wealth by one level.
Classes in TA/TG advance by level along some familiar axes -- Hit Dice, Attack Bonuses, Saving Throws, etc. But the special abilities the classes have don't necessarily do so. Think about, say, a Ranger's tracking ability. Well, extrapolate that out as if the class had 4-5 abilities in different areas.

So when that Ranger went up a level, his Tracking ability doesn't necessarily increase. A player, instead, may choose whether she wants that Ranger to get better at Tracking or Trick Shots or something.

To accomplish this I had to make the base abilities good. I mean, REALLY good. The reason for this was so no one felt gimped by an ability they had to "pay" to increase. Comparing the power level of a DCC Thief to a TA/TG Hunter is not a 1-to-1 comparison. There's another layer there. It's almost like you'd have to compare them at different levels. A 1st level TA/TG Hunter might be as good as a 3rd level DCC Thief at opening locks. But after a couple of upgrades, that 3rd or 4th level Hunter might be better than a 10th level DCC Thief at opening locks at the expense of improving his Signature Weapon or Trapmaster features. In contrast, some 1st level TA/TG characters might be as good as a 5th level DCC class at a similar task.

In short, I had to make abilities something that weren't weak out of the gate and waiting for an upgrade. TA/TG characters start out fun. They aren't the superheroes in chainmail that you'll see in some later editions of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game. But this isn't your grandpa's 1st level either.

Another thing I had to do to make the "upgrade" paradigm work was kind of level the abilities out against each other. To sort of iron out the loopholes that could really break things. Granted it's pretty much a given that something is going to slip by. So, much like any other roleplaying game, it's going to be up to the Judge and the group to be good tablemates and play nicely together. But an unintended side-effect of this playtesting, redrafting and analysis emerged: the abilities began to look... interchangeable.

This gave rise to the notion of a "cross-upgrade" and led me to ask all sorts of questions such as "What if that 5th level Hunter spent an upgrade to acquire the Charger's 'Aura of Badass' feature?" That's a fun question to ask. And really, who wouldn't want to acquire an 'Aura of Badass'? I guess that's open to interpretation...

But it also turned multi-classing on its head. It isn't multi-classing. It's cross-upgrading. It's turning a Polymath into a kung-fu fighter with the Exotic's unarmed fighting abilities. Or turning a Survivor into a bad luck charm with the Theorist's Hex feature.

Is that multi-classing? The end result feels like it. But it's also painless. I still don't believe it fits together as easily as it seems to.

That said, there are some features that belong to one class and only one class. That can't be selected by other classes. And I think that should be expected to a degree. But the number of non-selectable cross-upgrades at this point in time is 3 or less. I'm thinking they'll probably grow over time but I can't imagine there'll be more than 5 problem upgrades by the time The Transylvanian Grimoire is done.

So there's multi-classing. I hope it made sense and continues to fire up the grass roots for TA/TG. I'm hoping this can be a really fun and interesting addition to the DCC line.

And thanks again for all your support. Just reading this blog means a great deal.

Happy 5000 and don't forget your vial of Holy Water!

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