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Advent

Social Advantages

by Paul Mitchener
Nov 17,2004

 

Methods of Campaign and Adventure Design 5

By Paul Mitchener

Social Advantages

Disadvantages

In my last column, I formulated a theory concerning disadvantages in character creation systems. The basic idea was that disadvantages can provide handy plot hooks for the GM, and therefore should grant some sort of meta-game reward to players who choose to have disadvantages. In many systems, this reward takes the form of extra character points to be spent on skills and so on.

Before I go on to apply this philosophy to character advantages, I want to mention a rule used in some systems that was mentioned several times in the forum. This idea is that disadvantages give certain benefits (possibly simply extra experience points) if they inconvenience a character during play. With such a rule in place, disadvantages should either grant no free character points, or even actually cost points to have.

One thing I like about this method is that it can totally remove any coercive element from various mental disadvantages (for example alcoholism, lechery, and compulsive curiosity), which means I suddenly like the idea of playing such disadvantages a lot more. It also seems to make disadvantages a lot less prone to abuse.

Advantages

Many advantages within a system represent character powers, and, along with their exact points value, are inherent to the system they exist in. It is probably best not to mess around to much with that aspect of a system unless you are willing to risk breaking it. Trust me; I have made such mistakes in the past.

However, for a given campaign, there are a number of advantages that can be useful for a GM. The list will be dependent upon the campaign being run, and (for me at least) many of these advantages will be social in nature. My recommendation here is to let each player pick out one of these useful advantages for free. Here are some examples.

An exact points cost of these `free advantages' is of course irrelevant. If playing in a system of the type I have mentioned above, where certain 1disadvantages' cost points, these traits could also be allowed for free. The disadvantages I listed in the last column could all provide story ideas.

Wrapping Up

I have now finished my two part column on advantages and disadvantages. In the next column, I want to look at something more concrete and less game-mechanics oriented. I will probably focus on some particular aspect of campaign design, although if I am being honest, I am forced to admit that I have not precisely decided what exactly. As usual, requests are welcome.

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What do you think?

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