Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Rules Musings: The Arcane University and GP=XP

Rules Musings: the Arcane University and GP=XP

So I’ve been thinking about the strengths and constraints of using the GP accumulation as a measure of XP mechanic (henceforth referred to as GP=XP) a lot lately. The strength of the GP=XP model is it is a very quantifiable measure of XP that can observed and negotiated in the game world. If an NPC hires the player characters to perform a task, the reward can be haggled between the two parties.  With limited time and resources, players choose what loot to make off with based on value (or suspected value) vs. the costs or potential costs of making off with it.

A possible constraint of the GP=XP model is that it might suggest a limited framework of gameplay based upon mercenary thievery.  (Not that this is bad, but sometimes a change of pace can be fun.)  In any case, I was pondering ways of how to use the GP=XP framework for alternate setups beyond the norm.

And then an unexpected source of inspiration hit me: research grants! Researchers and other academics are constantly struggling for funding that will breathe life into their weird projects. And what’s the weirdest thing of all? MAGIC!

Art cred: William Fettes Doughlas

The academic can be quite arcane, so why not have a set-up where the arcane are academic? Specifically, the competitive politicking for academic prestige and funding!

In this setup, players find patrons for their projects of thaumaturgy and try to shake them down for all the cash they can get.  How get those patrons on your side could involve any number of strategies- schmoozing your audience, sabotaging the competition, Faustian pacts, or even performing recognizably excellent work! (Of course, funding doesn’t grow on trees, so rival academics will try all sorts of tricks of their own to claim your hard-earned (?) lucre.)

Art Cred: Paul Kirby
Regardless of whatever strategy you use, there will always be the presentation to your peers, which may involve all sorts of shenanigans to get the Review Board on your side. To prove the rightness of your cause, you may have to prove yourself in a wizard’s duel, or, gods forbid, an actual debate!

The Wizard Funding Wars holds opportunity for standard fantasy adventures- traipsing off to alternate dimensions to find that McGuffin you need to finish your research, for example. And there’s even an equivalent to carousing- illicitly pissing away that funding on unapproved, personal pet projects!

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