Friday, the DnD group continued to wander aimlessly through a deadly forest that drives people insane, rots your food, and attracts things that go *munch* in the night. Huge surprise, there was combat, and lots of it.
Saturday was Jackie’s “high level” Necropolis game. (I put that in quotes because the group is three levels lower than the Friday night group, and smaller. Dave encountered first-hand one of the truisms of the d20 system:
In a module designed for high level characters, assume that all or nearly all encounters will factor in that level and be a threat to you, logic be damned. Bad guys, even in obscure little towns, will all effectively be 12th level, too, and be ready to deal with 12th level characters, even if that makes no sense. Consider yourself 1st level, and be appropriately cautious.
I think that might be a trifle overstated: it may be more accurate to say that the ‘lesser’ threats are simply so minor that higher level characters don’t notice them — what they do notice are the things that can hurt them — thus, from their point of view, “everything that happens” is stuff that can kill you.
Or, using a rule that applies more directly to the situation that brought Dave’s anthropomorphic elephant barbarian/fighter down: “If the bad guys see how big you are, they put more poison in the glass.”
Not that I haven’t said as much before. Once upon a time, I wrote:
it does not matter that a 15th fighter can crit and do 45 points of damage and a first level fighter can crit and do 16: the chunk that they take out of their opponents will remain roughly similar.
In fact, swing-by-swing, the amount of damage done by the hero vs. damage sustainable by the bad guy goes DOWN as you level — this is made up for by giving higher-level folks more attacks to bring the ratio back up.
Number of rounds to take down the main bad guy at level 1 or level 15 doesn’t change — number of hit points left on the fighter when the fight is over — almost exactly the same… about five.
The only things that change is that the costume budget for the main heroes goes up, and the bit actors run around inside bigger monster suits.
I was pointing out that the variations between power levels is largely cosmetic in ANY game (it’s not just d20 — in any game system, as you get tougher, the bad guys get tougher as well). The only real reason to begin play with higher-power characters is so you can play concepts/critters that don’t balance out at first level (or, if you’re thinking inside the box, you want the higher level to justify extensive character history).
One danger of the higher level game is that some folks who look for that sort of power level expect the skill/power of the character to counteract a certain level of player laziness.
Player: “I question the people in the bar.”
Player: “I don’t know… the barmaids.”
GM: “What are you asking them?”
Player: “I don’t know… I’ll ask them what’s going on that’s interesting in town. I roll a 33 Gather Information, can we find our Secret Contact guy?”
GM: “Umm… with those questions, no.”
Player: “But… it was a 33.”
Or to use an example of my own laziness, allowing an NPC to partially get off the hook during a “Truth Serum”-style interrogation, because I asked one my big wrap-up question so poorly that he could, in essence, lie by using an easy loophole.
Anyway, live and learn: higher power characters still have to be careful and think: it’s an obvious rule that we missed, simply (I think) because we jumped right in at high level and expected, looking at our character sheets, to waltz through things — if we’d started out at lower level (which wasn’t really an option anyway), we’d have already been careful, and just continued to be careful.
Sunday was one of the two Nobilis games that I’ve created by splitting up the original group and adding a player. After the mess of Imperator and Chancel (re)creation was finished (taking a mere hour and a half :P), things got underway.
Most of what I have to say about this is very positive: I was really surprised and pleased by the Chancel and the Imperator that the group came up with — it immediately gave me ideas for any number of interesting stories — and I like the possibilities in the tension between some of the characters. It’s not exactly “Locus Partytown” by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still an interesting group with some great players. We’ll see how far that gets us.