06 December 2012

Earthdawn: Part 19 - Creature Trophies 2 (Rules)

This is the nineteenth part in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

One of the more popular elements I've written about seems to be the creature trophies, also one of the more confusing. It wasn't well explained in the House Rules and some aspects of the rules were in flux at the time. This is going to be an attempt at bringing some mechanical clarity to what is going on with the trophies and what other things I may do to expand that.

Specifically, this is regarding loot that can be gathered from creatures after slaying them (the Legend Point value is equal to the silver piece value). Since I went to all the trouble of making the loot, my players wanted to hang onto them - perhaps because it is also fun to look in to your box back on all of the creatures you have murdered. Every adventurer needs a trophy room! As they weren't going to be getting the money from the loot, I implemented a system in which they could expend more money for additional Legend Points.

From a meta perspective, Legend Points are one of the primary goals that drive players, while money is an ancillary concern at best. The premise of this system gives them more of what they want for what they don't care about as much. That being said, that exchange tends to make them more resource poor overall and drives a need to continually make more money to support their Legend Point habit. More than that, it is fun. Decorating (or "setting") loot personalizes it and gives a little piece of history. There are some more mechanics I am considering for this; more on that later.

The costs associated with setting loot are straight forward: for the value of the loot, the Legend Point award increases by 10%, up to a maximum of the original award. So a piece of loot worth 100 silver pieces and Legend Points would cost 100 silver pieces per 10 additional Legend Points. No more than 1000 silver pieces can be spent for 100 additional Legend Points (200 Legend Points total from the trophy: 100 LP from the loot + 100 LP from the decorations). For anything that will end up as a fraction, I round appropriately (which means 0.5 goes to 1). I like an upper limit on things to keep them from just getting silly, and clearly communicates an end. Any particular kind of look can only be turned into a trophy once. If you have a shadowmant stinger that has been set in the blade of an ornamental dagger, you cannot set another shadowmant stinger, even if the setting would be more impressive. This also keeps things from getting out of hand; there is no revisiting trophies to improve them, no trying to constantly eke a little more out of the system. This keeps the focus on present and future; just so we're clear, that's the kind of behavior I am afraid I would engage in, to address it before it can become a problem. Also, once a trophy has been created, you cannot sell it. It can be lost, or perhaps even traded in a significant fashion, just not used for common gain. That defeats the point of the whole purpose, which is to build your actual Legend, and not much is more disheartening than to discover that your hero has literally sold out. On the whole, I find that trophies can make excellent fodder for Pattern Items, so the concept of selling/trading them is one that should be engaged in with great trepidation. "Why do they want this?" should be an important question.

Now all of that is assuming that you are paying someone to do this for you. As an adept, you have an artisan skill, maybe some crafting skills, or even Half-Magic that could be useful (you lucky Weaponsmith, you). DIY has always been a great way to keep costs down, so why should this be any different? Well, the mechanics all of the sudden need another, much larger, dimension: Difficulty Numbers. The costs are simple: half of whatever it would cost to pay someone to the setting for you. So the above example would cost 500 silver pieces to add +100 Legend Points to the award. Whatever artisan skill is used should be appropriate to the loot itself - death moth wings may not be well suited to a Weaponsmith's Half-Magic, but an earth q'wril beak certainly is.

Difficulty Numbers - I am still working out exactly what they should be, but here is my current list:

Difficulty Number Value
4 1-25
5 26-50
6 51-75
7 76-100
8 101-150
9 151-200
10 201-300
11 301-400
12 401-500
13 501-750
14 751-1000
15 1001-2000
16 2001-3000
17 3001-5000
+1 +5000

Each of those is the Difficulty Number for a +10% increase. Each additional +10% increases the Difficulty by 1. The above example (loot worth 100 silver pieces and Legend Points) would have an initial difficulty of 7, but increasing it to the maximum would cost only 500 silver pieces, but have a difficulty of 16. The biggest question surrounds the Difficulty Numbers themselves and they are a work in progress still. My goal is for making a trophy possible for a skilled character at the lower end (say, +10 - 30%), while the upper end (+70-100%) is a risky proposition. So far that seems reasonable and opens up some area in the beginning for First Circle characters to get in on the fun, while still demanding that high Circle adepts continue to advance their artisan skills to take advantage of trophy decoration. That is part of what I like about this: it encourages characters to continue investing in their artisan skills, which is always fun.

The additional mechanics that I mentioned up-post would be a small once per session bonus related to the trophy, reflecting something demanded or learned in the course of defeating it. Perhaps +1 to Initiative for one round from espagra scales, or ignore 1 point of damage from an attack from a trophy of a fight you died. This concept is still germinating, but I'm putting it out there to see what the thoughts are on it. The bonus doesn't necessarily have to be the same for every character, but it should be related to the trophy and the memory of the event.

Trophy and Game Aid Examples: