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Thursday 8 May 2014

Lords of Olympus: Artificing and Items

Tomorrow, I'm going to be running Lords of Olympus at a special event, a kind of mini-con that has been organized by the excellent Uruguayan RPG forum,
The event is being held at the INJU, which is the government organization for Uruguayan youth, and its quite possible that a significant number of the attendees are going to be teenagers with no prior experience in RPGs, so this is the kind of thing I think is a great opportunity for expanding the local hobby.  It should also be interesting to see how relatively novice gamers handle this kind of RPG.

For the one-shot, I'll be running a game with pre-made characters, and in keeping with the theme of the event, they'll be playing teenage scions of the gods, gathered together at a kind of High School for future Olympians.  I'll be using the option of having each character with a divine theme, and I've chosen some that are fairly amusing to see what they do with these: what exactly can you find a use for, if you're the patron demigod of Boy Scouting, Social Awkwardness, MMORPGS, Punk Rock, Meaningless Relationships, or Adorable Pets?

Anyways, we'll see how it goes, but while I was writing up the characters, I got to thinking about items; some of the sample characters will have some.  My rules for items were a significant divergence from what you see in a game like Amber (though of course, almost all the powers are divergent in Lords of Olympus). 

I'd played a lot of Amber campaigns before writing Lords of Olympus, and my experience was that, inevitably, one or more players would see the item creation rules as a way to get serious power on the cheap.  Now, there's nothing particularly wrong with "serious power on the cheap" in this kind of game; but the way this works in that kind of system is not all that interesting. If there was one area of the Amber rules where you ended up excessive in the 'point accounting' details, and the potential for perceived min-maxing, it was with the item rules.
Note also that I say "perceived" because in fact, items rarely lived up to their worth; they were a suboptimal investment in points, and this was notable by how more experienced players that had played in a couple of campaigns would generally avoid going apeshit on the magic items.

The thing is, as a GM in a Lords of Olympus game, you don't want to discourage your players from obtaining power, and the costs that come with it; but there's much more interesting things (to me, anyways) than doing this with items.  Of course, I didn't want to completely get rid of the opportunity to allow a player to unwisely over-invest in items, I just thought it might be best to make it a little less appealing, particularly to newbies.

So the way I dealt with this was to create two different types of item-generation: Olympian Artificing, and Daemons.  The former is pretty much a standard method for item creation, but it has been made optional for the GM to decide whether they want to have in their campaigns.  The latter is both the creature-creation rules and a way to make items that have their own intelligence, daemons bound in the form of an object with powers.   I made this the core method for starting items because I think it adds a whole other dimension of both interest and complexity.  Daemons have minds of their own, they won't always (or shouldn't always!) cause trouble for their owners, but they also won't just be a thing their owner can use.  It makes an artefact something that the player character needs to interact with.  From my point of view, that makes it way more interesting.


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