Ability development

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jamjan
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Ability development

Post Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:11 am

I'm new to BFRPG and also new to RPG. I just recently came up with an idea to try RPG with my family (i.e. me+my wife+11yo daughter). I did not want to invest any $$ before we know it's the thing, so I chose (luckily) BFRPG after brief review of possibilities. We already had our first two sessions using Darkfir casle ruins adventure from 1st Adventure Anthology and it was a blast. Looking forward to advancing to Morgansfort module next.

My PCs are quite weak though. They barely have any ability bonuses and being a cleric and a halfling thief does not help either when it comes to combat. I was looking through the rules many times and searched the forum as well, but found nothing on how a character could improve the stats when advancing. They get additional hit die with new levels, which is good, but is there any way to improve their abilities? Or if there is not, how do you handle it in your games? Are the abilities supposed to increase during the life of a PC at all? With what they have now I don't see how they can survive any of Morgansfort's encounters. I can grant them some special weapons or make up an NPC fighter to join them for the expedition, but how will they make it in the future, on more advanced adventures?

I was thinking about special bonuses from magic potions, scrolls or blessings occasionally. I also think that I may give them a choice to use XP to advance to next level or improve any desired ability, but what should be the ratio here? 100 XP for one ability point would be good? What are your opinions on that? Or maybe it's written somewhere in the rules and I just did not see it?
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SmootRK
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Re: Ability development

Post Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:11 am

I use houserules for ability score progress (along with an expanded and slightly altered ability score bonus table). The nuts and bolts of it are: Humans get to choose one ability score to improve 1 point every 4th level (as in 4th, 8th, 12th... etc). Non-Humans get this bonus every 5th level (5th, 10th, 15th, etc).

When it is earned, the players usually feel like they got something really big, because it only comes after several levels of work. It makes the players feel like there is some progress other than just hit points, though in reality it doesn't impact the game substantially. Giving someone a magic item or two has more impact than this small bonus (which often doesn't even get a character to the next ability bonus). But it makes them feel good and that they have some (more) measure of control over character advancement.

Additionally, in my mind it makes a lot of sense. Fighters train and ought to get stronger. Thieves practice their skills and ought to get more deft at actions. Magic-Users study and learn constantly, and ought to get "smarter" as they learn new things. Clerics pray and contemplate philosophy, so ought to get more wise over time. Though, I do not constrain characters to only choose the most logical options.
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Solomoriah
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Re: Ability development

Post Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:07 am

jamjan wrote:My PCs are quite weak though. They barely have any ability bonuses and being a cleric and a halfling thief does not help either when it comes to combat.
Here is the problem... Basic Fantasy adventures are just not written for fewer than four characters, nor are they oriented toward a combat-light group. "Barely" having ability bonuses is not usually a problem; if the character has a total bonus/penalty value of 1 or higher, that's a viable character in my game.

So here's my suggestion... you said they are playing Darkfir, and you plan to move on to Morgansfort. I'm assuming they are first level now; award them enough XP to bump them both to 2nd level before or upon arrival at Morgansfort. I routinely give more XP than the rules state, as is my right as GM (usually, I just divide the XP award by a smaller number than the number of characters, giving a higher result).

Upon their arrival at the fort, they meet a pair of NPC human fighters, first level, which you have created by the same methods used for PCs. These fellows have heard about your character's exploits at Darkfir and have decided to help. Treat them as retainers, assigning one to each of the PCs, and let the players run them most of the time (with the understanding that, as GM, you can decide the NPC doesn't necessarily follow orders at any given moment). This will toughen them up as a party to where they are more likely to survive the adventures to come.

ALSO, if you are using Morgansfort as a home base, you might want to add the cave complex from Chaotic Caves to the map somewhere and let them run through the weaker caves there before going to the Olde Island Fortress. It's a bit tougher than I intended when I wrote it...
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SmootRK
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Re: Ability development

Post Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:56 am

I agree with Solo as well. Ability scores or bonuses do not equate directly to weak party membership.

Make a point to add NPCs of various sorts. You could add a guard dog for low level folks - a halfling might even ride a large riding dog. Perhaps a charmed/controlled "monster" might assist. Perhaps an elf might acquire a Coo'Sidhe sidekick (Field Guide), or a barbarian sort of fighter has a "pet" black bear. Familiars (mundane sort, or perhaps look at supplement in showcase) can add a little bit of extra umph for a spell caster. As characters get money, then actual retainers and hirelings fill ranks.

In my campaigns, nearly every character makes use of these sorts of side-kicks and low level boosts... at least until characters gain enough levels that these low level options become burdens in of themselves. I have had actual sobbing tears when a side-kick critter has gone down for the count. When these do become burdensome to keep alive, it is time to move on and become more independent and explore other options. Griffon mounts, Ogre servants, etc. might become more of an option... depends on the campaign/setting.
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Dimirag
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Re: Ability development

Post Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:27 pm

As said before, having high stats does not equal having a better character overall, better to have extra npc helping around.

Now, if you are worried about ability rolls, don't, you can use several rules that not rely heavily on the stat itself, one of the better is presented as an optional rule in the corebook itself.

Optional Untested Rule: If you want to compensate characters with low stats, give them an XP bonus if their overall bonus is a negative one, or a neutral or negative one, something like 5% extra XP per negative bonus, +5% if neutral gets you a base 5% bonus.
Sorry for any misspelling or writing error, I am not a native English speaker
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Solomoriah
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Re: Ability development

Post Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:02 pm

Hey, jamjan, unrelated question... Darkfir Castle is well-known for its lack of detailed maps. What did you do about this? I have an email from another BFRPG fan asking me that question, but as I've never run Darkfir I didn't have an answer for him.
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jamjan
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Re: Ability development

Post Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:28 am

Thank you for your replies. I was on an abroad trip for last few days and did not follow the thread. I'll try to reply now.

My PCs are both female, a halfling thief and elvish cleric. So not battle oriented. One of them has a total bonus score equal to... 0. The other one has the score equal to... -1. None of them has any STR/DEX/CON bonus. I don't want to give them a huge XP bonus right now, cause slow progress gives me more options on using ready made adventures and campaigns (although they are a bit dungeon and combat oriented, where I would prefer some interesting story and intrigue going on - but I can add a master plot to Morgansfort as well and use the map and world description as a scene for my story of course). And if I give them huge XP bonuses now, how will I explain small bonuses after Morgansfort campaign to keep them on low levels?

Right now I think I'll let them meet maybe a 2nd level, friendly fighter in the tavern, that will tell them that they are too weak to try the main dungeon without support and will offer his assistance for half of the gold they find there. And maybe he'll try to steal from them and run away at the end? I don't want to let them control another character, we are all beginners here and this would be too complicated for us. If I controll the fighter, I'll be able to give them advice through him.

About Darkfir maps - the one I found in the adventure is fine enough for us. I did not give it to them, I described what they see based on the map. For the underground, I based everything on the descriptions, also told them what they see, no map given. It went fine, although I had to craft a handout notes of past adventurer with thoughts on how to open the underground treasury, with the brilliant thought that maybe the "sparkling" is the key and not "personality" in the sentence on the badge. They liked the old looking handout very much, and managed to open the cellar (although not to carry all the copper coins with them, had to leave some behind). Overall very nice starting adventure, even if fighting the Darkling and his big bats was too much and they had to escape. Fortunately the bats did not want to go after them and let them run.
jamjan
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Re: Ability development

Post Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:31 am

Oh, yes, another remark I forgot. I keep the combat really simple. I completely ignore the movement part of it, so no detailed map required. I just describe the position of fighting characters, if they are far enough to be hit with a sling/bow or too close for that. It's enough for my players, combat, or strict combat rules is not what they search in our sessions. What gets them is the story, the mystery, the tension and the adventure. So maybe that's why we don't need any more detailed maps to have fun.
Last edited by jamjan on Wed Feb 28, 2018 9:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
Christopholis
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Re: Ability development

Post Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:28 am

Every time a PC gains a level, pick one ability score and roll 3d6. If the roll is over the ability's current score, the ability goes up by 1.
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