Post-20 character advancement system!

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Post-20 character advancement system!

Post by DM-Christian on Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:23 am

The Arcan'dor planted in the city of Weirdale, purely through its benevolent quintessence aura alone, allows not only for the continued empowerment of the city's heroes, but for the occasional complete manifestation of helpful tools, like a magic item wishing well!

Logistically, the long and the short of the idea is an expanded application of the "epic boons" system whose options are presented on page 232 of the dungeon master's guide. We will be customizing the implementation and pacing of the distribution of epic boons to suit our campaign as follows:

Every five sessions one attends as a player or DM, they gain a credit to spend on any one level 20 character (level 20 specified because you never know what side projects we might try here and there) that they have. These credits can be used to apply an epic boon *OR* to purchase pretty much any non-gamebreaking magic item from official 5th edition books (most of them being found in the DMG) for one of your characters. There are limits when it comes to items, such as campaign altering items like the deck of many things, or consumables that permanently increase a base stat. We reserve the right to an "it's ok until it's not" veto policy as a check and balance here. If the item is legendary, (or, heck, even if it's not) feel free to post a scene or work with us to perhaps RP-motivate owning or acquiring the item. The pool around the Arcan'dor serves as a fallback for how one acquires an item, but really you can come up with stories of your own if you like. Attunement rules apply to these items as per normal. There is still a value in finding loot on a monster, but boon-purchased items won't have the option to be refunded for anything short of a DM veto. The idea is that one purchases, for example, a paladin's holy avenger or a conceptually relevant item that you really can't wait for the character to own.

There are boons that render obsolete certain feats that you may have acquired in the 1-20 game. In these cases, should you acquire one of these boons, you may of course trade out the obsolete feat for another with no charge of any kind.

Regarding the shift away from XP and toward simply rewarding attendance, this is being done for a few reasons that I'll be transparent about. First, straight up, it's less math for the DMs. Both Estelle and I were eagerly counting down to the moment when we could stop calculating XP. Ending the tracking of XP allows for freedom in session composition for more or less combat, and to take pressure off the DMs to not necessarily always bring a 20th level group a deadly challenge every time they do anything. Conversely this lets us get "epically" brutal with customized monsters. Essentially it frees us from CR and experience point values in a reality where we will be almost certainly developing custom monsters, or using monsters that don't warrant notable XP, but make sense to be there even though the heroes will steamroll them. They're heroes, they do that sometimes.

Logistically speaking, plateauing at a singular, unchanging, "repeated level" that isn't going to jump in size each time it's attained, we don't really need "points" whose distribution might fluctuate between DMs, sessions and stories, so we decided to look at the general pace and ratio of sessions to levels as we got up in level, match that with a flat number, and extend it to reflect a long-running, longevity-providing model.

(Feel free to skip this paragraph) To get more mathy: The DMG recommends, for epic boons gated by XP, that they come every 30k. Since we are already doubling XP requirements to allow for rewarding RP proportionately, we stretch that to 60k. I've been keeping an eye on the amount of XP I've been handing out in these late levels and it's averaging about 15-18k per player, give or take a bit. That would be 4 sessions to meet 60k, in the late teens. To reflect "post 20" and a longer term game, we stretch it just a bit to reach the nice, round and non-arbitrary number of 5 sessions per boon credit.

Another change you likely have noted is that specifically tracking attendance to pace further advancement means that there is no "absentee progression," meaning post 20 your character will only "advance" on paper when you as a player attend a session, and not when you don't. The concept of "campaign XP" was adopted, much like our departure from XP in general right now, for many layers of simplicity: easier encounter scaling, easier progression to track through the relatively faster 1-20 game, and the idea of absentee progression was just a side effect that we feel we can leave behind now that we are drawing a line at level 20. To be frank, level 20 is a pretty solid baseline for all characters to have granted as a foundation. Epic boons aren't going to create such a huge scaling disparity as having level 3 and level 10 characters in the same group.

What we will likely be tracking instead of XP, to help players maintain their personal totals of sessions attended, is an updated list of episode/session titles in lieu of a monstrously climbing number of campaign XP. I might even fill in who attended each session so people that need a refresher can keep accurate totals!

The lone downside to ditching XP is that little XP spikes and bonuses for "good RP" will go away. Let's be real here: with this group, bonuses for good RP become like giving a pride of cheetahs the gold medal in the 100 meter dash at every Olympic Games. Of course they outperform everyone else, they're cheetahs! You guys are amazing, consistently so, and the only fluctuation I see occurring there are the odd off-days that we really don't feel like punishing you for. The people we have are great, the people we may yet acquire some day will either like that environment and rise to it in their own way, or not like/suit it and gravitate away from our game, and that's fine. Not to be too cheesy, but I don't think anyone here is RPing "for more XP," and I think we can all agree that good RP is ultimately its own reward.
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Our custom epic boons!

Post by DM-Christian on Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:24 am

The best thing about an epic boon system is the ability to expand it to taste. For example, right off the bat we will be implementing two custom boons inspired by flavor challenges within and for our game and the denizens of our game world:

-Restorative winds: The range of any "touch" range healing *or* curative/restorative spell that you cast is increased to a maximum of 30 feet. To clarify: This is an upgrade to the items that some of our healers have that extend the reach of their hit point recovery spells. This boon includes general and specific condition cures such as the "restoration" line and dispel good and evil, as well as remove curse and protection from poison, as the latter has a curing effect. Being an epic boon, and a campaign-beneficial one at that, we feel safe being generous with its application. This boon, however, is suppressed if the spell is used offensively, such as an unwanted exorcism with dispel good and evil.

-Comfortable shape: Alter self or polymorph type spells cast on one's self now last for as long as the caster can maintain concentration, with no upper time limit.

-Pact of wrath:  A warlock's pact of the blade designation and subsequent invocations apply in all ways to any complete style of weaponry that occupies both hands.  This may be a dual wielding pair, a weapon and shield, a ranged weapon or a two handed weapon.  Thirsting blade only applies to your main hand, and still does not stack with other sources of extra main hand attacks.

-Field Medic Expertly applying a healing kit to restore hit points according to the "Healer" feat (DMG pg 167) no longer imposes the "once per rest per target" restriction.  This boon allows the healer to bypass this limitation, in finding new ways to reinforce bandaged wounds and apply more bandages to additional wounds.  Furthermore, healing done this way restores another +10 points per application on top of the entire base value usually regained.


Last edited by DM-Christian on Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:00 am; edited 10 times in total
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Abbreviated tally of post-20 sessions

Post by DM-Christian on Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:32 am

1) April 1st 2017: "Life finds a way,"  
DM'ed by Christian.  
PCs: Aydn, Coronus, Tina, Brice, Nathaniel and Selathanael

2) April 15th 2017: "Friends with benefits, part one: Friendship is magic"
DM'ed by Estelle
PCs: Aydn, Tina, This One, Vorien, Aurora

3) April 22nd 2017: "Friends with benefits, part two: Strange bedfellows"
DM'ed by Christian
PCs: Nathaniel, Aurora, Aydn, Tina, Brice

4) May 6th 2017: "A Council of War"
DM'ed by Christian
PCs: Nathaniel, Gorthak, Aydn, Nightgazer, Coronus, Vorien

5) May 20th 2017: "Raj's Gambit, Part Two: The Sound of Silence"
DM'ed by Estelle
PCs: Coronus, Aydn, Vorien, Jenzaka, Nightgazer

6) May 27th 2017: "I Ship it!"
DM'ed by Christian
PCs: Coronus, Aydn, Nightgazer, Fello, Aurora

7) June 10th 2017: "It's Him or Us: Battle for the Soul of Weirdale"
DM'ed by Estelle
PCs: Literally everyone.

8 ) June 25th 2017: "Dragons of a distant world: Crisis of faith"
DM'ed by Christian
PCs: Vorien, Lenore, Nightgazer, Ur'Zakan, Aydn

9) July 1st 2017: "Raj's Gambit, Part Three: Cashing In"
DM'ed by Estelle
PC: Coronus, Aydn, Vorien, Nightgazer, Jenzaka

10) July 22nd, 2017: "Your Blood Shall Burn!"
DM'ed by Christian
PCs: Aydn, Vorien, Lenore, Nightgazer, Chend
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Re: Post-20 character advancement system!

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