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 Post subject: Ageing
PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 1:50 pm 
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One of the things that has always bugged me about FRPGs is the speed with which characters advance - after a few weeks or months of adventuring, your typical FRPG character will have several levels\ranks under his belt. I'm not convinced that a group of high-ranked teenagers works in a low-fantasy setting like Dragon Warriors - reaching high ranks should be a real achievement, as much for having accomplished so many legendary deeds as for doing it before their body gave up. One of the things I like about Pendragon is how you only do 1 adventure per year, and creates a point in your character's progression where ageing causes more deterioration in your character than you can offset by increasing in ability through adventuring.

The use of age as a motivator I think is quite powerful, and fae curses that prematurely age a character could have significant consequences for their development. Ambitious characters may even search Legend for the fabled fountain of youth, or bargain with fae and demonic patrons to restore their youth to enable them to continue to pursue lifelong goals that are stretching out of reach. Myth and folklore are filled with these concepts and dilemmas, which I think fit DW very well. You may even notice the priorities of the players change as they wrestle with predicament in which they find their ageing character - do they risk one more adventure, knowing that their character's abilities are fading, in the hope of one last glorious victory, or should they retire their character, finally accepting that they are no longer capable of the feats of their youth. What must the frustration be like for a knight used to challenging the most dangerous foes and accepting the most harrowing of quests, to be confined to an ageing body capable of performing only the simplest of missions.

Also, ageing could be a positive thing - the knight that performs his duties diligently, the sorcerer that performs his experiments in the seclusion of his tower or lair, and the mystic that devotes himself to a life of meditation and aide, without an adventure in sight for anyone. I would argue that just by being an adventuring professional and acting in accordance with your profession, you should earn some XP (maybe 1 per month) - an average 40-year-old that bumbles through his professional life (assuming he starts at 16) would be 6th rank, and still only 7th rank at 50 years old - still shy of those Skills of the Mighty!

My original take on growing old (http://cobwebbedforest.co.uk/library/pe ... ?qs=ageing) was that everyone will achieve a certain minimum age, and then start deteriorating. However, I have since been thinking about ageing based on Strength + Health Points. The attributes that govern one's physical constitution should have a bearing and arbitrarily deciding that all humans need to start making ageing rolls at the same age didn't seem very Dragon Warriory.

STR+HP (based on starting scores) ranges from 8 (Strength 3 sorcerer with 5HP) to 33 (Strength 18 barbarian with 15HP). Ageing intervals would now be based on this score - so the Sorcerer reaches middle age at 24 (16+8), old age at 32 (16+8+8) and be considered venerable by 40 (16+8+8+8), whereas the barbarian doesn't need to start rolling for middle age until 49 (16+33), reaches old age at 82 (16+33+33) and becomes venerable at 115! An average human, with a combined STR+HP of 17, would reach middle age at 31, old age at 48 and be venerable at 65 - life expectancies were much shorter in the pseudo-Dark Age setting of DW, but lucky rolls could still see even a character with low STR+HP reach a ripe old age.

So...

What do folks think, and has anyone used age in their games\campaigns in any meaningful way?

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 Post subject: Re: Ageing
PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:13 pm 
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Oh true. When I hit my 30's I started getting various tendon damage. Tennis elbow lifting a heavy chair the wrong way, arthritis last year trying to rebuild my jogging fitness, shoulder tendon pain and having another shoulder tendon ripped armwrestling the wrong way (the guy sat 45 degrees to my right).

Maybe the XP system should be expanded so that coordination of teams and armies can contribute to XP. Maybe we need a mass combat system for Dragwars.

I always thought a system where a sorcerer buried in library books will help add XP.

Also I'm concerned at the continuous gain in health points. I know its very, very difficult to get to 10th rank and all, but yeah, maybe a factor to reduce HP as people age.

I know in my school, our PE teacher was the last guy to retire. But 49 for a barbarian seems a bit much....

Really complicates things. I haven't been reading new rpg systems for a long time now, but I haven' seen any rpg implement a really good system of activity for higher ranked players. Probably for a lack of a decent mass combat system. I recall reading in ADnD' that you can take on greater responsibilities in higher ranks but as for 'adventure idea's I haven't read much on what you can do after you have your castle and hire lesser ranked npcs....

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 Post subject: Re: Ageing
PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:45 pm 
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Kharille wrote:
I know in my school, our PE teacher was the last guy to retire. But 49 for a barbarian seems a bit much....


Yeah...

But when you think about it, the player has to roll 18 on 3d6 for Strength (1 in 216) AND roll a 6 for HP (1 in 6). So only 1 in 1,296 barbarians will be able to avoid ageing rolls until they're 49.

I've never been a fan of 3d6 stat generation - the odds of a player rolling 16 or more in at least 1 statistic is about 21%. To create slightly more ordinary people, I use a stat generation method of 5d6, dropping the highest and lowest roll, so such extreme stats are almost unheard of (and extra-special to the players when they occur). It might seem like I'm getting slightly off-topic, but it does mean that a system of ageing like this will be skewed strongly towards the norms (and the truly long-lived will be rare exceptions, like anyone with a characteristic in the 16-18 range, as it should be!)

Oh, and a barbarian's lifestyle may mean that ageing is the least of his worries ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Ageing
PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:50 pm 
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Kharille wrote:
Also I'm concerned at the continuous gain in health points. I know its very, very difficult to get to 10th rank and all, but yeah, maybe a factor to reduce HP as people age.


In my games, extreme strength affects your HP:
  • Strength 3-5: -2HP
  • Strength 6-8: -1HP
    Strength 13-15: +1HP
    Strength 16-18: +2HP

So as a character loses Strength as they age, their HP may also reduce.

I'm also only proposing a system based on starting STR+HP, too, so changes to HP or Strength over the course of their adventuring career would not affect when they started to get old.

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 Post subject: Re: Ageing
PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 5:09 pm 
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Good, good. Wish there was more reflection of the other characteristics. Maybe some simple rules on mobility based on the reflex score and how far a player can run in a round. I always thought strength should be a moveable stat like HP. A guy who is fatigued or weakened should be unable to inflict damage. Maybe an extension of the rules, strength 3-5 should reduce damage and armour bypass by 1, and less than 3 should have -2 damage and armour bypass.

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 Post subject: Re: Ageing
PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 5:26 pm 
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Kharille wrote:
I always thought strength should be a moveable stat like HP. A guy who is fatigued or weakened should be unable to inflict damage. Maybe an extension of the rules, strength 3-5 should reduce damage and armour bypass by 1, and less than 3 should have -2 damage and armour bypass.

I have a house rule that exhaustion can reduce Strength score (with all of the impacts that has on their combat ability):

http://cobwebbedforest.co.uk/library/perils.php?qs=exhaustion

If I'm honest, it's too much bookkeeping and I've never used these rules in anger (if I, as a GM feel the characters have over-extended themselves, I tend to just assign ad hoc circumstantial penalties - I only imagine using this if the characters plan to force march or if the adventure puts the characters under specific time pressures that force them to push themselves to exhaustion, neither of which have happened yet).

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 Post subject: Re: Ageing
PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 12:30 am 
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Yeah. I play computer games. Mount & Blade warband has a system where depending on the velocity of your horse, your lance attacks or conventional attacks get variations to damage. Its nice to create too many rules for a pen paper rpg but we'll never do that efficiently enough, not for a smooth game anyway. Have to simplify it for an rpg...

Sometimes I think since health points are in that 7-25 region maybe it should be used as a stat. Maybe for poison rolls and holding your breath underwater.

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 Post subject: Re: Ageing
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:13 am 
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Here's a fairly simple (limited book-keeping) house rule I came up with from a ways back that deals with ageing.
It allows players to create pre-aged characters, and also details the impact of ageing (though only really applicable in the case of very long campaigns).

Initial Age Chart (applied at character creation only):

Roll Character
Decide Age and modify attributes accordingly:

16-31: No Change
32-47: +1 Strength, -1 Reflexes
48-63: -2 Reflexes, +1 Intelligence, +1 Psychic Talent
64-79: -2 Strength, -3 Reflexes, +2 Intelligence, +2 Psychic Talent, -1 Looks
80-95: -4 Strength, -5 Reflexes, +3 Intelligence, +3 Psychic Talent, -3 Looks

Ongoing Ageing Chart (once game is progressing):

At 32 years old: +1 Strength, -1 Reflexes
At 48 years old: -1 Strength, -1 Reflexes, +1 Intelligence, +1 Psychic Talent
At 64 years old: -2 Strength, -1 Reflexes, +1 Intelligence, +1 Psychic Talent, -1 Looks
At 80 years old: -2 Strength, -2 Reflexes, +1 Intelligence, +1 Psychic Talent, -2 Looks
At 96 years and older: Each year lose 1d4* points from your attributes (each point deducted from a randomly selected attribute).

If this process would bring an attribute to below 3, do not reduce it further but rather roll a d6 – on a 1-3, the character suffers no ill effect. On a 4-6, the character will pass away due to natural causes within the next 2d8 years (such as a heart attack, cancer, nervous system disorder etc.) Obviously this last roll should be made by the GM only, as the year of death would only be revealed to the character if they managed to gain knowledge of the future.

Elves do not suffer from the effects of ageing once they have reached maturity, other than a dulling of past memories (that may eventually be forgotten entirely if enough time passes). This is why, despite their great life spans, elves are not always the wise sages and unrivalled experts one would expect.

Normal spells, even those as powerful as Miracle Cure, will not defer the effects of ageing. True immortality requires magic an order of magnitude more powerful, and has been mastered by only a handful of practitioners through the ages.

*Mystics who have reached Adepthood no longer lose attribute points when they become older than 95. Rather than slowly wither and fade as normal, each year beyond 95 the Mystic rolls 2d6. On the roll of a 12, they have reached the point of absolute enlightenment, and can only continue their journey by passing beyond the physical plane. At some time and place (to be arranged between player and GM) the character will enter one last state of meditation before passing on to the other side forever.


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 Post subject: Re: Ageing
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:26 am 
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One method to enforce the passage of time and ageing would be to only allow earned experience to 'vest' at the rate of 1 xp per week. So regardless of how quickly xp is accumulated, time must pass before that knowledge and experience can be put to good use.

So it would take at least 9 years for a lowly 1st rank character to reach 8th rank.

This promotes 'down-time' between adventures as the rapidly earned xp from the previous adventure gradually sinks in and improves the character.

This could be accelerated slightly by allowing up to 10% of accumulated xp (rounding down) to vest rather than just 1 point - so if the player finds himself with 20 or more 'raw' xp in the bank so to speak, he can convert up to 2 points a week into vested xp.


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 Post subject: Re: Ageing
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:36 am 
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Kharille wrote:
Maybe some simple rules on mobility based on the reflex score and how far a player can run in a round.


I would maybe do this at the extreme ends of Reflexes (-5'/round at 3-5 range, +5'/round at 16-18 range), but it only really makes a difference in combat, and Reflexes scores in those ranges have already factored in combat skill changes.

For chases, though, I like to run these like combats:
  • Your Strength score determines your starting chase health (CH)
  • Each round, each character tests Reflexes, the character that succeeds by the most causes the other person to lose 1 CH
  • Each round, each character may attempt a dirty trick (if they are being chased) or a shortcut (if they are chasing). If successful, you restore 1d3 CH. However, all subsequent attempts at a dirty trick or a shortcut suffer a cumulative -2 penalty to the difficulty. If the dirty trick or shortcut fails, you lose 1d3 CH. Dirty tricks are things like ducking into alleys (or using natural cover, if in a rural environment), tipping over wagons, etc.

The person reduced to a chase score of 0 first either loses the target (if they are the chaser) or is caught (if they are the chasee).

The use of dirty tricks and shortcuts can create a great narrative for the chase and lots of tension as CH scores dwindle...

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