Monday, September 27, 2010

Group Mechanics for Shadowitz

A while ago I mentioned group mechanics as something I'd take a look at for Shadowitz sometime in the future. That time came recently. For a little bit, anyway.

The goal of group mechanics wasn't to heap additional abilities on the players; experience has shown me that too much of anything, even good things, can quickly overwhelm a player to the point where he sticks to a small core of abilities and ignores everything else. Besides, my party's plenty tough all on its own already.

Instead, I wanted something that gave the group reason to work together. Much like how some games give bonuses (such as drama dice) to players for helping the game with particular kinds of play, I wanted something that encouraged the players to think as a team instead of as a group of individuals each out doing his own thing.

I also wanted something designed in such a way that you could bolt it onto an existing game without any alterations to the characters, and remove it just as easily. The rules would interact with the game, but wouldn't fundamentally change how anything worked. My players have been through enough rule shifts already.

What I wound up with was something I'm calling the team template. These are group classes of a sort, and each grants a special team knack, a plot rewrite power, and a method by which the team can generate team edge.

That last part's the really important one in this initial discussion. See, team templates are a shared resource. Thus everything about it needs to be shared between all members of that team. You can increase the team knack, but everyone needs to pay the cost to do so. The special knacks grant bonuses to everyone on the team. Everything about a team template is a collective experience. Thus it doesn't punish individuals for not acting as a team, but to truly leverage this resource, you do it together.

I've come up with 10 different team types, though to be honest I doubt some will see much use in any game, let alone my campaign. The initiate group, for example, is a bit too specialized to see broad use. But hey, it's in there.

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