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Particle_Man
2019-09-24, 01:11 PM
Has anyone ever tried to run a game where the players start at level 20 (or whatever the max level is for your games) and due to some major curse, lose xp (and levels) and go down to levels 19, 18, etc., their magic items similarly getting depleted, until they are at level 1?

I wanted to try it for the novelty factor but only half of my players are sold on the idea.

Ken Murikumo
2019-09-24, 01:38 PM
The novelty factor may be all the idea has. It does sound kinda interesting though. Maybe for a one-off at least. It sounds tricky to pull off at the very least.

About 8ish years ago, my group tried something in a related vein, where we made high level characters to play in a campaign but we didn't level. Our characters were already at their "peak". I was all for it at first, no book-keeping or mucking around with any new class features. Realistically though, the game got really stale. With no character growth, there was no out of character goal, other than do the plot. The campaign was eventually shelved (indefinitely).

edit: words are hard

BWR
2019-09-24, 01:38 PM
Almost.

For one of the Tests of Virtue my players' characters had to go through (for BECMI immortality), two had to climb a staircase which weakened them. Every few steps they would lose a level and grow older. The final steps would likely be the death of them, both by reduction to negative levels and by age. Did they have the courage to continue?


Now for the unasked for advice:
Unless all your players are sold on the idea, I wouldn't try it. You could possibly make it work with a emotional investment, but that requires a lot of time and effort on your part to make NPCs and situations the players care about enough to make this sort of sacrifice. Simply being told "you have a curse, deal with it" leads to players either trying to remove the curse or, in all likelihood, feeling put upon that they cannot do anything about it.

Mark Hall
2019-09-24, 03:17 PM
Almost.

For one of the Tests of Virtue my players' characters had to go through (for BECMI immortality), two had to climb a staircase which weakened them. Every few steps they would lose a level and grow older. The final steps would likely be the death of them, both by reduction to negative levels and by age. Did they have the courage to continue?


Didn't one of the paths of Immortality run "Get to maximum level. Reincarnate. Do it again. Do that a few times, then you become a God"?

HouseRules
2019-09-24, 03:21 PM
Didn't one of the paths of Immortality run "Get to maximum level. Reincarnate. Do it again. Do that a few times, then you become a God"?

I believe the phrase should be Game Master, not God.

Khedrac
2019-09-24, 04:08 PM
Didn't one of the paths of Immortality run "Get to maximum level. Reincarnate. Do it again. Do that a few times, then you become a God"?
Sounds like the "Path of the Polymath" where the character (which was assumed to be a fighter) had to restart at level 1 with no memories and advance to 12th? three times (cleric, magic-user and thief) before suddenly becoming level 36 in all classes with full memories before progressing on to be an immortal.

I believe the phrase should be Game Master, not God.
Actually no, that was the little gem in the immortal rules where if you reached 36th as an immortal and gave it all up to restart as level 1 mortal (the alternative was your spirit hanging around to advise others) when you reached immortality again you got your previous home plane back (with all of its improvements from the 36 levels as an immortal spent previously) and if you made it back to 36 your character got removed from play and became a Great Old One. I do think that if a campaign ever managed to achieve that the player of said character really ought to take a turn GMing and let the poor GM relax!

Jay R
2019-09-24, 07:50 PM
Increased levels and abilities act as rewards for successful play. Since you are eliminating that aspect, you need to decide what alternative rewards you will be using.

Otherwise this game is like an RPG, but without the positive feedback.

HouseRules
2019-09-24, 08:13 PM
Increased levels and abilities act as rewards for successful play. Since you are eliminating that aspect, you need to decide what alternative rewards you will be using.

Otherwise this game is like an RPG, but without the positive feedback.

It's a negative feedback RPG where the players have to gain better role playing skills as they level downwards.

Anxe
2019-09-24, 09:50 PM
So the entire campaign would be like the Memento movie? That sounds interesting, but I don't think a d20 RPG is the right medium to tell that story.

Telok
2019-09-25, 12:25 AM
I once had a plan to take D&Ds "just reskin it to <everything>" mantra in 4e to the max and run something like that.

The conceit was that gods had gotten over being wishy-washy about stuff and stopped using whiney preachers on street corners. Deific portfolio powers were used to the max and it was wrecking the world. So a group of heroes gathered a small army of adventurers to storm the heavens, depose the gods, and set things right.

It was going to start at first level as the party entered a godhome. Gods would be 3rd to 8th level bosses. Since nobody would have any powers strong enough all the diety portfolios would just evaporate when their gods died. That would take the party to about 7th level. Then they get back to the world, go on one standard-ish adventure, and find out that things are falling apart without anyone running the portfolios. Levels 9 to 15 would be several increasingly desperate attempts to put things right, temporary patch type stuff. 16 to 22 would be a frantic attempt to scavenge the few remaining artifacts to build a god to run things while the world fell into chaos. End it at level 23 or 24 with the party fighting level 30 rats for food and trying not to starve to death.

Really it would just be taking fluff off high level monsters and sticking it on low level monsters, and doing the reverse as well. Figure at around level 12 you could use stuff without the stat swaps.

Eldan
2019-09-25, 01:26 AM
Reminds me of a video game suggestion Yahtzee Croshaw (of Zero Punctuation) once made, where you play an aging hero, who, every level, would lose an ability. To be balanced by player skill.

Satinavian
2019-09-25, 02:59 AM
I have played with the idea but never got it to work.

The main problems are :

- The most impactful decisions are made at the begin of the campaign when characters can change the world the most. That is bad for pacing and bad for your own planning.

- It easily becomes a game of "storing power" where players prepare stashes of things that are far more useful for low level characters but easy to make at high level.

Rynjin
2019-09-25, 03:10 AM
Reminds me of a video game suggestion Yahtzee Croshaw (of Zero Punctuation) once made, where you play an aging hero, who, every level, would lose an ability. To be balanced by player skill.

This game sort of exists, actually. Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption (https://store.steampowered.com/app/691280/SINNER_Sacrifice_for_Redemption/).

A lot of people didn't like it.

BWR
2019-09-25, 03:56 AM
Sounds like the "Path of the Polymath" where the character (which was assumed to be a fighter) had to restart at level 1 with no memories and advance to 12th? three times (cleric, magic-user and thief) before suddenly becoming level 36 in all classes with full memories before progressing on to be an immortal.


Almost.
The Spheres may favor certain classes but are open to all. You need to have three reincarnations where you start with no memories and quest for a certain artifact in a class you haven't experienced yet advancing to a minimum of 12th level. You need to do this with a party consisting of at least one each of Fighter, Magic-user, Cleric and Thief (or equivalent race). Once this is done you have to create a 100' tall monument to your glory and have it last 10 years.

Finally, you are reincarnated again and have to go on a solo quest to at least 12th level where you gain all abilities from all classes you have learned along the way...as well as having to pay full XP for all classes in order to advance.


My group has two Polymaths, a Paragon and a Dynast. I was hoping one would choose Epic Hero so we could have the complete set. One of the Polymaths was almost tricked into becoming an Entropy Immortal.
And once all these PCs have (hopefully) become Immortal, the next campaign will have PCs who are worshippers of the new gods.

Alhallor
2019-09-25, 09:19 AM
I played in an adventure that was kinda like that...

We played some really powerful characters in the beginning and then something happened and we played different charakters that were really weak but had all one artifact from the other powerful charakters and needed to find out what happened to our original Charakters. But the weaker ones progressed normally after that.

Grod_The_Giant
2019-09-27, 02:25 PM
I think some of the World of Darkness games work like that. Mummy: The Cursed and Prometheus: The Created, iirc.

Mark Hall
2019-09-27, 04:13 PM
I can't believe I forgot the Reformed Demon OCC from Ninjas and Superspies: Mystic China. You get less powerful as you level up, and if you ever reach level 10, you reincarnate as a person.