Dungeoneer Adventures: Designer Diary #5: The Gold Standard

Dungeoneer the RPG is fast paced and easy to learn, and yet is packed with depth and tactical game play. You can set up your game session in moments and enjoy playing for hours.

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warpweaver
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Dungeoneer Adventures: Designer Diary #5: The Gold Standard

Post by warpweaver » Tue Jul 03, 2007 6:10 pm

The Gold Standard

Since the dawn of role-playing games we have used a gold standard to represent economic power. Gold pieces, silver pieces, copper pieces, platinum pieces, credits, scrip, paper bills, you name it. Almost any type of tangible currency that has ever existed has been made use of in some role-playing game.

In Dungeoneer Adventures you do not keep track of money.
There is no where on your hero record sheet to keep track of gold, silver or any other economic currency. You can have treasure, but treasure is always useful in some way, it's not just cash.

Of all the things we removed from Dungeoneer Adventures, I felt that the lack of a currency model was going to be the most difficult. As has been the case oh so often in the process of developing the game, I was wrong. This time, it was a pleasant surprise.

The "gold standard" in Dungeoneer Adventures is not money or coins or credits, its glory.

Glory is used by heroes to generate just about every beneficial effect in the game. Glory is what you use when you want to cast a spell, glory is what you use when you want to let loose a bloodcurdling war cry, glory is what you use when you want to haggle with a shopkeeper, glory is what you use when you want to call in a favor from the local guild. It’s all one currency, its money, luck, mana, endurance and every other currency you have heard of in an RPG before all rolled into one.

At first this might seem unfamiliar, even broken.
How can it be that casting too many spells means you are out of gold?
How can an extravagant shopping spree drain you of the vital energy you need to go berserk?

The true magic of glory is that it is not just the condensation of a few distinct concepts into a single currency; it’s the agglomeration of ALL the different ways your hero could be powered up into a single metric. Either you have glory, or you don't. Your entire position in terms of how pumped up and ready to rumble you are, is represented by the value of your glory pool. How you use it is up to you.

It's a liberating experience once you get accustomed to it.
You get to spend your glory however you want.

If it makes sense to role-play rich, just start digging into your pockets and keep pulling out what you need until the glory is gone.

If it makes sense to role-play well connected, spend the glory and allies will be coming out of the woodwork.

Want to be seen to be seething with the potent arcane energy of the Eldritch Lords? Just pay your glory and you are surrounded by a brilliant nimbus of whatever color suits you best.

In the contemporary vernacular, "Have it your way".

Glory represents the total potential of your hero to manifest beneficial game influencing effects. (Peril, as was mentioned earlier represents the total exposure to risk you currently face.)

You don't need to spend glory to do minor actions, economic or not. If you just want to make a strange blue pattern glow on your palm, go ahead. If you want a beer in the pub, just order it. Actions only costs glory if they have an effect on the mechanical aspects of the game. If that blue pattern allows you to scry into the tomb of the lich lord, you had best pay your glory. If the beer is a subtle bribe meant to loosen up the merchant’s son and get him to reveal the secret trade route, then you need to pay glory.

Decisions like what type of beverage you have in the tavern, a cheap stock beer or a fancy variety of aged wine, are made as role playing decisions instead of economic transactions. Food, minor pieces of equipment and clothing all fade into the background, where they belong. A true hero only ever worries about what's in his back pocket when he is trying to dig out the powerful root that will save his compatriot from a deadly poison, or to pull out the shattered metal fragments of his hereditary blade. If he wants to smoke some pipe weed, he just reaches into his pipe and smokes the pipe weed. If he wants to be disappointed in his lack of pipe weed, then he cannot find it.

The game that did this best before was Toon. Toon had a marvelous set of rules, I was always sad that it did not take off more. For a time, my gaming fix was only really satisfied if I had a chance to carefully build and micromanage a vehicle in Car Wars and then role-play someone truly chaotic in Toon.

Car wars is a really great game that makes the experience of optimizing multiple variable problems (weight, space and money) actually into a fun experience for those of us who love that kind of mathematical task. Champions was similar in that a large part of the enjoyment of the game was derived from the extremely complex and well-balanced character creation system. Champions with hit points divided into body and stun and its power activation currency divided into endurance costs, charges and activation rolls made as good use of the complexity of multiple currencies as possible.

Dungeoneer takes out much of this complexity and replaces it with a system where each hero, instead of holding a number of different values for their currencies holds only 3, glory, peril and wounds. The tricky multiple currency optimization step in Dungeoneer Adventures is in working together as a party to solve the challenges of the dungeon.

How much glory does the wizard have?

Did the gladiator accumulate too much peril last round?

Can the rogue afford to pay to ready that most excellent treasure and still have enough glory left to deal with the next exploration phase?

Don't miss the old gold standard. Be prepared to experience a brand new role playing game where each hero acts synergistically with their fellow party members to solve challenges and overcome adversity. In Dungeoneer Adventures, each hero is simpler than a standard RPG hero. The real skill, which is difficult to master, is the cooperative integration of the group of heroes into a fine tuned machine of monstrous destruction! (As a side effect, monetary greed is not a part of a true hero’s motivation. )

Play quickly.
Play together.
Play Dungeoneer Adventures.

Onward to glory!
_________________
bye for now,
richard pocklington

bobrunnicles
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Post by bobrunnicles » Tue Jul 03, 2007 6:25 pm

Sounds like a cool concept, but I'd have to read it up/see how it played before giving it a thumbs up for sure. Nice idea though!

Banesfinger
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Re: Dungeoneer Adventures: Designer Diary #5: The Gold Stand

Post by Banesfinger » Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:36 am

warpweaver wrote:Glory is used by heroes to generate just about every beneficial effect in the game.
How would this affect, say, a treasure hoard?

For example, a traditional RPG treasure hoard could be a chest with 500 gold, a magic +1 sword (see your other post) and a suit of impervious chain armour.

Would all this boil-down to 6 Glory (for example)?

warpweaver
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Post by warpweaver » Wed Jul 04, 2007 8:32 am

Treasure hordes are represented by a combination of two things:

a) a glory reward
b) opportunities to draw cards

Each hero has a hand of cards. Once you have the Sword Fiendslayer in your hand, to find it, you use a ready action, pay the glory costs and place Fiendslayer into play.

The ready action has some limitations which prevent you from playing a new treasure just anytime. Ready can be used when you win a combat, complete a quest, succeed in your role-play phase or enter a specially marked map tile.

You use ready both to find the treasure in a heap beyond the dragons corpse (Ready:Loot) or to haggle with a shopkeeper (Ready:Barter).
bye for now,
richard pocklington

Nahat Anoj
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Post by Nahat Anoj » Wed Jul 04, 2007 6:14 pm

This looks like a pretty interesting system. Looking forward to it!

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Ogrepuppy
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Post by Ogrepuppy » Thu Jul 05, 2007 6:12 pm

Agreed - depending on price, I'll likely get it to check it out.

Banesfinger
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Post by Banesfinger » Fri Jul 06, 2007 10:55 am

Are there any imposed restrictions (e.g., Referee) on what a PC could do with his glory, or do the players restrict themselves based on role-playing circumstance?

For example, a monk has taken a vow of poverty. He gains Glory. Could he then spend the glory to purchase fine clothing/jewels to impress / gain influence with the head of the church.

Or would the Referee ask this player to spend his Glory in a way that fit the character, perhaps giving a stunning sermon that impressed the head of the church.

(Note: both situations result in the same effect: in game bonus towards influencing the head of the church).

warpweaver
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On the Expenditure of Glory

Post by warpweaver » Thu Jul 12, 2007 12:29 pm

Banesfinger wrote:Are there any imposed restrictions (e.g., Referee) on what a PC could do with his glory, or do the players restrict themselves based on role-playing circumstance?
Great question Banesfinger.
As is often the case in an RPG, the answer is 'it depends'.
There are many ways to spend your glory.
Most of them are based on your abilities, boons and treasures.
Some of them are available to all heroes regardless of their cards in play.

Iin the roleplay phase, any hero can spend glory to use the OFFER approach or gain some extra glory using the INSPIRE approach.
In the combat and exploration phases things are a bit more constrained.

For example, if you have the Bullwark Boon, you can spend your glory to toughen up for a combat round.
Bullwark: Pay a glory. You must be beaten by 2 to loose a challenge this round.
Banesfinger wrote: For example, a monk has taken a vow of poverty. He gains Glory. Could he then spend the glory to purchase fine clothing/jewels to impress / gain influence with the head of the church.

Or would the Referee ask this player to spend his Glory in a way that fit the character, perhaps giving a stunning sermon that impressed the head of the church.

(Note: both situations result in the same effect: in game bonus towards influencing the head of the church).
First off, the hero can spend his glory as he or she chooses. However there are some rules which help the Dungeonlord maintain some level of continuity and roleplaying sanity.

There are two related issues.
1) How effective is an OFFER approach (clothing/jewels) going to be vs. an INSPIRE approach (sermon) when you interact with the Bishop.
2) How much glory is this all going to cost (if any, you can also *earn* glory during the rpp).

The Bishops reaction is determined by 3 main factors.

Calling: If you're calling is HONOR, the INSPIRE approach is going to work more effectively.
Personality: If the bishop is a MERCANTILE character, he is more likely to respond to an OFFER.
Delivery: Your hero is graded on your delivery of the approach. If you roleplay the offer of gold and jewels appropriately you could do quite well. You might actually pluck a gold necklace off the bards neck and hand it to the bishop mentioning how the bard is inspired by the bishops good example in smelting down gold objects to hand out coins to the poor.

There are also some optional modifiers, such as culture or the presence of certain banes:
i) In a NOMAD culture area, anything but the OFFER approach is unfavorably received.
ii) In a COMMON culture area, everyone is easily INSPIRED.
iii) If the "Destitution" bane is in play, while glory may be hard to come by, any OFFER will be well received.

These thing will determine how effective your roleplay is and if the bishop does what you want him to do.

How much glory this costs is a slightly different calculation.
a) Good roleplaying nets you bonus glory. During the roleplay phase, heroes are rewarded for acting in line with their calling (see Beyond Chaotic Good, for more information about calling).
b) OFFER costs you glory, but has a better chance of working.
c) INSPIRE provides you with bonus glory, but has a lower chance of working.

We can describe two scenarios which are pretty much polar opposites.

An honorable hero with a vow of poverty speaking to a common bishop would do best with the sermon (an INSPIRE approach). If the delivery as good, the hero might get the bishop to do as he wished and gain some glory in the process.

A vengeful hero with a vow of poverty up against a mercantile bishop in nomad lands, would be better off taking the necklace off the bard and trying to impress him with riches (an OFFER approach). In the end it will cost some glory, but at least you will not get thrown out of the tent for mouthing off, or worse yet, convert the bishop character into a monster, starting up a combat phase!

Hope this clears things up.

Onward to glory!
bye for now,
richard pocklington

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