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Advice for options for a "Warlords of Alexander" game?


PoppySeed45

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As it says above, I'll be doing an game based on the "Warlords of Alexander" setting written by the esteemed Paul Elliott.

 

Of course, he wrote back on 2004, long before we had the BGB, and so, I'd like to ignore his rule thingies, and using the BGB, pick stuff that will probably fit the game.

 

For the record, I'm doing this game as Historical Fantasy, so, mostly, we use the historical setting as outlined in the PDF, but I'm saying that wizards are a thing (using the standard Magic rules) and that priests can get blessings and such from the gods (using the Allegiance system - I don't really want the priests to have "magic" though).

 

That said, there are a plethora of decisions to make in a BRP game, and I'd like some help/advice to make them. I played BRP games a LONG time ago (like, 20+ years ago) and I'm approaching this now again as a gamemaster, and so, I don't have a lot of experience with the "interactions" between different rules. So keep that in mind as I ask things here.

 

1. For example, as the game outlined above, what should the starting level be? Normal? Heroic? Or what? My initial thought is Heroic, so that, if a player wants to be a mage, I can "nerf" them to start at normal, while the other players get the boost of being Heroic. Or is that not necessary and everyone can comfortably be at the same starting point? Thing is, I'd like to be able to give those players who don't choose magic something if there is a player who does. 

 

2. Is it too unbalancing to do Step 6 of character generation (the Personality Type Skills), or not? I like the idea, but I don't know if it throws skill totals off too much.

 

3. As mentioned above, there will be magic users in the setting. Is it better to use Magic or Sorcery? Or rather, what's the difference? As far as I can see, the major difference is that ,magic forces the character to spend skill points on spells. Sorcery doesn't. Am I missing any other implications?

 

That's it so far, and all help, commentary, and ideas are appreciated. I should note, I'm only using the BGB, and don't have, and have no intention, of getting any other books. In essence, this game is a "test". If that campaign goes well, I'll probably end up buying other books like Rome and Magic World.

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I think the main question is how can the rules contribute to have PCs –and their players- live, react and perceive the world as people indeed used to. So leave any optional rule which is not required, the players can use them if they want to (e.g. ENC or hit location). Keep only those who contribute to the flavour (e.g. allegiance).

  1. normal or heroic seem more suitable to me but every group of players shall be able to decide what they want to play: this depends on the campaign you want to play, not so much on the setting itself. So don’t make it a golden rule. Even Epic could be ok, but involves some experience and a good knowledge of the setting from the players themselves. Superhuman is I think more suited for mythic games, not for historical. The rules manage the balance between magic-users and non magic users, so you shouldn’t have to worry about this. The question is more about the genre than the level, that is accessible supernatural and wonderful things are. The Celestial Empire gives guidelines to play different genres, you may have a look at it.
  2. I agree with you. I would use step 6 only for epic.
  3. Here again this depends on how people at that time conceived magic. It is more a question of flavor rather than of mechanics: chose the one which fits the best in the perception of supernatural powers by those who lived in this period of History. You may also use several systems, a Greek magician is probably different from a Babylonian one. You may try this: write a list of the spells you imagine for the setting and how they look like a compare to the spell lists in the BGB: take the one which fits in the best. Nevertheless, supernatural things who may require specific rules which translate into mechanics a peculiar perception of the world. I had to write new ones for the Siberian shamanism in Wind on the Steppes, but if you can avoid it, keep the standard ones with some cosmetics.

All this of course is "my humble opinion".

Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

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For the record, I'm doing this game as Historical Fantasy, so, mostly, we use the historical setting as outlined in the PDF, but I'm saying that wizards are a thing (using the standard Magic rules) and that priests can get blessings and such from the gods (using the Allegiance system - I don't really want the priests to have "magic" though).

 

That said, there are a plethora of decisions to make in a BRP game, and I'd like some help/advice to make them. I played BRP games a LONG time ago (like, 20+ years ago) and I'm approaching this now again as a gamemaster, and so, I don't have a lot of experience with the "interactions" between different rules. So keep that in mind as I ask things here.

 

BRP is very forgiving, so whatever you want to include should work OK.
 

 

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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BRP is very forgiving, so whatever you want to include should work OK.
 

 

 
The campaign level really depends on what you want to achieve when you start the game.
 
Everyone should be OK to start at the same level. You might want to give Mages a few more spells, to make them useful.
 
I wouldn't make the Mage start at a higher level, unless there is a good reason in the story/campaign for doing so. There is no guarantee the Mage will take magic skills and could use the extra points to boost other skills, which might annoy other players.
 

 

 
No, skill totals are not that important. People generally spread points around the skills, rather than concentrating on making a few skills very high.
 
If you introduce a cap on each skill, so that no skill can exceed a certain amount, or no skill can have a certain amount added, then you can restrict very high skills.
 
 
 
I'm not really keen on either Magic or Sorcery, as written in the BRP rules, as I prefer the RQ3 style of doing things.
 
However, it might be worth splitting the magic into two parts:
One gained from Deities, which does not need skill points for the spell (So, would use Sorcery)
One learned and studied, that does need skill points for the spell (So, would use Magic)
 
That way, Mages could learn spells and study, allowing them to increase the chance of casting spells, so a more skilled Mage has a better chance of casting magic.

 

 
So, the likes of Basic Magic and Legend are out, then? That might be a little restrictive, as they have a lot more in the way of magic to use.
 
 

 

 

Yeah, those are out; I've no wish to start reading anything new at this date past what I'm already reading. Also, thanks for the advice! Things to think on.

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I think the main question is how can the rules contribute to have PCs –and their players- live, react and perceive the world as people indeed used to. So leave any optional rule which is not required, the players can use them if they want to (e.g. ENC or hit location). Keep only those who contribute to the flavour (e.g. allegiance).

  1. normal or heroic seem more suitable to me but every group of players shall be able to decide what they want to play: this depends on the campaign you want to play, not so much on the setting itself. So don’t make it a golden rule. Even Epic could be ok, but involves some experience and a good knowledge of the setting from the players themselves. Superhuman is I think more suited for mythic games, not for historical. The rules manage the balance between magic-users and non magic users, so you shouldn’t have to worry about this. The question is more about the genre than the level, that is accessible supernatural and wonderful things are. The Celestial Empire gives guidelines to play different genres, you may have a look at it.
  2. I agree with you. I would use step 6 only for epic.
  3. Here again this depends on how people at that time conceived magic. It is more a question of flavor rather than of mechanics: chose the one which fits the best in the perception of supernatural powers by those who lived in this period of History. You may also use several systems, a Greek magician is probably different from a Babylonian one. You may try this: write a list of the spells you imagine for the setting and how they look like a compare to the spell lists in the BGB: take the one which fits in the best. Nevertheless, supernatural things who may require specific rules which translate into mechanics a peculiar perception of the world. I had to write new ones for the Siberian shamanism in Wind on the Steppes, but if you can avoid it, keep the standard ones with some cosmetics.

All this of course is "my humble opinion".

 

Thanks very, very much. You've confirmed a lot of what I've already been thinking, so that's nice. As I said, I played this so long ago (and never, naturally, as the BGB since it didn't exist then), so I'm a little unsure. It's also good to hear that the system is quite forgiving of, well, little rules hiccups, let's say (I recently came off a Burning Wheel campaign, which is NOT forgiving at all; the rules mesh so tightly together, you can't really, say, adjust points in Character Generation without upsetting something else, and sometimes it's hard to see WHAT you've upset).

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If using Magic instead of Sorcery, I would warn against nerfing mages skill points as they'll be spending these on spells instead of skills the other PCs will. This is already a kind of nerf built into the system. You want your spell casters to be as competent in their craft as your warriors or they'll feel cheated.

Just my 2 cents.

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I usually use 'Step 6 of character generation' for non-magic characters in a setting where magic is common. It gives the non-magic users a slight advantage, but the magic-throwers still have their time to shine. Helps to start a 'normal' campaign without any losses.

For small groups in a historic setting I also go with the Total-Hitpoint option to prevent Major Wounds from happening too often without the need to downscale a battle. Not using 'Hit Locations' on player characters also helps to keep characters in a longer campaign (where the overall story is the point in playing it).

For short adventures and one-shots this is a total different story.

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