The Art of Whining

This is a peculiar rule. In part it is inspired by annoying teens in popular media, like Harry Potter in book 5, like Angel’s son the Angel-tv series, and Buffy’s sister in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. There was nothing more irritating than the pouting teens complaining the injustices of the world. However, since the wizard-campaign is about a teens attending The Great School of Magic, we of course had to have a rule allowing the players to whine in the same manner. If pouting teenagers are part of the parcel, we had to have it too.

Before the rule were implemented we had a series of sessions, where the group was split up, and the characters were stranded in strange and dangerous realms, where time moved in a different manner, so what were days or weeks in the prime plane were months in the outer planes. These imprisonments gave them good reason for having something to whine about.

The Rule of Whining

Here is the first part of the Whining:

  • The rule is valid until summer (in campaign, that is about half a year)
  • The character’s can at any time choose to whine. The whining must include references to the harrowing experiences in the outer planes.
  • After whining the player earns a Dark Plot Point (and they are cool!).

Yes, this means that the players can earn lots and lots of Dark Plot Points, and yet there is a hindrance. Actually there are two hindrances

Notice that the rule introduces a new kind of Plot Points. These are not the same, as the basic Plot Points (covered in this post), and the Dark Plot Points exists besides the regular ones.

The Price of Whining

One hindrance is a side effect of the Dark Plot Points, the other is the nature of whining. It is rather simple, the players can’t stand it. At first it was fun for them whining about the harsh reality of teenage wizards, but at length it became exhausting for the players to whine, and thus they toned down the amount of whining. It is quite fun to see a rule limited mainly by how draining it is to use. The other hindrance is covered below, and it comes from possessing Dark Plot Points

The Reward for Whining

So let’s tak a look at Dark Plot Points. They are used next to regular Plot Points, that I described only in the most basic terms earlier. Dark Plot Points also last one season and they are part of the same theme as the whining rule.

Dark Plot Points

They have two effects. One is activated, once you posses the point and the other, when the point is spent.

For possessing Dark Plot Points

  • For each Dark Plot Point possessed the character have -2 CHR. This represents their glum and dark outlook. At 0 CHR the character is unable to act due to his or her depressive mood. Charisma is regenerated 1 pt a day after the point is spent.
  • With 1 or more points, the character have -4 on all social skill checks involving children or animals (this includes familiars). Combined with the charisma penalty the character is easily estranged from his familiar and any other pets.
  • With 1 or more points you gain +1 caster level, when creating magic items (yup, magic items become more powerful, when created by an emotionally charged wizard)
  • With 2 or more points, the caster gains +1 caster level with spells (yup, they become more powerful spell casters) [remember this stacks with Thing’s My Master Taught Me and The Art of Doing it Cool]

Dark Plot Points can be spent for the following effects

  • Magic of the Darkened Mind (cost 1): Add a Fear Effect to a spell
  • Prophetic Dream (cost 1): GM creates a prophetic dream, the player suggests theme and/or subject
  • Networking with the Underworld (cost 1+): The PC gains a contact in the criminal underworld
  • Contraband (cost 1+): The character acquires an illegal or restricted product (drugs, poison, holy symbols – since religious practice in Glantri is forbidden).

Two of the options have a variable cost. It is a difficult to set the exact price for various substances and contacts, so they are based on a negotiation between player and GM. The player informs the GM, what he wants, and GM presents a price.

The Right Amount of Whining

As the points work right now, it is an advantage to have at least two Dark Plot Points, as this adds a caster level, but this also means the character have -4 CHR and additionally -4 on social checks dealing with e.g. his familiar. Of course it is even better to have more points, so you both can have the extra caster level and spare points to spend, but will you pay the price in glum looks and whining?

Why oh Whine ?

Now the purpose of the Dark Plot Points is to play a bit with the conflict between mastering dark powers and being an empathic person. How much will you sacrifice for power? The other purpose is to point ahead in the campaign. The prophetic dreams allow the players to choose subjects, they have an interest in, and then the DM can create hints of what is to come.

Likewise the opportunity to gain a network with the underworld represents the characters’ growing involvement with the intrigues and dirty tricks, that is a part of their world. Few wizards are above employing thieves, smugglers and others for their intrigues. When all your opponents master’s magic, you need alternative resources.

Finally it allows us to explore the whiny aspects of teens, and the idea of estrangement as the price for power. We are having fun.

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About Morten Greis

Historiker, etnolog, brygger, fægter, rollespiller, science fiction entusiast History and Ethnology, brewer and fencer, roleplayer and science fiction enthusiast View all posts by Morten Greis

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