Saturday, December 5, 2009

Power Up

Berserk 24 brings us to a different point in the series. While there has been a lot of 'evil' magic and monsters roaming about the world, there hasn't been any counter point to them. It might be a question that a noisy player asks, "why haven't the monsters taken over everything?"
To be fair though, the monsters do have a lot of power in this setting. In the first few volumes, the ones Guts was fighting were nobles, rulers even.
But still, why not? It might be that there are magic users but as in many forms of sword and sorcery, they tend to rely on ritualized magic and they tend to remain hidden away from a world that at times fears and shuns them and at other times demands their services.
In this installment, we have another guide for Guts. Like the Skull Knight, this is an individual whose experiences with magic and history we don't know, but based on the information here, it comes out that the witch has almost sage like capacity to answer questions.
Sages are a long used method of getting players particular information. At times they are also useful for spurring the party onto new quests.
In this instance, because Guts ans his allies are going to be helping the witch, the witch in turn provides them with a few items of power tied into the elements. Guts ironically enough, declines, wishing to stay with his dragon slayer blade. He finds it easier to use.
This is another thing to think about when playing. Are the players prepared for what's coming around the corner? By giving them a boost in power, the game master could be saying a few things.
1. I've screwed up. You guys are only alive because of excellent team work and power selection.
2. It's time. The campaign has reached a point where you'll need these standard items to move on.
3. It's really time. The campaign has reached a point where you'll need these above standard items to move on and possibly survive.
The latter is a bit of a 'no guts no glory' thing but it's fairly common, especially in older editions of Dungeons and Dragons where a low to mid level party may stumble across something like Black Razor, a soul devouring sword, in their travels.
When possible, make the items something that can advance with the players. In some systems like Hero, that might be as simple as adding more points to the item at a latter date. In others like Dungeons and Dragons, you may want to allow the item to grow in power with the players, changing the item's level as the character levels goes up. If you do that, keep in mind that you've increased this item's level and ability and to take that away from future magic item treasure drops.
Magic items can add a lot of personality to a campaign and the types of items you provide can make the game more unique or make it more of the same. Choose wisely.