Thursday, November 3, 2011

Brunner: Equipment Evolution

One of the interesting things about Brunner, the bounty hunter from the Warhammer series of books, is that unlike a lot of fantasy characters, he tends to accumulate some toys along the way.

Don't misunderstand me, there's a lot of cash he's collected. Somehow we never see him spend it. I suspect that like the manga Lone Wolf and Cub, we'll see he's been saving these coins for a very special rainy day.

But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm not even talking about how he names his large serrated cutting knife because that's what he uses to lop the heads off his bounties or his horse or his pony that he carries various items. I'm not even talking about the 'standard' weapons he starts with, which include some expensive ones like a highly polished gun that works almost every time he needs it to.

Rather, I'm talking about loot!

In one of the stories, he 'liberates' a sword from a false noble. The blade is of a special magical  variety against those of chaos.

In another, he earns a repeating crossbow from an encounter with Skaven.

These items in and of their own, become a bit of a signature thing with Brunner.

This is something that happens in movies and books and comics all the time. A nifty weapon makes an appearance and then everyone wants one! Admit it, how long after the Phantom Menace came out and we saw Double Light Sabers did you see one at the game?

Signature weapons can be useful and fun if used correctly. In level based games like Rolemaster or Dungeons and Dragons, they can be a little more difficult to efficiently fit in the actual game as unless you allow the player to upgrade the item, no matter how signature the Blade of the Family Blood is, it's it's +1 +2 versus Undead and the character gets an opportunity to get a +3 weapon... well, we can all see that old blade hanging on the shelf right?

Another thing about signature weapons and items is that they may have history and significance that showcases some aspect of the character's own background. For example, some weapons may only work for individuals of a specific race or a specific family line. Others may take rites and rituals to activate. Others may just look so unique that they are known wherever they go. One of the fun things to do is allow these items to provide hooks into the game, but not dominate it.

Use and reward players with special items that fit into their own goals and background and don't forget to use them against them when the players are trying to sneak around. "The Dagger of St. McMac! No lowly acolyte would have that item! Arrest them!'

Good times.