Thursday, August 14, 2014

Allowing Everything While Limiting Resources

I've been thinking lately about character building for D20 campaigns that are ripe with supplements usage. If you've read much here before, you probably already know that I'm a huge fan of splatbooks. I have never limited my players' options when it came to supplemental material, and I like that my players have the opportunity to pull from virtually any resource out there for their characters.

That said, it can be difficult to try to manage such a campaign as characters grow to higher levels. In the beginning, the odd feat here or there is easy to keep up with. However, once the characters have developed to the point that they all have a half-dozen feats, which could have been cherry picked from a half-dozen different supplements, trying to keep up can be a daunting task.

I'm a character optimizer at heart, so my issue is not with the optimization piece. I have no problem optimizing monsters, nor do I feel guilty when I spot a weakness that an optimizer missed and take advantage of it to give them a hard time. Rather, it's the fact that having so many different feats/abilities/spells from so many different sources slows the game down. I hate it when I have to stop the game to say, "Wait, you're doing what?" or "How do those to abilities work together?"

In our current campaign, I'm going to keep rolling just the way it is. There's no way I would take back any of the freedom that I allowed in character creation. However, in future campaigns, I think I have a solution. Instead of, "Feel free to use any official supplements," I think the new rule will be something like this instead:
Any official supplements are usable, but each character is limited to the Player's Handbook, the main campaign setting book, and two additional supplements.
This allows players the freedom to build as they choose, perhaps picking a race splatbook plus a class splatbook, or an environment-focused splatbook (like Frostburn) plus a campaign setting splatbook... or some other combination that fits the character. Players won't be limited at all in the "big picture" choices, like a key prestige class or feat chain that defines the character. However, once they make the big decisions, they have a short list for the minor ones... and with any luck, some of the players' choices will overlap, and the GM won't have to be familiar with 7,943 books in order for things to run smoothly. 
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