For those of you who aren’t veterans of previous games, Personal Heroes campaigns are self-insert Dungeons and Dragons games. Namely, they are of the “teleported to a fantasy world/sucked through a portal” style games. They’re sort of a D&D-lite (not a ton of character development, as you’re playing yourself) akin to Army of Darkness.“What type of mood is your game?”
My, that’s a good question. In general, I want to run a lighter, more comical style of game, considering with the type of campaign I’m running. Some of the monsters and storytelling may be epic, tragic, or horrific, but I want the game to have the feel of an action/adventure/comedy. That being said, your characters (you) are quite aware that they’re in a fantasy world, so a lot of jokes (such as referring to an NPC as a plot hook) are generally acceptable where they might not be in a regular D&D campaign. Some NPCs may even join you in breaking the “fourth wall” from time to time (though most of them will have no idea what you’re talking about).
“Hrmm…that wasn’t very clear; can you give me some examples?” *
Order of the Stick (www.giantitp.com): (once a) very funny comic that uses the D&D ruleset. -8-bit Theatre (www.nukleapower.com): also (once) very funny…much better towards the beginning. -Army of Darkness: Fuck, yeah. What else can I say? Fuck. Yeah. -Labyrinth: My game won’t be quite this fairy tale-ish, but it’s still a really good “sucked into a frakking fantasy world” type of film. -Pirates of the Caribbean: good example of the kind of fantasy adventure I am attempting to run. Note that I am referring to the first one, as the others were giant piles of defecation. -Stardust: This doesn’t really have anything to do with my game; I just think it’s really good. It is fantasy, though.
“What ruleset are you using?” Ah, another good one! Generally, the rules I’m running are going to be the rules for Paizo’s Pathfinder system. Paizo, a small gaming company, is in the process of designing a rule-set to act as a kind of 3.75. Basically, they’re correcting the large list of problems with 3.5 without upgrading to the cartwheeling-ninja-WoW-animé crap that Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition is. The rule system we’re starting with is the “Beta” set, which is an open playtest set of rules, free to download from www.paizo.com. Eventually, when it comes out, we will be converting to the final rule set. This means A: We will potentially have a “restart,” which means retrofitting characters to the new rules, and B: this is an open playtest. The company is asking for feedback from its players, so you should all feel free to visit the paizo.com forums to give feedback on the elements you like and dislike. Attributes will be decided using the “point-buy variant” in the Paizo ruleset, using 10 points (low fantasy), without the typical +2 to a stat for being human. Please keep your ability scores at least close to realistic. None of us have 18 Intelligence or Strength. I’m okay with stretching your statistics a little bit to make a build viable, but keep in mind that we aren’t especially heroic or especially lame (other than Tom). At the beginning of the game, everyone should record all the information, save for equipment. Your skills may or may not be usable (there is an in-game explanation for this) at the start, but you should ask, as they may be “unlocked” during gameplay. The base hit points will be max HD for level 1, plus Con mod, of course. Because we’re playtesting these rules, I’m going to try to stay somewhat true to the Pathfinder system. This means that I’m going to be somewhat picky about which things I will or will not incorporate from other systems. For example, most core classes and feats from other books are out unless they make a new build viable or do something completely outside the regular system. Prestige classes depend on whether or not they’d fit into my world and the Pathfinder system. You should always feel free to ask me about anything you are interested in using. Any optional supplemental systems (such as psionics, Tome of Magic, Tome of Battle: Book of Naruto Shit, or Magic of Incarnum) are automatically out.
“Are there going to be any house rules?” Yes. Generally, I’d prefer not adopting house rules, as we’re effectively doing a playtest of the Pathfinder rules, and many house rules are merely unclear, annoying record-keeping on the part of the players. That being said, there are several house rules that I feel are important, as they are either specifically built into my setting or they are vital to this kind of game-play (keep in mind that this is a living document, subject to change):
-Dialogue in Combat: Dialogue in combat becomes seriously unrealistic in turn-based games. As an abuser of this myself, I’m aware that players use strategies and tactics that are confoundingly elaborate and often metagame-y. So here’s the rule: everyone can say one sentence in combat (whatever you could realistically say while ducking under a sword). If you guys choose to elect a “strategist,” s/he can say two. If somebody opts to use a standard action just to talk, s/he can pretty much talk the whole round, within reason.
-Downtime: The campaign may jump chronologically between sessions, so giving me a rundown of what you did in your downtime may allow you to do side-quests or make some extra money.
-Leveling: Nobody magically gets stronger in the middle of a fight or during difficult travel. As such, your characters can only gain levels in the off-time between adventures, no matter how much experience they possess.
-Leadership: The Leadership feat will be considered on a case-by-case basis, but generally, the answer is no, unless the character has done something to distinguish themselves in terms of leadership or personal charisma. For example, a paladin or bard is far more likely to get followers than a loner rogue.
-The Planes: This is more roleplaying than house-ruling, but the planes are completely different in my setting than they are in other settings. I’m not going to tell you how, but I can tell you that previous knowledge of the planes amounts to jack, and most planar effects will not actually apply.
-Prestige Classes: Prestige classes represent something very special in my campaign world. While a core class represents a skill set or a group of abilities, a prestige class is a title, something rare and character-defining. Because of that, characters are only allowed to take levels in one prestige class (if they do so at all). There may also be special requirements for attaining the class, but that will be done on a case-by-case basis.
-Resurrections Spells: Resurrection spells do not exist in my game world. I don’t care for them, they tend to make players incautious and they wipe a lot of mystery out of the cosmology.
-Spell Components: Spell components are always tricky in a game. I don’t want to be too unrealistic, and I don’t want to be an ass, so here’s what I’ll be doing: once spell components have been purchased at a realistic location, you must mark them on your sheet to indicate that you have them, and you must keep a spell component pouch (or similar item) on your person at all times so that you can quickly grab and use any necessary components. If the pouch is taken, you can’t cast the spell until you gain/regain its components by some means. You may also work ahead if you know you’re going to level soon, acquiring components you don’t necessarily need. It’s assumed that you’re doing whatever you need to do to replenish components between battles. Most importantly, I’m allowing you to substitute components or foci if whatever you’d like to use instead is interesting or flavorful.
-Teleporting: Teleport will work very differently in my world, which is something that will come up during the game and which I can explain at that time.
-Other spells that are out: gate, planar ally, polymorph (though most of the new polymorph subschool spells will be allowed), and shapechange.