Skills Don’t Recharge

character-generation-cards-dee-sanctionOne thing that has come from my reading and through player feedback has been a bit of confusion and even dissatisfaction with abilities that recharge. If you know how to do trick shooting, forensically search a room, or break a safe, why would that ability not work every round?

From a mechanical point of view, recharging creates a bookkeeping overhead for player and gamemaster alike. The player needs to remember to shift the card into recharge, and the GM needs to be mindful that it’s happened. Also, what does it mean when a recharging power comes into play passively? If someone has just used an ability and set it to recharge, will they then lack the faculty to spot a detail in the background because their expertise ‘got tired’?

The other thing about the cards and recharging them is that I don’t plan on making the cards mandatory. I want the option to allow for character generation without the cards. The book for 214 will include setting outlines that have tables for the random generation of characters, and I also intend to provide advice on freeform character generation.

That’s more player comments that have presented a clear goal for my writing and development – why cripple a game by making it dependent on a component you might forget?

The game offers cards, but they shouldn’t be mandatory. The game includes dice with little symbols to enhance the story-telling, but if you forget the dice, you can just pick up two 6-sided ones you have spare and use those. Character sheets work just great for organising your game, but you don’t absolutely need them.

If I can make 214 something that you can play with scrap paper, pencils and scrounged dice, all the better. A mechanic and a setting – then get on with playing. Improvise some counters – or just write stuff down – and get on with playing.

Anyway – that means that abilities don’t recharge. If you have a skill, you can use it. On the other hand, you can still find yourself stuck in a recharge-like situation. If you can break a safe, it might take you 30-seconds to complete the task. In the meantime, everyone else could be battling security gargoyles or whatever. The GM will be going three times round the table calculating combat events, but you need to concentrate on opening the safe. You’re not recharging an ability – you’re simply busy.

Practically, the game system allows you to use more than one ability to improve the chances of success. You can use one ability associated with your past career and one esoteric fact gleaned from a book on magickal theory, for example, in The Dee Sanction. In this instance, that’s fine. Still no recharge. You expand your threshold for success by two levels – meaning that you can get a success with a roll of 5 – 9 on two 6-sided dice.

However, if you succeed with a straight roll of 7, you will Stress yourself out – which might have a negative impact later on the in the game. And, if you fail, your team still have the chance to make themselves look great and claim all the glory – reducing their Incriminating Evidence total – when it comes time for the adventure debriefing, or bards tell tales of your groups exploits.

(Yeah, that Stress bit is new and I’m still tinkering with the idea.)

So, abilities, knowledge, expertise – whatever – they don’t need to recharge anymore. They stay on, though using them might take time. Simpler to manage in game, and cuts out any need for analysis paralysis holding you back from using a card now on the off-chance it might be better used next round.