Game Concept: Paying for rare things



  • So the new Star Wars game thread, and getting back from doing downtimes and Influence for my LARP got me thinking.

    Have there been MU*s that used a 'pay for rare <thing>' concept or system?

    The reason I ask is, thinking about the constant back and forth about Force user concepts, or a hundred other things, got me to thinking about the Rarity System in the new MET: Vampire the Masquerade game.

    To explain, it runs on a factor that the book calls 'the economy of cool.' All of your neat stuff is represented as Merits, and your character has a limited number of slots for Merits. In MET:VtM and MET:WtA that is a total of 7. Ever. No gaining more than 7 in play, no nothing. Merits contain standard WoD Merit stuff, rejiggered to actually be useful (I can name off MAYBE one hand worth of useless Merits). Things like Thaumaturgy outside of the Tremere is a Merit; Necromancy outside of Giovanni; Unbondable; special retainers; extra in-clan disciplines. That and more. All the cool stuff.

    The big one of these is Rarity. Based on the setting, some things you could play may cost more. In a Camarilla setting, playing the Cam7 costs nothing. However, playing a Lasombra Antitribu costs 4 merits as a Rare Clan Merit. In an Anarch setting, playing a Tremere costs 4 as they're Rare to be in the Anarchs, for example.

    I've been running a LARP for almost 4 years now using the system and it's worked out quite well. It makes players think about the 'cool stuff' that they'll get, as well as making some uniqueness in that there will never be 'one true build' (well, there can be because OTB is based on powers, but there's a lot more variety of Merits).

    I think this concept would do well to help out with the Force user concepts on a SW game, for example; sure, you may have people who will do it, but not everyone. In the time I've run this game, we've had a few Ravnos, a couple of Setites, a couple of Giovanni (all cost 2 as an Uncommon Clan), a whopping two Lasombra Antitribu and Tzimisce (cost 4) and a couple of Salubri-posing-as-Crusader Ventrue (cost 4).

    Most everyone has been playing core clans because 1) concepts and 2) other cool stuff that they want. Could be something intriguing to do on a SW game (I'm planning on using it for 'age and power' for my game, for example).



  • The staff on Fallen World was initially going to let people pay for things like alts, Seer characters, Left-Handed, blah blah (i'm no mage expert), with 'story points'. IE points from running and participating in plots.

    They mostly gave up on it, afaik, though there's still some aspect of it with certain merits or something.

    There was a oWoD game I recall poking at 6+ months ago (no idea if it's still around), where you had 'X amount of points' in CG, and doing snowflake ass shit cost you points. While if you did a super common (thematically) clan vampire in the faction they're supposed to be and started 12th gen or whatever, you could go through CG without spending any of those points, and then they converted to XP.

    (I don't actually play oWoD, apparently this is actually an oWoD thing, the rarity system. Nice to know. Was my first experience with such a thing.)

    I really liked that idea, even if only because it let me roll my eyes every time some super snowflake antitribu who bought as much generation as possible came on channel complaining about how weak they were.


  • Pitcrew

    I agree.

    The Rarity System from MET does an amazing job in controlling the snowflakeness in a game, and the game I first came in contact with that used it experienced a lot of success with it.



  • @Tempest
    Probably was using a mix of V20 and the MET rarity with some changes.


  • Pitcrew

    Witchcraft and Wizardry made FS3's 'Cookies' their way to buy things. So the more cookies you got, the more you got to 'buy'. Like... non-standard familiars, being able to become an animagus, etc.



  • @Bobotron The rarity system is a good system.



  • @Auspice I liked their system. You couldn't start out your first character as super special, but eventually everybody could be one if they just stuck around for a bit. Or you could exchange the cookies for XP. So you had the choice between being special by being better, or being special by being fancy unique.



  • @lordbelh
    Exactly. If done right (like I feel the new MET version does), it adds a lot of thought process, if not depth immediately, to the character, and also helps deal with rare stuff. 'Do I get Force power? Or do I Mando? Or do I <insert special Star Wars thing here>?'



  • I've actually never participated in this kind of system.

    How are things like "story points" earned?


  • Politics

    Honestly, I think this is a terrible idea. It's like having to pay extra for some special rifle to play an online-mostly FPS.

    I didn't like Fallen World's idea, and I didn't really participate in it.

    I thought we had passed the days when we ridiculed concepts based on perceived speshulness. I thought we all came to our senses and realized that it's not the concept that makes someone a snowflake, but the player behind it.


  • Pitcrew

    @Ganymede I am not sure this is what Bobotron meant, Ganymede. The Rarity System from the vampire game I played was used to allow the hyper rare Bloodlines to remain rare, and to give players incentives to play 'the norm'. It wasn't meant to ridicule or say 'your concept is bad and you should feel bad' but more like... how do you make something rare in a world, and STILL let it be available to all players? Everyone can earn XP, but apparently 'dat starting XP' kept a lot of people from choosing the rare stuff, and the rare stuff remained rare.

    This is coming from someone who super played a snowflake with less XP when allwoed! X)


  • Politics

    @SunnyJ said in Game Concept: Paying for rare things:

    The Rarity System from the vampire game I played was used to allow the hyper rare Bloodlines to remain rare, and to give players incentives to play 'the norm'.

    In the oWoD, there is a built-in reason to play the norm: not getting killed because you were weird. No matter how rare the bloodline, you simply do not traipse around flaunting yourself as an Old Clan Tzimisce, as that should get you killed real fast by the two major factions. Gargoyle? Be prepared to be assraped by Tremere. I'm not even going to start with our good friends, the Salubri.

    In the nWoD, it makes more sense to simply restrict a bloodline based on location. It is highly unlikely that a Csalad is going to show up in Podunk, Iowa, so you can just ban them outright.

    I side with @lordbelh here. This is going to cause more problems than it will solve. The norm in nWoD is just to let people be what they want to be, and this seems sensible to me.


  • Pitcrew

    @Ganymede said in Game Concept: Paying for rare things:

    @SunnyJ said in Game Concept: Paying for rare things:

    I'm not even going to start with our good friends, the Salubri.

    Siiiiiiigh.

    Oh, to play a Salubri. It'd be the one thing that'd get me to try Vampire again.



  • @Ganymede You're siting me on the wrong thread. On this one I agree with @Bobotron , because I've played on games using this system and I had a great experience with it. It made people who wanted to really use those rare concepts, be able to do so. If it was central to their concept, they spend the merits for it. If it was just a throwaway impulse, they tended not to bother.

    ETA: In other words, anyone who wants to be special can, but you have to give something up for it. Not something crippling, just you have to choose to not have something else that might also be cool. You can't have all the things. That makes each individual thing more meaningful, for everybody.


  • Politics

    @lordbelh

    Sorry, old chap. I'll amend.

    Regardless of what that Norwegian goof said, I still think this is a silly idea for all of the reasons I've previously stated. Whatever you do, don't do what the Scandinavians recommend.


  • Admin

    There are two issues with paying for rare things.

    1. Enough people want to be unique snowflakes so the things you'd like to be rare might end up not really being that. For example one could end up with too many Seers in a Mage sphere when it's unintended - yet arbitrarily limiting them after the fact ("sorry, no more apps!") makes it look bad in all the usual ways (" @lordbelh got in because he's TSing @Bobotron!).
    2. It's really hard to find the sweet spot between having the special thing people pay for being so good it makes up for the cost (Seers have access to special Rotes, no Paradox, cool Legacies, etc) or having to castrate the thing to maintain balance, leading to unthematic results ("wait, I thought people became Seers because of the cool stuff they get? All I got was this t-shirt!").

    Otherwise it's not a bad idea.


  • Pitcrew

    Well part of what @bobotron mention wasn't just paying for the shinies but limiting how many shinies one can ever have. So, if Seers are really popular, make that the only shiny they can get, while non-Seers can have a bunch of shinies, since those things are less shiny.


  • Coder

    @Ominous said in Game Concept: Paying for rare things:

    Well part of what @bobotron mention wasn't just paying for the shinies but limiting how many shinies one can ever have. So, if Seers are really popular, make that the only shiny they can get, while non-Seers can have a bunch of shinies, since those things are less shiny.

    This is the sentiment that I think @Ganymede missed. Dresden Files RPG is a fantastic system where there is a balance between what you can do (powers) and how often you can bend the world around you. What @Bobotron was talking about was more in line with this, as you say; you can be as special as you want, but there is a price.

    This sounds like a far, far better solution than the typical quota or justification backgrounds. Not as good as straight up "this is not a player option", but it still hits a fair middle ground.


  • Coder

    @Arkandel said in Game Concept: Paying for rare things:

    There are two issues with paying for rare things.

    1. Enough people want to be unique snowflakes so the things you'd like to be rare might end up not really being that...
    2. It's really hard to find the sweet spot between having the special thing people pay for being so good it makes up for the cost ...

    Yeah, this. I mean, it comes down to what you're trying to accomplish with the system.

    Is it game balance? If so you've gotta ask yourself whether what you're limiting really needs to be balanced. Is a X really more powerful than a Y with equal stats? If not, why make them pay extra?

    Is it trying to get around a quota by actively discouraging people from being something unusual? If so, don't underestimate players' determination to be cool. You'll most likely just end up with a bunch of underpowered X's grumping about the extra points they had to spend.

    Making people pay for advantages makes sense. But rarity is not the same as advantage. Like... are all women in your western game who want to be something other than a wife/schoolmarm/etc. now going to be charged a point tax for being uncommon? Do you have to pay extra on a war game to be a Lieutenant instead of a Ensign just because there are fewer of them, even though being a Lieutenant doesn't really come with any inherent advantages? What's the point?



  • What I prefer are bonuses for apping stuff that actually IS rare in terms of the active PCs, but shouldn't be IC. Older characters, under-populated factions and jobs, characters who are actually closer to the canon archetype and not outliers, etc. It doesn't always work. Sometimes nobody wants to play these things for specific reasons the game should address in other ways. But I think it's useful to build up specific areas during spurts of under-population.


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