Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting your inFAMOUS in my D&D

I talked a little while ago how I would love to see a version of Demon’s Souls made as a table top RPG that uses dice. Demon’s Souls has got to be one of my favorite games for PS3 period. But, lately, I have been playing some other stuff. One of these “other” games that I am playing right now is Infamous. That came out a couple years ago, but like everything else, I am pretty late to the scene. If you haven’t tried the game yet, but have a PS3, I strongly encourage you to go pick it up for $20. You won’t be disappointed. It isn’t a game that would make me want a PS3 just from playing it, like Demon’s Souls was, but it is a game definitely worth giving a try.

There is one aspect of that game that I think would be really cool to have in my D&D games. In Infamous, there is a collection mechanic which revolves around exploring the world and its tiniest minutia. In order to increase your total health and energy, you must travel around the world, exploring the city and collecting “blast shards”. What these shards are actually from is totally lost on me, but their purpose in the game is clear and two-fold: a) through them you are encourage to explore the sandbox, climbing buildings and exploring tunnels and b) they are there to help you and provide you a statistical, permanent bonus to your character.

This is a mechanic which I can get behind and I would encourage DM’s to do likewise if you have a big sandbox you want your players to actually explore. Looking at this mechanic, I went back to the old days in 3.5 D&D when you had all the tomes, which were crazy expensive, but when used, would permanently give you a bonus to one of your stat bonuses. These books were WAY more pricey than anything else in the game, but the benefit they provided could not be taken from you in any way, nor did it take up a slot on your body.

I am thinking that you could do something similar with these “blast shards” in D&D, Gamma World, or pretty much any other game out there. The key, I think, would be not to give it to the players all at once. In Infamous, you have to collect bucket loads of these shards in order to actually finally get that benefit, not only that, but the number of shards you have to collect goes up exponentially as you gather more. I think I have to get like 30ish more shards before I finally gain another energy bubble.

What I came up with for D&D, which may be stolen from an anime or something… I am sure I have heard about it before somewhere… is to have the players collecting pages of a book. Every time they complete a chapter of that book, i.e. collect a sufficient number of pages, they receive a boon. You could give the boon to everyone in the group and it wouldn’t matter all that much.

The problem that I see with this though is you don’t want to make these boons too powerful, or put too much emphasis on them for the story; if you do over-hype these pages, you risk the players ignoring your story in order to simply travel the world in search of all these pages (that might be a nice way to develop a major campaign, but not some minor quest which is simply a carrot to be waved in front of your adventurers in order to keep them moving and exploring a city or nation).

You could do something very similar with Gamma World. Hell, with Gamma World you could even leave them as blast shards and simply let them build up into gaining some new Omega Tech or some new Alpha Mutation.

TL;DR – provide your players interesting motivations for exploring your world by giving them a quest that offers a mechanical benefit, but don’t give that benefit to them all at once.


  1. Great ideas there! I've got a similar mechanic at work in the 4e Legend of Zelda campaign I'm developing for my kids, and I stole it straight from the video games: pieces of heart. Gather 4 to gain another full heart and more hit points. There are more details here:

  2. That sounds like it would be alot of fun. You could even customize the boosts for each class so everyone is really incited to out and explore the world!

    I wanna play....

  3. OOoh. The legend of zelda hearts idea works really good as well. I like that a lot too. I will have another post about this game talking about side-quests and zone reputation. I think it will be an interesting one.