So, at Origins, I got to play at my first Premiere of an Arcanis Battle Interactive. I was very excited about it.
This 10hrs+ extravaganza was pretty fun. Super challenging for my low-defense character (she is a skirmisher and a social-based character), but of definite interest.
Rant: The Massive Damage Rule
I will rant about this one because I like to play Arcanis for the story line, I would prefer to use 3.5 or Pathfinder, but I have come to terms with this edition of the game. It has some good points: someone with a dagger CAN be effective.
Now to explain what the Massive damage rule is: if the damage from an attack exceeds your Fortitude score, you take a wound (which inflicts a -1 penalty to ALL rolls).
Now normally, this is something that is a worry. This particular battle had dwarves with crossbows who dealt so much damage that their base damage guaranteed a wound on me unless I used magic and I did . And they game in large numbers: 10-20 per map. So if I was hit, I took wounds. And I have very few of them (3). Magic helped me survived the adventure for sure.
If your character is not specialized in something, taking wound penalties quickly make you fail at whatever you try to do.
One of the thing that PCI have been using to sell their game is that Arcanis is "over-the-top and cinematic". Which it is - you will notice that I drank the kool-aid. I have seen more really crazy stuff in Arcanis than in Pathfinder.
This rule, will mean that Fate Points (previously used for all kinds of awesome stunts now will be used to negate wound penalties). In other words, what Fate used to be used for will now be used mostly as a CYOA method.
"Oh but JP, you are freaking because your character sucks at combat, stop your whining!" I hear some of you saying. While you are right that I am freaking out, the build choices are my own. And while "regular" adventures are not as deadly as the dwarven xbow lines of death, I will now always be on the lookout for that one lucky blow. Some of the GMs with who I play have very hot GM dice (Lenny) who don't hit you for 1-5 point, no its 15-25 per shot. I may use one, rarely two (of my 4), but the rest is now in a "Save Your Cute A$$" vault.
My final thoughts I am not really opposed to this change. It will change how the game is played for sure. It will lower the cinematic feel of the game. Not a big deal overall. Particularly bad for *MY* character, but not something I would shy away from. I'll say: This is a wash.
Rant: The Rewards
I guess what really got people up in arms was when we received our certs: expectations were that we would get XP on par with a two-round adventure, instead of a one-round. A number of reasons were mentioned as to why this was the case. I won't go into them in great detail. You can find everything in the long thread on PCI's website.
I will say this as what annoys me the most: the "surprise sucky rewards". Now if it was announced a head of time, I think it might've been less of a surprise when we got our "reward". In short, for a double module, we got half the xp of a single module. When I first saw this, I immediately replied "WTF" expecting some type of error. We got a one-time Fate Point that with a few special rules, but that was still underwhelming. See my comments about on what it was going to be used.
Yup, double mod, high risk of death (without ways of coming back), for half the reward. Apparently some people had been told of this "low reward" idea. I had not heard of anything of the sort. I would have asked, otherwise. Like I'm a shy SoB about asking this.
I think the "surprise! be happy to have participated" excuse did not go over well. That's really what threw me off. I do not think it is unfair of me to expect rewards on par with a regular adventure. If they plan on dropping the level of reward, then this must be communicated. BEFORE the fact. A little TOO much perhaps.
This was not done.
Players, including myself, feel jilted.
My final thoughts To their credit, the team from PCI owned and have promised us "something else". Now I like their responsiveness. It was really VERY quick to get a response from them. Now, that I particularly appreciate. Responsiveness is clearly a sign of a company that cares for its fans. So from a negative to a positive here.
Rant: Not favoring those who cannot attend the con
This thrend is one that I have noticed among many of the companies. WotC and Paizo have dropped all the unique con-only content, for events that "anyone can play, anytime".
There is something to be said about exclusivity. There is something to be said about unique content at cons. Cons makes the gaming community thrive. For those who do not live in an area with an intense gaming scene, these are crucial for them to keep in touch with fellow gamers. Adding unicity and special content DOES turn a con into an EVENT. Something that MUST be attended.
I have been quite vocal with my non-participation in any PFS events at larger cons such as Gencon or Origins. Two biggest reasons: 1- I can play them locally with people and GMs I know and 2- no exclusive content (I may have to wait a few weeks)
For years now I have been a strong supporter of my local events, wanting to make them as big and as awesome as possible. This, in an attempt to 1- generate more traffic 2- enhance the local experience 3- make sure the event returns.
Why? So *I* can play and enjoy myself
I do not understand why it should be WRONG for people to want to attend the events. For the amount of money they spend on the event (not just the ticket, but their entry and travel fees), they should have something that is fair and representative of the challenges faced.
I will say that finding balance is hard. But in the end, I think more XP is better than giving out material rewards.
I remember back in 2003 when I started in LG, I heard tales of Gencon and thought it was just the most awesome place to be. I heard tales of the specials and the awesome rewards that were given. It made me WANT to go. I make me TALK about how awesome it was. I wanted to take part in these specials and unique events.
So... ? Decisions and Conclusion
One reason like writing these rants is that it forces me to sort out my thoughts and ideas.
I still dislike PCI's leadership decision to lower the rewards for their specials, but in the end that will not be much of a game changer. Knowing this going in is fine.
I will either attend or I will play something else during the special. This decision will be taken in time. No doubt I will look at what other campaigns are doing before choosing what I will do. However, knowing ahead of time would allow me to make a decision I would be fine with.
Pulling such a surprise on the players was not a good thing. However, I still have a lot of faith in the PCI team and that they will make it all better. All that is left at this time is to wait. I fully expect that I will be back at my table seat next year. This time knowing what the risk/rewards are. OR I will be playing something else. I am still a big fan of Arcanis, the Arcanis story line and the Arcanis community.
I would give myself too much credit to think that they would change everything based solely on my own opinion, as valuable as this opinion is. It's never making the mistake that's bad, its how you react and respond to it. Let's wait and see.
Could I be diverted and play another special next year? Yes. I don't have the program before me!
Could I still be at a table for an Arcanis special? Yes, chances are very good.