Tales of New Dunhaven
Here's the rundown of all the new features we haven't played with yet, the things we're doing differently from the trial runs, as well as the reasoning for some of the House Rules. This is no substitute for reading the Player Rulebook, however.
Three hours turned out to not be enough so many times, and then it was always a hassle to get the gang back together to finish it off. As exhausting as it may sound, I think this game needs an extra hour.
This will affect session structure and podcast releases as well. At the halfway point of the session (whether in-game or at the 2-hour mark), we'll take a short break and perform outros/re-intros in the recording to split the episodes into two parts. That way we won't end up with daunting 3.5-hour files.
The Job Board
Previously, you'd show up for a session and then I'd tell you what the Job is about. But groups can be suited to different kinds of tasks, so I want you guys to have a little more choice.
Enter the Job Board (under construction). Now you will pick and choose among various prompts – given a title and a one-sentence description – then show up at the session to play that specific Job. This should help people think about their team's strengths and weaknesses, or maybe even change the roster a little to fit the task.
The "Core Members" Rule
A Crew will earn XP so long as at least half of its Core Members are present.
What are Core Members? Whatever you decide them to be. Most likely, they're the characters who formed the crew in the first place, the starting lineup. But a Core Member can retire and be replaced with another different crewmember down the line easily.
Down a couple of players? That always sucks, but you can still play. Someone can't play in the campaign for the next few months? Drop them from the list until they come back. Want to bring on a guest player or a replacement for a single session? Sure thing. Half of your team wants to try new characters? Go for it! They like the new characters better and want them to be the Core Members going forward? Why not!
The reason the "Core Members" rule works is because characters do not track individual XP. XP belongs to the whole Crew. It is rewarded for Jobs and their optional objectives, so you can expect to earn 1-3 XP per session. Experience can be spent on specific things outlined in the Player Handbook, but they boil down to Reputation (advantage dice when interacting with people who heard of you) and Favors (equivalent to spending Influence on cartels). There are also Story Rewards that give additional ways to spend crew XP.
Story Conflicts and Rewards
Individual progression comes from a new character element called Story Conflicts. Think of them as TV subplots – there's a main A-plot every week, but the each main character has their own B-plot that rears its head every so often.
Story Conflicts are open-ended and up to your imagination, but the Player Handbook provides some decent guidelines. Generally, they have to be big enough to affect the crews and/or the cartels. As the campaign rolls on, your ideas for Story Conflicts might even naturally arise from the enemies you've made in previous sessions.
When you've progressed your Story Conflict 10 times (by having it and related Recurring Characters show up in your Jobs), you coordinate with me to get your conflict's resolution scene – something that will cap off the subplot for good – and you earn a Story Reward at the end of that Job. Story Rewards are major perks for your character.
You know how you guys tend to latch onto NPCs and bring them back into the action every so often? Well now that has a system.
At the end of a session, you or I can spend Influence/Heat to designate an NPC – ally or enemy – as a "Recurring Character." They can then be reintroduced whenever a scene is being set up. When they show up again, depending on if they're helping or hindering you, they affect all rolls made by crewmembers in the scene with bonus advantage or challenge dice. The more times they reappear, the stronger the effect.
But it doesn't last forever. Once a character has appeared often enough, they get to have a "curtain call" scene and retire from the campaign (in a way that hopefully has a lasting impact on the setting) so that others can have their turn in the spotlight. It will be a collaborative process.
A Recurring Character can also be tied to players' Story Conflicts, and if that character has their curtain call scene, those players earn a big boost in their conflict progress.
Depending how our cast shakes out, Recurring Characters might be able to appear before multiple Crews and advance Story Conflicts for "offscreen" players…
The Deck of Quirks document has a moderately sized list of minor perks that you can add to your character. In a live table game, they'd be shuffled and dealt out. For this campaign, you just get to pick one from the deck freely and attach it to your character.
…With two exceptions. Diviner's Ear and Object Reader are banned. They might not be suuuper overpowered, but they're a bit much and I just don't want to deal with them.
You might notice that, thanks to the DCO's Kickstarter stretch goal, there's a Rare magic-casting specialty for every cartel, along with a few Rare cartels. A crewmember is considered a "Rare character" if they have a Rare cartel OR a Rare specialty.
In vanilla DCO, there can only be one Rare character per Crew. After some consideration, I've houseruled a couple of exceptions, the most important one being: You can have an Independent and a sorcerous Specialty in the same crew.
To give people more room to try them out, though, I'll give another caveat: The rule applies only to official Crews and their active guests. If you want to run a one-off Job with a bunch of weird characters with no XP or Story Conflicts… I'll accommodate and waive the Rare restrictions in that case. It might make an interesting side story in the campaign anyway.