Friday, March 28, 2008

Tactical Combat Musings: Reach

Preliminary thoughts:

Reach is normally ranked from 1-100. Anything over 100 requires ranged weapons (for a normal-sized person).

Weapons have an effective range of reach. A long pike, for instance, might be useful at 95-100. A longsword might be useful at 45-55.

Some natural weapons (including fists and things) would have no minimum reach.

Some weapons may have a semi-effective range as well. A longsword might be semi-effective down to range 30.

Some weapons may, essentially, be two weapons in one - each with a different range. For instance, a nasty cutlass with a spiked basket-hilt might have a range or 40-50 for the blade and a range or 10-15 for the hilt. Or something.

Range would be modified by height. A four-foot-tall goblin might subtract 10 from his weapon's reach. A big, burly basketball-player-sized barbarian might add 8. A fifteen foot tall giant might add 70.

The thing is - outside of your weapon's range - your weapon can't be used. Thus, a lot of combat would involve maneuvering to keep melee in your weapon's effective range and outside of your opponent's...

Depending on the rest of the combat system this could have some nice effects:
  • Big things would be really scary, particularly if they could keep you at a distance.
  • Small things could be bad if they got inside your reach, since they'd be effective at that range and you'd be largely limited to trying to push them away.
  • Between similarly-sized opponents, small differences in reach still matter - and footwork becomes important.
Of course, weapons also end up having up to three or four sets of stats. Too complicated? I don't know.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rethinking Tactical Combat in RPGs

Two months ago, I posted about my frustrations with how big monsters are handled in D&D. This is part of a larger frustration I have with tactical combat in RPGs.

How to define this larger frustrations? Well, there are a number of things that RPGs tend to model poorly: size differences between combatants, positional advantages, the importance of mobility in combat, 3-D combat (aerial, underwater, whatever), mounted combat, and a whole host of other things.

From where I sit, there have been four major schools of thought on how to deal with this. The first is the D&D method, which (from 3.0 on) squishes everything into two dimensions and pretends that height (and, these days, facing) doesn't exist. Tactical crunchiness is generated by using miniatures on a grid. 4e previews and the proliferation of powers that focus on moving opponents around on the grid make it look like this direction will, if anything, be emphasized in the future.

The D&D method is often fun, but there are a lot of things it just can't do without a lot of house-ruling. For instance, it can't really handle it when my halfling rogue with a +14 Climb check wants to climb up the back of the Frost Giant and slit its throat.

The second method is the Exalted method, which doesn't depend upon a tactical grid but instead gives you a certain amount of narrative power that can result in concrete bonuses to your action. In part, it is a solidification of a probably-common tendency in RPGs for the GM to give a bonus on actions that they deem cool. The Exalted method doesn't depend on rules crunchiness in combat (though, perhaps oddly, Exalted itself is pretty darn crunchy) to give PCs combat options. Instead, it depends on player creativity, GM willingness to allow players to take narrative control, and a shared vision of what's going on.

The third method attempts to account for EVERYTHING with hyper-specific rules-crunch (AD&D 1e? GURPS?), while the fourth just abstracts all complications away (OD&D?) and keeps combat simple.

I want to propose a fifth method. I'd be surprised if something like it hasn't been done before, but I can't think of an example. Basically, the idea is to do away with the need for a tactical grid and model positioning and such as a series of tactical advantages that fall into a couple of categories (such as "reach advantage;" "awareness advantage" - which would include gradients of surprise, readiness, and flanking; and "positional advantage").

So, for instance, my halfling rogue fighting the frost giant:
  • The frost giant would have a major reach advantage
  • The halfling would (coming from behind) have an awareness advantage (possibly negating the reach advantage)
  • The halfling, after getting inside the giant's reach, would have a reach advantage. After climbing its back it would have a positional advantage.
This also opens up new design-space: you could have other sorts of advantage (such as morale advantage) and PC abilities that make use of different sorts of advantage in different manners. It also has the nice feature of working equally well in three dimensional combat.

Now I just have to make it into a coherent system...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Against my better judgment...

I give you a giant, flying, cave dolphin.

...a special bonus monster overhaul on the Yrthak. This one can keep all the stats the same, I think.

Here's the flavor text:

Ages ago, the aboleth began cultivating blind cave dolphins as slaves, food, and subjects for their bizarre experiments. The yrthak is the product of one such experiment: a breeding program to create a warbeast that would fight for the aboleth in the dry areas of the Underdark. The yrthak can still be found underground in particularly large caverns, but those that made it to the surface thrived there.

A yrthak has little in common with the cave dolphins from which it is descended. They are both blind, and they share a tubular body shape and sonar, but the yrthak are three to four times as large as a typical dolphin, averaging 20 feet long. Their fins have been altered to give them a 40-foot wingspan, and their dorsal fin has also been enlarged to aid them in flight. They have two rear claws in the place of a tail.

A yrthak senses sound and movement by means of echolocation and, straining itself, can emit a powerfully focused beams of sound usable as a devastating weapon. The creature is a yellowish-green color, with the wings and fin being more yellow and the head and body more green. The teeth are yellow.

Despite their intelligence, yrthaks do not speak. Some of those that live underground comprehend the language of aboleths.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Krenshar: the less stupid version?

The Krenshar.

Along with the Yrthak (which I won't even link to), it embodies the worst in 3e monster design: "We need a CR [X] [creature type Y] with an attack of [type Z]."

In the case of the Krenshar
X=1
Y-magical beast
Z=fear

It is a big-ish cat-like monster that can pull its skin off of its face to scare you.

Lame.

Jeff posted on his blog about this general issue
(not the Krenshar specifically), and - for no particular reason - I challenged myself to make a cool version of the Krenshar (while not really changing the stats).


Here we go:



The material enclosed in the box below is released via the Open Game License.


Krenshar




Size/Type:Medium Magical Beast
Hit Dice:2d10 (11 hp)
Initiative: +2
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares)
Armor Class:15 (+2 Dex, +3 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 13
Base Attack/Grapple: +2/+2
Attack: Bite +2 melee (1d6)
Full Attack: Bite +2 melee (1d6) and 2 claws +0 melee (1d4)
Space/Reach:5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks:Frightening gaze
Special Qualities:Darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, resistance to negative energy 5, scent
Saves:Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +1
Abilities: Str 11, Dex 14, Con 11, Int 6, Wis 12, Cha 13
Skills:Hide +4, Intimidate +5, Jump +8, Listen +3, Move Silently +6
Feats: Multiattack, TrackB
Environment: Temperate forests
Organization:Solitary, pair, or pride (6-10)
Challenge Rating: 1
Treasure: None
Alignment: Usually neutral evil
Advancement: 3-4 HD (Medium); 5-8 HD (Large)
Level Adjustment: +2 (cohort)


Legend says that the krenshar are descended from the half-living cat familiar of a lich. Its kittens were gnarled, grotesque things that grew to be huge, gaining nourishment from the fear that their appearance generated.

The krenshar is a strange, catlike carnivore. Its furless head has a skeletal appearance, with bony protuberances; taught, ivory skin; and sunken eyes. Despite its twisted limbs, it is swift and remarkably nimble.

A typical krenshar measures 4 or 5 feet in length with a long, narrow head. It weighs about 175 pounds.

Krenshar understand cannot speak, but often understand Goblin or Common.

Combat

Krenshar are malicious tricksters who often work in collaboration with goblins. They dislike worgs, and enjoy making them look foolish. Worgs who have been the butt of a krenshar's joke will often attack krenshars on sight.

Krenshars use solitary scouts to drive prey into the waiting clutches of the pride. The scout appears from hiding, uses its frightening gaze ability, then chases the fleeing target to join the attack.

Frightening Gaze (Su)
The gaze of a krenshar has an unsettling effect that works like a scare spell from a 3rd-level caster (Will DC 13 partial). A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again by the same krenshar’s gaze ability for 24 hours. The gaze does not affect other krenshars. This is a supernatural, mind-affecting fear effect. The save DC is Charisma-based. A krenshar who successfully uses its gaze on a creature with an Intelligence higher than 2 heals at twice the normal (natural healing) rate for the next 24 hours.

Resistance to Negative Energy (Su)
The necromantic origins of the krenshar provide them with an unnatural ability to ignore negative energy attacks.

Skills
Krenshars have a +4 racial bonus on Intimidate, Jump, and Move Silently checks.



Did that work, or is it still lame?

Three Links

(because five is too ambitious for me this morning)

  • This could be a great campaign organizing tool. I don't know.

  • Everyone loves random generators. The dragon generator is particularly nice. (d20 tools)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How should PCs be special?

I haven't been writing a lot about 4e, but I've been keeping up on the released information (official and unofficial). One thing that got me thinking was Keith Baker's recent LJ post, in which he talked about how the PCs in an Eberron game are presumed to be special and use different rules from most NPCs.

Now, I've long been a proponent of PCs being consequential. Its one of the reasons I rarely enjoy Call of Cthulhu... and one of the reasons I tend not enjoy the old school GM vs. player high-PC-lethality style of gaming. Similarly, I'm not happy when NPCs play by special rules. Even when I was younger, AD&D bugged me for its proliferation of magic items that it was near-impossible to make as a PC. NPCs that break PC rules feels like cheating to me somehow.

So... I have mixed feelings about what Keith Baker is telling us about 4e here. I think it is perfectly fine for PCs to be valid targets of Raise Dead when many NPCs aren't. Like him, I think it resolves a lot of funky issues (though those funky issues could easily generate some interesting plot/setting ideas) and emphasizes the PCs as agents of destiny or somesuch. While I also like the idea of being able to throw NPCs together quickly, I don't know how I feel about the possibility of a low-level NPC having a very high skill total. I mean, in principle it is OK - but why can't a PC do so as well?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Random observations (that aren't mine)

On Saturday, Angela and I went for a walk and ended up talking mostly about gaming. Angela has a somewhat different perspective on gaming than I do. She never gamed growing up, but she had an old (1e) AD&D Monster Manual that she enjoyed. She got pulled into LARPing in college - first Vampire (which she didn't really like the culture of) and then Wraith - which she ended up GMing. She played tabletop since then (Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun, Exalted, a bit of D&D, an ill-fated single session of HARP, etc.) and is now running a D&D game and playing in a Mage game.

Two observations she made:

1) D&D is like playing two games. One of these focuses on roleplaying. This game is intermittently broken up by the second game, based around miniatures.

This is a criticism that's often levied at D&D. I find Angela's observation interesting because I didn't necessarily take it as a criticism - just an observation. She enjoys playing minis games (HeroScape seems to be a particular favorite, and she went through a period of time where she played a lot of Warhammer Quest) and sometimes I think that her favorite part of D&D is collecting minis that she can use.

2) She noted that GMing the Wraith game she felt more free than running D&D. LARP lends itself to things like using props, moving players from room to room in order to represent movement of PCs (and change player mindsets), and using body language to convey mood or NPC reactions. There's less flexibility about such things when everyone's sitting around the table.

This is a weird observation to me. I often felt limited in LARP in other ways... and find some liberation in pure reliance on imagination. On the other hand, I see the truth in it. In tabletop games, props are mostly limited to miniatures (and related things like terrain) and 2-D player handouts. When I played my last LARP character (a Pardoner in the Wraith game), I'd occasionally carry around a 6' tall Giger-esque lantern. NPCs often had unique (and well-known) masks. Similarly, I do get frustrated when players in a tabletop game 'forget' that their characters aren't present in a scene (either during it or later). In a LARP, that scene might happen in another room and only the PCs who are present actually take part.

Can a tabletop GM learn some things from LARP GMing techniques? Probably. I'm not sure how much would translate well, but it is an interesting question that I'll have to give a bit more thought to...

Character Update: Bart

Angela's been running her D&D game for over a year now. We play about twice a month or so, on average. I've been playing Bart, my dwarf chef, for the entire time. The group's at 8th level now - though we often end up tackling things much harder than we should. Tonight, for instance, we took out a 17th level necromancer (surprise is a wonderful, wonderful thing... so is luck).

I thought I'd throw up a copy of his character sheet for your voyeuristic pleasure. He's a pretty good example of the sort of character who grew very organically. He started out multiclassing ranger and rogue, but our group was hurting from the lack of arcane casting... and we'd just captured the spellbook of a drow wizard, so I used that as an excuse to multiclass once again into duskblade. I'm enjoying the duskblade bit - in particular, the truly obscene number of cantrips I can cast adds some flexibility to the character. I really don't know where I'll go from here. I might take my next two levels in ranger, but we'll see...

Anyway, Bart is far from min-maxed, in my opinion, though he does have obscene ability scores (pretty much all the PCs do - but we don't have any stat-boosting items, really, so it more or less balances out).

Also, I've taken to creating character sheets in a word processor. It lets me put things where I want them. I like it.


(click for larger versions)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day

In honor of Pi Day, my favorite pie recipe:

TO MAKE AN AMBLONGUS PIE

Take 4 pounds (say 4 1/2 pounds) of fresh Amblongusses, and put them in a small pipkin.

Cover them with water and boil them for 8 hours incessantly, after which add 2 pints of new milk, and proceed to boil for 4 hours more.

When you have ascertained that the Amblongusses are quite soft, take them out and place them in a wide pan, taking care to shake them well previously.

Grate some nutmeg over the surface, and cover them carefully with powdered gingerbread, curry-powder, and a sufficient quantity of Cayenne pepper.

Remove the pan into the next room, and place it on the floor. Bring it back again, and let it simmer for three-quarters of an hour. Shake the pan violently till all the Amblongusses have become a pale purple colour.

Then, having prepared a paste, insert the whole carefully, adding at the same time a small pigeon, 2 slices of beef, 4 cauliflowers, and any number of oysters.

Watch patiently till the crust begins to rise, and add a pinch of salt from time to time.

Serve up in a clean dish, and throw the whole out of the window as fast as possible.

- Edward Lear

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The slippery slope - a dungeon trap?

Yesterday, Jeff posted about "classic" dungeon crawls - the sort that get more challenging the further down you go with numbered dungeon levels that correspond to the levels of characters for which they are an appropriate challenge. Something has been bothering me about the post, but I didn't put my finger on it until this afternoon.

Most of the discussion about that post has focused on roguelike computer games, so I didn't want to clutter it up with a discussion about the more general point, which Jeff puts as:
D&D was designed for dungeons. Sounds obvious, I know. But hear me out. D&D was not designed for ecologically-sound underground lairs. D&D was not designed for adventures with plots and stuff that happen to be set at least partially in subterranean labyrinths. You can do both those things with D&D, but the game is ideally designed for the big, sprawling megadungeon where Orcus lives on level 20 or whatever.

These sorts of dungeons are often considered fairly hack-and-slash oriented (not necessarily bad), but Jeff points out that this isn't necessarily so:
...built into the scenarios is the assumption that the party doesn't just show up to the dungeon and wander willy-nilly. Superior dungeoneers reconnoiter. They map. They plan. They interrogate or charm monsters to get information. Certainly you can slop your way through a dungeon crawl if you want (and that can be lots of fun) but if you want to do a good job of plundering the dungeon you take planning and reconnaisance seriously.
The problem here is that these two quotes aren't wholly compatible.

If I'm doing investigation in order to learn more about the dungeon, I'm going to want to use that information. If I plan based on that information, it had better be coherent. To me, that includes some semblance of an ecology. For instance, unless there's some weird stuff going on (which there might be), things living in a dungeon need food. Attempting to starve out - or poison - things in a dungeon should occasionally be a valid (if not necessarily effective) tactic. It also includes some sort of society. Things living in the dungeon - if they know about each other - will have opinions about each other and relationships (even relationships based on fear are relationships) that can be manipulated.

If superior dungeoneers do a really good job at information-gathering and are really clever, do they force the megadungeon to become a thing of intricate social and ecological detail? Are dungeoneers supposed to do merely a mediocre job at such things so as to not break the megadungeon assumptions?

There seems to be a slippery slope here... and I suspect t leads to somewhere other than dungeon level 20.

In which we make bad gaming/politics analogies...

Last night, while playing Exalted, we got into a discussion about how we would write up the various U.S. presidential candidates as Exalted characters, with a particular emphasis upon their virtues. Here's my take:

Barack Obama: Zenith Caste Solar
key abilities: Integrity, Performance, Presence, Socialize
virtues: Compassion 3, Conviction 3, Temperance 4, Valor 2

Hilary Clinton: Eclipse Caste Solar
key abilities: Lore, Bureaucracy, Performance, Socialize
virtues: Compassion 2, Conviction 3, Temperance 2, Valor 3

John McCain: Dawn Caste Solar
key abilities: Resistance, Sail, Survival, War
virtues: Compassion 3, Conviction 2, Temperance 1, Valor 5

Ralph Nader is clearly a Sidereal (People forgot about him until a couple weeks ago. He can change the course of history by doing very little. He makes principled decisions that have horrid results) of some sort.


What about D&D analogies? Sure.

Obama - Neutral Good Bard. At least 7th level, since he clearly has the spell Good Hope.

Clinton - Neutral Rogue. Lots of skills. Sneak attack.

McCain - Chaotic Neutral Fighter. Possibly multiclassed into Barbarian, but he won't let people see his sheet.

No... I'm not being subtle about my political preferences, why do you ask?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ramblings on monster diversity, combat, and Oblivion...

A lot of people love monsters. Personally, I like reading bestiaries for fun. I can sit down with a Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, or Creature Catalog and read it cover to cover. I think Angela has MMI-MMV and has made noises about acquiring others.

Do we really need that many monsters, though? If so, why? I'm pretty sure it isn't for simulationist biodiversity reasons...

I'm thinking about this primarily because I've been playing a lot of Oblivion lately. Oblivion is a huge game. It has monsters, sure. Here's the list:

Animals: Wolf, Timber Wolf, Boar, Black Bear, Brown Bear, Mountain Lion, Rat, Dog, Mudcrab, Sheep, Deer, Slaughterfish, Horse

Monsters: Goblins, Trolls, Ogres, Minotaurs, Unicorn, Will-o-the-wisp, Spriggan, Land Dreugh (big crab guy)

Undead: Skeleton, Zombie, Ghost, Wraith, Lich

Daedra (extraplanar demon-things): Scamp (gremlin-guy), Clanfear (triceratops-guy), Daedroth (big croc guy), Atronach (Flame, Frost, Storm), Spider Daedra (drider), Dremora (humanoid demon guy)

There are some variants (Minotaur Lords, Headless Zombies, Goblin Shamans, etc.) but that is pretty much it. Most of the opponents are PC races (bandits, marauders, necromancers, etc.)

(Sure, I play with a mod that adds a few monster variants to the vanilla list, but that wasn't actually why I picked that mod... and I'd have been fine with the original list.)

The point is that I don't miss having every encounter be with a unique monster type. It is perfectly fine with me if I have a series of encounters in which I fight a bunch of different goblins or whatever.

Part of this is because the game does a pretty good job of differentiating between near-identical creatures. Differences in armor and weapons (and magic) used by a goblin can make a big difference (for example, a little guy slashing quickly and furiously with a dagger can be more dangerous than one with a slower sword that you can more easily block). Similarly, terrain matters. A bear attacking you on a road can be rather different than a bear attacking you in a forested area where there are bushes and such in the way... or on a hillside where you have to be careful not to lose your footing (all too easy when you get whacked by a bear). Sometimes a skeleton archer might be attacking you from cover (or in darkness), and it might take you a while to figure out where those arrows are coming from. The difference between that encounter and the skeleton warrior that you encounter in the ruins and lure into triggering a trap is enormous.

The upshot?

With good encounter design, and a system that allows you to take advantage of it, you don't need to generate excitement with wholly different creature types. There are certainly other ways.

Do most tabletop RPGs support this? To a degree. Part of the problem with tabletop RPGs is that you tend to have too much information and too much time to process it. In D&D, for instance, PCs and monsters tend to move efficiently - avoiding difficult terrain (if you even keep track of it) and attacks of opportunity whenever possible. If a PC knows that a monster has resistance 5 to his fire spell, but his fire spell does an average of 6 points more than his ice spell, he'll usually use the fire spell anyway. (Compare this to "Your fire spell does a bit more damage than your ice spell, but you know that these creatures are somewhat resistant to fire" - this character will probably use the ice spell.) Combat can turn into a tactical puzzle-game (like the wargames that RPGs evolved from) rather than something exciting, visceral, and chaotic.

I think that I've managed to totally obscure any point I might have been trying to make here...

Friday, March 07, 2008

Barbarian's Dream House

It strikes me as odd, but I suspect that most D&D characters are technically homeless.

This varies for other RPGs, of course. Many PCs in modern games have homes.

Having a home in an RPG is often something of a liability. In a Mage game I played once, I sunk a ton of background points into a mansion. My PC had Resources 5 and both Node and Library (and maybe Sanctum... it was a long time ago). The first session began with vampires trying to steal Tass from the Node in my basement. In fact, I believe that nearly every time that mansion had screen time, it was being assaulted by either vampires (usually) or the Technocracy. Unfair? Possibly. Annoying? Yes.

On the other hand, in the Mage game I'm playing in currently, the group has a shared base of operations that was designed by the GM... and he more-or-less made it unassailable. Different GMing styles? A proprietary feeling toward something you designed rather than something your player made up? I don't know.

Personally, I prefer to run games with home bases. I think this is why I'd prefer to run an urban D&D game to a wilderness-based one. With a home base, you can easily get recurring NPCs with whom you can develop relationships. You have a place where other NPCs can go to contact the PCs specifically. You have something that you know the PCs will care about.( The trick is to not continuously threaten its existence.) You have a central site where people can join and leave the party (if you have players that miss games). It strikes me as more efficient from a GMing perspective.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Dear Gary,

When I was a kid, I looked up to you. I never told you that. Maybe it's because I pretty much grew out of my childhood heroes (except for Zorro, of course).

Pretensions of maturity and resentfulness get in the way of a lot. Yeah, once I learned that there were options, I grew to resent a lot of the advice you'd given me over the years. I felt betrayed. You told me that it was impossible to have a successful campaign without accurate time-keeping... but then I went and played in games where time was hand-waved... and it was OK! You told me to roll 3d6 six times, in order... but I enjoyed playing the characters that I generated with other methods more.

Did you lie to me?

I felt like you did.

It took me awhile to realize that you were making this up as you went along. No, your rules weren't perfect... they were too early to have been perfected. You even softened up on some of them along the way in response to the innovations of other, but I'd moved on and wasn't really paying attention.

Your rules weren't perfect, but they were first (or as close to it as to make no difference), and all of those that came after you built upon the foundation you'd laid. As much as those who came after you might resent some of your contributions, they probably wouldn't be making roleplaying games at all if you hadn't come along.

I've never been one of those people who refuses to speak ill of the dead. I think that it is important to remember people accurately. We all make mistakes, and none of us are perfect. Death doesn't change that. You're still the guy behind Cyborg Commando.

I saw you in person for the first time this past August, at Gen Con. I thought about coming up and meeting you, but I didn't. What could I say? You wouldn't remember me anyway.

I could have said, "Thank you."

Thank you for creating Dungeons & Dragons. Playing the game you created gave me much joy when I was younger. Playing games that would not exist but for your creation, have given me much joy since then.

Thank you,

Stuart

Monday, March 03, 2008

Proprietary feelings

In all but the most sandboxriffic of games, GMs put things into play specifically for certain players and their PCs. In many cases, this might be as simple as polling players on what sorts of enemies they want to face - or creating in-game rewards that will have special meaning to one or more of the PCs. This is, in my mind, a good thing.

Like all good things, though, it can be taken too far... In extreme cases, this ends up with a Monty Haul campaign. We don't need to go to extremes in order for such practices to become problematic, though.

What happens when a GM introduces something which is - in his mind - for a specific character, but that character isn't the only one interested in it? If it isn't something sharable - and the GM isn't scrupulously fair about who gets it - there are going to be problems.

I'm being vague here. To a point, this is intentional, as the concern here is a general one. Things introduced by the GM don't have to be physical objects - they could be in-game business/social opportunities, in-game relationships (friendship, romantic, and/or sexual... or even rivalries!), or any of a wide variety of other things.

When the GM does this repeatedly, there are issues of favoritism at play.

How can this be less of a concern?

Option 1: Call attention to it. If the GM notes beforehand that "this subplot-or-whatever is for Player X," other players won't get their hopes up. Also, repeated toss-outs to one player will be more obvious.

Option 2: Use rules. Some White Wolf games have rules for spending XP for new backgrounds. In D&D you could easily institute an XP cost for all magic items (base it off the creation costs).

A related issue is when a single player (or PC) lays claim to things in the game that don't really belong to them any more than to other PCs. Many will say that this is a PC-problem, but I have mixed feelings on that. Sometimes it is totally a PC problem. When Sparrow claimed a recovered First-Age city as her own domain in Nick's old Exalted game, I didn't have a problem with it - it totally fit within the themes of the game... but I've met players who bank on feelings of 'party unity' and the reluctance of other players to get into conflicts between PCs in order to get a larger share of group resources than they have any right to...

Any thoughts on how to handle this sort of thing?