The Magical and Mundane



You have all heard of people playing characters for years and years and years. What has kept their interest for so long? I attest that it is a feeling of progression; a feeling that comes from character development, story development, and an ever increasing sense of power. Everyone has at least one or two stories of someone they knew that hit max level in a game and kept going. Keeping players engaged requires character progression. Today we are going to look at progression through equipment and possessions in Unchained Heroes.

There are many schools of thought about progression in Role-playing games, the primary school of thought is that through experience you will gain levels and through levels you will gain new power. What happens when you reach that point where experience stop flowing and so do the levels? Or what if you are in a situation where your Gamemaster is taking their time and offering fewer experience rewards to prolong the time between levels? On one hand, you no longer see the new abilities and powers coming to you through Hero Class Abilities, Techniques, or Talents at all and on the other hand you may see those things accumulate very slowly. Granting equipment and riches is a way for a player to feel stronger even without gaining a new level.

Unchained Heroes takes a fairly universal approach to this progression method and keeps Heroes accumulating new “stuff” all the time. The idea is that even if the players aren’t leveling and getting the big upgrades in strength and skill, that they will be able to get the incremental upgrades through equipment. I like to call this the Magical and the Mundane. The Magical are magical items like in any other RPG and those items consist of runes, potions, magical weapons, magical armor, artifacts, magical talismans, and more. The Mundane consists of non-magical items, weapons, armor, and talismans as well as heirlooms, chemical compounds, lodging, food, clothing, and last but not least, money.

Introducing Item Level

The items and equipment that your Hero will use are tied together in a system based on a statistic called Item Level. It is a quantitative measurement of the quality and strength of an item that spans across the items that we would consider magical or mundane. A magical longsword of Item Level 5 (Ilvl 5 for short) has some of the same properties as a non-magical longsword of Ilvl 5. Their differences involve some parts game mechanics and some parts role-playing. For example, the Battle Skill modifiers would likely be the same, but some creatures might be immune to the touch of anything that does not have the “magical” type or subtype. Some magical longswords might grant a special ability that can be used periodically.

The idea behind Ilvl is to measure strength of any item and tie it to progression at its most basic level, the Ilvl will tell you how strong something is–the higher the better. Item Level ranges from 0 to 15, with 0 being a standard item you could easily find at the store or lying around somewhere and the 15 being the pinnacle of quality. Even something such as a non-magical sword of Ilvl 15 is worth a king’s ransom. Items of Ilvl 14 or 15 are extremely rare and are likely to contain powerful abilities and magical properties. Enchanted equipment in Unchained Heroes comes about through processes that are above and beyond the normal item creation roll, likely through quests, special ingredients, and magical spells imbued into them afterwards.

Item Level does a number of things for you like increasing your Defense, your Damage Threshold, or Attack. What the Ilvl of an items does for you is entirely based on the type of item you are using. A Weapon in a Main Hand slot, would grant you a positive modifier (or bonus) to your Attack and Power Battle Skills (statistics used in Battle) while the same weapon used in your Off Hand slot would grant you a positive modifier towards your Martial Strength and Spell Potency (more battle statistics). The Ilvl of an item may stay the same, but where you put them and how you use them makes it do different things.

The Magical and Mundane items in Unchained Heroes are not just part of the flavor, they are an integral part of progression. They are just one more tool to increase satisfaction of the Players and the GM. Satisfaction of the Players and the GM with game mechanics go hand in hand and the system logically rewards Heroes for their commitment to the story as well as to the game play. Whether you are a Player or a GM, when the point finally comes where you reach the pinnacle of game play or the story, don’t forget you can always amass wealth, prestige, and power!