Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Planet Degas

On Sunday, I started a campaign of 3:16 Carnage Amongst The Stars. It's a military sci-fi RPG with very abstract mechanics. The primary influence is of course Starship Troopers (the book more than movie), but I'll be throwing in hefty doses of Platoon, Band of Brothers, and Going After Cacciato. Yes, there's big alien menaces to be dealt with in every session, but the plot is more about the moral dilemmas and the social dynamic between the soldiers.

It's extremely rules-lite with a single attack roll killing half a dozen aliens (or more - after just 1 session's advancement, one of our PCs can kill 3d10 per round). On similar lines, the GM rolls just once per round, regardless of how many aliens are attacking - but that one roll has potential to do damage to the entire party. With the wrong group, this level of abstraction could get boring real fast, but we were all narrating details and developments as we went, so the game flowed smoothly and colorfully. I was pleased with the system, it seemed to be living up to it's potential right out of the gates.

I ran a smaller pool of threat tokens than is "standard" for the first session, and never activated the alien's special ability. This wasn't to go easy on the PCs - it was because we'd killed about an hour and a half gabbing, explaining rules, and making characters before the first scene, and I didn't want to have to skip on characterization and description in our first session for the sake of slogging through the tokens. I went with just two combat encounters, but the second one was quite large. By the end of the session, I had a couple of well established NPCs to kill off later, so I'm pleased.

Going Planetside

Beyond a doubt, what I like best about this system is how little prep there is for the GM. The rules are so simple, there's plenty of space to improvise. You roll on a series of 4 or 5 charts, and make something from that. Here's what I selected for our first session:
  • Planet Name: Degas
  • Planet Description: High Humidity
  • Basic Creature Form: Dogs
I decided to have the PCs get deployed to the planet late, as reserves, because of some trouble with their new LT that just arrived fresh from the academy.  So they nosed around before deployment to try to learn what the planet was like. "Wet. F-ing Wet. Wet falling from the sky. Wet coming up from the ground. Wet inside your armor. Everywhere F-ing Wet. Can't see anything for the Wet. Wet. Wet. Wet. Then something bit my F-ing foot off." Said one of the wounded who'd been evaced.

They head down planetside, and there's a bit of snafu about having the wrong coordinates. This landing pad has been abandoned because the moist ground beneath it gave way, and one side sank beneath the muck. The rain is coming down mercilessly. Improvising, I'd described the clouds as being blue. So now I said there's some blue blobs in with the rain. I had no idea what they were at this point, I just wanted to spice it up and make it more alien. Of course the players assume there's some big mystery about it, and start taking precautions not to let the blue touch them. They fret overly when the new LT gets some blue right on the face. Somewhere along the way I improv that the sound of the blue striking their armor is like an eggshell cracking. I was intending that it might damage their armor, but their minds went to it being the eggs of the as-yet-unseen aliens. I kept that in mind for use later.

It was time for a fight. My aliens were supposed to be "dogs", so I'd been planning to use some wet shaggy werewolves. But, given that the PCs had commented that the blue gunk on the LT's face was going to turn him into a zombie, I decided werewolves was not the way to go. That'd be too predictable, too much of the campy B-horror vibe, and I wanted this game to be something else, something more alien. So, the when the enemy attacks, they're "Drogs": large furry clawed frog-like things. They howl, then ribbit. It felt sufficiently alien, despite being a very simple blend of terrestrial animals, so it seemed to work. There were these pitcher plants on the surface, which the Drogs used like grenades, with a (somewhat unreliable) electrical discharge when they hit. I left my descriptions kind of sparse, so each player could fill in to their own heads whatever blend of frog and dog they could imagine, but in retrospect a little more detail probably would have been better.

Climactic Geyser
After that quick intro combat, and some shenanigans during the night involving a memorable NPC and his grenades, we went on to the bulk of the mission. They were supposed to go locate missing elements of D and E companies, along with the egghead science team that were guarding. They'd gone missing while exploring the region near a geyser. It was 45 minutes from our scheduled quit time, so I put nine threat tokens into the encounter and called that my limit.
Technically, I had 10 more counters available than I used, but the GMing advice says to never go above double the number of players in any one fight, so I figured 9 for 5 players would be hard enough. I knew there wouldn't be time for another combat scene, but given the late start and the colorful non-combat bits, I was fine with having 10 chips that would never hit the table.) It was a pretty grueling fight, with all the PCs getting ripped up quite a bit. One player nearly invoked a strength, then got talked out of it. On the next round, a different player invoked a strength, because it was either that or die.

They were on the last threat token, so as they finished the narration I chimed in that they'd also "killed the geyser" - which turned out to be a giant Drog spewing it's eggs into the air. They yanked most of D & E companies out sinkholes, and managed to save one of the scientists. It was a little forced, and may have gone better with an extra hour to play and another fight leading up to it, but it certainly wasn't bad. The one mistake I regret was my insistence that half an hour after the big frog died, they all saw the first tiny patch of clear sky. I thought I was being poetic, but one player made a disgusted-sounding comment about "magical weather-control frogs", so I think I may have offended their suspension of disbelief. Everyone else seemed pleased, and next week is a different world, and I won't make the same mistake twice.

Experience and Promotions

Then came the post-mission section of the game. This is a few die rolls and related things that are pretty unique to 3:16, and also part of why 3:16 needs to be run as a campaign and not just a one-shot. Medals were awarded. One of the troopers was promoted to corporal. New equipment was requisitioned. Two characters "leveled up". Everyone got something, which was great for our first session. Eventually, there'll be a session where the successful dice aren't so evenly distributed, and someone gets a huge boost while the others get nothing. I'll be sure to blog here when that happens.

The "experience" system is a little lopsided and random, but it's not unfair per se. If your character is focused on FA you'll get a certain type of reward quite frequently, but if you went with NFA as your primary stat, you'll get the other reward types more often. Over the long term, it'll even out across the group, but there's a chance someone could get next to nothing for a couple sessions in a row. It's clearly an intentional feature, not a bug or hole in the rules. It's intended to reinforce thematic elements (life isn't fair, battlefields are chaotic, sometimes the least competent get promoted, etc) and encourage some competition between the players. I'm a tiny bit worried it could lead to hard feelings if the dice are cruel. I have one or two players in the group that I could see getting miffed if the system slights them too often. We'll just have to see how it plays out.


Overall, I was very pleased with the game, especially for a first session with next to no prep. I spent more time printing the character sheets than I did actually contemplating the plot, yet the simple mechanics and a couple war movie tropes were inspiration enough to keep the action flowing. It's light and flexible enough to let improvisation be the heart of the game, which is a good thing for me since it's the fourth weekly game on my schedule right now, three of which I GM.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Just Hand Me A Pre-Gen

Last Thursday, we were making PCs for a Sci-Fi RPG called Diaspora, and I took forever. I always take forever making RPG characters. Or rather, I always take forever coming up with a good idea, so the only time I can hammer out a character in a reasonable window of time is if I've got a really good handle on the setting, and know what sort of character types are appropriate. Otherwise, it'll go like it did Thursday.

I spent most of the session just staring at a blank character sheet, and rereading the half dozen planet descriptions the GM had given us, without feeling the least bit inspired. I just couldn't wrap my brain around the setting, or figure out what sort of character would be the least bit helpful in the scenario. Whenever I did get an idea, I ended up shooting it down internally as either uninteresting, or inappropriate to the setting. Which is funny, because the character concept I finally settled on was almost certainly just as inappropriate as any of the far simpler concepts I dreamt up and shot down on the way to that PC. So now I'm stuck playing sort of an alien cyborg jellyfish that lives in a suitcase, and I'm probably going to undermine everyone else's suspension of disbelief, because, well, it's an alien cyborg jellyfish that lives in a suitcase. What was I thinking?

Yet I can't really back out of it, because one element of Diaspora is that everyone makes their characters semi-collaboratively, and has the PC to the left and right of them worked into their backstory. I'd like to ditch the alien cyborg jellyfish, and the suitcase he rode in on, but I can't without being a further disruption, at least to the two players who were sitting adjacent to me. I think the whole situation would have been much better if the GM had just handed me a pre-generated character and told me to play it. I might not have like the role I ended up with if he'd done that, but at least everyone else would. Of course, with the semi-collaborative backstory system Diaspora uses, it's really not feasible to have just one person play a pre-gen.

I get myself into these sorts of pickles all the time as a player - and yet as GM I can improvise like a pro and am never at a loss. When running the table, I'm almost always at the top of my game, but as a player more often than not I'm a nervous wreck heavily impaired by analysis paralysis.  I wish I could understand why two outwardly similar facets of the same hobby provoke such entirely different response patterns out of me, and why the one with lesser responsibility is the one that freezes me up. I'm tempted to say it's some sort of anxiety disorder or neurological trigger associated with my Spasmodic Dysphonia, because often on the days where I'm spinning my wheels like this, I'm also battling with SD the whole night. Sounds like a great excuse, except this last time, I was having no SD problems at all, yet I still took forever and eventually made a painfully ridiculous alien cyborg jellyfish in a suitcase. What the hell is my problem?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stability Chart for Gumshoe Continuum

My Monday and Wednesday game is a Continuum campaign, but using the Gumshoe mechanics. Which meant that I incorporated stability from Gumshoe, but had to come up with values for stability losses for all sorts of Continuum-related scenarios such as the Time Combat Stratagems. Here's the modified version of the Stability chart that we use for that campaign.

Most entries come from the Trail of Cthulhu or Esoterrorists rules, duplicated here without permission. You would need one of those books, plus the Continuum rulebook, to use the following. I'm listing it here to save some work for other GMs that might want to try out a Gumshoe/Continuum hybrid game.

Incident Stability Loss
You Frag someone (Accidental or deliberate) 1
Reveal to a friend where and when you Hide 1
View a particularly shocking work of art 1
A nasty argument or social drama, unexpected stress 1
You see a fresh corpse, or witness a killing 1
Fragged (Accidentally or unknown cause) your Frag total
Dream Haunted 1d6
Isolated by 3 or more foes 1d6, plus effects of fragging
Attacked with evident intent to do serious harm 2
Car or industrial accident imperils you 2
Witness to acts of torture 2
Unexplained phenomena and sensations 2
Caltrop Stratagem foils and frustrates you 2
Fragged deliberately by an enemy 2 + your Frag total
Attacked with evident intent to kill 3
You kill someone in a fight 3
Reveal the time and place where you Hide to an enemy or rival 3
Harbinger threat made good against you 1d6+2 initially, subsequent efforts just 3
See a particularly grisly murder scene, accident, or battlefield 4
Learn a friend or loved one has been violently killed 4
Invitation To Dance 4
Attacked by a friend or loved one 5
Committing murder or torture 5
You Fragged someone to Lost Cause or worse 5
Unnatural and threatening phenomena - witchcraft, haunting, etc 5
Learning of your own death via Iron Man 1d6+4
Fragged deliberately by a friend or loved one 5 + your Frag total
Discover the corpse of a friend or loved one 6
Tortured for an hour or longer 6
Spanning for the first time 6
Attacked by a T-Rex or Alien 8 minus your Span, to a minimum of 3 stability
You see a friend or loved one killed 7
You see a friend or loved one killed in a particularly gruesome manner 8
You kill a friend or loved one 8
Fragging a loved one out of existence 9
You witness your own Elder death 9
Realizing you are a Lost Cause 9
You witness your own Junior death! 8 + your Frag total (so, 10 at least)

With the exception of the modified chart, we use the Stability rules from Esoterrorists, as opposed to the more complicated Stability-and-Sanity rules from Trail of Cthulhu.

Looking over the chart, I realize that I probably need to add an entry for when someone is rendered Graceless. Having that happen to you is probably worth a 2-pt to 4-pt test. Hasn't happened to PC in my game yet, so I hadn't considered it.

Hmm... I could probably reorder that a bit. In general, it's in order from least impactful to most devastating, however, the way the  d6 for Isolate is added to whatever other fragging stability loss happens, making it a lot more potent than it's placement on the table would suggest. Most typically, frag loss from an Isolate is going to be at least 5 points and could easily hit 10. 1d6 + 2 + Frag total, at least. That's why the narcissists call us The Swarm.

Booster Packs full of Gamma Rays

UPDATE:  I've been directed to a video that gives more information about the game and it's randomized components, so after my original post I'm adding my thoughts on the new info.

Within the past week or two Wizards of the Coast released a new edition of the classic RPG Gamma World. I played a lot of Gamma World back in the day, and would be happy to try out a new edition, at least in theory. As it turns out though, there's one fact about the new edition that leaves me really cold. In general, when people grouse and complain about how expensive gaming is, I just roll my eyes. When they claim an RPG company is just in it for the money, and doesn't care about doing what's best for the game, or doing what makes the gamers happy, I tend to stand up for and defend the publishers. But in this particular case, I'm on the hater's bandwagon. Clearly, somebody at Wizards put profits  above functionality.

They replaced the mutation charts with a deck of cards.

Actually, at first glance, I really like the notion of cards. I've been a fan  of using card decks instead of charts and rulebooks for a long time.  It saves you time looking things up in the books, because you can keep your most commonly used cards at your fingertips all the time.  For a mechanic like mutations, or other special powers that help individualize PCs, using cards instead of charts can help with "niche preservation" (if you've already drawn that card, no one else can draw the exact same special power). Another reason I like the idea of mutation cards is because they let me tailor the "charts" on the fly. If there's a mutation I think is unbalanced, or too goofy, I could theoretically cull it from the deck. If there's one that I'd like to make more common, I could add an extra copy (assuming I'm not too hung up on the "niche preservation" mentioned previously). In short, I could really like this. When FFG used cards for the latest edition of Warhammer FRP, I really found it awesome.

The problem with the cards in Gamma World is that Wizards put them in random booster packs, selling an RPG like a CCG. By offering the cards in random boosters, most of what I like about cards goes away.  I'm almost certainly going to end up with multiples, so niche preservation goes out the window, unless I'm willing to waste some percentage of my investment.  I may buy a booster that's full of cards I already have and wouldn't want to put multiple copies of in the deck.  I may want to include an extra copy of some particular card, but can't reliably get one (cheaply, any way). Just bad all around, in my opinion.

If they were complete sets, decks of 50 non-random cards available for $10 or even $15, I'd happily embrace this game. Instead, it's boosters of 8 random cards for $4. Too pricey for my blood. 50 cents per line-item that could be on a chart in a rulebook sounds a little overpriced in and of itself, but knowing that past your second or third pack you'll be looking at a lot of random repeats just sours me to the whole idea. (As an aside, it's 8 cards for $4, whereas Magic: The Gathering by the same publisher, is 15 cards for $4.29, so even by their own precedents this is nearly double the average cost per card.)

Worse yet, the packs aren't just mutation cards, there's also technology cards. While I could perhaps warm up to random mutation card boosters (though it would have to be at a cheaper price to compensate for the frustrating duplicate cards), I don't imagine myself, as GM, being happy with restricting the weaponry of my NPCs (or the treasure to be gained, or the macguffin central to the plot) to whatever happened to be in the handful of boosters I might be willing to buy. So, rather than run a high risk of making a purchase I'm not going to be happy with, I'll just be steering clear of this new Gamma World entirely.

If they weren't random, I'd probably buy quite a few of them. Paizo Publishing does a "Game Mastery" series of card decks with just pictures of fantasy equipment and magic items. I buy a copy of nearly every deck they put out, because they come in set decks at reasonable prices, and you can look up the card list online first to see if any given set has cards you'll be likely to use. If Gamma World followed that business model, I'd certainly pick up the main game and at least the first two expansion decks, but I'm not willing to drop money on boosters.  For the record, random packaging is what eventually drove me to stop buying prepainted miniatures, too.

UPDATE:  I've been directed to a video that gives more information. I'm a little less up in arms about it now, but I still think it's a weird decision to make, and can't help but feel it was a business decision first, and a game innovation second. So while I'm less upset about it, I don't think it would be a good match for me.

Video link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fccpiG09YbU&feature=related

In particular, the stuff I don't like:
  • The idea that your mutations change every day is a little weird to me. I imagine I could warm up to that, but my initial reaction was not positive.
  • The fact that players build their own technology decks bothers me. For one thing, this could lead to weird imbalances if one player buys more boosters than the others, or just has better luck. Even assuming a play group that shares a single card pool, though, I dread the metagame issues that come up from players making their own treasure decks. It seems like suspension of disbelief is likely to suffer as well if I describe you're fighting mutant chickens armed with clubs, and after the battle 1 PC finds a death ray and the others all find nanotech. 
  • At the end of the video, they specifically address play balance, and say that the various mutation cards are not balanced against each other, some are just better than others. If that's the case, then why would a player put that in the deck they build for themselves? Maybe I'm missing something, but this seems like a really bad idea, for largely the same reasons I just mentioned about metagaming the Technology decks.
  • On a related note, I am also a little worried by the statement that you'd draw a new Cryptic Alliance card each session to find out which secret society you are working for this week. Suspension of disbelief gets tricky when a mechanic forces weekly randomization of setting/flavor/fluff/conceptual information. Who the PCs are working for seems like it should be dictated by the needs of the scenario or the actions of the characters, not by a weekly random card flip.

What I do like:
  • The commons (5 out of 8 cards in each booster) are not random, but preset so if you buy four consecutive boosters straight out of a fresh display they won't have any duplicate commons. However, having managed a game store for years, I suspect this won't in practice work as well as it does in theory. All it takes is one customer selecting a couple random packs out of the middle of the display pack to disrupt that for everyone that shops after them. A customer might do so out of ignorance, a desire to get duplicates of a particular common, or a desire to grab the pack that "feels lucky". That last one is something I'd see all the time when I ran the store.
  • The general formula that each adventure adds new components and rules as well, like the Cryptic Alliance cards being added in Famine in Far-Go. I was apprehensive about a similar approach in Warhammer FRP, but eventually decided I kinda liked the "potpouri" "cornucopia" "hotdish" "mixed bag" method that gives you a lot of little expansions in each Warhammer product. I could live with that in Gamma World, if the rest of the concept weren't scaring me off.
  • They rewrote the end of the world to blame it on the LHC. That amuses me. The reality implosion also justifies the weirdness of the Gamma World setting, and could plausibly explain the wonkier of the new setting/mechanics stuff such as mutations changing every session. I'm still not at all happy with randomized boosters or the metagame issues that come from players building their own decks, but they at least make some effort to justify some of this weirdness in the setting.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Extreme Range

The Gumshoe game I just mentioned is actually a hybrid. It uses the Continuum time-travel setting, but with most of the Continuum rules replaced with Gumshoe rules. Which meant I had to convert certain elements. In the post below is an example of a sub-system I converted to be Gumshoe compatible.


When we say Range, we're not talking about how far a gun can shoot. Range (and it's always capitalized) means how far Up or Down you can Span. It works a lot like a Skill, in that you can Use or Spend it.

A Use of your Range is a trivial hop. Each Span Level indicates what sort of jumps are trivial. For a Span One PC, that includes any teleport of less than an hour Up or Down, and less than a mile in distance. If you're going further than that (in any direction or dimension), it's going to have to Spend a point of Range.

All characters have 50 points of Range, and can spend from 0 to all 50 of them in a single jump.
For a Span One, a point of Range will let you Span to any place on Earth, or up to one Week futureward or pastward. You can span more than 1 week, by spending multiple points - you can get just under a year by spending all your Range at once.

The Second, Third and Fourth Maxims dictate that you should only span to places that are safe, and known to you. As a Span One, this is your greatest limitation. Later, when you know more Spanners, it will become easier to find a safe harbor.

The limitations of spanning (by Span Rank) are summarized on this chart.

Span Rating Range Pool Trivial Span 1 Range point Spans Mass Limit
Span One 50 1 Hour, 1 Mile 1 Week, Anywhere on Earth Self + 10 lbs
Span Two 50 1 Day, 10 Miles 3 Months, Anywhere on Earth Self + 100 lbs
Span Three 50 1 Month, 100 Miles 2 Years, Anywhere on Earth Self + 1,000 lbs
Span Four 50 1 Year, 1,000 Miles 20 Years, Anywhere on Earth Self + 10,000 lbs (5 tons)
Span Five 50 10 Years, Anywhere on Earth 200 Years, To The Moon Self + 100,000 lbs (50 tons!)

  • A character spans one hour into the past, but stays in the same place. It's trivial, and costs no Range.
  • A Span One PC spans Up one hour, then realizes they'd really wanted to go Down. So, now they span Down 2 hours to get when they'd wanted. The first (1 hour) span costs no points. The second (2 hour) span costs 1 Range. Had they been a Span Two (or higher rank) both jumps would have been free.
  • A character spans Level, from New York to Tokyo. If they are Span Four or lower, it costs 1 Range. If they are a Span Five, it's considered a Trivial Use, and costs no Range.
  • A Span Two in Dallas jumps 1 year into the future at Prague. It costs them 4 points of Range, plus 1 point of Range for exceeding 10 miles. They spend a total of 5 points of Range.
  • An Exalted Span Five leaves Atlantis in October 12969 BCE. They spend all 50 range points, and arrive at some friendly corner around 3,000 BCE. If they invoke their Second Wind, they'll be able to get Up to the hour of Inheritance for another 26 points or so.
For self-destructive ways around those limitations, see Exceeding your Range.

Thie above came right off the website we set up for the game - we have a big wiki we use as campaign log and rules database.

How the above is functionally different than the default Continuum Rules:
  • Less paper-work and bean counting. Vanilla Continuum expects that if a PC were to span back and forth repeatedly between two events, each time they would meticulously calculate how many days, hours, and minutes they were crossing and keep a running tally to the second if need be. It's kinda anal, and involves way more math than you want to be doing in the middle of a tense scene. In my Range system, they'd use less precise numbers to gauge how many points it takes to travel between the two events, and not worry about whether some jumps were a few minutes longer than the others.
  • Span Ones get shafted just a tiny bit. Instead of going 1 year, they can only go 50 weeks. I was worried this was going to be a big deal when the campaign started, but in practice it only came up once or twice before the PCs reached Span Two. It's fairly rare that anyone burns through all 50 Range points in a three-hour session, and doesn't have a Second Wind or Mentor around to help them out.
  • Span Twos, by contrast, get a small boost. 3 months per Range point equals 150 months, which is nearly 3 years further than they'd be able to travel under the default Continuum setting. Not so much extra as to break the game, but a nice bonus to the "level" that characters will probably spend the most Age at.
  • Range points refresh at the start of each session, and when invoking the Second Wind rules. The later is a bit like in default Continuum, where a good night's rest will replenish you, but in general you'll be spanning a much shorter overall distance per session in this system. This further constrains the PCs, but at the same time it eliminates the weird logic flaw where the original game rules demand that Span is not regained during a Time Combat. In this system, Time Combat does not exist within it's own bizarre bubble of arbitrary physics for the sake of plot. Suspension of disbelief is thus a little easier.
  • Trivial spans are a way around the restriction of only refreshing per session. If you really need to get somewhere this session, you can do it with baby steps. Yeah, you can get there "faster" by making a single large jump, but slow and steady will eventually win the race. This is a good compromise to cover the faster depletion of Range. It can also lead to some good role-playing as exhausted, fatigued PCs are restricted to shorter teleports. When the PCs are pushed to their limits in this system, they really feel it.
  • Less math and paper-work. Did I mention that already? I'll do so again to stress how important this is. It's huge. I think it was key to making the game playable this past year (and still going strong).

Gumshoe Points Per Session

For the past year, I've been running a Gumshoe game with one really major house rule: All the skill pools refresh automatically at the start of every session.  It's a simple change, but made the game a lot more enjoyable.

With this rule, there's no need to track from week to week how many points you have left/available in Chemistry (or whatever other skill is critical to the task at hand).  I've found this does a great job of simplifying things, and freeing up the players to actually use their points.  There's less book-keeping, and as a bonus players spend less time and energy agonizing over mechanical decisions.

In straight Gumshoe without this house rule, I tend to see players hoard points. Usually, they start out the campaign spending freely, but eventually they burn a point on something frivolous that turns out would have been really helpful 2 sessions later. After that happens once or twice, the players hoard their remaining points for weeks on end, then wrap up a scenario with tons of unspent reserves. This is far from ideal, and tends to just leave everyone feeling like the game didn't quite come together.

My houserule nips that problem in the bud, and gets the game rolling. Players feel empowered to spend points at any time. The result is characters that feel highly skilled, proactive, and very competent. As soon as they've identified a problem, they're already on top of the solution. I happen to like that.

Of course, this freedom to spend the points without drawback, means that PCs need a lot fewer points. Default Gumshoe (Trail of Cthulhu or Esoterrorists) give the PCs 60 to 65 General Points and 16 to 32 Investigative Points, for a total of around 80 or 90 points.  I gave my PCs in the current campaign less than half that, a total of just 32 points each, split between the two categories, with lots of other restrictions on top. In hindsight, I could have trimmed that even further, probably down to 25 points per character since it's a low-combat campaign and our sessions are only 3 hours long.