Adjusting the Bar/PROSE

The Whispering Woodwind

The Whispering Woodwind

Author Mark Alexander Clover
Publisher Creative Mountain Games
Publish date 2008
OGL Section 15 qtww

The material below is designated as Open Game Content

Adjusting the Bar

For each encounter there will also be a shaded, boxed text example of how to adjust those encounters for various types of gaming groups. Products are written for a baseline of four players, each with one character and a standard spread of classes at a given level. However, this may need to vary from group to group. If the size of your group is greater or less than the standard four, “Adjusting the Bar” is necessary. Some groups are new to the rules, or so familiar with the rules that challenging them can be difficult. Even with a standard group, a game session can go poorly, or too easily, due to the randomness of the dice. In those cases, it may be worthwhile to raise or lower the level of an encounter just to keep the game interesting. “Adjusting the Bar” will help to keep the game fun and challenging for any group of players.

1. Holding Their Hands - You’ve got new players, and maybe only two total, who still haven’t mastered any of the rules. Every now and again they surprise you but most of the time they simply don’t understand the game mechanics. Alternately, one player has purchased a rule book, and read part of it, but the rules really have nothing to do with role-playing to this group. Perhaps another has dice but prefers to avoid rolling them. In these cases, lower the bar to “1”.

2. Allowing Some Leeway - The players have a basic understanding of the rules but prefer not to slow down the game by adhering to the letter of the law. They are satisfied with your interpretations of the mechanics, and would rather keep things moving, even if that means that they overlook some of the details of the rules. Alternately, one of the players didn’t show up this week and another will have to leave halfway through the session due to another commitment. You’d like to get through enough of the session to have fun but not if this means that a couple of them will be rolling up new characters next week. Adjust to number “2”.

3. Playing by the Book - The group has the standard number of players, a good cross section of classes and skills, and the treasures have always been at standard levels. In this case, ignore “Adjusting the Bar” unless the group’s dice are falling flat or rolling hot. Keep things at this even “3”.

4. Bumping a Notch - An extra player or two has shown up and can’t be sent home without playing. Perhaps the treasure levels have been a little generous in the past. This will even out in time but, for now, these players are sitting in fine fetter. Adjust the bar to number “4”.

5. Dialing Way Up - The group has a lot of players, sometimes with multiple characters, and enjoy having an entourage. Alternately, this group of players know the rules better than the writers. They always like to have the best tools for the job, build their characters to be specialists and spend all of their treasure to ensure they have the highest advantages. Adjust the bar right to the top at number “5”.

PROSE System - Running NPCs

One of the most difficult tasks for any DM is to get players to suspend their disbelief. Doing so helps the players to roleplay their own characters and be absorbed into the campaign setting. In those brief hours, the gaming table seems to disappear and the world unfolds before them. There are few things more engaging than seamlessly introducing characters with which the players can interact. It is useful to have pre-generated statistical blocks, a physical description and some background for the characters that the players may encounter. It’s of further help to enrich each persona with a multifaceted perspective of their own.

To help that become an easier task, the PROSE System breaks down the attitude of primary NPCs with the approach they take to handle any situation. It prioritizes how they view the world in regard to Politics, Religion, Others, Self and Economics. Each area of their PROSE is rated from one to ten and should be considered as an independent rating of how highly they regard each aspect. A high rating in one aspect does not disallow a high rating in another. High ratings in two aspects simply mean that both are equally weighed in decisions that are made on a daily basis. This can be a conscious or subconscious process. In addition, three Key Words
(adjectives or adverbs) are given to help show how those priorities manifest themselves during interaction.

It should be noted that this system is meant to enhance both Alignment and Charisma. Alignment is still the strongest determinant of one’s attitude and Charisma is the ability by which one expresses oneself from moment to moment.

Politics can play an important role in how one views the world, and one’s place within it. A high rating in this aspect doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is active in politics, though it can be. It can simply mean that they are aware that politics affects their lives. To a person of noble birth, it might be a driving force causing them to pursue a high office or even the crown. To someone of common birth, it might be the axe they grind, always blaming their lot in life on the machinations of those in authority. Someone with a low rating in this aspect is likely to view politics as trivial, believing that in the long run the petty squabbling of those in charge means absolutely nothing to their existence.

Religion is often the guiding force in a person’s life to the exclusion of all else when this aspect rating is high. They may view it as a calling or the means by which they need to govern their lives. They might even perceive daily life as inconsequential, thinking that come what may, their fate is predetermined by powers beyond their control. Someone with a low rating in this aspect is likely to view any religious views as mindless babble, preferring to believe that daily life is much more pragmatic and less spiritual in nature.

Others is the aspect area where a high rating may indicate love for one’s family or for their fellow man. Someone who prioritizes others highly will often go out of their way to ensure comfort for another or seek to redress wrongs in someone else’s life. A low rating might mean that a person wouldn’t even shout a warning if they saw immediate harm coming to another person, preferring to not get involved in situations that do not directly concern them.

Self is a high aspect for those with strong self-esteem and self-interests. Putting one’s interests before anything need not be overt, though. It can also be something that is achieved through subtle manipulation. A low rating usually projects itself as self-loathing or a low self-deprecation.

High ratings in both Others and Self can manifest itself as a love for all of humanity. A low rating in both can be the mark of an idealist, who perceives humanity as not worth considering while following one’s goals.

Economics is the aspect where financial goals, or lack of them, play an important role. A merchant with a high rating is often the wealthiest person in town. A high rating in someone without means may manifest as looking for a way to get rich quickly or always on the hunt for money. A low rating can be shown as someone who lives from day to day, without a care, even if they have money, or someone who sees no need to accumulate wealth.

Key Words are useful as quick guides to jumping into a character. There’s an old theatre saying that “once you have the hat and shoes for a character, the rest falls into place.” This is also true with Key Words. Interaction based on a few, easy-to-utilize tags gets the ball rolling and allows a DM to run with a character, rather than trying and invent something completely new and interesting on the fly.

Part of the trick to making the most use of the PROSE System is knowing in advance who the characters are and using the ratings as a reminder of how they would interact with others. If a financial negotiation ensues from a meeting, a quick glance at Economics reveals the priorities of a character. If complimented, check the Self rating and see if they are easily flattered or view such praise with suspicion. Asking someone to assist in a rescue attempt, warrants a peek at the Others rating to determine if they are likely to help. Suggest that a ritual
be performed to ensure safe passage and the Religion rating can tell the DM is someone finds this distasteful. Being friends with the magistrate may be of help if you’re dealing with someone who has a high Politics rating.

The combinations are endless, but that is by design. The PROSE System is by no means meant to hamstring a DM during play. It’s meant to help DMs create three dimensional characters and to avoid having their many portrayals become similar. If a given rating could upset a current plot line, adjust it and move along. The DM should always feel that the game is more important than any individual component and not feel cornered by these guidelines.

Example: In "The Whispering Woodwind", Farmer Lyle is defined by the PROSE System as:

Politics 3
Religion 6
Others 5
Self 6
Economics 7
1 - Gruff
2 - Keen
3 - Short-tempered
All entries on this wiki are published under the Open Game Licence Version 1.0a. See individual entries for copy of the license and declaration of Open Game Content.