Buffy Rules Changes: Designer's Notes

This is an outline of the house rules for our Buffy game, with detailed explanation for the changes.

Starting Skill Points

         The original Buffy system gives 15 skill points for starting White Hats, and 20 points for Heroes. This is arguably appropriate for a game where starting PCs are high school sophmores. The Angel RPG gives 25 skill points for starting Investigators, and 30 skill points for Champions.

         This should be resolved as a choice made at campaign start. The lower numbers from the Buffy book are appropriate for campaigns which are in, say, early high school. The higher numbers are appropriate for PCs who begin as trained professionals. The group should agree on a base number of skills from 15 to 25, and Hero PCs should have 10 points more than White Hats.

Good/Bad Luck

         In the original Buffy system, Good Luck is completely overshadowed by Drama Point spending. A piddly +3 or so per session doesn't seem especially lucky when everyone gets +10 at a pop often multiple times per session. Thus, Good Luck was replaced by an advantage which which enhances Drama Point use rather than competing or substituting for it. Your points of Good Luck are the number of times per session you can use a Drama Point after seeing your roll.

         Furthermore, the original Bad Luck puts a huge burden on the GM to determine when it applies. It is difficult to be both challenging and fair, and it eats up a GM's valuable time. Thus, Bad Luck is now automatic based on roll. Any time you roll a "10", you roll another die. If it is less than or equal to your Bad Luck, a mishap occurs through no fault of your own. The player then announces this, and the exact result is GM-determined.

Resources Quality

         By the rules, you need to buy the Resources Quality if you make over $30k per year (2pts for $60k/yr, 4pts for $120k/yr, etc.). While money is referred to in the Buffy series, it is rarely dramatically useful, and tracking bank accounts seems contrary to the spirit of the show. On Buffy, no one goes out to buy guns, and no one questions the cost of swords, crossbows, etc. Even technically poor character often have a variety of resources. For example, in early Buffy Xander was poor but nevertheless was often more resourceful than, say, Cordelia. On Angel, Gunn originally had his gang despite being poor.

         Thus, rather than "Resources" rated in exact dollar amounts, I have introduced the "Resourceful" Quality. Any character can buy normal stuff and may have a car or house. However, non-resourceful characters will have no guns or special gadgets, and do not use their money on adventures such as bribes. A non-resourceful character may be relatively wealthy, in which case (1) their money is tied up in investments, (2) they lack saavy to use their money on adventures, and/or (3) they are unwilling to spend it. Characters who buy the Resourceful Quality get the following benefits:

Resourceful: 3 point Quality
You have things like a stash full of medieval weapons, a secret room or office, and other gear common for the shows if not in real life. You can bribe people with money or perhaps favors/connections (+3 to Influence under appropriate circumstances). With effort and possibly an Int + appropriate skill roll, you can do things like get legal but hard-to-find equipment, an untraceable car perhaps, and other mundane resources. With a drama point this could do more. This would probably be Xander's level. Someone who is really rich (millionaire or close) should always have at least this level.
Very Resourceful: 6 point Quality
You may have a safe hideout and multiple caches of weapons, possibly with military-grade stuff for yourself (only) -- such as armor, taser, or night-vision goggles. With effort and a skill roll, you can get specialized equipment like tracer dart, explosives, and such. You have +6 to Influence under appropriate circumstances (bribe, call in favors, etc.). This would be Riley's level.
Super Resourceful: 9 point Quality
You have a base of operations and minions. Of course, this doesn't go as far as one might hope or expect on Buffy, but it's certainly handy. This would be Warren's or Maggie Walsh's level.

Multiple Actions

         There are a number of options for multiple actions, but the result is that Dexterity and especially odd-numbered Dexterity becomes enormously important. Further, it means that the kick-ass fast characters take up two or three times the spotlight time of the Scoobies. Even if there is only one roll, this requires recalculation if the maneuvers are different. As an alternative, this can be sped up by instead allowing "Double" maneuvers. This is a modifier to any other maneuver to apply it against two or more opponents.

         Double Maneuver: This is a modifier for any other maneuver, where you can simultaneously apply it against two or more opponents. For example, a character might jump up in a split to kick two opponents, or quickly stake one vamp ahead and then one behind as the follow-through. The action has a -2 penalty per additional opponent, but attack and damage applies equally against both opponents. Optionally, Dexterity 5 is required for a double maneuver, Dexterity 7 for a triple, and Dexterity 9 for a quadruple.

Melee Weapon Damage

         The current rules base melee weapon damage on multiples of Strength. The result of this is that a super-strong character like Buffy benefits enormously from a weapon while weak characters benefit little. This does not fit with the show, where Buffy tends to fight bare-handed while weak characters need weapons. Thus this is changed to have all damage based on 3 x Strength plus some fixed number. Damages will be the same if your character has Strength 3. Thus, the bonus is (original damage for Strength 3) minus 9.

Armor Penalties

         The current rules ignore encumbrance penalties, which is good for simplicity but means that there is no combat disadvantage to wearing armor. This again does not fit the show, where characters never wear armor -- and in fact tend towards skimpy outfits.

         Thus, wearing armor should cause a penalty to all combat rolls equal to half of its protective value. For example, chainmail has an armor value of 8. This would cause a -4 penalty to all combat rolls.

Experience Costs

         The current rules have increasing costs for higher abilities, whereas during character creation costs are flat. This encourages PCs to be narrow specialists at the start and then broaden over time. However, on the Buffy show, the characters started out as fairly ordinary kids and then developed into more specialized roles. Willow, of course, is the prime example. It is also true of Buffy, who over time primarily increased her already-high physical stats.

+1 to Attribute 10 points
+1 to a Skill 4 points
+1 Quality Point 5 points


         The Power Level calculation and especially the direct-damage suggestions make a single Power Level too major for direct effect. Basically, Major or Awesome effects are too cheap -- while other modifiers (like duration) are too expensive. It is trivial for even a beginning White Hat witch to cast spells of Power Level 7 or more with a Drama Point. Power Level 7 includes Amy's Rat-ification, teleporting Glory into the stratosphere, restoring Angel's soul, and more. Even the Beginner Witch template casting the example spell ("Bolt of Apollo", p145) does average 56 damage with a Drama Point.

         Thus I am altering the casting rules so that they reflect this:


<<BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.>>

John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Tue Oct 19 13:04:52 2004