Tabletop Unlocks

Most video-game based RPG’s use a system of unlocks to keep you interested in the story, and to get you to pay out money. Various features, such as playable races or classes, special abilities, etc. are locked behind a pay-wall. Since I’m a cheapskate, I’m not a fan of such systems, but I do understand why they do such things. Many of these online MMORPG games are “free to play” so the company has to find a way to make money off it or it’s just not worth it to them.

That has given me an idea for a quick and straightforward Campaign idea based loosely on the unlock system.

Imagine if at the very beginning of the campaign, each player is allowed only to create a 1st level Human fighter. Every other playable race and class is “locked” and unusable at first. To be able to unlock the ability to create characters using any of the other available races or classes, the team of characters must fulfill certain side-quests. Each of these side-quests would be very different and very specific to the race or class that the players want to unlock.

For example, let’s say that one of the players is a huge fan of playing Elves. The DM could tell them that to be able to “unlock” Elves as a playable race, they must journey into the forest nearby, find the local clan or family of Elves, and either gift them something, or convince one of them to join the party, or defeat one of their kind in one on one combat, or something like that. It should be a fairly simple task, challenging but not too formidable.

As the group unlocks races or classes, each different one is worth a certain number of experience points, so that the group as a whole benefits from trying to get something that only one player may want to play.

Of course, once any class or race is unlocked, the player that wanted to use it could either A) create a new character of that race or class immediately, B) change into the new class when the leveled up, or C) change their current character to the new type as if it had been that race or class from the beginning, or whatever the DM and the group decides.

I think this series of side-quests could be very useful for the group also because it leads them to explore many different cultures and landscapes that they might not otherwise see. If someone really wanted to play a Hin (Halfling) character, they group may have to travel to Hin farmlands or shires or whatever. How often does that happen?

Imagine having to climb to the upper entrances of a Dwarven citadel to plead with the King for permission to allow one of his warriors to join the band? Some of the really exotic races, like the Shardmind from the 4E Player’s Handbook 3, could be a really intense quest even to find one of them. What about the fantastic new Beastheart or the Illrigger from MCDM productions? Imagine what they’d have to go through to track down the Illrigger in the Chain of Acheron (Anna’s character) and convince her to train a character for their group?

I don’t know about you, but I’m really excited about this concept. If this strikes you as something exciting and fun, or just plain stupid, please leave a comment!



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