The How to Play section of the Bleak Beyond is not intended to be a clone of D&D. It is more or less a generic system which will cover such things as Dice, Hits, Combat, Armor, Saves, Tasks and Character Advancement. The mechanics that run behind the scenes of the game. Tasks have been covered using the 5+ guide in the Art of Delving. The other terms are fairly self-explanatory. Combat is distilled to a table-less formula, which was covered here and here a few years back.
A bit of a departure from the old school? Not in my mind. I just find the method more logical and simpler to implement. The true major departure from the accepted rules is found in the guide for Character Advancement. Here's where we find the dungeon itself influencing the rules.
The Bleak Beyond does not use a hard and fast advancement via experience points system. Since nearly all of the players' efforts will involve dangerous plunges into the underworld, the only set-in-stone method for gaining levels is by successfully looting manually placed Treasure Troves. Not your run of the mill loot stashes but rather those specific riches which are mentioned in Vol. III with the suggestion to “thoughtfully place several of the most important treasures” before dicing for random distribution. Here's the core of the approach:
Experience by Plundering
Characters gain one experience level whenever they are a member of an expedition which makes off with a Treasure Trove, by successfully returning with it to town, providing the loot was plundered from a dungeon level which is of equal or greater value than the character's own current level.
Yep. No experience points whatsoever.
There are restrictions to the experience by plundering system, however. Normal advancement halts at the top level of each tier, levels 3, 6 and 9. In order to unlock the subsequent tiers which begin with levels 4, 7 and 10, the character will be required to meet certain criteria based on successful exploration of the Bleak Beyond.
The dungeon rewards characters who accomplish certain goals. For humankind there are currently 13 such accomplishments, along with one race accomplishment for each non-human class which lifts their standard maximum level and allows further progress. Players must track the number of each specific accomplishment, along with the reward gained, on the back of their character sheet for future reference and to prevent possible double-dipping.
Refs might of course allow alternate methods of advancement. It is certainly not a game world in which the only method of advancing as a character is by gaining Bleak Beyond experience. This is simply how one does so within this particular dungeon. Exploring the wilderness of the Unbidden Lands holds its own rewards, after all (which will be explained in an upcoming post).
I may or may not add to this list in the future, and since none of this is quite set in stone there is no accompanying PDF this time. Here's what I've got so far.
Accomplishments / Rewards
1.Etch name on the Big Block of So and So's Fate / Unlock 4th Character Level
2.Shake the hand of Skellington in the Writhing Sepulchre / Unlock 7th Character Level
3.Obtain a Morkevagten Writ of Passage from the Citadel / Unlock 10th Character Level
4.Bring a Fallen Knight to justice / +1 Primary or Random
5.Oust the Mayor of Awfulville / +1 Primary or Random
6.Earn a Key to the Swallowed City / +1 Primary or Random
7.Release a Trapped Soul from the Chapel of the Jilted Bride / +1d6 Hits
8.Smuggle an intact Ubernana to the surface / +1d6 Hits
9.Ring the Gilded Bell of the Excommunicated / +1 Primary or Random
10.Awaken the Sleeping She-Paladin / +1d6 Hits
11.Lay the Evil Dude to rest in his Domain / +1d6 Hits
12.Learn Sham's Secret from Sham himself / +1 Ability of Choice
13.Visit the Four Corners of Balmorphiact / +1 Ability of Choice
Non-human Accomplishments / Rewards
The following non-human accomplishments remove the standard class level maximum for each respective race. They do not however supersede the advancement accomplishments required as detailed in numbers 1-3 above.
Enter the Supreme Citadel of the Morkevagten through the front door / Unlock Dwarf 7th
Survive an arena match in the Swallowed City / Unlock Elf FM 5th
Learn a new spell in the Palace of Ceaseless Extravagance / Unlock Elf MU 9th
Taste Chuckhole Hooch straight from a still in Chuckhole Hollow / Unlock Hobbit 5th
Bring home the head of a Nisse / Unlock Aelfar FM 7th
Take a nap in the Dens of Undesired Dream / Unlock Aelfar MU 7th
Pull one of Vrimnas's levers and live to tell the tale / Unlock Doende 7th
Perform guard duty at the Shrine of the Sleeping She-Paladin / Unlock Dvergar 7th
Bring home a real live Crumblebumian / Unlock Irkling 7th
Tithe at the Church of the Excommunicated / Unlock Troldekin FM 7th
Become irradiated on the Level w/ No Name / Unlock Troldekin MU 7th
Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?