July 7, 2014
The Risk Of A Full Refresh
At its most basic level, tabletop gaming is an exhibit of resource management. Characters need to manage their hit/life points. Mage characters need to manage their spells per day or spell points, depending on the system. Many games have character abilities that can only be used a number of times per day such as Rage or a barbarian or a paladin’s Holy Smite. Characters can only carry so many potions. They only have so much gold. The list goes on and on.
Part of the challenge of games is this resource management. It’s the question of how much are you willing to put into a single battle when they may very well be more battles to come. Do you give it your all now, leaving yourself spent if there happens to be another encounter before your resources have had the chance to build back up? Is this monster really the final boss, or is the Gamemaster trying to lure you into thinking it is so they can spring the real one right after it? These questions and more plague almost every player character in almost every game. This is why there many times in which players will plead to the Gamemaster to give their characters a break.
Gamemasters, be wary of this. While not at all untold to give player characters the occasional rest in order to get them through an adventure, you will need to be mindful of how often you do it. Allowing characters to recharge themselves too often will eliminate much of the challenge of any adventure your prepare for them. Looking at games like Dungeons & Dragons, if you allow the wizard and the cleric to recharge themselves after every single fight, then they will be tossing out their strongest spells during every fight. If that happens, many Gamemasters will try to compensate for it by throwing the characters against tougher and tougher foes, which if the whole party is not prepared for, will quickly lead to disaster.
Early in my Gamemastering days, I had a tendency to try to run grand, epic campaigns where every fight was a trying battle for survival. Every fight required the party to go all out, as they could not survive otherwise. This led to many a character death and for arcane-based characters like Sorcerers and Wizards, to truly stand out as being the most powerful of all classes. Because they were always at full power at the start of a battle, there was no reason for them not to unleash their awesome arcane might against their foes. Sure, I can tell you some grand stories about those days and many of my players still remember them fondly, but looking back on it, I can clearly see my own inexperience at gaming shining through.
You see, part of that resource management is a balancing factor between the various characters. Yes, characters with magic are capable of some incredible things, but they are limited in how often they are able to use them. Warrior type characters, by contrast, might not be able to unleash such complete devastation upon their foes with a mere wave of their hand, but nor are they so limited in how often they are able swing their swords around. Normally, magic-using characters and other classes with a more finite resource pool must rely on those characters with less of a limited resource to hold the line for them, as they must fall upon their less powerful tricks for the majority of encounters, unleashing their strongest powers only when the situation calls for it.
Unity and teamwork is what should be carrying a party through, not the unbelievably powerful abilities of a single character.
As always, thanks for reading and I wish you all good gaming.
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