Steal My Idea: Unique, Mildly Impressive Starting Abilities/Equipment for RPG Campaigns

I’ve been kicking around a campaign mechanic for a while, so I thought I’d document it and share it with you.

The idea is that each player character gets one useful item or ability that has a drawback or they can’t use it with too much frequency.

Plot Armor

This was made with love for a character, either as they are now or as they would become. It fits them perfectly, but its true power is the magic within it. Any time the person wearing the armor would be reduced to zero or less hit points, the armor magically absorbs the hit, keeping them from taking any damage. However, the story of the campaign or a specific scenario within the game becomes more complicated in a way that directly affects the person wearing Plot Armor when this happened. How close the hit would have brought them do death determines the severity of the new complication. It could be simple or complex.

Talent Swap

This ability allows for versatility in a pinch. The player with this ability can swap skill ratings with another skill that is less that she is at least half as proficient with. For example, if she has 10 points in intimidate and 0 points in knowledge history, she could switch the points in the two skills. If you’re using Savage Worlds, if she had a d10 in notice and a d6 in boating, she could switch those skill values.

Once the player uses this ability, she cannot switch any stats for in-game week. It takes a full round to switch two skills.

Psychic Connection

The player who chooses this has a psychic connection with anyone of their choosing. This means they can always communicate over any distance as long as both people are conscious. The downside is that those people can never hide any thoughts from one another because the connection is constant and does not offer any safe spaces. Treat questions these players ask in table talk as passive thoughts, allowing the other character to be aware of those thoughts.

If the player who chooses this gift has a psychic connection with another player, that other player has to agree because it will count as their gift as well. This constant connection also means moral penalties can affect both characters, if the DM deems the penalty as severe enough.

An Extra, Invisible Limb (Ghost Limb)

This is seemingly self-explanatory. This character has an extra limb that no one can see. It functions and feels exactly like a normal limb would except it is invisible. It does not increase any of the character’s stats or abilities (strength, climb/swim/fly/ground speed, balance, etc.). The limb can be any limb the character naturally possesses (arm, leg, tail, wing, etc.). It moves independently and does not require extra thought for the person to use. If they use the limb to hold a weapon, it still counts as an off-hand.

These four ideas are more fun than powerful. Sure, they can all serve a great purpose, but they’re not meant to break the game or give anyone superpowers. They’re fun and unique abilities that the players can utilize and experiment with from game one and find new ways to keep them fresh. The aesthetics, plot reasons, and how exactly each item/ability functions can change for whatever setting your game uses. Magic is always great for fantasy. Tech or genetic experimentation usually works for sci-fi, and the unexpected effects from otherworldly encounters can work with anything that has a horror theme.

Have fun!

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Twitter: @RexiconJesse

2 thoughts on “Steal My Idea: Unique, Mildly Impressive Starting Abilities/Equipment for RPG Campaigns

Add yours

  1. I really like the concept of Plot Armor as a literal game mechanic. You get to keep your character, but there will be story implications of not dying that you have to deal with. It makes the narrative more interesting while also allowing players to preserve the character they are attached to. Awesome!


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