There were two big changes I wanted to make to Maze Rats in regards to the Magic and XP systems in the form of a supplement. That supplement could then be handed out alongside the rules increasing the total printed sheets players need from 1 to 2… I love small games!
The Maze Rats Magic is very descriptive-y, which is cool sometimes. But when the game relies on concrete, tactile problems, you’re going to want very clear spell descriptions. Plus, I’m perfectly willing to be evil and make things tough for the players away from the table, but negotiating rules (not rulings) with a player at the table is… less desirable for me. Especially on the topic of how something like “Bark Negation” works.
So I took the magic system from Knave, tweaked a bunch of the spells, included some of the D&D “classics” and organized it to fit one sheet. The ONLY problem with these is that they are not alphabetized. Someday, I’ll care enough to do it myself…
Now for specifics: original Maze Rats has you roll up a spell each day on a random table if you chose a spell slot your starting feature. The table itself combines two words to make a spell description. “Acid Mind.” “Fusing Cascade.” “Colossus Disk.” The effects are negotiated between the players and referee.
Knave, on the other hand, uses a d100 for any time you would find a scroll or spell book lying around. The spell descriptions are more specific and scale with level. “52. Mirror Image: L illusory duplicates of yourself appear under your control.” Unless noted otherwise, all spells with ongoing effects last up to L×10 minutes and have a range of up to 40 feet.
So combining the two: when you choose a spell slot as a character feature in Maze Rats, roll a d100 on the custom Knave spell list. That’s your spell for the day. You can also get more spells at later levels.
Experience and Leveling
The XP system is basically identical. In OG Maze Rats, the GM grants the delicious players 1 to 3 XP based on “how dangerous” the session was. To me, the numbers looked a lot like Dungeon World’s End of the Session Move.
I made my own questions tied to the campaign. These are asked at the end of each session. Each “yes” gives each player at the table 1 XP:
- “Did we recover an Artifact?”
- “Did we overcome a notable enemy?”
- “Did we work effectively as a team?”
Recovering an Artifact only happens once in a great while so the average XP gained each session has turned out to be 2, the sweet spot. One session did only put out 1 XP because the players ran from everything, which is fine. These are simply goal posts for the players. Every session that’s been played has given the “teamwork” XP, which I like. Otherwise, the amounts work out, leveling rates and amounts are pretty much exactly what it was before. There are just more specific parameters as to what constitutes “XP-worthy.”
The order of the questions is important. I made it so that the answers would build as I read them aloud to the players and they responded. Camaraderie being the last question is important to me as it reminds everyone that they enjoyed each other’s company; a good time spent with friends!
As the GM, I reserve the right to change these questions. Maybe over the course of the campaign “did we overcome a notable enemy” becomes “did we overcome a monster in the City of Skorne?” Or what if “did we recover an Artifact?” becomes “did we kill one of the Lords of the Districts?” What a game changer!
I can also add questions to add “mini-quests” to the core game. “Did we recover machine parts to help power up the skeleton-killing device at The Bleak Hound?” “Did we rescue Kellan’s lost brother in the Winterbole Forest?” “Did we bring back peaches for Larry Larry?” These are XP bonuses revealed to the players during the City Game to help them decide where to go during the Wilderness Game.
That’s it. Two changes I made to the original game to fit the campaign better. There’s some cross-pollination between games here, which shows that it pays to read and play more games! Well, not literally pays…
See you, game designer…