Finders Keepers - Additional Info

Finders Keepers comes from a very specific and probably relatable moment: when a player forgets they had a +2 bonus to a check until after the outcome has been resolved, which would've been enough to make them succeed.

Or, when a zombie ambushes a paladin who the GM forgot had Detect Undead.

Or, when a new player is swamped by a myriad of spells, powers, daily limits and jargon that mean absolutely nothing to them and requires a whole book to look up. If they don't make the right choice now, they're going to be hamstrung for the rest of the game, and they have no way of knowing what the right choice is.

Or, unless the Fighter has the "Trip Attack" power, they never try and trip enemies, and once they do have that power, nobody else (including the DM) thinks tripping enemies is possible without it.

Or, it's been months since the gang last played, when they left right on a cliffhanger fight, and it's impossible to know how many spell slots the wizard had left.

Or, a whole session goes by without the dice or inventory being touched, with the system falling away to reveal the truth, that often system really doesn't matter. This last one isn't a problem, but seriously, we spend so much time arguing over the damn things, why not make something that actually matters?

If the first thought of a new Die Trying player is "what am I going to do without...?", the first thought of a Finder is "how they hell am I supposed to use...?" Invariably, they answer that question for themselves in exquisite style.

  1. No X/day abilities. Everything can be used either a) all the time b) only once c) X times d) under specific circumstances or e) at a specific cost
  2. No passives, only actives. Nothing that can be "turned on" and forgotten
  3. "Daggers, not lockpicks". Abilities and powers are useful for a multitude of circumstances, rather than being perfect for just one
  4. All abilities must "break the rules" to some extent. If it's possible to do via the normal rules or through common-sense, it doesn't need to be an ability
  5. Balance via randomness (some things are incredibly overpowered and game-breaking, but won't show up that often) and pain (some things are strong but cause the PC to explode)
So far, the principle that I have found it the hardest to follow has been #2, especially in the Weirdness list.

Death and Growth
The question I am asked most frequently about Finders Keepers (apart from "you said how many items!?") is: "Can you only spend XP when a character dies?"

No. You can only spend XP when you create a new character, by default.

Firstly, characters are allowed to retire! I would probably grant at least 1 XP to a player that took an opportunity to see their character into a safe and happy life, away from the mud and blood and dungeons. Secondly, cycling through rosters of characters is perfectly reasonable way to add some diversity to a long-term campaign, so putting a character aside, generating a new one (with all the accrued XP) and having the first character as a backup is completely reasonable.

However, you, as the DM (or you, as a very polite and inquisitive player) might suggest that the party experiment with the direct purchasing of abilities, stats and items via XP. A marvellous idea! I would grant stats at a rate of 1XP = reroll a stat, +1 if higher, and 1XP = 1 max HP. I would allow the purchase of Talents and Arcana only when it is plausible for the character to change and develop.

This would not be Finders Keepers as intended. The characters created are relatively fragile and start with considerable variation (in contrast with traditional level 1 characters). They are fully ready to go on nearly any OSR-style adventure. With creativity and pluck, you, the player, should be able to bring them out again alive and mostly-intact.

They don't need to have abilities and levels and additional stats heaped onto them for a purely numerical reason. If they grow, it should be due to your efforts in seeking out opportunities to develop and advance.

Rather than spending XP on fighting styles and spells, tell your DM that you wish to seek out the great sword-masters of the world and learn from them! Summon demons and tattoo your bones and plunder the secrets of the ancients! Characters in Finders Keepers will grow and evolve and change, but they do so as part of the world. The character-sheet is not the character.

Speaking of growing and changing...

Diegetic Advancement
If you pledge yourself to the Queen of Worms, you can speak with all manner of crawling things, and worms will obey you (unless they outrank you, in which case you must obey them).

If you train under the tutelage of the Ever-decaying Swordsman, pick a weapon. Whenever someone strikes you with that weapon, while you are also fighting with that weapon, block the attack OR disarm them perfectly.

If you sell your soul, better make sure you got a good deal for it. You'll probably be able to tell lies perfectly, or have your body completely "healed", or disappear when you're not being watched.

If you climb to the top of Mount Truth, and look down on all Creation, you'll be able to fly, once. The moment you land, it will feel like a dream.

If you are the first person to climb to the top of a particular mountain, you grow 1ft taller.

If you return a lost star to the safety of Inner Space, you'll never be lost if you can see the night sky.

If you drink the fluid on the floor in Room 79, anyone that tastes a drop of your sweat will be wracked by hallucinations.

If you tie yourself to the Tree of Knowledge for nine days and nine nights and survive, you'll be able to see magical spells and learn them just by watching.

If you marry a mer-person, you can breath underwater just fine, and swim ok-ish. If you neglect your new spouse, a) you're a horrible person and b) they can make it so you can never breath on land again.

If you fund the creation of a statue/song/opera/poem commemorating a great achievement of yours, you can make people recognise you just by willing it.

If you inscribe your skeleton with a magical word of power, you'll be able to cast it innately. The most effective place for it is the inside of your skull.

If you have been to space, you can hear the messages of beyond the stars during astral events (the aurora, eclipses, equinoxes etc).

If you pry the true name out of the heart of a demon, they have to obey your every command.

If you help Old Gnome Jenkins across the street, he will invite you to tea and a slice of his village-renowned "Death Pie". Each slice eaten grants a mutation.

Assorted methods:
  • Murder an archmage and take all his things
  • Slay an entire tribe / make a particular creature extinct
  • Be the first to climb to the top of a particular mountain / cross a desert / sail an ocean
  • Consume the glowing orb at the bottom of a dungeon
  • Win a solo fight against a much larger and more powerful enemy
  • Cast a spell that has been lost to history
  • Rescue a family member from certain death
  • Either destroy or control a cult
  • Eat the heart of a dragon, devil, angel, spirit etc.
  • Waste a years wages in total debauchery
  • Be formally invited to a ball and make a good impression
  • Save the world, or at least your slice of it
  • Kill the same being three times
  • Survive the torture chambers of The Ripper
  • Survive an adventure at the brink of death
  • Win a duel against a noble
  • Consume a spark of the First Flame
  • Become a member of a gang / knightly order / The Circus
  • Lose ten different battles, ten different ways
  • Replace part of your body with demonflesh grafts
  • Win a duel against a member of the nobility

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