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All my players start out as Norms (the regular human-strength type of character in All Flesh Must Be Eaten). I am playing with the idea of letting one of them secretly be an Inspired instead (the supernatural type of human in AFMBE).

I would start out as interpreting the player's rolls and his abilities as if they really were a Norm, and slowly start buffing their results.

How could I best approach this? Some of my concerns:

  • It will likely cause in imbalance of power within the party, but it will open up possibilities such as supernatural healing of injuries, which may become increasingly needed as the campaign progresses. In my opinion, this justifies the imbalance, but I don't want my other players to feel left out.

    Edit: I have thought about also bumping up other players simultaneously to Survivor, which is basically a beefed up Norm. I think having had several sessions of experience in the zombie world could label them as Survivors, granting them points and abilities similar to Inspired (but not supernatural). This would eliminate some of the imbalance concerns I'm having.

  • I want this to be a secret for all the players, including the to-be-Inspired player. How can I subtly convert their character without creating the sense of 'playing favorites' on someone? Should I talk to this player alone after already playing the campaign for a couple of sessions?

  • I don't want to straight-up lie about dice rolls if I can help it. What are good methods of secretly buffing a player's rolls? Should I include tiny hints of hidden powers each time I buff a result?
  • When the player's character becomes fully aware of their hidden powers, how do I fully unlock their potential? Should they go through another character creation process, where they receive additional points for being Inspired?
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Welcome to rpg.se! I'm not sure this is appropriate as a full answer, but this question's answers feature a totally different approach to a similar power-imbalance situation. You might find it interesting or useful. –  BESW Apr 7 at 15:06
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My question is: I don't know what your intended story is about. If it's about one character being better than the rest of the characters, then why hide this fact from the players? If all the characters were Inspired, then you'd have less of a problem—you could have them discover during play that they're unexpectedly powerful. –  okeefe Apr 7 at 19:14
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Either make all of the characters secretly inspired, or tell them beforehand that the story is about one of them being special (and, if they're ok with that, then consider if you want them to know which of them is special). –  okeefe Apr 7 at 19:15
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There's no need to pick this choice apart or challenge the question's frame. This is a valid playstyle variation that works fine in local RPG cultures that aren't accustomed to "PC equality at all costs and all factors up-front", as is more typical in NA D&D and Pathfinder cultures. In games/playstyles where PC screen time and reward aren't intrinsically tied to PC power level, there's rarely a need to maintain equal power level. –  SevenSidedDie Apr 7 at 20:16
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@SevenSidedDie That's all true, but knowing why would color my answer. –  okeefe Apr 7 at 21:24

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Let him see the changes, let him know they are real, don't say why

I wouldn't straight up lie about a roll as you mentioned in the question, I would however let him be aware that the rolls and results are not what he would expect. You want him to notice that something isn't quite what he expects. Feel free to be enigmatic about why though.

You can also add to the descriptions about how some things seem easier, how he feels "better". Eventually, he will start figuring out at least roughly what is happening and that may be the time to reveal everything and update the character.

Remember the others

You addressed this directly in the question, but I'll emphasize the importance of remembering the others. How important it is to seem "fair" depends heavily on the group, but some could get antsy about it quickly. One way to approach that is to say that they will have equally awesome opportunities later, but this is that characters time to shine and the others are coming.

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A good answer. Another approach to appease the others is to give the powerful one corresponding downsides to their status –  Phil Apr 7 at 20:19

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