I'm planning to start running Strange Aeons for my group soon, but there's something I need to know before my PCs can build their characters.
I am considering using the Unchained rules for Automatic Bonus Progression, which replace the "big 6" magic items with automatic increases to their relevant stats as they level up. This frees up item slots for more niche/flavorful magic item choices, but you're supposed to halve the party's average wealth by level to compensate for it. Magic Weapons and Armor lose their numeric bonuses but gain qualities to compensate, and players cannot acquire items that directly boost AC, Saving Throws, or Ability Scores.
I don't want to upset the horror atmosphere by changing my party's expected statistics and wealth. So please, anyone who has either ran this adventure or played through it, what was your experience when it came to party wealth? Did you feel that you had too little/too much gold? Do you think that this system would be appreciated or resented?
I appreciate any and all input on the matter.
As long as they keep up with updating the character sheets, ABP should be great. You can replace some of the more boring "+X" items with weird tomes and cursed objects. Out of the four AP's I've ran/played, I'd rate this one third in terms of wealth/gear -- only ahead of Skulls/Shackles and behind Kingmaker/Serpents Skull. There are decent places to buy/sell gear -- especially when you hit the fourth book and dump all of your goods in Cassomir. I will say, part of the excitement of the sword Red Destiny (besides its dope name) is that it's a +2 sword you stumble upon at level 2. Of course you could give it all sorts of "destiny" powers instead to make up for that (rerolls, divination, etc.) The only book that seems to really shut down the players' ability to buy/sell is book 6. I've got players doing weird loopholes to get around the lack of "shop" in Carcosa. To cure things like mental ailments and curses, they use the Necronimicon's "Enter The dreamlands" ritual and use their consumables there.
Our group enjoys ABP for a lot of reasons. My mechanically oriented players are grateful that they don't have to worry about affording the stereotypical stat boosting gear. The fact that it is stereotypical for us is also problematic, and often no matter how you flavor a headband of intellect or a belt of dex, it's still a headband of intellect or a belt of dex. They've also expressed the fact that it finally frees them up to feel good about purchasing some of the wondrous items they always eyeballed but that weren't as critical an expenditure as the rings of protections and amulets of natural armor and such.
My experience as a DM is that the system makes homebrew games a lot easier. When it comes to APs, it isn't that difficult to incorporate. When I was running Giantslayer for the group, I found it easiest to remove the +X value of weapons and armor but keep any specific modifications (flaming, thundering, bane, etc.) in place. Otherwise, it was just a MW version of the weapon or armor. Doing this almost hit the mark of halving character wealth. It overshot the mark a bit and I had the pleasure of being able to invent a few opportunities for getting some good old cash. That balancing act depends upon the AP.
Having just read through Strange Aeons, I feel like it would mostly work out, but I think you'll have to find more opportunities for gold infusion than I had to. The loot seems less effusive, at a glance.
I'm using a modified version of ABP. I give them automatic enhancement bonus to physical and mental stats, resistance bonus to saves, deflection and natural armor bonus. I still use the standard magic weapons and magic armors, because I don't enjoy much the way you change your magic weapon bonus around, and the system punish players that want to have a magic secondary weapon (for example, a ranged weapon), and sometimes you have in the AP special weapons that are special not because of extra abilities (for example, a +5 sword). In this AP, in the first adventure, Red Destiny sounds special, just because it's a +2 weapon. I also let Inherent bonus to work normally, unlike in ABP, because in this AP they gain inherent bonus, and because inherent bonus sounds as something special, more a reward than a "mandatory" bonus like resistance or deflection.
I give them +1 resistance bonus to saves every 3 levels, +1 Nat armor bonus every 4 levels, and +2 enhancement bonus to a mental and physical stat at lvl 6. Then at lvl 10 they have the option to raise the enhancement bonus to +4, or have two bonus at +2/+2. At lvl 14 they can raise those ability bonus to +6, or two +4/+4. At level 16, they can have +6/+6 or +4/+4/+4.
Then I simply remove enough gold from the adventure to balance out what they get for free.
Hope it helps