I've been working on a mod of Final Fantasy IV where leveling and XP have been removed from the game. Instead, your characters have the same base stats throughout the game (roughly what they are around level 30), and a bunch of things have been changed to make the game work around this:
- Enemy stats are scaled so enemies "feel" as strong as they do at whatever level you usually encounter them, and then tweaked further to add difficulty and variety. Enemies hit harder and now have defense, status effects are more common and more dangerous, elemental and racial weaknesses have been modified, and boss fights have been reworked.
- Equipment's been completely overhauled. Without levels, armor is now the main way to boost your stats; armor can only be obtained in stores for gold now and is more expensive, but can be sold for 90% of the buy price. This makes it so gold sort of replaces XP, while providing flexibility in choosing which characters you power up and which stats you boost. Arm-slot armor have been removed and replaced with rings (which are now more like relics in FF6), and rings and weapons are still plentiful and cheap like in vanilla.
- Stats have been reworked: vitality is now the inverse of strength (double your vit and you halve the physical damage you take), summons are scaled by will instead of wisdom, evasion works more like in later FF games, defense provides more dramatic and consistent damage mitigation, and more. Most characters have more than one critical stat, so there's variety in how you can build and play them.
- Spell power and MP costs have been modified, since each character's max MP no longer changes. Lower rank spells are now nominally less powerful than high rank ones and are more MP-efficient (i.e. Fire1 does 1/3 the damage of Fire3 and costs 1/4 the MP), so there's a reason to use lower rank spells even though your casters have immediate access to some higher ones. Some spell mechanics have been changed, and some spells (and abilities, like Sing) have been removed.
- The story is left unchanged, and most of the game's dialogue is the same (except for inns, where NPCs now give hints about things that are different from vanilla).
This is my first romhack, and it's hard to say how far from "done" it is: so far I've got the first ~80% of the game somewhat modified and working. I've also got a number of changes I want to make to the end-game to make it feel a bit more open-world, like when you get to the World of Ruin in FF6 or the third disk of FF7, but I'm debating whether to shelve that for the moment, and just get something playable finished to release (and then add the end-game changes in a later version).
I'd be keen for feedback about how this sounds from anyone who enjoys RPG mods, and if anyone would be interested in playing this mod in it's current partially completed state please let me know, it'd be awesome to have other people try it out (I'd just want to quickly go through it first and fix or remove things that can make it unplayable, and put together a rough readme). Thanks!