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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 75 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Story Point System] Having problems with character advancement  (Read 943 times)
Gryffudd
Member

Posts: 6


« on: May 01, 2010, 12:05:55 AM »

Hi there,everyone. First time poster, long time lurked. Well, about two months, anyway. Apologies in advance for any typos. Entering this from my iPhone while I try to stay awake at work.

Anyway, I should probably get to the topic about which I am looking for assistance. The last system I worked on ended up being much too complex for what I wanted. Taking a week off I ended up thinking over a new system mechanic. At some point I intend to post it here for people to critique, but I haven't gotten the basic ideas settled yet. In thinking about character advancement, however, I have had problems coming up with exactly what I want to do.

First, a liitle background about the game. I'm intending it for a few different game universe ideas I have that are in the mould of the pulp adventures such as the Shadow/Doc Savage/Buck Rogers. Maybe a superhero idea too. To this end I wanted skill levels to have a low range, 0 (unskilled) to 4 (master). Stats would have a range of 1 (below average) to 4 (human maximum). One part of such stories that I wanted to emulate was that stats and skills only go up slowly, if ever. I don't want completely unchanging ratings, though.

The one solid idea I had concerned stat improvement. The idea was that every time a skill went up a level, one stat that was affiliated with using that skill would get a point. For intance, if the Athletics skill went up a level, the player could give an advancement point to Coordination, Strength, or Endurance, all stats that could reasonably be improved by training in athletics. Once a stat had enough improvement points, maybe 5 or 10, it went up a level automatically.

My problem is in skills. I've never been a fan of how fast skills level in most games, though I want to make sure I don't restrict it too far. Perhaps I could give skills a "cooldown", to borrow a term from video games, after they were improved. Each session each player would put a check after every skill. Once they had X checks in a skill they could spend experience points to raise it a level, erasing the cooldown checks. Before they could raise it another level they'd have to wait X more sessions, in effect.

Or maybe it could be a skill check thing, like some systems use. At the end of the session each skill that was important to the session is rolled on or domething and a high enough success levels the skill one point.

Right now I'm not wed to any particular advancement idea. I figured I'd ask around here, since many of you seem to be interested indiscussions of this sort. Smiley

Thanks muchly for any assistance you can offer.

Pat
PS: The system name is just a placeholder. If it's infringing on anything, let me know and I'll change it.
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Vulpinoid
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Posts: 803

Kitsune Trickster


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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2010, 01:38:20 AM »

There's a few good advancement systems out there, some fast, some slow. The one thing you need to remember that a lot of players like to see their characters develop and grow.

Development need not always mean improvement. It may simply mean change.

A story might be about a groups ability to resist the bad things happening around them...each character suffering penalties in different ways and thus developing their personality through these flaws.

If you really want a game where characters don't really improve too much over time, you could consider the option that every time they buy something positive for their character, they have to match it by acquiring a linked flaw. Over the course of a story flaws may be gradually bought off, leaving the character with only the advancement. 

Just an idea...I don't know if you'll find it useful, or if it will link into what you're aiming for.
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Jeff Russell
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Posts: 44


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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2010, 03:15:57 AM »

Howdy Gryfudd,

First off, I'm a huge pulp fan, so: awesome.  Secondly, though, I'd feel remiss if I didn't mention Spirit of the Century. I've never played it, but after reading through the rules, I was pretty excited by it. I mention it because a) it's Pulp inspired by those exact same sources, and b) it has extremely limited character advancement. If you're already familiar with SoTC, and maybe that's *why* you're trying to do it yourself, my apologies! But if not, I'd recommend looking at it and stealing what you like Smiley

That being said, a system for character 'development' without necessarily improving that I've seen is the idea of shuffling around stats/skills/whatever. You don't get a higher total, you can just switch your emphasis to something else. Or combine it with healing by allowing messed up characters to return to their starting status (or a different status 'equal' to their starting status). This is basically what the afore mentioned SoTC does, as well as In a Wicked Age by Vincent Baker.

To go with your 'cool down' idea for a moment so that I'm not just recommending other games, what if you make each use of the same skill in X period (probably an adventure, but you could go with in-game day, session, whatever) progressively harder. This would encourage characters not to pull the same 'schtick' every time. But maybe that's not what you want for a pulp feel (I mean the shadow pretty much either a) punches a guy, b) shoots him, or c) clouds his mind, so not lots of variety there, that's who he is and what he does). I look forward to seeing what you come up with in more detail, though.
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Jeff Russell
Blessings of the Dice Gods - My Game Design Blog and home to my first game, The Book of Threes
Gryffudd
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2010, 02:58:54 PM »

Thanks for the replies, Vulpinoid and Jeff.

Yeah, I don't want to stifle skill advancement too much, I guess I'd just like it to be a bit slower than I've found in many games. In some I'd see someone go from no skill to expert or master in a few sessions just by piling on stored xp, gaining a level every session.

I've heard of Spirit of the Century and In a Wicked Age, but haven't gotten a look at them yet. I'm definitely interested, it's just up to finances right now. Smiley This idea more came from the basic game system idea popping into my head and me realizing it would fit certain games I'd like to see. It's one of those compulsion things. Gotta work on games, no help for it. Smiley

Another possibility that came to me the last night was to give out an experience point for specific skills that were of significant use during the session. Being in a shootout with a few thugs wouldn't get you a point in Pistol, but a shootout with a notable gunslinger or someone better than the character was might. Once you get 3-5 XP in a skill it goes up a level. The character could still get better in certain areas, but only ones that had an importance to the session. Make it rely on what they do with their skills, not just giving them generic XP each session to go wherever they want.

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. The best part of this site, to me, is reading posts that open my mind up to ideas I've never encountered or though of before.

Pat
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Vulpinoid
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Posts: 803

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« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2010, 02:41:57 AM »

One of the things I used to love about the Games Workshop skirmish games "Mordheim" and "Necromunda" was the way that characters would gain a random skill or attribute upgrade at the end of a battle if they passed a certain number of XP.

The player didn't choose what the character learnt...and as the character developed, it became harder to earn new advances (but it was just as easy to suffer permanent injuries). Thus character improvement was skewed in a positive direction initially, but gradually equalled out and finally skewed to the negative (you actually had to make a conscious effort whether to risk your experienced guys with their heightened skill sets, or choose to use them more strategically).

I'm trying to do something similar with a roleplaying game that I'm toying with at the moment, but with slightly more control in the hands of the player.

The theory is that the player still rolls a die at the end of a session to determine what improves in their character, but the result of that die roll reflects the game events.

As an example: Roll a d6
1: The character gains a level in the skill they used most often during the session.
2: The character gains a level in a skill they needed, as long as someone else in the party possesses that skill and is able to teach it.
3: The character may buy off a flaw that impeded them during the game (choose another player who will pick the flaw that is removed).
4: The character may buy off any flaw that impeded them during the game session.
5: The character gains a level in any skill or attribute they used during the session (choose another player who will pick the skill to be advanced).
6: The character gains a level in any skill or attribute of their choice.

(Maybe roll 2d6, and allow the player to choose one of the two results for their character's advancement method.)

Again, just an idea.
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Gryffudd
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2010, 11:06:02 AM »

Hm, interesting. I may 'borrow' that idea a little, if it's okay. Smiley

It restricts their choice a bit but still allows the to choose within that. For mine it wouldn't be every session, maybe every 2-4 or something.

An idea to mull over, definitely.

Thanks, Vulpinoid.
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