Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Experience and Advancement...

I hope that everyone had a great long weekend, and in honor of the shortened work-week ahead, today’s post will cover a Mortal Hero’s advancement. Advancement is simple in this game: experience your Mortal Hero gains over the course of the campaign is turned in during your Advancement Phase for Hero Points, which can be used to buy skills, raise stats, purchase Heroic Attributes or Fighting Styles, etc.

FORGED  has a very fluid character advancement system that can be tailored to your campaign style. There are two primary systems: yearly and block. Let’s take a look at both.

Yearly advancement occurs, well… yearly. This is the preferred system, and the one that I have used most often in my own games. It is simple, efficient for use in a campaign with multiple players, and allows for an ample pool of Hero Points. In this system, all of the Experience gained over the campaign year is tallied together, and divided by 1,000. Every 1,000 XP translates into a gain of 1d6 Hero Points. Those Hero Points may be used immediately, or saved for some time in the future*. Any experience points left over the nearest thousand mark are held over for the next year. For example, if a Mortal Hero earned 4,500 XP, he would ‘turn in’ 4,000 XP (thus gaining 4d6 Hero Points), and start the new year with 500 XP towards his next Advancement Phase.

Block advancement is a little more straight forward; 1d6 Hero Points are earned as soon as a character earns 1,000 XP. These Hero Points may also be used immediately, or saved for some time in the future*. This allows for a more immediate advancement throughout the campaign year, but will require the Storyteller to take time out of the session to deal with different characters all advancing at different times. Perhaps your players prefer somewhat speedier rewards for their many toils and travails; if they do, then this system is for them.

*A note on held-over Hero Points. In order to maintain a more realistic rate of skill gain, no more than 1 held-over Hero Point may be applied to any one Skill, Stat, Sense, Fighting Style or Heroic Attribute during the campaign. So while a Mortal Hero with 9 held-over Hero Points could spend 3 on his Sword skill, 3 on his Riding Skill and 3 towards purchasing his Fighting Style over a three-month period, he could not spend 5 all at once for his Fighting Style or more than 1 per month on his Sword. During the actual Advancement Phase, however, Hero Points may be spent as the player wishes, although no more than 1 bubble of any single Mastery, Heroic Attribute or Fighting Style can be purchased in a single year.

Which system you use is entirely up to you and your group, but it is advised that you pick one system for your game and stick to it. In most lands of Khaelavar, winter is a very harsh time, and travel in any land north of the Argonnean City-States is difficult at best, and oftentimes entirely impossible. Because of this, I choose to perform my yearly Advancement Phase during the cold winter months, when most characters are holed up somewhere, preferably in front of a hearth with a hot cup of tea.

Experience Gain: How quickly do you want your players to advance?

Finding a workable rate of advancement can be challenging, especially in an unfamiliar game system. In FORGED, advancement can be rapid, slow, or anywhere in between. It is entirely up to the Storyteller; fast-paced campaigns with epic struggles, little or no downtime for the heroes, or those campaigns where everything is measured on a legendary scale might grant upwards of 10,000 XP per year. Simpler campaigns, or those just starting out, or games where a lot of the downtime is dilated (“After resting in town for a month, you set out once more into the…”) might grant as little as 1-2,000 XP in a whole year.

Remember that Experience is only gained for deeds comparable with the skills and capabilities of the Mortal Heroes themselves. After all, if you didn’t risk or learn anything new from accomplishing a deed, you really can’t grow from the experience. This is why there is no table listing the XP totals gained for fighting monsters or villains. While Bungo the Completely Ordinary might earn a great deal of XP for defeating a common bandit single-handedly, Thulgar the Mighty, Slayer of the Frost Wyvern of Mt. Kharn is unlikely to have learned much from the same fight. A street-wise veteran thief from the mean streets of Raven’s Harbour is unlikely to gain new insights into his subtle trade from stealing Old Madame Rusk’s apple pie recipe. The same thief would earn XP if Old Madame Rusk was an illusionist from Khare, and ‘apple pie’ was street-cant for a rare and deadly poison.

The following table lists some general guidelines for rewarding XP during a campaign.

-Character survives a risky* encounter with a foe of comparable threat: 25-50 XP

-Character survives a risky encounter with a foe of surpassing threat: 75-100XP

-Character successfully overcomes a deadly encounter with a foe of comparable threat: 100XP

-Character successfully overcomes a deadly encounter with a foe of surpassing threat: 250 XP

-Any of the above, with style, cunning, or admirable skill: x2 total XP

-Character critically succeeds a significant roll: 50 XP

-Character earns notoriety/fame for a deed: x2 total XP

-Character plays a key leadership role in any of the above: +50-100 XP

-Character successfully affirms a personal trait to his/her own disadvantage: 100-250 XP

-Character acts fully within scope**, and against advantageous knowledge held by the player: 250+ XP

-Character completes an Adventure Companion***: 500+ XP

-Character completes a personal Story Arc***: 1000+ XP

-Character completes a Campaign Line***: 2000+ XP

-Character survives his/her first Critical Wound: 100 XP

-Character survives his/her first Mortal Wound: 250 XP

-Character achieves 3 bubbles in his/her first skill/Heroic Attribute: 250 XP

-Character achieves 5 bubbles in his/her first skill/Heroic Attribute: 500 XP

*Risk assumes the danger of injury, damage, moral compromise or loss will occur as a result of failure, whether stemming from a fight, a plot, or a role-played encounter.

**Scope assumes the knowledge possessed by the Mortal Hero, limited and distinct from that known to his or her player (in other words, upholding the distinction of Player/Character knowledge).

***Adventure Companions, Story Arcs, and Campaign Lines are the different levels of gameplay in FORGED. Adventure Companions (AC) consist of single adventures, which may be standalones or part of a larger story. Campaign Lines generally consist of 5-8 ACs. Story Arcs (SA) are tailored to individual Mortal Heroes by the Storytellers, and are integral parts of the game. SAs are woven into Campaign Lines, starting as hooks to bring specific Mortal Heroes into the game and ending with some sort of significant resolution before, during, or after the completion of the Campaign Line. Campaign Lines (CA) are complete tales, from humble beginnings to climactic final battles, and they drive every part of the game.

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