Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Another "Duh" Moment

Another issue I've been having with my Aberrant game (and, with Storyteller games in general) is the awarding of experience. Back in the day, I tried to give out experience as it says in the book (i.e. 1 automatic, 1 for fulfilling a story goal, 1 for good roleplay, etc), and realized I always gave the same player the "good roleplay" award, mainly because he's good at playing a character with a radically different viewpoint than his own. Since then, I've just based the amount of XP on the length and intensity of the session (short or slow sessions net 3, standard is 5, long or awesome sessions gets 7+).

The Duh Moment is me realizing why XP in this system is so unsatisfying for me - character progression doesn't tie into any actual mechanical stuff. No matter which resources on the sheet they use, or which flags I respond to as the GM, or which rolls are successes and which are failures, it's still basically up to me to decide how much they get, and thus how fast they progress.

Compare this to Dogs - every single change to your character is a direct consequence of the choices you make while engaging in the escalation mechanics. Boom.

For my Adventure! game over the summer, I tweaked experience to be more directly applicable, and it worked pretty well - your experience pool and your Inspiration pool were the same, and you could give other players Inspiration/XP as fan mail, in addition to the mechanical ways to gain Inspiration and the GM handout of XP. It was cool, because it encouraged the players to measure how important immediate benefits of spending Inspiration was, compared to the permanent benefits of spending XP.

But yah. XP progression in Storyteller gets the "bad design" stamp from me.

Yeah. It's really interesting to see how they standardized it even more in Exalted 2E. Pretty much everyone gets 4 xp a session, and if you break yourself roleplaying, maybe you get an extra point.


I figure they're doing this because they're afraid of seeing the various PCs diverge too much in effectiveness.
Word, Nathan. XP as something that's embedded in the moment-to-moment play is teh roxxor.

And Chris, yeah, that game breaks when the players diverge in power, because power is options is screen presence is input.
The thing is, there's room for innovation with straight-up XP systems, I think. Like, giving different party roles different amounts of XP depending on their story arc - so the naive farmer chooses the "hidden son of the gods" track, and gets 30 XP a session, and the stolid bodyguard takes the "party glue" track, and gets 5 XP a session.

Is there anything like this out there?
Nathan, is XP a metric of character advancement or character development in your suggestion?

Different character advancement (and I'm assuming different starting points) is all good, in my book. Different character development -- meh, that sounds like somebody gets stuck with the boring character.
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