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Character Advancement and Experience Points

by Nathan | Jul 4, 2016 | Rules | 6 comments

Points by Nathan | Jul 4, 2016 | Rules | 6 comments Currently, the FU rules

Currently, the FU rules do not provide details on advancement through experience points, instead suggesting to change descriptors and make adjustments to characters in a more ad- hoc manner. It is a small step, however, to reward play with experience points and tie this to character change or development.

Introducing experience points (XP) to games of FU is straightforward. You will need to come up with a list of things that characters (and/or players) earn XP for, and then a way for players to spend this experience.

What will earn XP?

Games have di erent expectations for both character action and player interaction depending on the theme, tone, genre and a variety of other factors. A good XP system will reward preferred actions in order to encourage players to behave in the desired manner.

When determining what things will earn XP in your own games, take into account what your story is about, the desired interactions of players and the frequency of such events.

What is important in your game/story?

The rst thing you need to do is decide what kinds of actions, activities or interactions you want to promote in your games. Experience points are a reward for playing in a particular way, so you need to know the expectations. I would make a short list of what the game is “about”. Is your game, at its core, about killing monsters, solving puzzles, defending the weak from dastardly villains or stopping nefarious organisations from destroying the world? Maybe its about exploring relationships, amassing wealth, or learning the truth of a particular time, place or event.

Whatever you decide your game is about, make a short list of 1 – 3 things that you would expect characters to do or achieve during their adventures.

What player behaviour do you want to reward?

Experience points can also be used to reward player action as well as character action. This is the reward for “good roleplaying” or “staying in character”, but might also extend beyond that, too.

Add to your list any speci c behaviours you want to promote. This might be “roleplay”, or just “participate” or even a bonus for the person who brings the snacks!

Estimate the frequency of these achievements

Make an estimate of how often characters/players will achieve each thing on your list. Some stu you would expect to happen every time you play a session, while others will only occur every couple of sessions or at the end of a dramatic and exciting adventure. It is good to have a variety on your list so players have something to work towards and strive for.

Example XP Lists

Here are some ideas for experience rewards to get you started. Personally, I would look to use 2 – 4 items from the Generic XP rewards list and then add a number of genre / story speci c rewards. In total, aim for about ve items that can earn a character XP.

Generic XP rewards:

Participation – thanks for playing, here’s some XP! thanks for playing, here’s some XP!

Overcoming a major challenge – defeating a “big boss” or some other major obstacle defeating a “big boss” or some other major obstacle

Goals – successfully achieving one or more group / party goals successfully achieving one or more group / party goals

Drives – pursuing and/or achieving a personal goal pursuing and/or achieving a personal goal

Weakness – a personal weakness or aw causes signi cant trouble a personal weakness or aw causes signi cant trouble

Catering – bringing the Mountain Dew and other munchies this week bringing the Mountain Dew and other munchies this week

Fantasy Dungeon Delve:

Defeating a mighty foe – you killed the beast, so reap the reward! (Decide if it has to be the you killed the beast, so reap the reward! (Decide if it has to be the killing blow, or if everyone who participates gets the reward.)

Carousing – spending all your wealth on living large (great for sword and sorcery games!) spending all your wealth on living large (great for sword and sorcery games!)

Liberating the treasure – when you nd a mighty treasure, whether it is a relic, culturally signi cant or when you nd a mighty treasure, whether it is a relic, culturally signi cant or just a huge pile of gold

Super Heroes:

Defend the weak – you protect the weak and innocent from harm, at great personal cost you protect the weak and innocent from harm, at great personal cost

Innovation – you use a super power in a unique or surprising way to overcome an obstacle you use a super power in a unique or surprising way to overcome an obstacle

Team-up – you have con ict with a character before nding common ground and teaming up you have con ict with a character before nding common ground and teaming up

Justice – you do the right thing, but at great personal cost you do the right thing, but at great personal cost

Space Opera:

Go boldly – you discover an important location/civilisation you discover an important location/civilisation

The Directive – you overcome a potentially hostile challenge without resorting to violence you overcome a potentially hostile challenge without resorting to violence

One purpose – you have a meaningful connection with another character you have a meaningful connection with another character

Earning that experience

When your XP list is created, communicate it clearly to all players. Perhaps you discussed it as a group as it was created (great idea!), but if not, ensure everyone knows the kinds of things that will earn their character XP.

At the end of each session of play reward characters with experience points. Give a character one experience point for each item on the list they achieved. It is important to be clear before play about whether actions are individual, or if everyone in the party gets the reward for doing something. An e ective list will have some “whole group” reward opportunities along with individual rewards.

Only award each item once per session. It doesn’t matter how many “major challenges” a group overcame, or the number of times they actually did the required action, each XP can only be earned once per session.

Here is my list for a game of pulp adventure:

Participation – thanks for playing, here’s some XP! thanks for playing, here’s some XP!

Overcoming a major challenge – defeating a “big boss” or some other major obstacle defeating a “big boss” or some other major obstacle

Drives – pursuing and/or achieving a personal goal pursuing and/or achieving a personal goal

Stunts – using the environment in an interesting way to overcome an obstacle using the environment in an interesting way to overcome an obstacle

Exploration – when you discover something important about the supernatural world when you discover something important about the supernatural world

The Overcoming a major challenge and Exploration rewards are given to the whole group when such an event occurs, while the others are individual rewards. My expectation is that Participation and Stunts will be rewarded every session, while Drives, Exploration and the Overcoming reward will be given as they occur.

Spending those experience points

Players may spend their XP at the end of a session of play. Every N experience points will “buy” one advance for a character. What N is equal to depends on your group and the rate of advancement is really up to how quickly you want to see characters improve. Personally, I’m happy to see some movement every two or three sessions, so set N to equal 10XP, but you might want to make this number lower or higher.

Advances

When a player spends N XP they get an advance. One advance will let a player add a single new element to their character. This might be:

A new descriptor

A

new descriptor

Unlock a single meta-tag for a pre-existing trademark (if using trademarks)

Unlock a single meta-tag for a pre-existing trademark (if using trademarks)

A new item of gear

A

new item of gear

An additional drive

An additional drive

Some other signi cant new feature of the character

Some other signi cant new feature of the character

Depending upon the game you are playing there might be other ways to improve a character.

Balance

Keep a record of how many advances a character has achieved. If a character has signi cantly less advances than other players, consider giving them a bonus FU point at the start of a game session. What constitutes “signi cantly less” is going to depend on whether it is just one character behind the rest, or if there is a spread and so game masters are encouraged to test things out. I would consider if a character has less than half the number of advances of the most experienced character they should be given a bonus FU point.

Groups might decide to cap the maximum number of advances a character can have. After six or so advances they will have a very large number of descriptors/meta-tags/gear with which to overcome challenges and things may begin to become very predictable. This does depend on choices the player makes and how narrow or broad they make their choices and therefore every group will be di erent.

There you have it – introducing experience points to your games of FU. What do you think? Do you already use XP, is it

something you might use, or do you just “hand wave” it all anyway?

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wave” it all anyway? Share this:    Related 6 Comments Tina on July 6,

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all anyway? Share this:    Related 6 Comments Tina on July 6, 2016 at

Tina on July 6, 2016 at 12:55 pm

I like it! I’ve previously tried to do this (in my Mouse Guard hack) with accumulated FU points because I didn’t want to track so much stu . But simply tabulating everything at the end of the session shouldn’t be too much bookkeeping, I think, and reminds me of the mechanism used in Blades in the

Dark. I seem to remember that you’re a Blades backer, so I’m guessing it may have been some inspiration?

Other thinks I’d like to try porting over from Blades in the Dark are progress clocks ( lling in a segment on No, and; Yes, but until e.g. the guards arrive) and the Flashback mechanism. I would use this similar to creating an advantage in FATE, so you state some fact that you want to make true retrospectively (“well of course I planted a concealed dagger here!” or “It turns out I happen to know about programming robots because I’ve smuggled some in the past…” and the GM decides how plausible this is and gives you a FU point cost (at least 1) you need to pay to make it true (and maybe ask you to roll to see how well it turned out).

(and maybe ask you to roll to see how well it turned out). Nathan on July
(and maybe ask you to roll to see how well it turned out). Nathan on July
(and maybe ask you to roll to see how well it turned out). Nathan on July

Nathan on July 7, 2016 at 6:47 am

Reply

I was totally inspired by Dungeon World for this, which is based on

Apocalypse World, which is the basis of (wait for it…) Blades in the Dark! So yes, you are absolutely correct! To be honest, Dungeon World is currently my gaming crush. It takes the wonderful Apocalypse World engine and presents it in a manner that was far more accessible to me than the original AW rules were. For the guys I currently play with it is a great balance between the crunch they like and the very exible story-driven play that I enjoy. Dungeon World did dump some of the cool Apocalypse World features (like progress clocks) which I am now exploring in more detail through games like Blades. It’s a crazy circle.

detail through games like Blades. It’s a crazy circle. Tina on July 15, 2016 at 11:02

Tina on July 15, 2016 at 11:02 pm

I also couldn’t quite get into Vincent Baker’s writing in AW, but have

found Avery Alder’s Monsterheart to be an excellent intro to PbtA games, even more so than DW. I may never play in this teen monster setting, but it’s extremely accessible in its explanations of moves and freeform roleplaying in general.

Nathan on July 15, 2016 at 11:16 pm

I’ve not read Monster Hearts, but might have to check it out!

Rafael Carrasco on July 1, 2018 at 4:47 am Hi! I’m new to FU (haven’t

Rafael Carrasco on July 1, 2018 at 4:47 am

Hi! I’m new to FU (haven’t played it yet, but really itching to), and I’m trying to update myself about these new rules — all of which I nd amazing. I just had an idea and want to share it: what if a player can spend XP in order to buy new trademarks? Suppose for example the trademark Mage. If this character has enough XP, he could be able to buy the Fighter trademark, and be something like a D&D multiclass.

If this idea works, another change is that maybe some trademarks could demand that you possess a certain number of meta-tags in a given trademark. For instance, to buy Legendary Mage the character has to posses every regular Mage meta-tag. This complicates things a lot, because it will be harder to come with trademarks and meta-tags on the y, but I believe some groups would enjoy using a pre-de ned set of Trademarks.

Other example, to be an Ancient Cainite, you have to have two Ancillae meta- tags, which requires two Neonate meta-tags.

Ancillae meta- tags, which requires two Neonate meta-tags. Nathan on July 1, 2018 at 8:36 am

Nathan on July 1, 2018 at 8:36 am

Reply

Hey Rafael! Thanks for the feedback. I think if players and game masters are willing to spend some time “building” prede ned sets of Trademarks and meta-tags, this could work well. In fact, the original idea partly came from a desire to convey unique settings to players through pre-built Trademarks. My gut feeling for having pre-requisites in order to take a new Trademark is you need 2 out of the 4 listed or some such. This will still give a player exibility to make the character their own. I hope you get to play FU soon! I would highly recommend playing the “basic” rules to see how it goes, maybe with just one or two added bits from this website. The original rules are very smooth and elegant (if I say so myself!). Let me know how your games go!

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