Thursday, March 1, 2012

Adventurer: New experience rules

The issue of experience in traveller is always difficult and often (cough, cough) contentuous.  To some extent, I think it reflects different genre styles.  The wellspring fiction of traveller does tend to value continuity more than the wellspring  fiction of Swords and sorcery as it was in the day. What a character is capable of  is a big part of that.  Intrerestingly, experience (from a character viewpoint) is one of the unchangingly simple elements of an FRP:  score points, go up.  SF seems determined to real it up by worrying in depth about training and etc., generally resulting in obscure or byzantine ways to improve characters.  Plus, what one tracks isn't experience points (easy) but compliance with the training program -which is a pain (ask any HR or manager).

 I know classic traveller has a way to improve characters, and if one reads it, it isn't the complicated or glacially slow  process it is often clamed to be.  And it isn't a constant process, one just makes some decisions, rolls some dice, and them waits until one has to roll again.   But the fact that after 30+ years it is still overlooked and misunderstood tells me that there is a problem.

So, in porting the traveller ethos to the Original RPG mindset, we run smack into that.  So, I've tried to devide an experience system that is front loaded (no tracking compliance) and simple; and yet a bit more than 1gp =1xp.  This is the new default experience system I'm proposing.  Comments and questions are solicited !

Plus, my own feeling is that I'll accept more power creeep in a fantasy setting than in a SciFi setting, where it seems more muchkinly. No idea why, really, just my gut reaction.

Regardless, experience seems to be one of the two  big style issues that differentiate traveller from Many Another Fantasy RPG (tm)

Increasing everything else (skills and characteristics): Simple Method

Assume that the campaign is broken into sessions, episodes and epics. Sessions are when you sit down and play; episodes are sessions that make up a specific story arc or chapter. Several chapters are an epic –or a chapter can be free standing. The intent is to allow players to advance something every three to five related sessions –so for a monster story arc, have several smaller ones, as that is where players will advance.

At the end of each session, if the player was present and has at least tried, each character gains one skill point. Ending a successful Epic or story arc gains a bonus equal to the episodes (sessions) involved. Note that one-offs or side quests don’t count for the bonus. Wildly successful, helpful or genre consistent play should also be given a bonus.

Unconnected or side sessions are just that; the players can get general experience, but not the bonus for completing an arc, and cannot spend them until an arc is completed.

After each chapter, during immediately subsequent session, a player can opt to improve one existing skill by spending skill points equal to the new level, and them rolling greater than the new level on 2d6. Extra skill points can be added at this point to increase the roll.
  • If the roll succeeds, the points are expended and the skill increased by one.
  • If the roll fails, no skill is gained, but the points remain; the player may spend one point to attempt to increase a different skill, repeating while points remain or until successful.
Only one skill may be improved per chapter, and only by one level, but the player may try several skills until successful. Note too that advancement can only occur immediately after a chapter. If desired, points may be saved for the next chapter resolution, but cannot be spent until then.
Instead of increasing an existing skill, a player may automatically gain a new skill at level 1 by spending 3 points. This too can only occur once, for one skill, per chapter.

Any physical stat can be increased by treating it as a skill equal to ½ the value of the stat.

Increasing characteristics may only improve the characters undamaged characteristics; also, the player must be in good health with regard to the stat in question.

A characteristic that has been reduced by ageing cannot be further increased