Character points on the Stage are an award that influences character progress. As we’ve found out during playtesting, the current system promotes specialization, which is not what I had in mind when I thought it up.

The current system allows players to purchase a new Body level, Mind level, or Soul level for their characters at an increasing cost: the first level costs 1 Character point, the second costs 2 Character points, the third 3, etcetera. Each Body, Mind, or Soul level purchased then ‘flows down’ into a Skill level for a Body, Mind, or Soul skill (see Core Rulebook, pages 138 and 139).

Example

If a character has Body level 3, the player can distribute 3 levels among Body Skills. He could get Brawl skill level 1 and Athletics skill level 2. Or he could choose Close combat skill level 1, Agility skill level 1, and Defense skill level 1. He could also choose Guile skill level 3. In all these combinations, the total number of Skill levels of Body Skills does not exceed 3, the character’s Body level.

The Character point system is in place because gaining experience and advancing a character is part of that character’s growth, just as that character grows in personality due to role-playing. It’s also fun to hit stuff better.

However, the current system is kind of complicated. I have to explain it a lot and people get confused every time. I think that’s because the advancement system is actually not about Body, Mind, and Soul levels: it’s about Skill levels, yet you can’t buy those directly with your Character points. It’s counter-intuitive. Another problem is that, due to the increasing costs, people tend to try to level their character-vital Skills to the maximum as soon as possible, before buying more Body, Mind, or Soul levels becomes practically unaffordable.

Think about it: if you have a character build that needs Agility skill level 6, you’ll need Body level 6, so you already know you’re going to spend (6+5+4+3+2+1=) 21 Character points on your Body level. However, if you choose to get a Skill level in Athletics as well, for whatever reason, the costs increase: you’ll now need Body level 7. That’s 28 Character points spent on Body level: 7 more Character points for 1 Skill level. And it gets worse if you want even more Body skills. In practice, this discourages players to build versatile characters and forces them into predetermined roles.

That’s not what the Stage is about.

To solve this problem, we’re going to test switching to a system where characters buy Skill levels at a higher incremental cost instead of Body, Mind, and Soul levels at a lower initial cost. Character point costs for Powers will stay the same for now. Also, I’m going to multiply all Character point costs and rewards by 10. That way it’s easier to give smaller Character point rewards, which is a lot more convenient when writing adventure modules.

In short, the new rules:

Skill levels

Players use Character points to ‘purchase’ levels in Skills. The first Skill level in a Skill costs 20 Character points. The second level costs 40 Character points. The third level costs 60 Character points. The fourth level costs 80 Character points. The fifth level costs 100 Character points, and the sixth level costs 120 Character points. Players can choose freely which Skill they will increase and the purchase costs of one Skill do not affect the purchase costs of another.

Body, Mind, and Soul level

For each Skill level in a Body skill that a character gains, his Body level increases by 1 (which in turn affects statistics such as Stamina points and Vitality points). For each Skill level in a Mind skill that a character gains, his Mind level increases by 1 (which in turn affects statistics such as Intellect points and Sanity points). For each Skill level in a Soul skill that a character gains, his Soul level increases by 1 (which in turn affects statistics such as Will points and Spirit points).

Powers

Each Power costs 20 Character points per Tier to acquire. A Tier 1 Power costs 20 Character points to acquire; a Tier 2 Power costs 40 Character points to acquire; a Tier 3 Power costs 60 Character points to acquire, and so on.

This should make for an interesting mechanic that allows more versatility. We’ll be playtesting this new reward system in January in our Verden campaign. It would probably involve retro-fitting some of the characters, but it shouldn’t pose too much difficulties.

Let me know what you think, here!

Impact assessment

Only Chapter 10 of the Core Rulebook is affected by this mechanic change. I’ll have to amend steps 4, 5, and 6 of the character creation process, as well as the section on character point reward.

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