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Seattle, Washington, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I'm not entirely sure why we, as roleplayers, believe there is a substantial difference between 254,452 XP and 254,453 XP.  I think it's because a lot of gamers are math nerds and like to show off how great they can add.

Unfortunately, most gamers can't add as well as they think they can (or should be able to).

I'd buy that for a dollar

How characters advance is one of the driving forces that will dictate play.  If you give XP for GP, then characters will be greedy bastards that want to loot every house in town.  If you give XP for kills, then characters will be homicidal maniacs.  Watch the first 60 seconds of this clip if you don't believe me.

Also, buy that movie, because it is Awesome.  Skip the subtitles, capito?

I have no problem with games that use those techniques.  I've played them, they are fun, they are not the flavor I want in Phoenix.

If you give XP for story goals, then characters will try to accomplish story goals.  Sure, they might go after non-XP gaining goals in those other systems, but why only tangentially reward what so many of us claim to want more of?

The Rule of Advancement
In Phoenix, characters gain levels by their achievements.  This brings out their natural power, resulting in more powerful abilities and preparing them for more challenging adventures.  It also attracts the attention of powerful beings, which might either sponsor their tier-increase or attempt to stop it.

There are 5 levels in each tier, and it requires 10 Achievements to gain a level.  Thus, a character needs 40 Achievements to advance from Mortal-1 to Mortal-5, reaching the pinnacle of their mortal power.  Achievements are most commonly earned through the story – for instance, by succeeding in a quest given by a temporal leader or church elder.  All characters participating in the completion of these quests will receive one or more Achievements based upon the difficulty of the quest compared to their own level.  What might be a major achievement for a low level group is only a minor achievement for a high level group.

For all you sandbox enthusiasts, there's no reason AP can't be earned for self-generated quests, defeating famous foes, or whatever else floats your boat.  The GM hands out achievement points for whatever he wants to drive the game.  Even by collection of gold coins, if a group wants to adventure based on stealing as much loot as possible.  You know.  Just like all those heroic movies we watch and fantasy fiction stories we read.  ???

GMs might also let achievements be earned through extraordinary actions – such as succeeding at complex and awe-inspiring stunts, or by performing acts of dramatic heroism.  These are exceptional circumstances, not likely to occur more than once or twice per Adventure, or less if you are homicidal gold-stealing maniacs.


  1. This sounds like it doesn't differ significantly from XP, except that you have reduced the complexity of the leveling practice and provided the GM with significant control over how it goes.

    Plus you have now a linear advancement that is story driven rather than eternally having to earn exponentially higher amounts of XP. Seems to rely a lot on the GM knowing how to pace the leveling, without that experience what happens?

    Is reaching Mortal-5 the pinnacle? or is Reaching tier 5 of Mortal-5 the pinnacle, just prior to increasing to the next tier (the name of which escapes me at the moment)

    I like the way that you have switched the earning of achievement points (and the reference to achievement points) to something story driven or whatever else the GM likes.

    1. Combined with the tier system I effectively have 15 levels of characters: Mortal-1/5, Hero-1/5, Demigod 1/5.

      I'm not too concerned about those who lack experience; I think newbie GMs figure things out fairly quick. Of course they will make mistakes, but I think with regards to the Achievements, it's pretty simple to recognize and adjust.

  2. You're quite right about XP driving play. In my current GURPS game, I constructed a set of rewards based on profit with bonuses for doing other stuff. Net result? Profit-oriented play.

    My previous game, with a majority overlap of players (4 of my 6 played both games), rewarded story, staying in character, accomplishing plot goals (ally with people to fight your enemies, kill an enemy, find something interesting out, etc.) and such. They were very plot-oriented, and while money was a useful thing to get turning a profit every session or every expedition wasn't really important.

    This is why I won't give them XP for killing stuff, or they'd sack the town and torch it for the XP. ;)


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