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Character Growth

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 10 months ago

Character Growth


When Growth Applies


Character growth only applies for games where multiple sessions will occur using the same character(s), and can be ignored for convention style play games or other single session short term games.


Each game session that occurs is likely to lead to character growth ranks. Player characters have a tendency to grow faster than the average person in the world because they live in a state of heightened stress, unusual experiences and testing of their skills and abilities than other people. They also have more opportunities to discover new ideas and potential sources of training.


Characters Not In Play


If a character is not in play (from player absence, movement into an offstage non-stress position, etc.) they will normally earn 1 growth rank every 4 weeks of in game time passing, presuming that they are conscious and active. If this is time spent recovering from injuries, locked in a jail cell or other inactive condition then no growth ranks are likely to be earned.


When Growth Is Awarded


At the end of each session, or at the end of each story cycle (depending on which the GM decides is best for cohesion) the GM will present players with growth points based on their activities as a group and individually at the start of the next session.



How Growth Is Awarded


There are three simple Growth Systems available. The GM will determine which of the three systems will be used, based upon their intended style and desire of detail.


Simple Scaled Growth


Under this system the GM sets a flat rate of growth that will be awarded for each session of attendence of the player (players who don't attend don't get experience, and generally the eps system for characters not in play is not used.


Generally the GM sets a rate, for instance, of 3 Growth points per session. As long as the player is present they will get that number of points for their character each session to spend.


Under this system there is no judgement of the players skills, entertainment value, effectiveness or goal achievements. Attendence alone determines advancement.


Story Scaled Growth


Under this system the GM determines how much the group as a whole have advanced the ongoing stories/plotlines/goals of the group during a session and awards a rate that is identical for each player based on this advancement. So if a session doesn't really advance things much the GM may decide on that specific session that everyone gets a single Growth Point, while on another they might get 3 or at the conclusion of a storyline they might get 5 or more growth points each.


This system works best where there is an overriding group storyline going on, but doesn't encourage personal stories or goals.


Subjective Individual Growth


Under this system the GM has a number of criteria on which the game play is scored upon. These divide into two categories, Roleplaying Rewards and Character Learning Experiences. These are rewarded for each session on an individual basis, prefereably secretly.


Roleplaying Rewards


These are basically broken down into three slots, which a player is rewarded zero, one or two points for.

A Zero means that the player has failed in some way to carry out the concept involved, a reward of 1 means that the player has done what was necessary to fulfill the concept, and a reward of 2 is that the player has done exceptionally in that category.


  • Setting Genre
  • Character Idiom
  • Appropriate Initiative


The first is the portrayal of the general genre of the setting. Since Zamani is a pulp setting, with heroic overtones, it's important that characters be portrayed within the genre and that they are portrayed within the concepts of the society that they exist in (so long as it does not violate the idiom of the character). It doesn't mean a player sticking to every last detail and nuance, but the general feel for setting and playing of the basic 'tropes' that are associated with the genres that the game encompasses. Regularly breaking the 'suspension of disbelief' involved in a roleplaying game would also likely to cause a player not to score a genre point.


Character Idiom refers to the portrayal of the chosen personality, psychological and other traits that make up the character. If a player takes traits and fails to play them, or plays in direct opposition of them (such as a pacifist who picks up a gun and starts shooting people) or only uses their traits as an excuse for anti-social behavior or only when it is convient for them to do so, then they will not receive this point.


Appropriate Initiative is the concept of the player knowing when to take up the initiative and act, when to pass along the initiative to a more appropriate player's character, and when to follow another player character's lead to help move along the story. It includes aspects of teamwork and group cohesion, but also rewards the characters that take the action into their own hands, rather than simply reacting to situations.


Learning Experiences


The Learning experience concept deals not not so much as how a character is presented, as to what they do and experience in the game. Learning experience points, unlike Roleplaying based points, are not necessarily awarded in each session. There are five basic categories. Generally at most a single point is awarded in each.


  • Conflict, Stress, & Personal Injury
  • Creativity
  • Travel/Exploration
  • Achieved Goals
  • Game Support


The first basically occurs when there is a situation that causes physical conflict, high stress events or when a character receives a wound or other injury that does 10 or more points of actual wounds to their body in a session.


Creativity is a reward for a player, who in character, performs a creative or unexpected action (or series of actions) within the game that presents interesting ways of dealing with a situation, advancing the story or solving a task problem.


Travel/Exploration comes from going to totally new places, encountering alien or extradimensional beings and learning something about them or performing detailed research or magical experimentation within the game session. You learn from that which is new and untried. It is inferred by an award of this that the player should be putting a point in this category into an appropriate skill related to what has been encountered or done (performing research on magic should not for the character suddenly improve their skill at riding a bicycle).


Achieved Goals is for both group goals and personal goals (as per traits). This is often a marking of a milestone in the group story or a character's own personal story traits that has been reached.


Game support is for doing things that help the gaming experience for everyone and for the GM. This is doing things like intensive help for a new player to understand the system and develop a character, or bringing along group munchies, or making some amount of personal sacrifice or effort beyond the 'normal' expected of a player at the game. It may also be given for being extensively entertaining to the rest of the group.


Spending Growth


In between sessions, or at the start or end of a session, players can take growth ranks and use them to improve their character.


Skill Growth


Two growth points can be used to raise an existing skill by 1 Rank, if that skill has not yet reached 10 skill ranks (this is NOT counting the ranks from the linked attribute).


After a character has achieved 10 ranks in any skill, not including the ranks from the linked attribute, the cost to increase that skill above 10 is 3 growth points per rank added to the skill. If a character managed to achieve a rank value of 20 in a skill, the cost for each rank after that is 4 growth points.


Growth ranks can also be spent in this same way for any skill that defaults to the attribute, presuming that the character has a value of at least 1 in that attribute. Thus one might learn Climbing without having to find a teacher, presuming that you are doing some climbing efforts in game or off stage during a game session.


No single skill can be raised more than 3 Skill ranks (+15%) from a single session's point rewards.


Learning any other new skill using growth points requires a learning source (teacher, book, experimentation, etc.) and an expenditure of time. Generally it is assumed it takes 50 hours for a character to gain the first rank of a new skill in a non-stress environment, unless the GM judges otherwise.


This learning time can be reduced by a teacher that makes good teaching rolls to train them. Before the teaching character makes their roll they add to their chance of success the student's Education attribute ranks to their chance of success.


They roll on the Action table, a result of L means that the student learns a standard 1 hour of information for an hour that was used. A result of M means that they get 2 hours of training in an hour, H is 3 hours, etc. If the teacher fails their roll then the hour is wasted.


Book learning and/or direct practice effort is always 1 hour per hour spent and has no rolls involved, but also no time lost.


Attribute Growth


Raising an Attribute is not generally done with growth points, but thru in-game action results, plot purposes or special GM permission. The exception are characters who have a trait that specifically allows some sort of growth application to a specific attribute.


Trait Growth


The List of Growth Purchased Traits are a sub-set of traits that can actually be bought using growth points as well as durig character creation. Minor Traits Cost 20 Growth Points, Major Traits Cost 40 Growth Points and Severe Traits Cost 80 Growth Points.


A GM who is adding to the setting should make sure that beneficial traits may be possible to gain that are not purely genetic/birthpoint related, especially new ones that are added to the setting after the game has begun, thru some method of challenge/quest/plot environment or long term time expenditure (like going to college to earn a degree over years of in-game time).


There are exceptions. A few traits give specific rules, based upon having the trait, that allow the increase of a specific attribute by spending growth points. These are often related to non-human species or Mystic Heritage characters.


Additionally some traits are categorized as an Asset Trait, which a character might purchase with accumulated wealth instead, as they are physical objects.

Comments (3)

Anonymous said

at 8:56 pm on Nov 15, 2006

Changes to Spending rules on skills implemented, including maximum # of skill ranks raisable from a single session, and changes to allow and link to growth traits put in place.

(This result from discussions with playtest group on Nov 14th)

Anonymous said

at 3:07 pm on Nov 21, 2006

I'm still mulling over speed of growth issues in the system. Some folks think that the price for skill ranks should stay as is, others think that they should be raised (that characters are gaining in skills too quickly).

I have put in the max of 3 skill ranks (not growth points) being put into any one skill from a specific session as a partial break on growth.

Anonymous said

at 3:10 pm on Nov 21, 2006

I don't want to go to a skill tree system, charging different growth costs based on an arbitrary GM decision of which skills are easier to learn or which ones have more in-game usage over others. This over complicates the mechanic from it's concept of design simplicity.

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