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Melvin Fenwick
Melvin Fenwick's picture
Stories and advancement
stories

Ok, first time GM.  Ran my very first game over the weekend.  Some questions

 

Apparently I really don't have much of a clue how fast players should progress.  For example: I had a three step story last night...I think it was three stories anyway?

Three scenes.  1) Heroes meeting for the first time.  Young noble npc is kidnapped.  Heroes fight the brute squad.  2) Heroes have to discover who did it. Dramatic scene where they investigate, interrogate grunts, scout around, etc.  3) Final confrontation with the villain.  

Does the first scene count as a part of the story?  I.e. does this adventure count as a two part story or three part?

 

Am I doing that right?  Is it too fast?  Too slow?

The book says a campaign story should be about five or six steps.  But if I just ran a three step story in one night, I must be doing something wrong as I could finish a campaign in two nights flat.

 

Am I supposed to be running player stories in between each step on the Campaign Story, thus drawing it out over a long period of time?  This seems kind of lame because the campaign story still only brings a skill to rank five, or adds a point to a trait.  

See where I'm getting at?  My three part story over the weekend would give just a little less advancement than a campaign story....seems VERY off to me.

 

Or is a campaign story more like LOTS of shorter stories?  The book says to fight the Big Bad Evil Guy, the heros must undermine his operation until the final confrontation. Thus the campaign story would actually be something like 20-30 steps, as each Chapter story would have two or three steps, but it would take 10 chapters to get to the final confrontation.  Does that sound right?

 

 

 

Next question: 'Saving' finished stories.  Can you essentially bank a GMs short story completion to get something bigger?  

For example, I want to bring a skill to rank four.  I finished a three step story.  Must I spend that three entire step story now, or can I save it to add to the next story I do to get that fourth skill point?  

 

 

For that matter can I split stories to buy multiple things?  For example , I just finished a four step story.  Can I buy two 2 point advantages?

The way the book is written, it sounds like "You have to spend it immediately, and it has to be exactly the number of steps you just finished."

I mean, I guess being the GM, I can do what I damn well please.  But I'm just wondering if there might be balance issues or something I'm missing.

 

Last question:  At one point the heroes found a locked chest.  The "Got it!" advantage lets them open a lock immediately during an action scene.  What about in a Dramatic Scene?  Is a single hero doing something a dramatic scene?  Or would the GM just let it happen?

I mean, spending a raise means you suceed in your endeavour.  Period.  There is no failure unless the player wants it.  There's really no drama in that unless I add a consequence like a trap or something.  And even then, all it takes is extra raises to overcome the consequence. 

Do I call for a Dramaic Scene even though its just one guy trying to pick a lock?  And can he pick any lock in the world because a single raise means the hero succeeds?  I don't know....kind of a weird interaction for that.

 

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Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

I would tailor your "Advancement Steps" to your play frequency and style.

For example, if you're in a group that plays weekly for 4 hours, I would plan on 1-2 GM Steps and 1 Player Step a week. If you play every 2 weeks, then perhaps 2-3 GM Steps and 1 Player Step every session is a good advancement. 

The best way to look at it is: How quickly do you want your players advancing. If you know the campaign will only be a year long (real time) and you play every other week, that's 26 sessions. If you'd like your players to gain about 50 Steps worth of Advancements (Allowing 3 Skills at 5 and Traits at 4 and 5) then you'd plan to give out about 2 Steps / Session.

John

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

I like your idea. I thought about 1 Player Step and 1-3 GM steps per session too but last night I was wondering. Due to 4-5 step rewards being less frequent (player stories mostly) and 1-3 step rewards every game session... Aren't you concerned that the GM will have nothing to offer some day? I'm sure they will want to get a lot of skills and advantages but I bet not all of them are appealing to every player.

I wonder if the reward system is designed so they must sacrifice some options from the 4-5 step rewards because they won't be able to get everything they want... I'm also guessing that they will add new things with every new book, which will give them some more options.

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

I think that the 4- and 5-step rewards are meant to come mostly from Player Stories so that they are picking and choosing exactly what they want. I think GM Stories are mostly for 1-3 Step rewards. Obviously Player stories can be 1-3 step rewards too but ideally the 4's and 5's are going to come from effort on the player's fleshing out characters rather than the GM saying "Pick any 5 point reward you want."

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

Some good advice here.  I don't think there's a hard fast way to handle this.  Its going to be different for every group.  Some groups with tightly interwoven stories are going to advance faster by default.  To my thinking, the real trick is to make sure the quiet players don't get left in the dust by the gregarious ones.  So I'd offer two ideas:

First, 1 GM step and 1 Player Step for 1-2 players a session seems like a good benchmark.  If you shoot for that, you should see a nice, steady advancement rate all around.

Second, you might designate one player each game session to have the "spotlight."  You'll see this on TV shows now and again when the show focuses on one character rather than the ensemble.  The spotlight hero gets his or her story moved to the front of the line.  You (the GM) could designate who has the spotlight, but I would recommend letting whoever last enjoyed the spotlight designate the new spotlight character.  This encourages commaraderee and also integrated stories (because when individual stories are related, the group advances faster).  I would also recommned doing it at the end of each game session, rather than the beginning.  That gives you until the next game session to tie the player's current story step into your GM story (should you choose) and gives the player time to prepare as well.  If you have a large group, you could easily designate 2 spotlight characters.  You might even tie some mechanics into this spotlight: an extra hero point or some other advantage.

Melvin Fenwick
Melvin Fenwick's picture
Awesome responses. Thanks guys. So basically it looks like you get one advancement per story completion. You can take less than what the story is worth, but lose the extra. A typical story is going to be around three steps, so lots of low level advances, but since five step stories are going to typically be a personal story or a campaign story, the will be fairly rare...which means rank five skills and raising your Traits will be fairly rare as well.....which makes a TON of sense.
Salamanca
Salamanca's picture

From what you posted, I would judge your session to be a 1-2 step story.  It's either "prince gets kidnapped and needs to be saved" or "prince gets kidnapped mysteriously, then the heroes search for the culprit and rescue him"  Keep it in broad strokes.  This isn't an exact scene for scene exchange.  Let me share an example.

scene 1- a chase to recover a treasure map from thieves.

scene 2- following the map to the "X".

scene 3- dealing with that is there. 

Those are the three scenes in my last adventure.  It's built to run in 4 dramatic sequences and 3 action sequence chains.  but from a story point of view, I think it's really a one step "recover the treasure" adventure. 

I think for myself, my goal will be to create stories that flow in a way that the players can expect about 1 advancement XP for every 2 hours of play. (plus a personal story point if they are able to be tied into the session) 

 

As for spending those points:  My campaign plan is to reward GM story points in the form of vague " advance a skill to rank 2" or "raise a trait to rank 3" payoffs.  If the adventure is specifically tailored for a specific advantage I want them to have (say a ship) they might get "Married to the Sea" as the reward but that would be a rare thing.  I am leaving the advantages for player stories. 

I am also ok with banking points because I want my players building what they want to play and not being stuck with what I think they should be doing with them.  And as a player I hate losing earned points so I am not a fan of taking less and losing the difference.

 

As for your Dramatic scene question:  This one is a matter of taste but even more a matter of the specific moment and could change every time.  If there is no reason in the world why your player would be unable to pick that lock given some time and effort, I think you let it happen.  If there is no plot reason to prevent it, I think you let it happen.  BUT, if there is a reason or a complication, you roll that dramatic sequence and assign the risk, a couple consequences and an opportunity or two.  If the players are exploiting this too much, start making rolls.

A fair example of this came out of one of the sessions John Wick ran for the kickstarter backers.  There was a fight scene and the players were literally tossing dice when John declared, "You draw your weapons and wipe the floor with them."  It was obvious to John that the players had things well in hand and there was no reason to roll the dice and go through the steps.  So if you feel ok with not making them roll, don't.

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