Having just realized Hero's get Rewards for GM Stories in a similar way as Player Stories, have GM's put any restrictions, guidelines, or requirements on how the player's spend these "Reward Points"?
For instance, say the group completes a 3 Point GM Story. Do you give out "3 XP" and say "Spend this however you want?" So that the player could raise something from 2 to 3, could buy a 3 point advantage, buy a 2 point and a 1 point advantage, or just bank it for going towards a 5-point advantage or raising a Skill from 4-5?
Or do you say "Here are your choices for these 3 XP: Put them towards the following 3 Skills, Put them towards Finesse or Panache, or Buy one of these 4 Advantages?"
Or something in between?
The book suggests that only Player stories should be of 4 steps or 5 and GM stories less than 4 steps so only the most important rewards are given with effort and when the Players want them. Also, the way I read it, they are not "XP" but "Rewards". If you complete one three steps story, then you may choose a reward up to 3 points cost but you cannot choose 3 rewards of 1 point or split those 3 steps.
This makes saving up points useless as they cannot be split or put them towards anything. For example, the only way the book states that a trait can be increased is following and finishing a 5 steps story. Anything short of that will not do.
I guess it seems as if players are wasting points if the need to buy a 1 point skill when they finished a 2+ steps story but I like how it works... Furthermore, I am not sure how splitting steps will affect the characters' improvement. There are not a lot of skills to buy and if they can save points or invest them in something then they can have the best advantages and buy the most expensive stuff every other session. Something like: First session 3 xp, Second session 3 xp, I have 6 and I buy a 5 points cost advantage and I'm left with 1. Next session 4 xp, I have 5 again and I buy 1 trait.
I agree completely and your idea is very nice. Players stories are set so they can buy what they want but if a GM creates a story and says "this is what the reward will be", then players might think it's too on rails but they have their own stories to make up for it. I like it.
I wonder though if telling them that if they can come up with a nice explanation then they are allowed to raise that skill or buy that advantage as long as it had anything to do with the story instead of a fixed reward (for a GM story I mean).
We actually house ruled that all stories give Hero Points, and GM stories give also advancement steps.
Okay, so, the major focus on Player Stories is all well and good until you raise the number of players in your group. I have seven players; the focus simply has to change to the GM Story if I'm going to keep things moving in anything like a cohesive direction. If Player Stories are 5 steps, the constant pull in personal directions will derail any hope of getting meaningful "Mythology Episodes" worked in. My solution to this is to use longer GM stories, rewarding 4 and 5 Steps. Players can either spend them all at once or assign the points to a new Player Story, shortening the number of narrative steps needed to reach the Goal. For example if a player bought what she wanted from the GM story points, and has Step left over, she can put forward a new Player Story for the Patron Advantage. This new Player Story will get her a 3 point Advantage with only 2 narrative steps, and can be started once her current Player Story is resolved.
It's not perfect, but it also compensates for the inevitable; when a player finds her story sidelined, she can at least chip away at one of her personal goals without spinning her wheels.
“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken