So now that the game has been out for a year, I wanted to share some thoughts on experience and Story Rewards as they happen in the game I'm GMing and see what other players and GM's are doing.
A Story Reward system is great on paper and allows the characters to really build their characters in the direction they want. However, because we player every other week at most, have 5-6 players working on Stories and have a world-spanning GM-Story (Which often interweaves the player stories within it), Story Advancement for any given player is slow. In addition, may GM stories have 1- to 2-steps and there aren't enough 1 and 2-pt advantages or skill raises that players want to take so limiting advancement in 'chunks' doesn't work unless you want every hero to have 1 point in every skill and every 1-2 pt advantage.
The Solution (So far)
We are using the Player Story advancement for the most part and overall it's worked out well. We play every other week for about 4 hours. Generally, maybe 2 players will finish a Step in a Player Story as well as advancing a GM-story by 1-2 Steps (Depending on the day and how focused we are). What I've been doing is awarding "Bankable XP" as well as other "Limited Advancement" rewards in addition to the players completing their steps.
During the 4 hour session, 2 players complete a Story Step, the players as a group solve a big problem for a group of Eisen farmers in a sprawling region, defeat a villain and are able to get ahold of his stash of ill-gotten gains.
In addition to the 2 players advancing a Player Story Step, I have given out other rewards to the other players:
Each hero gains "Local Reputation (Fischler): Brave" (This is a more localized version of Reputation that applies only when they are in Fischler in Eisen)
Each hero gains 1 Wealth that may be spent at a later time
Each hero gains 1 Bankable XP
New Problem: What can the players spend their Bankable XP on? I really want the 4- and 5-step Character Advancements (trait boosts, advantages, high skills) to come from Player Stories, so they can never spend bankable XP on anything 4 or 5 XP cost.
I don't want to limit them to just 1- and 2-pt rewards as we are in the same problem as above (Not everyone wants to be trained in every skill, or have every 1 and 2-pt advantage in the books). These are always allowed to be bought with bankable XP (1 advancement / session)
Now, we began discussing 3-pt Advantages / Skills at 3. Can players just use bankable XP on any 3-pt reward? I didn't want to allow it, but the other options are too restrictive. Signature Item is the one exception: That always requires a Player Story (as I tend to make those items more special)
Solution (For now):
If a player wants to spend 3 bankable XP on a reward, they may do so. However, during the next session, they must complete a '1-step Story' to explain how they are learning that skill or putting it to use. This isn't a true Story, but does mean they can't advance a current Player Story by 1-step.
Example: Joe earns 3 XP for his character and wants to take "Student of Combat" Advantage. The session after he earns the last of the 3 XP, he must perform a 1-step story where he trains with a duelist in order to hone his skills. If he was also working on a 4-pt Player Story that session and the opportunity arose for that, he has to make a choice: Either he performs the 1-step story to hone his skills or completes the next step in his 4-step Player Story. The other has to wait for the next session.
Does anyone else have thoughts on this? How do you handle 'banked XP' or is that even an issue in your games?