© 1994 by Scott Gray and Sharon Tripp. These pages may not be reproduced for profit. They may be copied, provided they are not altered and the authors' names remain attached.Previous section | Next section | Contents
Character advancement takes two forms. (Neither of which are available if the character has taken the "cannot learn" disadvantage.) The first is by gaining experience points, which are used to boost ability points to purchase abilities. The second is by gaining skill points which are used to purchase skills directly.
Over the course of a game a character will earn experience points. These points are applied to gain additional ability points (beyond the initial 25). The first additional ability point earned costs one experience point; the second additional ability point earned costs two experience points (three total); the third costs three (six total), etc. Normal human characters do not have more than 50 ability points (counting the twenty-five initial points, additional points from taking disadvantages and earned ability points).
1st ability point = 1 xp
2nd ability point = 2 xp (3 xp total)
3rd ability point = 3 xp (6 xp total)
4th ability point = 4 xp (10 xp total)
Note that ability points spent on skill points do not count against the maximum 50 ability points. However, they are still counted when determining the number of experience points needed to earn the next ability point.
Example: Stig starts game with the hide skill, which costs 30 skill points, and weapon specialization (dirk), which costs 24 skill points. Carl spends nine ability points for 54 skill points. Although he has spent all 25 of his starting ability points, in actuality he has only 16 points worth of abilities (nine ability points having been spent on skills).
When Carl starts playing the character, his experience points are converted to ability points at the normal rate (1 xp for the 1st ability point, 2 xp for the second ability point, etc.). However, the fact that he has less ability points than most characters means that to eventually get 50 points worth of abilities will take him longer. It will cost him 34 xp for his final ability point, rather than 25 as with most characters.
A character who begins with extra ability points due to disadvantages will start gaining ability points as though the extra ability points had been purchased normally. That is, any extra ability point(s) raise the experience point to ability point exchange rate.
Example: Ishmael starts game with eight extra ability points due to disadvantages (-4 short attention span, -4 can't read). When Josh starts playing the character, his experience point to ability point exchange starts at nine experience points for one ability point. One (the normal starting cost for ability points) plus eight (the number of extra ability points he already possessed).
Skill points are gained separately from experience points, and can be used to purchase skills directly (no conversion to other types of points being necessary). Ability points can also be used to purchase skills (at a rate of one ability point for every six skill points). Note that for most skills, the character will need a book, teacher or something to learn the skill from; though by spending additional skill points a character with the "research" ability may discover such skills for him/herself. Unlike with abilities, there is no cap on how many skills a character may learn.
It is theoretically possible that over time a character may "get rusty" with certain abilities or skills, whilst studying others. If a player finds that (s)he rarely uses an ability and wants to drop it in favor of another, it is possible with GM approval. However, this will not happen easily; a player will not be allowed to drop an ability that everyone associates with his/her character, or which (s)he uses often, or which (s)he has only recently learned. It is unlikely that a player will be allowed to drop an ability such as fleshshaping after using it to gain the maximum number of health points possible, or counterfeiting after having just created a fortune in bogus bank notes, without an extremely compelling reason. The GM will probably also award the points back "over time" to keep people from seeing any one character change too radically too quickly.
Note that if a player drops an ability that is the prerequisite for another ability, (s)he will lose that other ability as well. No points will ever be restored when skills are dropped or lost, including when they are lost due to losing prerequisite abilities.
Sometimes a person gets tired of playing the same character. In such instances, it is probably both to the player's benefit (do something new and exciting) and the GM's benefit (keep someone from placing considerably less emphasis on his/her character's life than the character him/herself would) to have the character retired.
A person wishing to retire a character should speak to the GM. In some campaigns the GM will give a new character a portion of the earned experience points and/or skill points (usually 1/4 - 1/3 of such points) from a character retired by the same player. The GM will give the same percentage in each such instance.
The player and the GM should decide what happens to the original character. Perhaps (s)he travels to another nation (which is not in play), but may (rarely) be brought in by the GM as an LC character. Perhaps (s)he dies of illness or accident. Perhaps (s)he buys a house in the countryside and settles down.
Disciplinary action should be taken against any player cheating or "stretching" rules. But one should go further than simply "following the rules". One should be courteous, and prepared to compromise in instances of out of game conflict between two parties about the rules and how they apply.
If a person is having trouble understanding portions of the rules, take the trouble to explain them. If you need assistance, ask for it (but do not interrupt a person involved with something important ingame).
Though it may "lose" the character something in the short run to compromise on a dispute, in the long run the ability to compromise and play fairly will make it more pleasant for others to interact with the player. GMs will likelier be sympathetic to petitions and suggestions by players who are willing to compromise in order to let the game run smoother; whereas players who are constantly seeking means (both in and out of game) to increase their own characters' standing will meet with short- tempered GMs.
Much of this manual has been written with a large scale event in mind. Many of the rules are important in a large game when there isn't always a GM present, and wherein not all of the players know one another.
However, GMs of small events may find the requirements for cards not only unnecessary, but distracting. The GM may also choose to limit required costuming, with a mind to the budget of his/her group.
In some small scale games the GM is present for every action of any character. When this is the case, GMs are advised to carry character sheets and/or folders for each character, rather than using cards.
Each small group will depend upon its GM and/or organizer to decide what level of props, costuming, rules and other is necessary.
Large scale events are usually done as day or weekend long sessions. Such games will often be played on a campground, but any open area with a few cabins (or an area for pitching tents) can be used.
For a large scale game, it is best to have a logistics area set up, where the players can always find a GM or referee to help them with any rules questions, tags for preparing spells/mixing up elixirs, etc.
Having pictures of every player on file is useful. This allows the GMs to assign LCs to look for certain players, or let a PC know what the vengeful lover in his character history, who has chased him across three countries and finally here, looks like when introduced to play. GMs are advised to keep an instant camera available.
Cards are an important part of a large scale game. A player must have all his/her cards whenever in character.
The main cards which are needed in a large scale game are:
Ability cards. The player will have a card for each ability, skill, benefit or prepared magical power which his/her character possesses.
Life card. The life card is special. If a character is killed, the card is given to the person whose character slew him/her, or to a referee or GM. The life card will list the character's maximum health and fatigue, as well as any disadvantages (including curses placed upon him/her, disfigurements, addictions, etc.).
Health cards. These cards represent how wounded or battered the character is. The more a character has, the better condition (s)he is in. If wounded (having fewer health cards than the "maximum health" of the character), the character may suffer certain penalties.
Healer health cards. Those with healing ability receive special health cards. There are three types, depending on the level of healing ability.
Chirurgery cards. Technically medical supply item cards until used by a chirurgeon to represent fixing injuries, these are also used to represent health. No character may have more than 7 health points from healing supplies or medical supplies, or 5 health points from medical supplies.
Item cards. This includes cards for weapons, armor, elixirs, alchemical supplies, tools, warding items -- any items which a character possesses. If there is no card for an item, it doesn't exist. If there is no representation for an item, it doesn't exist.
Note that certain item cards represent hard to find and harvest items in nature. If you see a green card laying on the ground you may not take it or look at it unless your character has the botany ability. Only a character with zoology ability may pick up a red card. Only characters with geology ability may pick up blue cards. Any character may pick up a yellow card.
Regulations for a game will be set by the GM or organizers, but here are a few recommended standards for players to follow to help any game run more smoothly.
Players can have up to two PCs (Player-controlled characters) actively earning ability points and/or gaining skills. Though a player may have more PCs, additional characters cannot advance, nor can they receive points for the cannot learn or short attention span disadvantages.
A PC will not begin advancing until the first time the character is played. The exception to this is if a person LCs his/her first event, (s)he will start accumulating points as if (s)he had played his/her primary PC. Some games might halt accumulation of points if a character remains unplayed for a considerable length of time.
Players must follow all of the safety regulations listed in
section, or they will be required to play non-combatant status or
from the game entirely.
Playing as though a character has abilities or skills which (s)he does not possess, items that (s)he does not possess, extra health or fatigue points that have been lost, per battle abilities which have already been used, etc., is cheating. People will be thrown out of the game for this.
Bringing information learned out-of-game (perhaps while playing another character, or perhaps hearing other players talking when either (s)he or they were out-of-game) ingame is against the rules. This includes following a "hunch" gained out- of-game; but if a player wants to "clear" whether or not his/her character can know something ingame (and is uncertain how much of his/her own out-of-game knowledge contributed to his/her figuring it out) (s)he must either gain permission from every player (both PCs and LCs) whose character is adversely affected by the information, or from a GM.
Using out-of-game mechanisms to gain an ingame advantage also counts as cheating. Examples of this are faking an out of game injury; going out of game to prevent characters pursuing the character from being able to find him/her; or asking loudly so one's friends can overhear, "You cast puppetmaster on me? Okay, so that means I have to do whatever you say?".
Finally, a note on suicidal/fanatical characters. Yes, fanatics and martyrs do exist in the real world, and may exist ingame. This does not mean a person may decide 'Well, I'm going to retire this character anyhow, so I'll try to take out as many important public figures as possible at this last event I'm playing him at.' Characters care about their own lives more than their players care about their character's lives. Any 'suicide runs' must be in keeping with the character; this goes for LCs and PCs alike. If planning to do a suicidal attack that could disrupt the game flow, discuss it with the GMs first. If they (or others) have seen that the character has had a fanatical hatred of a certain person in the past that the character is willing to risk his/her life for, then the GMs shouldn't have a problem with it. If the GMs feel that there was no rational reason for that character to martyr him/herself, however, then it may be viewed as cheating and result in disciplinary action. The same is true of throw-away characters brought in to game to give other people advantages (such as to give a friend someone to fleshshape without fear of being caught).
People who are ingame don't want to be annoyed by out of game intrusions. Don't break up an ingame conversation with an out of game statement or point. Don't call a time out or ask an out of game question unless it must be answered immediately for safety or gameplay reasons. If a player needs a GM or referee (on-duty referees will be wearing white armbands), (s)he should wait until a break in any ingame activity that referee is involved in before asking the referee to take a break to help with an out of game dispute. Repercussions for such behavior depend on the level and type of annoyance.
Don't bother any player needlessly. If it becomes obvious that an ingame activity is causing serious out of game distress for someone, cease. Often simply going out of game to reassure the player that the character's actions towards his/her character are solely ingame and in no way represent any out of game motives is enough to curtail most problems. Repercussions for such behavior will depend upon the particular incident.
Respect the people who are not players or involved in the game that may have some presence during game play. This includes spectators, nearby residents, etc. Know and follow the guidelines set by the event organizers -- where combat may or may not take place, noise levels allowed at certain hours, etc. Failure to be reasonably courteous, or to follow the organizer's guidelines, may result in being asked to leave the event and possibly being barred from future events.
Players should not disclose what abilities or skills their characters have to any other players. Knowing, out of game, what abilities a character has (especially illegal or immoral abilities such as fleshshaping, pickpocket or magery) makes it very difficult to roleplay a character as not knowing.
Knowing that a character has no illegal abilities is just as bad, as it is lack of common out of game knowledge that protects those with secret abilities. It is for this reason that it is poor playing to let others needlessly see character tags. Obviously, during the course of play people will learn what some of the character's abilities are; both ingame through interacting with the character, and out of game when dealing with mechanics (such as asking for an item stolen using pickpocket ability).
This is not to say the characters may not talk about their abilities. Simply remember that, in order to allow lies and deception by the characters it is useful for the OOG knowledge about abilities to be kept secret. For example, Roslyn shouldn't ask Carl what level of lockpicking he has; Dale should ask Stig, "So, do you think you could pick this lock?" Stig might lie about this or he might tell the truth, but Roslyn shouldn't gain any hint as to whether Stig's ingame response is a lie, truth, or simply overconfidence.