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Tkalamov

An Alternative to the standard Genesys way of Character Advancement

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The following system does away with XP entirely from the game and is a “Learn from your Failure” approach to advancement in Genesys. It is partially inspired by PbtA games, partially by CoC's way of doing things. It is slower and more gradual, so if that is not your thing – that’s also cool. 

The Rules

The rank you want to advance to in a Skill – multiply that by 2. You have to fail a test related to that Skill that many times in order to advance it. This is meant to emulate how skills in real life actually work – the better you are at something, the harder it is to actually improve and learn new tricks of the trade. It might seem a bit grindy at first, but it is a nice and balanced approach which lends itself to more long-term play without necessarily being stringent with XP as per the standard Genesys rules (i.e. handing out 10 instead of the recommended 20 XP). Here is the system in more detail:

1)      Whenever you fail a Skill test, add a Mark next to the Skill itself and continue doing so until you are at 3. (3 is the maximum number of times you can Mark a Skill during a session in order to prevent players from spamming Skill checks, more or less)

2)      If you have Despair in your failed result, add two Marks next to your Skill.

3)      At the end of the session, reference the following chart:

 

Skill rank you want to advance to                                             Number of Failures required to advance

0 -> 1                                                                                                                                     2

1 -> 2                                                                                                                                     4

2 - > 3                                                                                                                                    6

3 - > 4                                                                                                                                    8

4 -> 5                                                                                                                                     10

 

If you have accumulated Marks = to the number in the "Number of Failures" column, then you may advance to the respective skill rank. If you have Marks remaining after you have upgraded a Skill (for example, at the end of the session you have 3 marks, you upgrade a Skill from 0 to 1, and that costs you 2 Marks. The remaining 1 Mark carries over to the next session.  Next time you will start at 1, and you will need 4 Marks in total to advance to rank 2, i.e. you need to fail at the relevant Skill 3 more times, either in the following session or sessions to come)

Talents are purchased in a similar way. Whenever you have enough Marks to upgrade a Skill, you can purchase a Talent related to the Skill instead.

So if you have accumulated enough Marks to advance from rank 2->3 in Melee (Light), i.e. 6, you can purchase a Tier 1 Talent related to that Skill instead. You will be left with 4 Marks for that skill which carry over into the next session. A T1 Talent costs 2 Marks, T2 – 4, etc. Simply reference the above chart, but replace "Skill rank you want to advance to" with "Tier rank" instead. The talents follow the standard Genesys pyramid structure, i.e. you need two T1 talents minimum to have one T2 talent, etc. (NOTE: You CANNOT purchase another talent related to the Skill with the remaining 4 Marks as you have already advanced. You can only advance ONCE per Skill, either increasing a rank or purchasing a Talent related to it, per session)

Feedback and thoughts are greatly appreciated.

 

EDIT: On the topic of talents, I realized they would be quite hard to obtain with the proposed cost, so here's an alternative (to the alternative). 

 

Whenever you would advance a skill, you may purchase a Talent instead. The corresponding Tier would cost that many Marks (T1 = 1 Mark, T2 = 2, etc.), and you also can't have more talents related to your skill than your rank in it (rank 2 in Melee? 2 Melee-related talents maximum, pal). This way, you delay the actual improvement of your skill, but you've learned some tricks on the way, and you can't learn any more of them without actually being more skilled. And since talents are still subject to the Genesys pyramid structure, it wouldn't be all that easy to pile them up.

Edited by Tkalamov

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I really like this idea for groups who are familiar enough with the system to want to spice it up a bit (that’s definitely not me, not yet). It reminds me quite closely of the Burning Wheel system.

 

i am way more skeptical on the matter of talents, since it would make it very tough to get some of them. Nonetheless an interesting optio 

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1 minute ago, geki said:

I really like this idea for groups who are familiar enough with the system to want to spice it up a bit (that’s definitely not me, not yet). It reminds me quite closely of the Burning Wheel system.

 

i am way more skeptical on the matter of talents, since it would make it very tough to get some of them. Nonetheless an interesting optio 

Yeah, this really lends itself to more skill-oriented games, though the framework is quite malleable in regards to making talents more accessible. Really, it becomes a choice of a 'Do I want to have the raw skill to do something?' or 'I may not be the best at something, but I've learned some cool tricks along the way' kind of thing.  The number of failures can always be altered, depending on preference. It could even be a 1:1 kind of thing +1, where you need 2 Marks to advance to rank 1, 3 to rank 2, etc., which would make talents more accessible as well.

Genesys is whatever you want it to be, which is what I love the most about this.

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4 minutes ago, 2P51 said:

It's lopsided. A combat focused PC will advance far more quickly as they'll be making far more checks every session. Gods help the scholars or social characters. How many Knowledge -X or Charm checks are made in the average encounter?

I mean, if that's the sort of game the PCs are in, then sure. It's always GM depended as to the types of challenges the group faces. 

Same situation in an XP-based progression system where the player is like, "Oh, we fight a lot? Lemme dump my XP in Melee" or whatever. There are arguments to be made for both systems for sure. 

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49 minutes ago, Tkalamov said:

I mean, if that's the sort of game the PCs are in, then sure. It's always GM depended as to the types of challenges the group faces. 

Same situation in an XP-based progression system where the player is like, "Oh, we fight a lot? Lemme dump my XP in Melee" or whatever. There are arguments to be made for both systems for sure. 

Yes but you aren't  having to adjust content for characters to advance in an xp system. PCs get their xp and spend it as they see fit. Whereas with what you're proposing their ability advance is completely dependent on the number of skill checks they make. A combat encounter by it's  very nature is always going to generate more checks.

In addition you penalize the character with the good starting dice pool. They will invariably pass more checks and therefore advance less frequently. Its actually counter intuitive. If you want to advance a combat character make sure you build them weak and uncoordinated, a computer expert, make sure their intellect is 1, and so on. Then on the back end add Dedication bonuses.

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I think this advancement system works well for horror games but might not translate so well to other genres. As other users noted, characters invariably roll more combat checks than other skill checks -- even if a game is not combat-heavy, even if you only have combat once every couple sessions, the combat rules have players rolling checks every single round. So, whereas most individual skills will only get rolled once or twice per session, whenever you have a combat scene *every* character is rolling a check *every* round for at least three or four rounds.

The reason it's not a problem for Call of Cthulhu is that you're supposed to be actively avoiding combat.

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What about this rule?

You can spend XP only into skills that you have used from the last advancement.

When playing and using a skill for the first time, you put a mark next to skill name.
When it's time to spend XP, you can spend only on skill with mark and then remove the mark.

Opinions? It's too unbalanced? What do you think?

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5 hours ago, Lord_Lele said:

What about this rule?

You can spend XP only into skills that you have used from the last advancement.

When playing and using a skill for the first time, you put a mark next to skill name.
When it's time to spend XP, you can spend only on skill with mark and then remove the mark.

Opinions? It's too unbalanced? What do you think?

It's an option, but suffers from the same problem as the OP's variant: combat skills will almost always be possible to increase, and you might have a way harder time getting the chance to increase lesser used skills, that maybe would be more important for you character development/idea.

Maybe, just maybe, an option would be that failures in a specific skill decrease the amount of XP that need to be spent in order to increase that skill.
This would not limit the skills you can improve when spending XP, it would just make it easier to improve those skills you actually had a chance to learn on from failure.

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