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Aberrant RPG - Other benefits instead of XP


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Have any of you thought about, and/or recieved things besides xp to advance your character? Things like bonus background points or skills.

For instance;

You befriend a fellow nova in play, and the ST gives you a dot in the allies background.

Someone rewards you with a suit of eufiber.

Your character spends alot of time working on an investigation with real sleuths, so the ST give you your first dot in Investigate for free.

Also, has the ST ever taken away backgrounds?

Your ally gets offed.

Your eufiber suit gets stolen.

You lose your job at said agency, so your backing goes poof.

Still curious.

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I often do this in my games but usually not instead of XP.

Through the course of play I have added dots in backgrounds as well as taken away.

The eufibre background is rarely taken in my table top as some feel that it is a waste since it can be lost or destroyed and they instead try to make the contact in character to buy eufibre.

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if i take a background away for some reason (it happens), i generally will allow the player to keep the points in a pool

that way, if they lose an ally, they get a free background point next time they add to backgrounds - they still need in game reasons for the add, but it costs no xp

sometimes i'll give free dots in backgrounds, but not very often. it definately has to be through some really good play - not just a gift from me

as for other stuff: weird things happen a lot in my games, and sometimes that translates into ability adds, new powers, etc.

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Quite frankly, unless I see a need for it (abuse), I generally don't like taking anything away from players. In the same breath I don't like adding things to players unless experience points are paid for it. I've had several abuse problems doing such additions.

There are only a few instances when I might take out a background. For instance the Alliee and Backing backgrounds. Namely, as the nameless and faceless (to the player, not to me) NPCs drop protecting the player, I start whittling down his dots. He starts playing more carefully afterward.

Also certain Defects are just GOLDEN for messing with players. Kill off a dependent, and a whole slew of defects replace it. Mostly Psychological ones I assign to replace the point value.

Take the defect, and pay the price.

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In my Elites game I gave backgrounds for free. Thus the players could design the character they wanted without having to spend points just to get the bare minimums to get the backgrounds they needed to play in the chronicles I had designed.

Depending on the contract they were willing to sign with the DeVryes they got anywhere from 1-3 backing dots. Automatic resources of 3 or 4 depending on the contract. Influence of 1 for simply being Elites. But, since I gave them out, I was perfectly willing to take them away. One of them messed up bad, boom, lost backing because she was in the doghouse. One went to the mat for DeVryes and their rep, boom, 5 backing because that character was willing to give DeVryes his all.

I just figure that certain game types, a T2M or an Elites for example, have some pretty hefty requirements in backing just to start out. I don't have a problem spotting the players the needed backgrounds.

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I have given out backgrounds in a few games for various acts, but I never really liked doing it that way. There is a huge difference between one dot and the next in the storyteller system, so I just don't think awarding points in game is not the best way to go. So I decided to award xp for certain things depending on what is going on in the game.

For most adventures the normal xp goes for whatever they want, but when they do certain things I'll give them xp for what I think is relevant. If a player spends a good deal of time talking to someone, I may give them a point or 2 that can only be used for contacts. Under some circumstances, I will split up the xp into categories because of things they did in the adventure.

Also, from time to time I'll reward xp for a certain skill or background in hopes of motivating the player to explore another side of their character.

When creating characters, sometimes I may give points in something, suggest that the players buy something, or limit what they can buy depending on what I'm trying to do in the game.

I require that all my players ask my permission before buying anything, as I like to talk to them about any changes to their characters so that we both understand the ramifications it will have upon the game. I just want to make sure that we are all on the same page all the way through the game. I try to give whatever is necessary for them to have fun while playing the game the way that I want it to be played.

I've killed contacts, allies, etc. before, and have taken skills and background points away. But I always have a plan for doing that, and I never do it maliciously. My relationship with the player really has a lot to do with how I handle this. If we work well together and I am confident they will enjoy the things that I do, I'll do a lot more with their stats just to keep the game exciting for them. It's just important to make sure that they have fun, and are able to overcome any object that you put in their way.

Some examples of things that I've done are (which aren't necessarily Aberrant related): I've stripped a character's powers. This was in Marvel and I felt really comfortable with the player. I knew that he was sort of unhappy with how his character had turned out after playing him for a few months, so I started a plot line that allowed him to use the same character, but I tried to build a new set of powers that I felt suited the player and character better, which were from a different power source from the original powers.

In Trinity I've had one character's ally kill another one of their allies. This put the player in an odd situation because they were torn with what to do, which resulted in some great role playing.

In a custom world, I set things up with a player that their character hadn't erupted yet, but when they did erupt, which would be at the end of the game that they would get a lot of power. I offset them playing a baseline by making them the leader of the group, so he still had a lot of responsibility even though he wasn't as effective in combat. The game had some time travel elements in it, and the characters learned that his character was a tyrant and took over most of the world in the future. It wasn't nearly that black and white though, which helped create some exciting role playing. I just know that the player for that character was so upset when the group broke up and we weren't able to play another series with those characters because he had played him for so long as a weakling that he wanted to flex his muscles with the character.

It is always my goal to sort of flip the objects in the game. I'm interested in the characters, who they are and what they are doing, more so than the plot that I have going on. So when I get players that enjoy that sort of thing, the foreground and background switch. The emphasis of the game isn't on the cause, but rather the effect. I enjoy interactions with character's backgrounds, and I like to write a lot of plots involving them. But while that's how I enjoy things, not all players do, so I can't always do that.

So yeah, I can say that I've done almost everything that you mentioned in one way or another Jager, and have been successful with most of them. But it all depends on the player for what you can and can't do. Once you understand what they really want, you can do a lot more with the game.

I want to tell a story, and I while I usually have very specific plans, I don't like to dictate everything that goes on, because I'm hoping that the players will push the game into some direction that I hadn't originally planned. And I'm willing to change things as we go to keep it exciting for them, and to show reactions for things that have happened in the game.

My only advice is to make sure that anything you do helps build the role playing within your group, and that your players understand your motivations for doing anything. Under normal circumstances you shouldn't just take something away from them, unless you have plans to give it back to them and more. Players in previous groups got really excited when things happen with their characters, and other players would get upset and storm out of the room under a similar circumstance.

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  • 5 months later...
Originally posted by James 'Prodigy' Meehan:
In my Elites game....

Depending on the contract they were willing to sign with the DeVryes they got anywhere from 1-3 backing dots. Automatic resources of 3 or 4 depending on the contract....
I really like this idea...mind if I borrow it?

I too have given background out in games, over the space of several game plays, characters could develop allies, contacts (a little easier), resources, etc.
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Sure, go ahead. My basic take was I wanted people to have points to build their characters, not build the required bits to justify the game I was running (ie an Elites game). I wanted them to spend points on contacts, allies, etc. that rounded out their lives and not waste points giving them elite backing and resources when that was simply expected in the game design. To me, backing is the result of the relationship with the company and I felt no obligation as an ST to let someone buy a backing of 4 and keep it even if they broke their confientiality agreement. So, if I was willing to just take it away I felt I should also be willing to just give it.

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Of course you know that it also justifies characters to spend experience points on contract law. Especially if they run into issues with backing being pulled.

Occasionally there may be that occasional fallout that is benificial to the Elite organization that the characters are with. That sort of thing might occur with a character that may have a Dot or so in Mega-Intelligence. They do something that brings credit eventually to their organization, that at first looks bad.

Still, overall, this is very cool!

You would think that WW might have come up with this idea to put in their Elites book. They DO get paid to come up with this kind of material after all.

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  • 1 month later...

when i first started to run my sabbat epic (american revolution to the modern nights) i used to hand out ability dots like they were candy. it made sense to me that the leader of the pack would gain dots of leadership over time, however the twinks refused to buy anything other disciplines with XP. so to balance it out and make more sense i would start handing out dots to characters over time.

a couple of problems i've never been able to resolve:

characters get unbalanced quick. oh boy it gets bad, some characters realized that if they filled their day with exhausting learning programs that i would just give out knowledges because it made sense. others didn't do that and soon the mechanical XP levels weren't even paying lip service to a balanced party. after a while i stopped and just started giving every one equal amounts of XP.

add that to the fact that the body count started getting pretty high in that game so new characters couldn't ever really catch up. the last time anyone made a character with that game i told them to just make up whatever they wanted to be on the sheet and we would just compare it to the others and tweak from there.

the situation never really resolved itself, i was okay with it because it was realistic that characters would evovle in different rates but players complained that the three (out of about ten or so, it rotated a lot) original characers were unstoppable while they struggled. from the start i was forced to set up different villians at different power levels for players in fights and sometimes players fought someone else's villian, which just added to the body count...


honestly once the game begins, we stop paying attention to that, every knows what they got and how much and all that jazz, it's not a big deal. the only time i've ever had to deal with a background after the game began was when loki was looking at his sheet and realized he had an ally he had never used.

two sessions later that ally was dead. it just worked out that way.

(see the apostle had traced his lineage back to achilles (proving that nova's existed in the past) and had exhumed his tomb. when he leaned over the corpse it came to life and possessed him. the characters decided to stop achilles from proclaiming himself god emperor of italy- by using said matter creating ally (weakness of only weapons) to try to kill him. when achilles "died" the resulting explosion created a quantum zone...)

the best part was that guy had one of the most elaborate back stories i've ever created for an npc and he was gone gone gone before anyone really got a chance to know him. i still get a chuckle out of that.

actually if you can hunt down the hunter player's guide they give good rules on how to handle merits and flaws during gameplay and what to do if your strong left hook character loses his left arm.

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