Monday, February 18, 2013

Guidelines on awarding experience

Since this is my first real campaign in GURPS, I need to get a handle on handing character points. I don't want GURPS to turn into AD&D where the progression is sometime so fast that the players can keep up with the leveling up, but I want to reward good gameplay. In fact, I plan to reward in large part not so much on the exercise of skills, but on the effect of the use of a skill/traits on the narrative. 

Maybe experienced GM can comment on the scheme. 

Keep in mind that these packets of 1-3 points can be awarded mulitple times in an encounter or within a session. 

What is worth 1 character point

  • The exercise of a low-level skill (under governing skill) in a non-trivial way (some learning value to the use of the skill).  
  • Playing a character according to it personality (traits, disadvantages), thus promoting further character interactions.

What is worth 2 character points

  • The use of a skill (or trait, or disadvantage) for which the outcome altered the flow of an encounter. If a scene could not have been the same, for good or bad, because of a clever use of skill or roleplay of a advantage/disadvantage, you may get 2 points. It can't be awarded if a character simply doing more of the same. 

What is worth 3 character points

  • The development of a solution to a problem using skills and traits in an exceptionally creative manner. A use of skill, or roleplay (advantage/disadvantage), which alter the course of the campaign. Don't expect 3 points awards to be regular. 

We'll see how this pans out with character progression. The PC in this campaign are still pretty green, and need to "grow" into heroes.


  1. Seems like it would be worth a try. However you might get circular point fishing - I keep shooting my bow, I get good at it, so I argue that all my shots are significant so I can get more points to improve bow.

    I'd also suggest that you call out disadvantages - perhaps if you make a disadvantage come up in play in a way that significantly impacts the character or the story, you get 1 point. That would mean if I have Greed and I make sure it hurts me, I earn points for it.

    1. Doing more of the same should not be worth much. I've changed the wording of the 2 and 3 pts awards to be more specific. I also am more specific about disadvantages. If someone's roleplay of their character flaws changes an encounter, or even the campaign, I'd be tempted to reward that. In the end, that's the GM's call so if BowMaster McBow keeps shooting his bow, the advancement will slow down.

  2. I'm not sure how to model it in GURPS, but a system I really liked came from the old versions of RuneQuest - players put a check in a box alongside each skill as they succeeded with it, and also when they critically failed at it (learning from their mistakes, I suppose), and at the end of the adventure they would increase that skill by a die roll (1d-2, maybe) percentage points.

    It might be that a tick in the box is enough to warrant a single point, while a notable use of the skill would be enough to warrant two points? I've never tried it in play, obviously, but would think that some variant on that would suffice for skills development at least.

    1. I want to reward the development of the story as much as possible. We're falling into the realm of metagaming more than simulation here, I think. Posting these here is a way to let my players know what I'm looking for.

      Your comment reminds me of some thinking that I was doing when trying to imagine how the GURPS mechanics would pan out for a craftsman doing the same job, every day, for 20 years. This is a whole new post for a whole new day!

    2. There would be some measure of exponential decay, wouldn't there be? You can only get so much of a mastery at a given task. Knowledge of a given discipline, on the other hand, might be a different monster altogether.