What does advancement in a MU* mean to you?


  • Creator

    This is actually a preliminary thread for a future thread I plan to make. I need to gather data for the purposes of making the second thread.

    In an environment that has sheet based advancement, what is the most significant aspect of that advancement to you? It's fine if you answer in general terms, in specifics, or whatever else. Any form of answer is acceptable, even if a form of advancement that you prefer is not actually currently available anywhere.

    You can also go into as little or as much detail as you like. And this is not the time to be modest! This is a no shame zone. I want to know what makes you happy.



  • Well for me, I know that I enjoy it when advancement (in skills, or stats, or positions, or whatever) have to be worked for. I enjoy starting off low and working my way up. I enjoy things like having to provide justifications for xp spends, etc. It makes me feel that my character has grown, and that I have truly accomplished something.

    Many games now seem to give you fast xp for basically nothing and allow you to spend it on whatever, which certainly has a place for certain things. But it kind of bugs me that people end up at Supreme Power Levels because they sat around absorbing the power of the universe through starbucks wifi.

    Especially on WoD, there are plenty of games that do fast and easy xp. It'd be nice to have a few games where you still have to work for it at least a little, like HM. The Long Game stuff can be really fun for some of us.


  • Admin

    @HelloProject said in What does advancement in a MU* mean to you?:

    In an environment that has sheet based advancement, what is the most significant aspect of that advancement to you?

    That it is meaningful.

    For instance a game which mismanages the amount of progress you make for time unit can render progress irrelevant; if XPs fall from the skies like raindrops and everyone's special no one is. If progress is too slow and everyone wallows in the dirt then it doesn't matter. If progress is behind a wall your playstyle doesn't support (must play too many hours, run PrPs to justify expenditures, etc) then it might as well not exist. Etc.

    On top of it a balanced distribution of advancement ensures you can reap the benefits of your effort - your PC has survived for six months but now that you can train others they come to you, turning your sheet into a roleplay-generating engine.

    In other words a game needs carrots that get players to places they want to be.



  • I done got all wordicatious here, then had some more coffee and realized I was answering the subject line, but not the body.

    I need timely advancement to stay invested in the sheet instead of basically just making up shit as I RP. Just like a board game without pieces to fondle feels lacking, a MU sheet that I don't get to +spend on every couple of weeks also feels lacking.

    Granted, without a system of stat degradation or triennail pwipes (that idea's growing on me), this leads to Charzilla. Hey, I didn't say I had the answer to the problem it creates. I just like building up a character's sheet!


  • Pitcrew

    Advancement can mean a lot of things to me (in no particular order):

    • The numbers on my character's +sheet get bigger.
    • My character gets new tricks or abilities they can use in scenes.
    • My character gains some social or political title or pull.
    • My character is awarded a tangible reward for their deeds (even if it's "just" a shiny new medal to wear).
    • My character reaches an important story milestone, and the next steps in their story (whatever those may be) are laid open.

    I guess the most important thing for me is newness. That they have something now that they didn't before, and it's recognizable by me and possibly by others. I agree with @Jim-Nanban that I want something to advance every couple of weeks (I'd say every 2-3), but that doesn't have to be numbers on a +sheet getting bigger for me -- it just has to be something that I can look at and say "Yes, this character is progressing." There's very little more boring, annoying, and frustrated than a character who is stuck in one spot and unable (for some reason) to progress. Advancement is that progress.

    Also, I agree with @Derp that starting low and working up and justifications are nice, but if I start really low, I want that first advancement to be fast -- I enjoy playing someone who is a professional at their job more than someone who is just starting out (usually).


  • Creator

    This all gives me a lot of interesting ideas. It's also nice that people seem to generally be more or less aligned around the same or similar needs.

    My intent with all of this information is to create a general prototype of a simplified system that can be used in a long-form format. Though I might just convert specific tabletops, and start with WoD since it's big around here.

    Now, I know people have done house rules and such, but what I'm thinking would be radically different from something like house rules. I'm thinking more taking an already existing system and pretty much using elements of it to create an entirely different system.

    I know that might seem insane, but I'm pretty much considering doing the tabletop equivalent of chopping music samples and making a new song. Not gonna sell it or anything, I just wanna see if I can make MU*s better.

    I also know that not everyone will be happy with it, and some people will get super rockist about it, but I say we should commit some blasphemies and see what we get out of it. My plan is for this to be a group project. I drop my prototype at some point, and then people can tear it apart and possibly find a way to test it and such.



  • So, we've had a lot of talk about 'how to make MU's better' lately, and every time it comes up I can't help but think "Better for whom?"

    See, while I agree with @Arkandel

    game which mismanages the amount of progress you make for time unit can render progress irrelevant; if XPs fall from the skies like raindrops and everyone's special no one is. If progress is too slow and everyone wallows in the dirt then it doesn't matter. If progress is behind a wall your playstyle doesn't support (must play too many hours, run PrPs to justify expenditures, etc) then it might as well not exist. Etc.

    and @Seraphim73's list above of what advancement constitutes, I also have to think ... some of these things are mutually incompatible. For instance, @Jim-Nanban wants things that he can fondle and do and whatever, but even he admits that certain playstyles lead to Charzilla. But then you also have it at the opposite end of the spectrum, where everyone is charzilla, so no one is, or everyone is a lowly peon, so nobody feels like they have any agency.

    Now, I for one am not opposed to Charzillas, especially in the WoD games. Those Charzillas are the ones who typically end up as Prince or Primogen or Hierarch or Queen or <Manson>Stick your stupid slogan in.</Manson>. Are some of them terrible? Sure. But so are some of the ones in the fiction for the setting, so that's not out of the ordinary. I think that some healthy amount of Hierarchy is needed in these games that doesn't exist in many of them, currently. Everyone wants to do catchups and just-for-being-approved xp, and all I've ever seen it lead to is stagnation.

    I think that, ultimately, rather than fixate on some medium between all of them, we should really just stick to one, and encourage others to make something else if it doesn't suit people's playstyles. While it might suck to feel that one game that your friends are having fun on doesn't work for you because it requires different hours or the RP is behind a wall you can't get over, it's probably important to keep in mind that not everyone can play in the same sandbox, either. Sometimes, you just need more diversity, and less amalgamation.



  • In a statless game, it might be about a promotion, or at least a job/status that my character wants. In RP, scenes that challenge the character, or at least lead to more insights (about themselves, others, etc). Becoming useful to their group/court/weyr/liege/etc, and making personal connections.

    On a statted game, all this plus getting to increase/acquire abilities and their effectiveness.

    Edit: even if everyone is an xp monster, you can differentiate yourself via rp, cooperativeness, writing style, etc.


  • Admin

    @Derp Let me provide a counter-example.

    On St. Petersburg they used a hard-cap XP system you could hit once you roleplayed for a reasonable-but-not-too-high amount per week. The exact numbers might escape me but it was something like "you gain XPs automatically as you RP and you can make a maximum of 2 XPs per week". Once you hit the limit that's it, you couldn't go any higher.

    At least one person I knew back then wasn't motivated to play any more once they hit that cap. The player was completely reasonable by the way and never one I associated with "play to win", just the contrary, but that's just how the system itself made them feel.

    Anyway, my thoughts these days on the matter is that no matter how you design your system you should make sure of the following:

    • Don't fail to introduce diminishing returns or the players who can roleplay 24/7 will, and they are almost always the ones you don't want to take over. It's hard to maintain a healthy perspective on a game you invest so much of your life into.

    • Make sure if there's systemic advancement not to let it get capped too easy for the reasons highlighted above. Again, diminishing returns can serve a similar purpose but allow people to keep playing, and just track smaller progress.

    • Make damn sure to let your newbies be able to catch up. It doesn't need to (and shouldn't) happen too fast; let them work for it since otherwise it invalidates your oldbies' efforts, but make it possible. A system similar to Arx's @randomscene, tweaked to be a more long-term solution, probably works better than TR's massive auto-XP cron jobs since it also provides RP as well as XP.

    • Finally, IMHO, don't penalize death or retirement. For all that is holy, that's one of the reasons drama exists; if a PC dies in action let them carry their progress to a new one.

    Just some thoughts.



  • @Arkandel said in What does advancement in a MU* mean to you?:

    Make damn sure to let your newbies be able to catch up. It doesn't need to (and shouldn't) happen too fast; let them work for it since otherwise it invalidates your oldbies' efforts, but make it possible.

    See, this is the part that I'm getting hung up on in most of our systems that currently exist. You either start off as Pretty Damn Powerful, or you know you'll get Pretty Damn Powerful within X amount of time just because of the way the system is coded, and I see two problems with it:

    • First, catchup xp means that players have to put basically no effort into what they're doing (see my frequent bitching about secrets of the universe getting absorbed through the starbucks wifi while you shop for boots on amazon). The ones who are really active will pull the train for the entire game, and they're almost guaranteed to not be that far ahead of anyone else when this happens. At a certain level of xp, even the coded leg-up they have becomes trivial.

    • Second, players under these systems get pretty damn entitled real fast. It's easy to talk a lot of shit about the people at the upper end of the tier because you know that in a few weeks you'll be right there with them xp-wise, so why should anyone ever show any respect for the people who have been around for a good chunk of time and put in some real work to make things happen?

    While I'm all for characters catching up, so to speak, I think that you should also get equal 'pay' for equal 'work', up to a point. I'm cool with diminishing returns, but I don't want a system where John the New Guy can come in and know that with half the work that Prince Whatsit did, he can get the xp that Prince Whatsit -has-. Many people might not like that idea, but ... that's the one I like. And if I start my own game, it'll probably end up a lot like that.

    Other people can use catchup systems all they want to, my personally? If you wanna catch up to the old guys in half the time it took them to get there, you'd better be ready to get your hands dirty.



  • +sheet is less an interest to me than character development. If +sheet is the focus just feels like a game to me and everyone is making meta decisions for advancement.

    @Derp said in What does advancement in a MU* mean to you?:

    @Arkandel said in What does advancement in a MU* mean to you?:

    Make damn sure to let your newbies be able to catch up. It doesn't need to (and shouldn't) happen too fast; let them work for it since otherwise it invalidates your oldbies' efforts, but make it possible.

    See, this is the part that I'm getting hung up on in most of our systems that currently exist. You either start off as Pretty Damn Powerful, or you know you'll get Pretty Damn Powerful within X amount of time just because of the way the system is coded, and I see two problems with it:

    Inversely longevity again ... After a year or two of dinosaur bloat, new players don't want to join. Or join then complain because it's the same dinos with all the power that affect the game.



  • @Lotherio said in What does advancement in a MU* mean to you?:

    nversely longevity again ... After a year or two of dinosaur bloat, new players don't want to join. Or join then complain because it's the same dinos with all the power that affect the game.

    See, I ... kind of don't think that this is necessarily a valid counterpoint.

    Maybe John the New Guy, Perennial Loner can't do things around the oldbies.

    But John the New Guy, Tina the Couple Monther, and their friends Tim, Jerry, and Fred could all get together and figure out a way to make changes to their environment by consolidating their specific stuff. A coalition of people can accomplish between them more than what any one oldbie can do. And if they have such a problem with the Way Things Are that they think it needs to change, then they can surely find Like-Minded Folk out there to help them achieve it. (Or if they can't, it might be best that they aren't able to enforce their specific vision of changes).

    Gee. What a shame that would be. Players having to work together to get stuff done, instead of Going it Alone Forever. Those dinobots are a problem, man.



  • @Derp said in What does advancement in a MU* mean to you?:

    @Lotherio said in What does advancement in a MU* mean to you?:

    nversely longevity again ... After a year or two of dinosaur bloat, new players don't want to join. Or join then complain because it's the same dinos with all the power that affect the game.

    See, I ... kind of don't think that this is necessarily a valid counterpoint.

    Maybe John the New Guy, Perennial Loner can't do things around the oldbies.

    But John the New Guy, Tina the Couple Monther, and their friends Tim, Jerry, and Fred could all get together and figure out a way to make changes to their environment by consolidating their specific stuff. A coalition of people can accomplish between them more than what any one oldbie can do. And if they have such a problem with the Way Things Are that they think it needs to change, then they can surely find Like-Minded Folk out there to help them achieve it. (Or if they can't, it might be best that they aren't able to enforce their specific vision of changes).

    Gee. What a shame that would be. Players having to work together to get stuff done, instead of Going it Alone Forever. Those dinobots are a problem, man.

    Newbie retention not valid? I'll forget that comment.

    At what point does newbie get to be cool experiences person, dino is always that much ahead of them?


  • Admin

    @Derp said in What does advancement in a MU* mean to you?:

    See, this is the part that I'm getting hung up on in most of our systems that currently exist. You either start off as Pretty Damn Powerful, or you know you'll get Pretty Damn Powerful within X amount of time just because of the way the system is coded

    Since I mentioned Arx's system this is how I'd do it:

    1. Consider someone a newbie until they catch up {tm}. What you consider 'caught up' in the context of your game is up to you. Maybe it's the average XP on the game, or you base it off of the top earners' totals, or just for X weeks after CGen, whatever.

    2. Make newbies be always eligible for +votes (or whatever you're using in your system) without most control factors. Give them the ability to vote back non-newbies, skimming similar control factors, but for fewer XP than normal.

    That way you're encouraging scenes by making newbies attractive to oldbies and you're making them work for it. They make more for that work than anyone else so they can catch up but there's nothing automatic about it. They can't just sit around and wait for XP to rain from the sky.


  • Politics

    @Derp said in What does advancement in a MU* mean to you?:

    And if I start my own game, it'll probably end up a lot like that.

    In a system I'm working on, everything is related to time. You can convert it to XP to advance your stats, use it to harvest for resources, spend it to build shit, etc. But the more holdings you build, status you cultivate, the less time you have because of the implied maintenance of the same. The more you accumulate, the slower you can advance.

    This balances newbs and dinos. Dinos have a lot of stuff to maintain, and have less time to do other things. Newbs have less things to maintain, and can dedicate more time to building themselves up. As newbs catch up, dinos can collaborate with newbs so that the work to maintain the kingdom/empire/faction is split, thus allowing dinos to start to advance again.


  • Admin

    @Ganymede said in What does advancement in a MU* mean to you?:

    In a system I'm working on, everything is related to time. You can convert it to XP to advance your stats, use it to harvest for resources, spend it to build shit, etc. But the more holdings you build, status you cultivate, the less time you have because of the implied maintenance of the same. The more you accumulate, the slower you can advance.

    That's a good idea. It reminds me of EVE Online.


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said in What does advancement in a MU* mean to you?

    On St. Petersburg they used a hard-cap XP system you could hit once you roleplayed for a reasonable-but-not-too-high amount per week. The exact numbers might escape me but it was something like "you gain XPs automatically as you RP and you can make a maximum of 2 XPs per week". Once you hit the limit that's it, you couldn't go any higher.

    At least one person I knew back then wasn't motivated to play any more once they hit that cap. The player was completely reasonable by the way and never one I associated with "play to win", just the contrary, but that's just how the system itself made them feel.

    I did not play on St. Petersburg so I was not this person but I agree with them once I hit the weekly limit I would stop. Not because i need a reward for RPing since I have been in multiple scenes on Fallcoast this week and will get the exact same weekly rp if i had been in none, but once you start to reward X then cap that reward you create a system that caps my desire for X, in fact you incentivize delaying x if it is near the cap refresh date. Lets say you get XP for rping up to a weekly cap, if that cap refreshes on Monday for example and i hit that cap on Friday, if someone asks me for rp over the weekend I would be a fool not to put them off til the next Monday, because why do something for free when you can wait a bit and so the exact same thing for a reward.



  • To me, if my character is going to advance, I'd like them to actually advance. I've sat at many tables, and played many games where the mooks scale up with the PCs and it gets tiresome to me. Level bosses, for sure make them tough and scale them up, but when the warm ups take three hours of rolling to deal with, why bother advancing?



  • Atop much of what is mentioned here, I like it when your relationships with other PCs, and NPCs, change and grow.
    I also like it when my character changes and grows, though many object to that being something that has any sort of system attached to it.


  • Pitcrew

    It's more about method of advancement than what advancement means, but one thing I'm digging on Fires of Heaven is the +goals system. Each character can have up to 3 goals at once, and each goal has a certain number of logs required to complete it. Each week, you can submit one log toward one of your goals, and each log is worth 75 * Your Level XP--up to the required number of logs, at which point additional logs put toward it before "completion" are worth 100 * Your Level XP. Once you've hit the required number of logs (and completed your goal), you can turn in the goal for your XP.

    It ties major advancement of your +sheet to major advancement of your character, provides advancement via event and social RP alike, and means that if your character starts to feel like they've plateaued, all you have to do is check their +goals to remember what they're supposed to be striving toward. Now, I would personally make it so that each +goal could get a log each week, rather than limiting it to one log total per week, but I like the system. A lot.


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