I’ve been tempted as of late to write an experience point/level system for Call of Cthuhlhu.
For those of you not familiar with Call of Cthuhlhu or the BRP system it runs on character advancement works as thus: At the end of each adventure you have a chance to increase each skill you successfully used during that adventures. The chance your skill will go up is inversely proportional to the amount you already have in the skill. I like this as I find this rewards player creativity by encouraging them to use as many skills as possible, including ones they don’t use that often. If they solve every problem by playing to their strengths then they will soon find they are having a hard time raising their skills, if they have not maximized them already. This is somewhat opposite from most class/level systems which rewards specialization at the expense of everything else. While I do like specialization I find that one-trick-pony characters drive me batty. I also very much like the fact that characters are organic: The more you use something the more likely it is to go up. You want to be a better marksman? Shoot stuff. You want to drive better? Drive more. Skills can also be raised through training, though this takes a lot of time.
However the fact that this only occurs at the end of an adventure is somewhat problematic. During the last adventure I ran my players got bored partway through as they had been starting out going down each clue chain without finishing it and felt stalled due to a lack of accomplishments. I feel that some sort of reward system tied to each clue uncovered would help this.
I was thinking of a very simple system of 100XP per level. The amount of XP you need over time does not rise, in keeping with the very flat power curve the BRP system has- You can easily get the maximum possible value in a skill at creation, so effectiveness at any one area is less due to experience then choice, more experienced character tend to be more well rounded then new ones.
I was also thinking of combining this with an idea I heard about in Trail of Cthulhu/Gumshoe. In it you always pass checks to find a clue if you have the right ability. This prevents the plot from stalling on a failed roll when they miss something really obvious. Even if you give them a huge bonus to the roll they might still botch it. I am thinking of making this true, however you only get experience if you succeed on the roll. Also if you fail the roll you might sometimes get a less informative version of the clue: both will point you in the right direction, but one will take longer. There is the downside that players can use XP as a guide to whether they have found a clue or not, but they can already do that a little based on the fact they have found a clue.
The real question is how should I decided on how much XP to give out? 100 points is a pretty shallow scale, but they normally level at the end of an adventure. Should I let them advance twice as fast by giving out a level at the end of every adventure in addition to this? I think that they would be upset if they somehow did not level at the end of the adventure. Should I give out XP for killing things? That does make sense, but you also often gain sanity from slaying them.
Alright: Here is the outline
Players can at any time spend 100 XP to level. There are no limits on how many XP they may have at any one time. This allows them to store XP in case they gain a level when they only have a chance to raise one or two skills, say if they finished an adventure with 90XP then gained 100XP from finishing the adventure.
Everything that gives XP has a flat XP value. All XP gained is divided equally among the people present. Fractions are rounded up.
Finishing an adventure is worth 100XP. Major plot points are worth ~50XP, clues are worth ~15XP. Monsters give XP based on the difficulty of slaying them. Killing a God is worth 100XP to the survivors, if any, to enjoy in the asylum. Killing a major villain or horror is worth less. Killing a major plot monster is worth ~25-50XP. Killing a Dimensional Shambler is worth 15XP. Killing a weak zombie may only be worth 5XP.
Well? What does everyone think? Any glaring problems?
Until Next Time, Stay Geeky.
Edit: I should add that the group I’m referring to this is quite fun to play with, though with a very quirky playstyle. I’m trying to adapt my DMing style to match, and this is part of that. Most of the people in it are not gamers, or were not when they started, so some of this is learning via doing. It is nice seeing a totally fresh approach to things from people who don’t know the cliches and tropes of gaming. I thought I would add this since I reread my post and noticed this could be taken as a slight against my group when it shouldn’t be taken as such. –Canageek