In "Other Strangeness", the core of the system is the verbs that characters engage to perform tasks in the world, then the adverbs that give them automatic successes to their actions, and finally any quirky twists that result from the expenditure of accumulated advantage/disadvantage points. Since that's the order of importance, that's the way experience should be focused. Many "point buy" games suffer from the issue that a careful (or system abusive) player can focus on the minutiae that fiddles with the rules to get an awesome combo that might work once in a while, but otherwise they are functionally useless within the game. I'm trying to think of way to limit that idea, while still keeping things logiclly consistent within the "mutant animal comic"-genre, and generally common-sensical.
The previous post still holds true. But now I'm delving into a few more details of the advancement system. First with the specific paths that characters might follow as they advance toward true heroics.
Paths for Ecological Niche – Predator, Scavenger, Herbivore, Pack, Herd, Constructor, Protector, Destroyer, Symbiote, Hive, Worker, Queen (each of these is restricted according to animal origin)
Paths for Education – Alchemy, Arts, Bureaucracy, Engineering, History, Medicine, Military, Occult, Politics, Psychology, Science, Strategy
Paths for Vocation – Adept, Athlete, Apothecary, Builder, Empath, Explorer, Familiar, Farmer, Guard, Hermit, Hunter, Investigator, Monster, Pilot, Police, Psychic, Rogue, Scholar, Scout, Shaman, Tinkerer, Trader, Warrior
Paths of Enlightenment – Air, Dark, Earth, Fire, Light, Metal, Water, Wood, Void (Each of these has a prerequisite elemental level [1 element @ lvl 5)
Master Paths – Each of these has a range of prerequisite verbs and elemental levels (I'm stll thinking about these, but they'll only be accessible once a character has completely mastered two or more other paths)
Each path follows the progression – verb 1 (common), verb 2 (common), verb 3 (common), verb 4 (uncommon), verb 5 (uncommon), background, elemental bonus, [master path: special action/reaction].
To keep things a bit more open, a player may choose options from the list as their character advances. The available choices progress through the path equal to the expansion level plus 2. Basically, this means...
1st advance – choose one of the first 3 verbs
2nd advance – choose one of the first 4 verbs
3rd advance – choose any of the verbs
4th advance – choose any of the verbs, or the background bonus
5th advance – choose any verb, the background bonus, or the elemental bonus
6th advance [only available to master paths] – choose any verb, the background bonus, the elemental bonus, or the special action/reaction/power.
You may only take a verb from a path once, but it may be possible to gain the same verb from two different paths. If you ever select the same verb twice, you instead gain a related adverb that may modify other verb actions to gain a bonus. You may not select the same verb three times.
Background paths substitute verbs 4 and 5 (the uncommon ones) with additional background levels (you may have only one of these, and you may not start with it)
Animal paths substitute the verbs 4 and 5 (the uncommon ones) with adverbs commonly associated with the character's mutant animal DNA (you may have only one of these, and this must be one of your starting paths if you have one).
Accumulation of XP
A session in “Other Strangeness” is basically a period of heightened tension in the character’s lives during which they encounter an unfolding event with the potential to change the world around them, and possibly induce a change within themselves. Sometimes a session will be a stand-alone event, sometimes it will be a part of a more complex plot unfolding over two or more periods.
At the start of a session, each player may declare two of their character’s speciality paths to focus on (where each path has a specific way to accumulate an experience point or two and a specific path of development for the character).
At the end of a session, a character earns up to 2 experience points in their chosen paths (depending on how well they fulfilled the obligations of the chosen path), if a character did not fulfil the obligations for one of the paths they chose, but managed to fulfil the obligations of another path they possess, they may gain a single point in that path instead.
At the end of a session, in typical 1980s/90s cartoon fashion, characters should have learnt some kind of moral from the story. The actions they have performed should have given them some insight into the “ways of the world”. If a player can give a quick sentence or two of description for what they character learnt from the situation, the character gains an extra experience point. This typically goes to the core path, but might be applied to a specialty path if the lesson specifically relates to concepts associated with that path.
In addition to all of these, at the end of every session, a character gains a single experience point in a path of their choice for simply taking part.
Successfully confronting opponents doesn’t earn XP, instead this earns rewards (temporary backgrounds/relations, equipment, favours, money, etc.) or team benefits.