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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Understanding Advancement in AE

I wanted to hammer out a few notes on the Arduin Eternal game system.  Namely, in this beginning style post, about character advancement.  

Unlike Arduin's previous versions, AE has a dual advancement system.  Meaning advancement in AE is gained via experience or EPS and skill development and advancement.  EPS is meant to be employed as a significant advancement or an epiphany of sorts.  Its used to make high gains in skills (equal to your learning rate or LR), to acquire access to a new order of power or OP of magic, or to learn a secret.  Secrets provide new abilities mostly or provide a strong bonus of some sort to a character.

Skill advancement and development is more incremental.  Its small to medium increases in a skill, based on whether you used it where an element of risk was in play.  This provides for non-holistic and uneven advancement.  No guarantee of increase exists here.  No gain is taken where said skill or development item was not in play.  This builds more true characters, instead of even automatons with no shades of difference.

In fact, the advancement is based on exceeding the threshold of your current skill with an advancement roll.  Or, in simpler terms, subtracting out your current skill ranks from your advancement roll.  Anything beyond your skill provides an increase, on  sliding scale.  For example, exceeding the threshold by 1 to 20 points gives you a +1 increase.  21-40 provides a +2 and so forth, to a max of +6.  

This kind of increase moves on a bell curve, making increases at low levels quite large but quite small to zero at middle high to high end of the scale.  As a further illustration, you easily gain +3, +4 or more in skill increases at skill rank 1.  At a skill rank of 70, such increases are much more difficult.  The roll for advancement is made on an open-ended d100.  Open ended in the sense that you can add bonuses to exceed the 100 max.  Thus, the chance for a +1 advancement is 99% at skill rank 1.  At skill rank 70, its 30%.  For a +2 advancement at the same rank is 79% and 10% respectively.

Bonuses, of course play a large factor in maintain increases as your rise in skill.  Having even a +10 bonus to your advancement roll provides a significant increase in odds.  +20, +30 or even higher bonuses make this even more impacting.

The original intent of the system was to provide players with non-holistic, incremental improvement that reflected their style of game play and allowed a sense of success from session to session.  EPS are meant as the rich frosting on a cake: taken in small amounts.  EPS should be given as a small amount, say 1-2 per session and a bonus for ending a plot arc or significant story event.  They are very powerful in use and can change player dynamics rapidly if given out of balance.

A last, but important addition to this type of development system is it underscores the ability to bring in new players without them automatically being so underpowered that they have to be bolstered in artificial ways.  A character with 10 sessions under their belt can be ran quite equitably with one with none and so on.

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