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Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 character advancement

PCs in A!C will usually get more than 10 XP per mission, due to the awards per session, for achieving objectives and the constantly triggered awards for conditions like “1 XP if you bought a bonus d20 and failed”, which is a thing that happens to each PCs a lot per session. Some of the XP triggers are quite cumbersome to follow, require constant bookkeeping like “GM has spent 3 Threat on an NPC roll”.

But you may only buy an advancement, which costs 10 XP, ONCE between adventures.

That means, any excess XP are only “for the honor”, but don’t have any effect on your character improvement.

I would say, the XP rules are unnecessarily complicated. Simply handing out one advancement, that is the 10 XP spend allowed between missions, after each mission will do fine. No additional bookkeeping necessary.

As a player, I don’t like the players “voting” about who gets some XP bonus. That is an unnecessary “competition”. I usually give out the same amount of XP for every PC in a game (Conan, MC3, Infinity).

The A!C rules are surprisingly “competitive” in that regard, implying that PCs will get individual rewards, so that some might come out of a mission with several times the XP than others.
Especially the individual bonus XP in the GM’s book are rather high, up to 20 XP for individual actions that occur not that rarely in an A!C game.

What I find unsatisfying with that is, that feedback for such actions, like a show of bravery, would much better be given right on the spot, when the action happens, not after maybe multiple sessions at the end of a mission when the memory of the triggering action is already diffuse.
In Conan or Infinity or MC3 I usually award a Fortune/Infinity/Chronicle point on the spot. That works in my experience as GM and as a player best as positive feedback, and it is of immediate usefulness in the ongoing adventure.

But A!C as written only allows spending a single point of Fortune PER SCENE. That means, during a combat scene, you get to spend only a single point of Fortune for the whole combat, although in combat scenes you will be required to make many more dice rolls than in investigative or social scenes.

That is a weird limitation, which I don’t use in my A!C games. It makes having Fortune points less useful and makes players sit on them for the single, possibly life saving spend to avoid defeat during a combat scene.

I cannot understand why the A!C developers went for that limitation, as it lessens the usefulness and therefore the weight of positive feedback by awarding Fortune during a session.

And I cannot understand why the A!C developers went for suggesting individual XP awards that could lead to multiples of 10 XP, but only allow to make use of 10 XP per downtime.

I don’t think it is and I don’t think it should be that easy to get 20 or 40 XP for an adventure. But if a PC gets that many, prohibiting them to make use of them is a weird way of “rewarding” the player.
On the other hand it would be weird, if one PC with 40 XP gets 4 “advancements” while most other PCs get 1 advancement. That could make for a very steep power increase in this PC. - One reason I like to have everyone the same XP or the same amount of advancements.

What are your experiences with these A!C experience rules?

Maybe @Modiphius-Nathan could shed some light on the design goals regarding the advancement system and the (compared to other 2d20 games rather severe) limitations of using Fortune in A!C?

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I won’t clog the thread with a line-by-line response, but I very broadly agree with this take @FrankF , and I immediately took my group to a 1XP-per-productive-hour-of-gaming rule and am probably going to leave it at that until I see a suggestion that is as easy as this to implement, or one of the game’s authors convinces me otherwise (which could totally happen…).

Thanks for raising the point, though, OP. I houseruled this so fast I literally forgot I did it.

I find the 1 thing to advance per mission to be rather low. I would rather have the system where things get more expensive as you raise them higher so you are encouraged to expand broadly

As written, there can be a lot more than only 10 XP accumulated after a session.
The cost for advancements of Attributes, Skills, Focus fields and Talents are all the same, 10 XP.
I understand that keeping it to a single advancement between sessions allows for keeping the power level of PCs at about the same for every player in the group.

Allowing for spending XP on multiple advancements could lead to some characters becoming much more powerful in a short time, while others stay behind. That combined with the competitive aspect of voting for the “most valuable player” might frustrate some players sooner or later.

I like keeping all PCs at about the same advancement/power level, as that makes it easier to set up challenges for the group. Considering the often quite impressive effect most Talents offer, having a character who is 4 Talents “ahead” of the others makes that one significantly more competent.

Having variable costs does only slow the different speed of character progress a bit down, but does require individual bookkeeping of individual XP values accumulated and spent.
I prefer to avoid this kind of bookkeeping entirely. In my Savage Worlds, D&D 5E, Shadow of the Demon Lord games, I award an advancement / level-up per adventure. That is easy to manage and keeps every one at about the same level of competence.

Individual acts of heroism, great roleplay, etc. I like to reward by immediately awarding Fortune points. This direct, timely feedback is to me preferable to awarding additional XP to be spent much later or - considering the single advancement - never at all.

allowing spending on multiple advancements does not in fact lead to people falling behind. That only occurs if people are getting different amounts of XP. And if you are going to allow people to get more than one advancements worth of XP then they should be allowed to spend that XP. Otherwise what is the point. I dont have an issue with awarding behavior you want through xp. Just be sure you are not giving one player all the xp. As yeah that could be a problem.

As to the variable costs. What it tends to actually do is give a player choices. are they going to dive deep to become really good at a thing or are they going to be more of a jack of all trades. That is all it does. I find it works well in Infinity and Conan. I see no reason not to do so here.

If there are individual XP awarded, and if the XP awards are so finely grained as it is the case in A!C, then having different XP costs for raising attributes, skills, dependent on their current rank, would be expected - and maybe raising the costs for acquiring Talents or even have some Talent trees like in Conan, MC3 or Infinity with different costs per tier.

Hi all,

Completely agree with what has been said already, advancement is very rapid in this system, but the multiples of 10xp and only 1 upgrade between sessions is odd. I’ve changed this a bit myself and have given each player an advancement track, which tracks XP and awards “Advancement Tokens” that can be used the same way as a normal spend of 10XP. The players can spend these tokens during any “down-time” the characters have, such as travel or rest and gain the benefits there and then. The advancement track gets more difficult as more experience is gained, so as the players become more powerful the hurdles get a little further apart. I.e. the first 100xp, the players get a token every 10xp. From 100 onwards, they need 15xp for a token and after 10 are gained, it becomes 20xp and so on and so forth. It’s still in playtest, so I can’t say it works perfectly or not, but seems to be trotting along well.

In relation to Fortune, I’ve found a really simple solution for the limitation of spending it as I also love handing out fortune points as a reward or balance for a horrendous action on my part. If a talent asks for a Fortune point to be spent to activate the talent, it doesn’t count towards the once per scene spend. The normal fortune point use, reroll, create a truth etc is still limited to once per scene, but this seems to work perfectly.

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What are your experiences with this limitation during combat scenes?
Does anyone actually use the re-roll spend of Fortune points in a combat scene, when that means they could not save their character from Defeat anymore?

During a combat scene, you have a lot more dice rolls going on than in any other kind of scene. Having such a limitation is therefore much harsher than for other scenes.
Maybe limiting it to one Fortune point per combat round could remedy that a bit.
Fortune points are already a very limited resource. If some player has 3 Fortune left for his PC, and if he wants to spend them during the same combat, I think that is fine. Then they are gone and the player has to earn some more Fortune later, which makes for a more interesting game.

So the one time anyone saved their Fortune point to avoid defeat they were labelled a coward by the entire table, including themselves so it’s never really come up since then! However, my personal belief as a DM is that giving the Players a “Nah, I’m fine” button never plays out well. Good support and roleplay tends to work best, for example, the group I run has a dedicated field medic with them and one of their favourite things is applying dangerous patch jobs, so no-one using fortune to save themselves is great for that player. Though I am rapidly moving away from the point here!

Honestly, in and out of combat, the biggest Fortune point spend I see is a mix of Talent abilities and changing of a dice to a 1. I’m fairly sure no-one has ever used it for a re-roll in front of me! However, I tend to make sure the party are well equipped and their use of good equipment and good arguing of their personal truths normally allow some rerolls here and there.

I think one fortune point per round may be a touch excessive personally, as clever players can really abuse the change a truth portion of the Fortune spend and completely invalidate certain encounters turn by turn, which can majorly mess with the immersion! I would stick to one fortune point per scene, but allow talents to bypass the limitations.

But, there are just my thoughts at the end of the day!