Logs and Milestones in serialized campaigns – frankly: How do you do them?
I cannot say this often enough: I love the “make log entries and get milestones” system of character advancement. It’s one of the mechanics I appreciate the most (especially because of the ‘horizontal’ character development instead of only advancing ‘vertically’).
But I feel that it works best with an episodic style of play, meaning self-contained stories like in TOS or TNG rather than serialized approaches as in (especially) PIC or the most parts of DIS. Basically, it makes not too much of a difference on how one tells stories in STA. With, I feel, the exception of character development.
So, how do you do logs and milestones in your more serialized campaigns? One log entry per gaming session? Do you still break up your story into smaller chunks that resemble contained adventures of the episodic approach? Or are you waiting for your players (or, if you’re a player: is your GM waiting for you) to propose to take a log and a milestone even mid-session if it fits a story arc?
In my campaign I reward Milestones according to RAW (because it’s super fun) and only award Character Arcs in special episodes which specifically deal with a particular character’s background. That works well for my campaign because I usually run custom episodes that are tailored to specific characters, so the Character Arc is essentially written into the adventure.
With the new rules, Character Arcs are not that much different to Milestones, so awarding them only when it makes sense within the narrative feels appropriate to me and my players.
For my STA campaign I had it as a mix between single missions (1-2 sessions) and mini-arcs (2-3 missions), with an overarching plot running through it all.
Normal milestones usually occurred at the end of the mini-arcs.
Spotlight milestones were very ad-hoc. It was entirely led by how the session went. If someone had a great or meaningful scene then I’d allow them to adjust based on what happened. These varied, some players characters changed more, while others used them on supporting characters almost exclusively.
We never really did the ship adjustments using this (I’m not one for doing ship conflicts in STA) but we slowly built a supporting cast sort of through this method.
Arc Milestones only occurred once at the mid-point of the campaign. I think I actually gave them a couple of points from the Arc Milestones. So more of a saved up bonus, than it being drip fed.
My idea at this point had been to also promote them to command of a smaller vessel from 2nd tier of a larger one. But they derailed that plan (as is normal for my group) and we continued in a different manner.
My own system is widely inspired from the Klingon’s rulebook.
after a mission brief or an act in bigger scenario if they used something from a previous scenario I give a normal milestone to each player of the group. I select the kind of improvement available. I tend to give focuses more often, recently for example Linguistics focus was available after several sessions with alien communication problems. Talents are also available but much more rare, at some points Veteran became available to my players. For Talents, if a player used a determination point to have the talent for the scene, I may allow him to purchase it at a later date (or may want more uses depending on the talent). I may allow talents purchase if a player has done something memorable in a scenario (like a 10 success roll on torpedoes) if the talent is appropriate and reminds it on a later scenario.
Arc stone on player’s birthday with a character centered scenario.
And don’t forget commendations, traits and contacts they are appreciated and serve as a reminder of what thy have done and who they have met. They work hard to have 7d20 Diff 0 to roll at the end and it’s a good way to play with the spirit of Star Trek in mind
Even in the more continuous series’ there are clear episode splits. I think it would likely be more important (given how many of the mechanics work) to make sure you frame episodes well. My assumption is of course that by doing that, it should solve much of the issue you have with the milestone system?