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A System for Character Improvement

This article was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 1999, and reprinted in the October 2013 issue.

Experience Points

Player-characters are awarded Experience Points (XP) at the end of every game session. When a character uses a skill in such a way as to have an impact on the session’s events, the referee should award the character 1XP. Skill use that has a major impact on the session’s events may, at the referee’s discretion, be awarded additional XP, but awarding as many as 3XP for a skill use should be rare. Players are encouraged to point out which skills should be awarded XP, but the referee’s decision is always final.

XP are noted next to the appropriate skill. If a character does not actually have the skill in question, but has earned experience against that skill, note the skill on the character sheet in parentheses.

Bonus Experience Points

At the referee’s discretion, characters can be awarded bonus XP for such things as good role playing and great ideas during the session. These points can be applied towards any skill the player wishes, with the referee’s approval. This simulates characters studying skills in their spare time and Eureka! moments with regard to skill improvement. Players can use these points to direct character development.

Applying “Experience” to Characteristics

XP may be applied to characteristics as well. Record these by writing the characteristic name in parentheses and placing the earned XP next to it.

Upgrading Skills and Characteristics

At the beginning of each game session, PCs are allowed to roll for skill and characteristic improvement. Any skill or characteristic that has earned enough prerequisite XP may be improved via rolling dice as described below. In order to roll for improvement, the PC must have earned XP equal to the target skill or characteristic level. It is not possible to upgrade any skill or characteristic by more than one level per game session. For example:

The Improvement Roll

To actually improve a skill or characteristic, a roll of all-sixes must be made. The number of dice to be rolled is determined by the target skill level or characteristic level:

The roll can be modified based on the character’s current INT characteristic and/or expending extra XP. See the Modifiers section below.

Only one attempt per game session may be made to increase a particular skill or characteristic, but a player may attempt to increase as many skills or characteristics as he has sufficient XP for.

Modifiers

Modifiers apply to the roll needed for success, not to the number of XP required or to the number of dice thrown.

INT Bonuses: Players with sufficiently high INT scores receive a modifier on all rolls. This includes throws for improving all characteristics, including INT. Use the following modifiers:

+1 DM if INT 5-9.

+2 DM if INT 10-14.

+3 DM if INT 15.

XP Bonuses: Bonuses to the roll can also be obtained by spending extra XP. For each +1DM on the throw, XP equal to the target skill level are required. That is, using double the amount of required XP nets a +1 DM on the roll; using triple the amount of required XP nets a +2 DM on the roll, and so on.

Cost of Trying: Every time a skill or characteristic increase is attempted and fails, the cost for trying is 1 XP from that skill’s or characteristic’s total. All other XP are kept. If a skill is improved, all XP for that skill or characteristic are wiped out, even if they were not applied to the throw. The new skill begins anew sans any XP from the previous level (i.e., the player now has 0 XP in the skill or characteristic just improved).

Level 0 Skills: If an attempt made to gain a skill at level 1 fails, a second throw for improvement is allowed free of cost. If this second attempt is successful, the PC gains the skill at level 0. (Only attempts for level 1 skills).

Experience Limit: We use a modification of the Maximum Skills rule on p. 30 of the MegaTraveller Players’ Manual.

If a character’s total skill levels do not exceed (INT + EDU), then prerequisite points remain as stated above.

If a character’s total skill levels exceed (INT + EDU), but do not exceed 2 (INT + EDU), then prerequisite points are doubled.

If a character’s total skill levels exceed 2 (INT + EDU), but do not exceed 3 (INT + EDU), then prerequisite points are tripled, and so on.

Bonuses derived from additional XP are subject to the same adjustment, but INT bonuses remain the same.

Since it gets harder to improve the more skills a character earns, Players should be strategic in throwing for improvement for specific skills. In this fashion, players can mold their characters, and some skills will remain unimproved while XP build up (potential is there for the PC to improve, but he is not applying himself in that direction).