Advancement Options, XP, and Manipulate

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Advancement Options, XP, and Manipulate
« on: June 16, 2012, 09:12:41 PM »
So, passing the halfway point in my gang's Monsterhearts game the other week brought on a realization that hadn't settled in before.

Each playbook has 9 advancement bubbles, and after filling in five you trigger the Season Finale and Season Advances. So, some really simple math dictates that if you're the person to trigger the Finale, you will not trigger the next Finale (because you only have four Advances left). But, the ohnoes set in when it turns out everyone else is still taking Advances and suddenly everyone has five bubbles filled in, with only four left and no one can trigger the next Finale. We're lucky in that we have two newer players who still have most of their full complement of Advancements, and its probably our Hollow or Vampire who is going to bring this Season to a close.

But yeah, that was kind of an awkward moment for us, but then it got me thinking. So, with only nine Advances, a character is going to have to skinshift if she wants to keep growing in mechanical terms. Okay, no biggie. It's interesting, though, because it means until the Season Advances unlock that player/character possesses a mechanical disincentive to go along with any Manipulate checks another PC may make. Basically: I have 7 of my advances, someone wants to offer me XP to do what he wants. With only 2 advances left, the XP he offers me is actually less valuable than an XP he may have offered me to get my first advance -- because I only have so few uses for XP anymore. I will actually eventually reach a point where I have 4XP and no advancement to spend them on and no one will be able to bribe my cooperation that way.

Looking back at AW I realize that the same idea was true there, but I never noticed it and I wondered for a bit why, only for it to dawn on me. In AW, if you find yourself approaching the point where you have nowhere to spend your XP, you have a couple outs. One, after 5 Advancements you get the shiny advancements, of which 2 solve this problem (new playbook, possibly with unfilled advancement bubbles; replace this character with someone new). Two, if you don't like your options you can talk to your MC and maybe he'll make up a new move and require you spend XP to get it.

A little different from MH for sure! Mainly because once you have your five advances, say from Season 1, you cannot yourself trigger those same advances in the second season to open up more advancement options. You have to wait for someone else to do so. And that's pretty cool, fair enough, you can't just deuce out on your own and make a new monster in the season two opener just because you had a lot of XP last time.

So mostly, if the great McDaldno is around, now I'm wondering if it's legit in MH to follow up on some more of AW advice and cook up some new moves to give out to characters whose players don't see their protagonists joining gangs, for example. It may sound like a dumb question, but its not in the book and theres no cool AW-quote transplanted to clarify it. So, I'm just curious. Is it legit to make up new moves when someone is out of advancements, or is there a deeper genre thing going on where, no by that time they should really be moseying along in life and doing something new.

Sorry to ramble like that, but these were just a bunch of thoughts that were cooked up by my last game session. Move stuff, advancement stuff, season stuff, and XP-manipulating getting less cost-efficient. Loving the game and it has me looking at it from all sorts of angles and loving how it ticks.

Anyone out there made up their own advancements for their players yet?

Re: Advancement Options, XP, and Manipulate
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2012, 04:37:13 AM »
If it seems important to give characters room for growth in Season Two, I think it's fine to add some additional "Take a move from another Skin" or "Create a custom move" advancement circles for any characters that you think need them.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2012, 04:50:56 AM by mcdaldno »

Re: Advancement Options, XP, and Manipulate
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2012, 03:09:55 PM »
To me, and, fortunately, my players as well, advancements don't really matter so long as you're happy playing your character. My players routinely "forget" to jot down xp, regardless of the game. True, this is likely because if they feel their character isn't properly fleshed out, I just let them take whatever skill/spell/item/whatever is appropriate to the system we play.
They're by no means powergamers as you can probably deduce. Most often in our old Gurps campaign, they'd spend a hellish amount of points on utterly useless skills. One, for instance bought ten useless spells because he felt the character needed a servant, and the prerequisites for that spell were rather ridiculous.

What I'm trying to say is, if people are happy with the characters they have, why force change?

Re: Advancement Options, XP, and Manipulate
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2012, 06:03:29 PM »
Tore, I get what you're saying loud and clear, and it sounds like you've got a swell gang of players for sure. However, I don't think this is a question of forcing a change on my players, not by a long shot. Quite the opposite actually! Three of the five have come to me saying they don't want to take their final advancement option (all of them have pack, jury, and coven un-checked). I've been telling them to save their feelings on it until they advance, and then see where the fiction is at that time -- but still! They've said to me "I'm not interested in the drama of externalizing my power!" The vampire took a coterie and enjoyed how terrible it went -- no one else wants that, so as their MC I shouldn't force it on them.

But they're my players and the rules demand they have a final advancement bubble to tick off. So, I wanted to check in about making up new moves :)

At this point though, it looks like I'll be handing out a couple "move from another skin" bubbles. I talked to the werewolf and she wants to explore conflicts with her inner-wolf... So I said take "Beyond the Veil" and rename it "KUJO" and make the Faery King "The Wolf." Should be pretty great.

Re: Advancement Options, XP, and Manipulate
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2012, 01:58:35 AM »
I see what you're saying now Alfred. After a certain point, XP isn't as much of a motivator as it once was, especially when players aren't interested in taking that last Advancement.

This is all theory since I haven't actually experienced this, but I feel that Monsterheart PCs just have a certain lifespan; once they've taken a certain number of Advances, their story is just kind of over. Maybe they should fade into the background and become a recurring NPC as the player has another PC step up into the spotlight. Based on the number of available Advances and just the type of game Monsterhearts seems to be, you're not really going to take your character all the way up to level 30 like in D&D.
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Re: Advancement Options, XP, and Manipulate
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2012, 03:33:04 AM »
Maybe it's just that I'm used to campaigns running for years. The people I usually play with get extremely attached to their characters, and if there's an endpoint in character development, and they reach it, it's pretty much "game over" for them, so they prefer not to advance at all, or extremely slowly. If a player loses a character, unless it's by choice, they'll most likely leave the group altogether.

Re: Advancement Options, XP, and Manipulate
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2012, 03:47:47 AM »
Well, I guess you could increase the amount of XP needed to take an Advance. Instead of advancing when you filled in that fifth bubble, it could be the sixth bubble, or the eighth, or even the tenth. That would essentially double the "lifespan" of a Monsterhearts PC.

Or instead of a flat advancement line you could have an exponential one. After you take your first Advance the next one costs six XP. The third is seven XP. The fourth is eight XP, and so on. The Advancements don't get "better" with the increasing cost, it's just harder to learn new tricks. If you use this method, the Season Advances will only become available after someone racks up 45 XP (instead of the usual 25).
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Re: Advancement Options, XP, and Manipulate
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2012, 07:33:24 AM »
That actually sounds like a great idea, Hyvemynd. I think I'll do just that, though in our case I just may have to quadruple the number of xp needed to advance. Last campaign ran for 79 bi-weekly sessions :-)

Re: Advancement Options, XP, and Manipulate
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2012, 03:06:41 PM »
The thing is, why not to use other kinds of advancements? I use that on my AW hack in portuguese. Basically, I use freestyle advancements, where you can choose independent of your advancement list.

I know that each class has some specificities with their advancements and that they speak about their character, but I just don't like it and prefer to let it open to my players.

How I do is like that:

Some advancements are limitless, and others can only be pick a few times.

Increase a Stat +1 (max +2, 4 times)
Get a new move, from your skin or other skin (5 times)
Geet a gang (1 time)

Season Advances:
Increase a stat +1 (max +3, 1 time)
Get 2 grown up moves (2 times)
Get a new skin (limitless)
Retire your character in safety (1 time)
Change advancement (limitless)

the idea of changing advancements is like, you can change one that you've picked up before. So, if you picked Cold +1 2 times, you may cut off one time (being Cold+1) and chose other advancement.

In my games, I also give the option of 'improving' a move. The rules are kind of extense to be put here, but the main idea is like that:

Improve the sentence of the move to the 'next level'. So, if you gain '+1' from a move, it might become +2. If you do 1 harm, now it's 2. If it affects 'a group', now it affects a 'crowd'. If it needed 'time and intimacy' now it just need time OR intimacy. With that, you can make the moves more 'powerfull'.