View Full Version : New leveling system

2016-12-14, 08:38 AM
I have been putting together a new progression system that is actually independent of "levels."

Players start with some skills appropriate to their role. But the system has between 700-800 feats, which will be the focus of the progression system. In order to learn a new feat, the player must find someone who has the feat already, and convince them to show the player the basics. Then the player needs to spend at least 5 days practicing said feat (for bonuses, just some training relevant to what they are getting the bonus in. Maybe running if they are building their fort. Or light tumbling if they are improving their reflex. ETC). Not 5 solid days, but a set number of hours per day for 5 days. For early feats it might be 30 min a day for 5 days, while for the most advanced the player needs to devote, say, 300 hours of practice over the course of a month.

Once that happens, they can use the feat in combat, or whatever actual situation triggers the feat, but with a failure %. They would start with a nearly 100% failure chance, which decreases for every time they successfully use the feat. Probably a 100 point system, with failures giving you 2 points, and successes giving you 10 points. Once you get to 100 points, the feat acts as written.

Feats would have prerequisites as per normal, to avoid going straight to some obscenely powered feat at the very beginning.

So has anyone experimented with this type of system before? What are the potential issues you can see arising from this format? And feel free to share any thoughts you have on this, but please refrain from non-constructive comments. "That sucks" doesn't help me. "I played a system like that and did not enjoy it because . . . " is helpful. Thanks.

2016-12-14, 08:42 AM
My gut reaction is that it sounds "realistic" but not necessarily good for gaming. Sure it would take a normal person that long or longer to learn it, but heroes learn on the fly at times. So you might want to make some of the feats trained and some spontaneous.

Let's say you had a feat of "regeneration" how do you practice that? But instead at times of intense stress, you go "poof" as you learn new things.

non-leveling - have you looked at White Wolf (Vampire, Mage) or even Exalted (maybe even more relevant), they use experience per session then you buy new powers, sometimes they require training.

Just my 2 copper.

2016-12-14, 09:18 AM
There are... a couple of problematic-looking points in there.

Firstly, 700-800 feats is an absurd number. Especially if they're anything like what I think most gamers are used to when you use the term, which is largely self-contained abilities. Most of all I'm worried about a situation where one ability is stretched out over a dozen feats. Especially given how slow it'll be to get more. Impenetrable ability trees might also be an issue.
Secondly, it looks absurdly difficult to learn just one of those feats. Five days of training is one thing; that's a lot of downtime, which may or may not be appropriate to the style/genre you're going for, but "you need downtime to advance" is fine. I assume there will be some sort of external limit, though, to prevent players from just spending a year training intensely?
The percent failure system is... interesting. At the very least it seems redundant with training times-- both exist to slow down your acquisition of new abilities. At most, it looks horribly frustrating. Unless the numbers are tweaked, it seems like it would take forever to get to the point where success is possible enough to even bother attempting in a tough situation, much less reliable.

I suggest combining the training and percentage systems. You buy the feat from an expert at 100% failure rate, and then each day (or hour, or week, or whatever) of training drops the failure rate by, oh, 10%, perhaps with a 5% bonus for continuing to work with the expert. If you use it in a stressful situation and fail it's 5-10%, and maybe 20-30% if you succeed. That lets you train slowly and safely, or figure it out yourself in a faster-but-riskier fashion.

2016-12-14, 09:30 AM
Thanks. I could definitely see maybe getting some spontaneous feats. For instance I can keep track of how everyone participates, and have a set of spontaneous boons to give out where I feel appropriate. Good idea.

Why do you think it wouldn't be good for gaming? I'm not suggesting that we RP the entire training. Maybe something like this:

Me: "Ok You guys have finally made it to Blabbativille."
Fighter: "Ok, I'm going to track down the town guard and try to make nice with them."
Cleric: "I'm going to see if I can find an herbalist."
Rogue: "I'm going to hang around the Inn and chat up the barkeep."
**I might do a bit of RP for each interaction, and for especially difficult feats, require them to find someone pretty remote or especially powerful.**
Me: "Fighter, you manage to get into the guards good graces. Over some beers the guards are telling stories of amazing things they've done in combat. Mostly it's stuff you are familiar with, but there are a couple moves that intrigue you. You continue chatting them up and get the name of the person who can show you the moves." Then strictly OOC, "Fighter: these are the feats that are available in this town."
Me: "Rogue: you start chatting up the barkeep . . .


Then when all of the <5 minute RPs are done, the players tell me they are selecting some feats to work on. They meet back at the Inn later that night, and

the fighter begins "Mind if we stay here a few days? I found someone who knows a move that may be interesting."
Cleric: I really don't have any business in this town right now.
Rogue: I wouldn't mind hanging out for a bit. Maybe develop some contacts that I met.
Cleric: Outnumbered, dang. I'm going to sulk in my room.

Me: Ok Fighter, it takes you 3 days to learn the form well enough to practice it on your own. Rogue: In 2 days of dicing, you make a few friends. When you are sure at least one of them will be a good contact, Fighter says he needs one more day. Cleric, are you doing anything in town while Fighter and Rogue are busy? . . . Ok it's the beginning of the 4th day after you've arrived in town.

The whole thing might take 15 minutes. Then they are back on the road, or back on whatever trail they were pursuing. The player keeps track of how many times the feat triggers, and let's the GM know when he hits 100 points. Do you feel that's too intrusive? Too metagaming?

2016-12-14, 09:36 AM
Not bad Grod. I'm assuming that you are imagining that a player could decide to train for a few days, and live with the failure % until the move is mastered, if they want to? But they can opt to train longer to get to, say, 90% chance of success. That would just require them to use the ability with a fail chance in one or two instances, representing the transition from training to utility.

2016-12-14, 09:48 AM
700-800 feats is an absurd number. Especially if they're anything like what I think most gamers are used to when you use the term, which is largely self-contained abilities. Most of all I'm worried about a situation where one ability is stretched out over a dozen feats. Especially given how slow it'll be to get more. Impenetrable ability trees might also be an issue.

Can you clarify your problem here? I think I know what you are saying, but my brain is just not properly wrapped around it. There will be a multi-fold system of making sure that progression isn't too fast. There will be geographical considerations (you have to have horses around in order to learn how to ride one), political (the one person you know who has access to said feat is part of the enemy army), and logistical (prerequisites). But players can work on any number of feats at once, as long as the prerequisites are satisfied.

As for the number, I have 2 entire new categories of feats. Because of the mechanism by which casters access magic, I had to expand the magic-centric feats considerably. Since this campaign is going to focus on politics and armies, I expanded the Leadership feat line to account form larger numbers of followers. And finally, I added a section of teamwork centric feats. And most of the other feats have been modified to be more setting appropriate.

2016-12-14, 09:56 AM
Why do you think it wouldn't be good for gaming? I'm not suggesting that we RP the entire training. Maybe something like this:

What I mean here is that it could eat up a lot of valuable game time and that it could really disrupt story pacing, as in I know we should hurry and go get those guys but I need to invest a few days training ...

I tend to dislike fiddly things in a game system, this feels fiddly, but I don't have much time to game, so the face to face time is most valuable for me.

You might also check out the Hero system, I think it uses a pretty varied build your own powers method, could help inspire you.

Good luck.

2016-12-15, 04:19 PM
This seems like the sort of thing appropriate to a very specific sort of game. You've got a long and elaborate list of feats, you've got them tied to the setting, you've got a bunch of obstacles in the way of learning them. If you wanted to run a game explicitly about characters who set out to travel the world to master their arts it would work well. As is it's the sort of thing that will suck down game time for minimal gain. It's also not great even from a simulation perspective - you've got extensive practice that doesn't do much paired with the problem of the system only making sense if people are capable of coming up with things without training while the mechanics demand training.

There's also the matter of how it's presented. The idea of having a system that doesn't use levels is presented as novel; it's been around for decades. That presentation suggests a weak background with non-D&D RPGs, and a weak background in existing work is not a good sign for the quality of new material.

2016-12-15, 04:45 PM
I agree with most of the criticism above, but I can see this working as a system.

For it to work, I think the players would need to be into the advancement mechanic. A system where the goal is to be travelers trying to master their skills seems ideal. Players should know (and not get annoyed, at least OOC) that the other players want downtime. And DMs shouldn't give undue time sensitive goals that disallow or penalize training. (Note the word undue, mainly meaning here extremely short or common. Makes sense to tell players they can't, consequence-free, spend a year training then go up against the foes.)

All of the above should be up-front as part of the packaging of the system and its presentation to the players.

Some Questions
Is there any advancement outside of feats? That is, can you gain HP (or its equivalent), spellcasting, skills, etc., or are all of those incorporated into feats and/or non-existent/static in the system?

I see in your post you talk about training for increased reflexes, etc., as another option to training for feats, but are they (beyond names) distinct from feats? It seems like Increased Reflexes I could be considered a feat, and no real difference is found beyond it has a special [no trainer needed] tag.

Are experience points a thing? If yes, are they required to learn feats or are feats a separate system?

Why I Ask
If feats are the primary/only means of advancement, it seems unfair to players who have trouble finding feats, like the cleric in question. This could be due to poor RP on the player's side, but it would look like the DM favoring one player over the others.

And the rogue got contacts, but does that translate into any mechanical? (See Backgrounds in Exalted.)

In oWoD and, to a degree, Exalted, you generally had to spend time in-game training to boost something, but you also had to have the experience points to buy it. Thus, there was both an in-character, in-game aspect (training) and a metagame aspect (experience).

I fear some players would get characters that outshine the others too much, due to RP choices, luck, or DM creativity. Such can work with the right group and DM, but it seems a serious weakness of the system.

My personal taste
This is assuming that feats are the primary and/or only means of advancement.

My initial taste is that this is too contingent on luck (being a combination of DM mood/creativity, my ability to RP, and where we happen to be) to be enjoyable. I might have an idea for a fun build, but, unless the DM specifically works with me to let me find the feats I want, then... well, I don't actually get to play the character I want, do I?
That's not fun to me, nor is having to go through hoops to get the fun character I want to play.

I feel like a system like this needs to make the 'hoops' feel like fun quests. I don't have a recommendation about how to do that, since that's beyond my creative ability. Personally, I wouldn't enjoy a game like this, but I will stress that I can see it as enjoyable for the right people.

On the failure mechanic

Sounds like a cool concept and a realistic mechanic, but not fun, since it basically adds an additional level of training on top of the base training. I'd recommend dropping it, but I can see Grod_the_Giant's recommendations as a good way to keep it.

2016-12-15, 10:12 PM

I guess the simplest way to overcome that potential balance issue would be to just allow the player to train any feat they want to as long as they meet the prerequisites. Then by limiting the players to only being able to train one feat at a time, it should slow progression enough. Then have a 10% failure chance as long as you are in training. You need to get to 20 points. A successful use gets you 2 points, and a failure gets you 1 point. There would be a constant sense of progression.

As for other progressions, yes there are a number of other systems of progression. The magic system, the class system, etc. HP will be tied to classes. Classes don't gain levels, rather you advance by the number of classes you have. Classes primary function will be as prerequisites for the feats.

2016-12-16, 01:37 PM
If there are multiple progression systems, that makes it harder to evaluate this one in isolation, since how important it is compared to the others would be a big factor. But I can see something, like limiting it to training one feat at a time, could help. Ideally, all PCs are able to work on a feat at the same time or use the training time on one of the other progressions.

Multiple progressions like that do sound complicated, though, and too much complication can overburden a system and decrease fun, at least for some players. At least, it could scare some players off.