Gaining new power and abilities through accumulating experience points and raising in level is perhaps the oldest form of motivation and meaningful progress evident in roleplaying games. New things are fun and a character rising in skill can feel like a tangible reward and a sign that you are doing well in the game. Compared to some other roleplaying games, FFG Star Wars is very nebulous in its guidelines for handing out experience points, with a wide range of values automatically distributed without qualification and arbitrarily set by the Galaxy Master. While I do appreciate the design intent of simplification, I feel that the games I tend to run deserve a more rigid set of incentives for advancement. Taking a cue from some more experimental indie RPGs (Torchbearer and Dungeon World), I’ve put together some solid guidelines as an alternate method of awarding experience points and incentivizing good roleplaying.
What is “good roleplaying“?
It’s challenging your character, and by extension a part of your own psyche, with tough situations that cause the character to question his or her beliefs and deal with situations outside of your comfort zones. It’s a Kobyashi Maru scenario, a test of your character. It’s not talking about speaking in funny accents, wearing a goofy outfit, or recalling vast amounts of worthless trivia.
In lieu of standard experience point awards, whenever one of the following four conditions is achieved during play, award experience points as indicated to each character in the group.
- A player character rolls a Despair. It is only through challenge and adversity that we can grow. Tell everyone how you’re really going to learn a lesson from this one. (1 XP)
- Act on your Motivation in a way that is considered unwise, causes difficulty, or increases the complexity of the situation. Tell everyone that you are doing this for the greater or moral good. (2 XP)
- Challenge your Motivation in a dramatic, emotional way that represents a crisis of faith. Tell everyone about your spiritual struggle. (2 XP)
- Lead to the adventure to a point where your Motivation is resolved and no longer applicable to the story, changing your Motivation. Tell everyone about this new focus in your life. (5 XP)
Sidebar: What other activities are worth earning XP for?
Tell us in the Comments.
Failings of Empire
At the heart of every character in an Empire-centric Star Wars roleplaying game, such as CRUSH the REBELLION, is a seed of discontent. The Empire has failed them in some way, and it is those failings which propel the character down the path of treason. The degree of insubordination varies; some characters are Rebel traitors operating to destroy the Empire from within, while others legitimately believe in the principles of galactic civilization and strive only to correct the corrupt elements that are hurting it. There are no player characters who display complete, unwavering loyalty to the Empire. A character that does not question his or her beliefs is a boring automaton and not fit to be a player character. Use the following Motivations to supplement those available to characters to reflect their involvement in the bureaucracy of Galactic Government.
Hubris. The Empire arrogantly and unfairly imposes its misguided views, wasting valuable resources and garnering ill-will among the people.
- Religious/Jedi Persecution
- Human Superiority
- Immoral Scientific Experimentation
- Political Persecution
- Wealth Inequality
- Environmental Degradation
Dark Deeds. The Empire is rotten to the core, filled with evil men and women who have crossed your path and need to be stopped.
- Sentient Enslavement
Special thanks to Andy Kotch for editing, etc.