The Shadow of Yesterday - Harm & XP

So, I'll just address it briefly in it's own discussion.
Harm and XP, why aren't they related? Closely related. They're barely tangentially related.

Was Clinton just working off of the D&D model, of separation between Hit Points and Experience Points? I'm gonna assume so. I mean, the three Abilities that every character has are basically third edition D&D saves(Fortitude, Reflex & Will).

Somehow Harm should make accruing XP easier.
Maybe Harm fills a shared XP pool, that until you take Harm, can't even be awarded(for things like Keys)?
Like if no one has taken Harm, no one gets XPs from Keys.
In standard TSoY, if you trigger a Key, you grab a physical token, whatever you use to represent XP. It's a given that it's there. Maybe make that less of a given?

I'm just spitballing, but it seems weird that they're not connected.
I love the specificity of Keys, they're excellent player motivators.


  • Rename the Gift Dice pool the "experience pool", and in addition to using it to give out gift dice, also take earned XP out of it. Add more tokens to the Pool whenever anybody takes Harm, points equal to the level of the Harm. I would also suggest having the GM fill the pool a bit in drips and draps when other interesting stuff happens, as a sort of encouraging signal. Like, when they kill NPCs and cause property damage, or whatever - just throw a few tokens in there to show that you care.

    If the pool is empty you can't gift out dice, and you also can't earn XP. If you trigger a Key while the pool is empty, you get something cool instead of the XP - I'm thinking "limit break", the character goes either conniving (minor XP reward) or zealous (major XP reward) and starts throwing furniture to express their Key goal. Basically, if the pool runs dry the PCs become potentially frustrated with the wussy way the game is going and start taking more direct routes towards their passions. This would presumably involve some sort of bonus to effectiveness while requiring the player to express the indicated crisis state. The emotional outburst goes away after the scene expressing it fades out, of course, but by then the damage has been done and the character is forced to live with it.

    This communal pool thing has been experimented with excessively in Primetime Adventures, and it's a known issue that there isn't really an economy in it. Particularly, it's possible to have the pool grow too much. Not a problem for standard gift dice (they just sit there and the pool doesn't grow), but it is an issue here. To make that interesting I suggest that if the pool grows too much (set a cap to it or something) there should be a "crash event" - basically, ninjas attack if the players don't expend the pool enough. The crash is sort of the opposite to the "limit break" described above, except it's the GM's cast of NPCs that reacts in an abrupt and scenario-disrupting way. The crash also empties the pool, or sets it to its initial value, or whatever.
  • That's definitely pretty interesting. Seems to have real potential!

    What's the "known problem" with pool economies such as this one?
  • Key scene rewards should go straight into the pool, of course.
  • As I said - that there's no real economy to the pool. Sometimes instead of having the resource pool go up and down in a dynamic way, informing the choices the participants make, the economy in PTA just crashes. The standard advice is for the GM to artificially encourage the players to actually distribute Fan Mail (gift dice) to each other so that the pool gets expended instead of just finishing the session with a stupid reward system that nobody uses. The significance in having the pool be limited only works if the players actually want to use more of it than is available.

    The reason for the problem is that the PTA fan mail pool doesn't react to becoming overfull in any way - any way except the GM possibly trying to encourage the players to spend the pool somehow. The suggested XP/gift pool here has the same problem, although probably not as badly; it's somewhat unlikely that the players simply won't score XP through play, even if they desist from using gift dice (as many, many roleplayers will - those who have played PTA or TSoY probably know well that about one half of the gamer base is somewhat constitutionally opposed to the very idea of paying attention to their co-players and signalling appreciation in any way), and the pool doesn't care if it's being expended as XP or gift dice. However, the theoretical issue is still there, and I literally have no idea without playtesting whether the pool as described here is more prone to running dry than becoming overfull.

    One more thought about the overfilling procedure: it would probably be a good idea if the overfilling procedure was that the SG watches over the pool and, should it become too full, declares this to be the case before going into a "warning round" of scenes, or perhaps just one scene. During this the pool is "capped" - it cannot grow any further - and the players have the opportunity to take proactive action in the story. If the pool continues to be overfull after the "warning round", the crash occurs as described above - ninjas attack, in whatever sense works for the scenario at hand, and the pool empties itself into the void.

    The point of doing it like this instead of just flipping the switch immediately should be pretty obvious: we want to train the players into paying attention to the pool, and we want to give them the responsibility for managing it. A SG who puts a red banner on the pool and asks the players whether they'd like to maybe, you know, do something XP-worthy to avoid the more drastic measures is likely to inspire the players to greatness more than one who doesn't give the players any forewarning.

    But yeah, all in all it's an interesting idea. Obvious once you posit that the XP comes off a pool of tokens. I've always played TSoY with the players tracking XP on scratch paper instead of tokens, as I like to do Pools with tokens and the table therefore tends to have a surfeit of those instead. XP tokens do make some sense, though.
  • That's definitely pretty interesting. Seems to have real potential!

    What's the "known problem" with pool economies such as this one?
    Well, I could see players maybe wanting to be selfish about taking Harm? Not wanting it to go into a common pool, that can then be used as a resource for Keys. Harm right now is fairly useless. It's a stick, when you're unsatisfied with an outcome.

    Maybe Key's don't grant XP, but something else? Maybe a ticking of a clock?

    Walking back from breakfast, I was thinking about story, and how it seems to work, the pain before change. It's not always personal. Sometimes it effects those close to the characters. I mean, did Luke accrue Harm when his aunt and uncle died? Maybe? Certainly the stakes heightened, the threat became more apparent.
  • The use of connected pain, that forces the protagonist to change course.
    Empathy. I wonder if there's a story without it?
  • I mean, if you're going after a story structure, Keys are the way to go, not XP. Experience is just a way to get more knowledge, knowledge that hopefully sheds light on something and probably creates more pain. It's the means. It doesn't address the perspective shift.

    I think if you make a string of Keys, like chapter ending Keys. Once this is bought off, on the chapter two, with a new Key. Like what Milestones imply, but maybe remove the whole XP thing and maybe reward Gift Dice? I don't know.

    If all knowledge is pain, then Keys maybe shouldn't give you XP, but something else?
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