Friday, 30 May 2014

Alternate XP System for Cyberpunk 2020

Improvement Points--they're such a pain! The DM has to award them. The players have to spend them. It's a lot of bookkeeping to for everyone to spend time on.

I always liked XCOM's character improvement system. Your attributes improve as you use them. So successful shots improve your accuracy, carrying heavy loads improve your strength, etc. So here's a similar, simple system for your Cyberpunk 2020 game:

The Rules

Every time you succeed in a skill check AND the number on the d10 is greater than your level in that skill, you improve 1 point in that skill.

  • You can only gain 1 skill point per game session(or perhaps 2 for really long game sessions)
  • You can choose to not receive the skill point, in hope of improving some other skill later in the session
  • The player needs to declare they're adding the skill point at the time of the roll. Otherwise it's assumed they chose not to recieve the skill point now. (If your players are a bit absentminded, give them leeway of a minute or so)


This rule only applies for real, challenging applications of a skill, not practice or low-difficulty activities:
  • Skill checks as part of training/practice can't be awarded a skill point. Instead the GM should come up with an alternative ruling. (If you want to increase your Karate skill by 1, spend a month in training and then roll 1d10 vs your current skill level, etc.)
  • The same applies to Knowledge Checks, which just verify if the PC knows a particular domain-specific fact. This, as opposed to cases where the PC actually spends time/effort researching or figuring out something novel.
  • Making a Personal Grooming/Wardrobe & Style check every time you dress in the morning doesn't cut it. You need to use your looks on a real goal--get the girl, get the bouncer to let you in without checking ID, buy the right clothes for the event in a time-consuming/expensive shopping trip, etc.
  • No skill points can be gained for skills of less than Average Difficulty(less than 15)


Mad Dog shoots at the security guard from close range. His REF is 7 and his Pistol skill is 5, so he rolls 1d10+7+5. He rolls an 8+7+5=20 which is a hit.
  • Since his die roll(8) is greater than his skill level(5), his Pistol skill increases to 6
  • But, really he wanted to improve his Hacking skill and he's planning on doing some hacking later in the session. So he chooses not to receive the skill point now to Pistol, in hope of possibly gaining a skill point in Hacking later on.


  1. You no longer have to deal with experience points
  2. Skill improvement is more natural, since you generally will have to use the skill fairly often to get better at it
  3. Skill improvement gets progressively harder as your skill level increases, since you need to roll higher than your level
  4. It creates an interesting meta-dynamic--players have to use skills they're bad at to improve them. Also there's a gambling element involved, giving up the skill point now for the one you might potentially get later in the session.

1 comment:

  1. Note that I added a few exceptions here. The main purpose is so that players can't "game the system" by performing low-difficulty or practice actions.