Saturday, 31 May 2014

Another Alternate XP System for CP2020

So I'm happy with how the Alternate XP System for Cyberpunk 2020 turned out. It's simple, elegant, and intuitive. I did have to put a bit of thought into how to keep players from abusing the system with extraneous skill checks, but it didn't complicate things too badly.

But then I had another alternative idea for a similar system, which is a little bit simpler. I'm not sure which system I prefer--I think I'd like to try this one out first and see how it works in practice...

The Rule

Every time you succeed in a skill check by rolling exactly the minimum number you needed for success, you improve 1 point in that skill.
  • No more than 1 point can be gained in this way for a particular skill in a single game session


This rule only applies for real, challenging applications of a skill, not practice or low-difficulty activities. For example:

  • 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.


Mad Dog shoots at the security guard from close range, so he needs a 15 to hit. His REF is 6 and his Pistol skill is 5, so he rolls 1d10+6+5. He rolls a 4+6+5=15 which is the minimum roll he needed to hit. As such he gains 1 skill point, bringing his Pistol up to 6.

The guard's partner get's the jump on Mad Dog, grappling with him. Mad Dog draws his knife and attempts to stab the guard. The partner rolled a 2+5+2=9 on his Dodge & Escape. Mad Dog has a knife skill of 9, so he rolls 1d10+6+9, so there's no way he'll roll exactly a 9, so the task is too easy for a blademaster of his talent to possibly gain a skill point from the encounter. That's fine--he may want an easy win. If, however, he wants a chance improve some skill, he should pick something more risky, like using his boxing skill of 1 to punch the guy. Then he'll roll 1d10+7+1 and if he gets a 1 on the d10 then he'll gain a skill point in boxing. These creates an interesting strategic trade-off between higher chance of success vs. improvement.

Later on, Mad Dog gets in a knife fight with a rival gang-leader. Mad Dog chooses to fight left-handed(-4) to challenge himself more, thus increasing his chances of improving his knife skill.


I like the simplicity of this system, but I have a few concerns. For one, I'm not crazy about the fact that a higher roll loses me the skill point. BUT, it's OK, I think. When I just barely make a roll, there is something more exciting/significant about that for me than if I make it by a lot.

I'm wondering if this is going to result in my players getting way too many skill points(1-2 on average per 2-3 hour session makes sense for me). I don't think it's going to be a problem, since at best they will have a 1 in 10 chance of success per skill test, but I'd like to see how it goes in an actual play test.

I'm also worried that players will get too caught-up in trying to gain skill points and will lose focus on the game. This might also be a reason to cap the number of points you can gain per session, so that players can focus on in-character concerns once they've earned their skill point for the session...

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