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Earthdawn Point Award FAQ

Version 0.1, posted 2011-07-03

I have had numerous questions about point awards, and the reasoning behind them, in the Earthdawn campaign that I GM. This document addresses some of them.

  1. What is a point award, and how are Earthdawn's point awards different from other roleplaying games?

    Point awards are given to players to represent accomplishments by their characters. The points can be used to build up the characters, advance their skills and Talents, purchase additional powers, and so forth. In this, Earthdawn is no different from other game systems. The critical differences are the underlying game mechanic and theory of the point awards.

    Earthdawn has two types of point awards: Legend Points and Devotion Points. Legend Points (LPs) take the place of Experience Points (XPs), and are the source of character advancement. Legend Points are generated when a character does something worth telling a story about, in a world where belief creates reality. In the world of Earthdawn, the more people who believe that your character is a great hero, and tell stories about him, the more of a great hero your character becomes. Thus, the total LPs earned by a character creates a measure of renown, called Legendary Status. Story-worthy events generate LPs, advance characters, and create heroes.

    LPs are not just awarded for killing monsters. LPs are awarded for negotiating important treaties, making huge profits in shrewd business deals, exploring dangerous and/or legendary places and returning with maps and evidence, and anything else that makes a good tale at the fireside or the bar. If it won't make a story that would keep the average person's attention, it's not worth LPs.

    For the official explanation of how LPs are awarded, see pages 94-95 in the Gamemaster's Compendium. Bear in mind that I discarded the LP award chart long ago, as I believe it loads LPs too heavily, resulting in far too rapid character advancement.

    Devotion Points simulate the favor of the Passions. These are awarded when a character does something that catches the attention of a Passion, and represent the attention from the Passion that the character has gained. Devotion Points are awarded in the Name of the specific Passion. Totals are kept separately for each Passion, so that the player can easily know which Passions his or her character has gained favor with. When breakpoints in the totals are passed, the character may be approached by a Passion and asked if they would like to Quest for that Passion, essentially becoming a priest for the Passion. It's up to the character whether or not they become a Questor, but generally the character has devoted themselves to the Passion already and the question is simply a matter of form. The GM awards Devotion Points not for the actions of the characters themselves, but for the motives of the characters. For example, a character who supplies medication to a group of sick people might expect to be rewarded by Garlen, the Passion of Healing, but if they gave out the medication so that the people would be able to attend a show by a musician friend of the character, the reward would come from Astendar, the Passion of Music. If the character gave out the medication in order to drum up business for an apothecary they own a stake in, the reward would come from Chorrolis, the Passion of Commerce.

    For the official guidelines on Devotion Point awards, see the chapter on Passions and Questors in the Players' Compendium, beginning on page 460.
  2. What's the Session Award about?

    The GM gives a standardized number of LPs to all participating players at the end of each session. (Must be present to win.) This award covers basic roleplaying, participation in the storytelling activities of the session, and incidentals not otherwise covered. The Session Award for the Bearers of the Helm campaign is currently set to 300 LPs. This number was chosen because of the level of the campaign, and the Legendary Status of the more prominent characters. Adepts are celebrities, as established in the basic rulebooks and supplements from FASA and Redbrick. The average person will gossip about the daily activities of prominent adepts and their friends, just as the average person gossips about actors and politicians in our world. This gossip is a form of storytelling, and generates Legend. Thus, just by going about their daily routine, and getting basic activities accomplished, the adepts generate LPs through the vehicle of their fame.
  3. What about Goal Awards?

    When the group completes a major goal, an award is given to the group as a whole. Session goals generate small awards, while campaign goals generate large awards, as they require much more planning and coordinated activity. These are based on the stated aims of the player group, and how effectively those aims are achieved. The GM sets the Goal award value according to the complexity of the stated goal, the difficulties experienced by the group in achieving the goal, the cleverness of the group in overcoming the difficulties, and the degree to which the goal is achieved, this last based not only on the original goal but as well on adjustments made to the plan and its desired result. No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.
  4. What are Cascade Points?

    The stories of truly large achievements spread on their own. Troubadours and non-adept minstrels write songs about the events. People who have heard the story are eager to tell their friends. As the story spreads, the characters who were involved in the story receive daily awards. Cascade Points start off small, as the story begins to spread, grow larger as the momentum of the story builds, then peak and taper off again as fewer and fewer people remain who haven't yet heard the story. The peak value of a Cascade award is based on the scale of the events. Killing a Horror generates a moderate amount of Cascade Points. Winning a war generates massive amounts of Cascade Points. As with other awards, the GM determines the peak value based on the size of the achievement, and how interesting the average person will find the story.
  5. Why didn't I get a roleplaying bonus this session?

    Story. If you roleplayed a scene that had significant impact on the world, such as getting a treaty signed between the Blood Lores and the Stoneclaws (fat chance of that happening), you would have gotten an LP award, as that's story-worthy. If you spent significant time in the session working out personal differences between your character and another, that's not likely to be story-worthy, especially if it was done in private. As a rule of thumb, if nobody knows about it but the participants, there's no Legend generated, and thus no LPs.
  6. Why don't you award KPVs?

    Kill Point Value (KPV) awards are given in most games, and can be given in Earthdawn, when a monster, Horror, or other creature is slain. I used to track the actual damage done by each player character, and award the LP value of the kill prorated according to the percentage of effort. I found this to be unbalancing, as the characters who were more effective in combat advanced significantly faster than the social characters. It also had negative effects on story development, as the campaign began to lean toward the Shoot It If It Moves feel of other roleplaying games, encouraging the players to resort to violence as a first option. At this point in the campaign, if a battle is won, KPVs are awarded, but as a group award, with an equal share to all participants. I justify this on the basis of story. Everyone who was present and participating will be mentioned in the story that is told, and thus all participants will benefit from the story being told.
  7. What other awards are there?

    I give LP awards for ideas that are put into action. Coming up with a clever plan does not generate a story. Carrying out the clever plan generates a story and thus generates LPs. The character who created the plan gets a bonus for being the driving force of the story. Sometimes plans fail, and the characters still get LPs, because the failure was spectacular enough that people are going to talk about it whether the characters like it or not.

    Personal goals are sometimes worth LPs. If a player accomplishes an individual goal for their character, that people will talk about, that generates LPs. Again, the rule of thumb is story. If the story will spread, you get LPs. If nobody tells the story, you get no LPs.
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Page last modified on July 03, 2011, at 05:54 PM