Character Progression Musings

I’ve been thinking over the quick start / emergent detail combo this past week. Here’s a rough idea of the progression I’m looking at.

Character Creation

Each character should essential start as an “extra”. Creating an extra may boil down to writing up few sentences of their most notable features and motives. This description can then be invoked during play to grant anywhere from minimal to professional ability in a given task.

The description can also be turned against the character. In that case, they may gain some compensation. If the the setback helped identify the character, the compensation might be advancing beyond being an extra faster. Otherwise, some kind of rebound enabling resource sounds appealing.

Adding Details

The characters description can be added to during play. However, additions are subject to the approval of the other players. I suggest no more than one “reveal” per character per scene.

Signature Traits

Once a character has made it through a challenge or two, the player can turn a detail into a signature trait or “shtik”. These traits are more effective than the boosts granted by normal details and should help define what the character does.

A signature trait still function as a detail and can be invoked for things outside it’s primary purpose, though it’s less effective when used that way. For example, a character with the “Master Duelist” shtik could try to parry an arrow with that shtik, they’d just have a lower chance that if they were making an attack.

Support Traits

As characters develop further, they can add special features to their signature traits. These added features should primarily make a shtik more versatile rather than increasing it’s raw power. Using the “Master Dueling” example above, the character might take “Parry Arrows” as a special feature to let them use that shtik at full power when performing the stunt.

Support traits should probably be added between sessions and during character downtime.


Once the character has an adventure or two under their belt, they can pick up specialties. Ideally these should help the player define how the character handles certain challenges. These will likely be more tactical abilities that help define the character’s role within the group.

A character might develop multiple specialties, but should generally only use one per round.

Further Growth

Once character’s become specialists, a lot of growth should go toward character breadth.

However, if the group wants more high power adventures this should be possible by marking signature traits as “legendary” and expanding them from there.


The whole thing can probably be summed up with the following layers.

  • Details/Background
  • Thematic Specialty/Signature Trait
  • Tactical Specialty/Role
  • Power Level/Legend

I like the thematic/tactical divide and will probably do more with that as I flesh this out.

Published in: on October 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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