rattraveller's picture
October 4, 2015 - 4:34pm
Been binge watching Dark Matter on Netflix. One thing about most RPGs is that they start with young inexperienced kids going out seeking fortune and glory.  Probably because they are aimed at young people.  In Dark Matter the crew is very experienced and generally much older.

Wondering if anyone has tried games where gaining experience and skills was not the goal. Either a specific mission or story or something else.

Yes the original Traveller this was the standard but looking for this typemof play in other games.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

KRingway's picture
October 5, 2015 - 2:26am
In Call of Cthulhu gaining skills is useful but is not the main driver of character development. Exploring the game's main secretive themes whilst staying alive and sane is more important. In fact, one 'skill' in the RPG is particularly problematic to have at a high score, as it tends to fray the character's mind.

In Twilight:2000 the players start as moderately developed characters, but it's also possible to have a character that's an old hand and thus has a more developed range of skills from the outset. In that RPG the main emphasis is on survival and trying to find ways of staying alive long enough to escape from where the game kicks off (post-WWIII Poland).

Also, you don't necessarily have to let players start SF as rookies. I gave my players some initial skills for free at level 1 as a foundation, but I could've raised that initial level.

Stormcrow's picture
October 5, 2015 - 11:50am
Zero-to-hero came about as RPGs were developing. Wargamers would form attachments to particular figures, even if the figures didn't have "stats" of their own. Chainmail made this more explicit by having some figures represent individual heroic characters, while most figures each represented twenty men. Chainmail had ordinary men, Heroes who had the fighting ability of four figures, and Superheroes with the fighting ability of eight figures. When D&D came along, it filled in the obvious gaps: Warriors fought like two men, Swordmasters fought like three men, Heroes like four men, and so on. So you'd start a new character as an ordinary Veteran (or Medium, or Acolyte) and earn experience by plundering the underworld, thus moving you up in rank.

When RPGs started to eschew levels for skills, the sense of progress of a character was lessened, and focus shifted more to questing than plundering.

Lots and lots of games aren't primarily about "leveling up," even if they have mechanics for improving your character. Some of the ones I've played are Men in Black, GURPS, Paranoia, Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, and The One Ring.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 6, 2015 - 7:18am
I've run two games that began with experienced characters and/or pre-gens with no XP awards or advancements. One was a game where players had X amount of XP for spaceship skills and Y amount of XP for AD skills (on top of whatever AD pre-req sills were gained from the ship skills) and the players had free reign as to wht they wanted to do...I would merely run random encounters as they traversed the Frontier in their ship. The other was a group of pre-gens I created for a pre-planned/mission adventure. In each game I never found the lacking advancement to be detracting from the game nor did the players.

That was one of them. While it has been inundated with spam, the sticky'd threads in each setion can give you an idea (particularly the Character Bios section)

That was the pre-gen game, archived on the WayBack site (sadly there isn't much in the way of site navigation there). Game #1 "New Frontier Order" had the pre-gens run a mission from Zebulon to Dramune and eventually into the Rim for a daring rescue that would help the rebirth of the UPF against an upstart dictator that has presided over the Frontier for more than 30 years.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Putraack's picture
October 8, 2015 - 7:00pm
I liked Traveller and Twilight:2000's takes on experienced PCs, I like the "lifepath" form of character generation. I'm one of those people who will roll up characters for fun, with no intention of ever playing them (Of course, they sometimes appear as NPCs).

During my last attempt at a Traveller game, which was the first time for nearly all of my players, they didn't seem to grok, "You already have all of the experience you need". The only detail they seemed to pay attention to was the number of weeks of downtime, and how quickly that could be used for training in new skills. I was not a happy referee with that.

KRingway's picture
October 9, 2015 - 6:55am
Yeah, sometimes some players only see new characters as 'new people' without any particular set of skills beyond perhaps a character class.

The Cyberpunk RPG had a nice chargen aspect in which you built up a background story for your player through various steps, and you bought that history with you in any new character. The Cyberspace RPG did something similar but it was more along the lines of having a small circle of contacts.