I’ve Had a Notion

This entry is part 11 of 11 in the series Understanding RPGs

In Dungeons and Dragon and other RPGs you have what is are known as Experience Points, or XP. In Dangerous Journeys you have what are called Accomplishment Points, AP, instead and you do treat them differently. You get right down to it “experience” is just what you experience, it’s what happens to you and what you learn from we do hope. An accomplishment is something you, well, accomplish. It’s something you do, something active, as opposed to a passive experience.

You get right down to it, in Dangerous Journeys what it amount to is that the designer, Gary Gygax, wanted you to go out and do things, deeds you could learn from instead of just passively waiting for experience to come to you. And it has occurred to me that the formal model of going on on adventures doesn’t really fit DJ. Instead it is better for you and your fellow players for you to let adventure come to you and you respond appropriately.

Now back in third edition days TSR produces some sets of encounter cards. One encounter per card, though each encounter had the potential to lead to further adventures. One I especially remember featured an encounter on the road with four goblins. Goblin musicians who had just found some musical instruments, tried them out, and discovered they actually had some talent for playing them. In fact, they had so enjoyed playing them and playing with them that now they were looking for humans to act as escort, protection, and introduction to towns and villages along the way, until they had established a reputation as performers and so would be invited to perform for people. And before you can express your hateful protest, what I saw in the write up was the assumption that the goblins were serious and that they meant what they said. They wanted to perform for people, they just needed your help to assure potential audience that the goblins meant what they said and said what they meant, that a goblin is faithful 100%.

So here’s my idea: Instead of having the group meet some place where they get hired for an adventure they have an encounter. Well, at least one of them. An encounter in which they get the opportunity to use a K/S area constructively. Such as, say, calming a horse down –animal handling– or casting a Divination to help a young lad find out where his family has disappeared to. Small crap really, but still accomplishments a Persona can earn points for and so improve that skill. Encounters that could lead to other encounters and maybe even to an adventure.

Party Scholar: So, your highness, you say you last saw your family…

Of course this does call for a guide open to your play, to your trying something different. And that should be most anybody you’d care to name. Be innovative, be inventive, let yourself try something different for life is full of surprises so let yourself be surprised.

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