Playing Without the Advancement Rules

Hey friends,

In the book it says “we strongly recommend you use the advancement rules. It makes the game more tactical, and we like our games tactical” or something similar. I’m in a group that doesn’t really feel that way but loves the core system and the setting. So we’re considering not using the advancement rules, and I wanted to ask about this.

  1. What should we watch out for? What is safe to get rid of and what do we need to keep to make the game function? Our goal is to simplify play and minimize in-session record keeping.

  2. We’d still like our little dudes to develop and grow - any suggestions for changing characters post-session? What’s a typical amount of advancement in a full GM turn/player turn cycle?

I realize this isn’t recommended but it seems like a good option for our particular group. I’d appreciate constructive advice related to the above two points. Thanks very much!

I’m running the game for this group, and thought a lot about this after-game last night. We’re playing one season per session, so I think I can accelerate advancement a tiny bit without hurting anything. Given that, here’s what I have so far:

Resources and Circles: You can increase either of these by 1 by spending a Check in the Player’s Turn and succeeding at a test. Not sure what the test will be, but I could go with whatever makes sense: tell me how you’re increasing your Resources or Circles and then we’ll figure it out.

Skills: Choose a Skill at the beginning of the session you want to focus on. If you use that skill during the session, it goes up by one at the end of the session. I’d like to have some sort of limiting mechanism here, like “you roll against your Nature.” Maybe that’s what I’ll use.

Beginner’s Luck: Only works on one skill per session, but it automatically becomes a skill of 2 at the end of the session.

Traits: Adding, changing, or increasing a Trait requires spending a Check in the Player’s Turn and succeeding at a test.

Instruction: A successful Instruction check versus another player’s skill they want to be instructed in increases that player’s skill by 1. You must either have the skill at a higher score than the target player, or be assisted by someone who does.

MVP and Workhorse: The group can decide to add a trait, increase a trait, or increase a skill or ability instead of granting a Persona point to the MVP and Workhorse. What the character change is is up to the group, based on how the character acted during the game.

I’m not sure how well this’ll work, but it seems like it won’t increase advancement by more than 1.5 times, maybe double. I’d love any advice on improving these ideas.

I, too, can crosspost. Bwa-ha.

(I’m not, however, going to put the whole response here. The long version is on Story-games.)

In brief: My advice.

MG’s a really fucking awesome game. PLAY it.

Much of the awesome in this game is the stuff you’re trying to cut out. I think this is a bad idea. I think it is going to reduce your enjoyment of the game.

You want to play only one session a season? That’s Fine.

But leave the rest. I mean, I presume that you’re planning to run MG because you’ve heard good things about it - that you want to experience the game and see if the whispers on the internet are true.

(I assume this because I listen to your podcasts and I know that at least part of what your doing when you guys play is set out to experience a game.)

Why on earth would you plan to play a game, then hack it before you get a chance to play it? It misses the whole reason behind why you wanted to play it to begin with.

Please, please assume we know what we’re doing and reply constructively to our specific questions and situation.


“We don’t want to play with the advancement rules” and “here’s what we want to change, which mimicks but speeds up the advancement rules” seem like contradictory statements to me. That might be my (mis)understanding: clarification?

I feel that these hacks create more bookkeeping, not less. That’s just my feeling though. Caveat hacker, but good luck.

I think the changes to MVP/Workhorse will leave you gasping for Persona/Fate points.


I have been schooled through multiple channels. I totally see why advancement should be slow, or maybe even non-existent. We play PTA constantly, and it’s got no advancement: why are we clamoring for it here, right?

I’ve got some ideas on how centralized record-keeping and less emphasis on advancement could make our play sing for next time. I’ll try that and let you know how it works.

Awesome, thank you, that’s good feedback.

Clinton’s got a good idea about how to proceed so I think we’re done here for now.

I have to agree with skill/stat advancement. Successes equal to the exponent and failures at exponent -1 are really grueling to get, even in a long game. Our MG game went 6 (maybe 7) sessions, and I only advanced Deceiver from 2 to 3. That was the only skill/stat that advanced for me, despite our GM allowing quite a few complex tests and such.

Our group talked about it, and we were going to try exponent -1 in successes, and half exponent rounded down in failures to advance. Unfortunately, we agreed on that after our last session, so we never had a chance to test-drive it.

The other thing we thought about was to allow helpers to mark a success/failure based on the main roller. This would not have been in conjunction with the above hack, but in lieu of.

I’m unclear. You don’t want to play with advancement, but you want advancement?

The intent behind the optional advancement rules is that the characters numbers remain unchanged. Kenzie, Lieam and Saxon never really get better at anything in the comics. They exist as they are. Advancement is a convention of adventure roleplaying games. And exists because we like it in that context.

So are you saying that you don’t want advancement or that you don’t like the advancement system in the game and wish to hack it? The latter is another matter.


Ah, OK. Thanks, Luke. I think we were feeling this: “Keeping track of all this stuff in play is not fun, but character growth and change is fun. So we want to lose the former without the latter.” I can see how just not advancing would solve all our problems, too. But to be clear, our intention is (maybe was) to keep advancement in some fashion while keeping the stuff that’s fun for us. I think Clinton has a plan now, so we’ll see what happens next Monday.

Okay, great. I’m going to move this thread to the Hacks forum, then.


Quick update - we played last night and it was great. Our solution was to have Clinton keep loose track of skill checks during the game, and then we tallied up at the end of the session. For whatever reason this really helped us a lot.

What we realized was that we were spending time and energy optimizing our choices when we were tracking advancement when we should have been paying attention to the fiction, so things got a little mechanical and flat. When we players stopped paying attention to that stuff it breathed a lot of life into our game.

This is an interesting hack. Can you say a little more about your GM’s process in recording skill checks? DId he have copies of your sheets or did he use a shorthand or what?