Thursday, November 16, 2017

Gorgon Archer - The One Ring - Character Advancement


Advancement in The One Ring is done by acquisition of two types of experience points. There are Advancement Points and Experience Points. Advancement Points are used to improve Common Skills while Experience Points are used to improve Valor, Wisdom, and Weapon Skills. Basic Attributes do not often improve though there are some Virtues that can affect those. These are acquired in two ways. 


Advancement Points are earned during the Adventuring Phase, the part of a campaign where an actual adventure is occurring. The first time a character uses a skill in an Adventuring Phase, they fill in a point in one of the three circles next to each of the six skill families. The second circle requires the character to either have a great or extraordinary success OR have a success in an instance that aligns with one of their Traits. The third circle requires the character to have an extraordinary or great success that also aligns with one of their Traits. After that, the three skills of that group cannot generate a new point. At the end of the Adventuring Phase, these circles are erased and those points are moved to the pool of the Advantage Points that the character has saved.

Experience Points are earned in a more normal way. Players earn an experience point at the end of each game session. They also earn an experience anytime the GM decides that the group has made substantial progress on their stated company's objectives. Finally, at the end of each Adventuring Phase, the players receive bonus Experience equal to about half the number of sessions that the Adventuring Phase has been running so that a four-session adventure would award a bonus of 2 Experience Points.

The characters will also likely earn Treasure Points over the course of various adventures which are abstract representations of spoils and treasures looted by your adventures. Sometimes these treasures will be cursed and come with Shadow as well, starting to corrupt the character into evil and darkness. Treasure Points can be spent to improve your Standing with cultures via the tradition of gift-giving or their Standard of Living by storing the wealth for their own use.

The book straightforward says that rate of awarding Advancement Points and Experience Points has been calculated based on an idea of about 4 Advancement Points per session (more at the start of an adventure when its easier to earn them and less at the end) and adventures running an average of 3 sessions. They suggest that if you run game sessions of four or more hours or else more actively point out when players have succeeded in alignment with their traits rather than waiting for them to claim the point.

Advancement Points and Experience Points are only spent when you're in a Fellowship Phase, which is the period of time that occurs between adventures when the characters spend an extended time in a refuge. Some example refuges where one could spend a Fellowship include Lake-Town, Dale, the Lonely Mountain, the Shire, Rivendell, and the towns of the Woodmen. Other books speak to such cultures like Rohan, Gondor, Lothlorien, and the like.

During the course of the Fellowship Phase you may spend Advancement and Experience Points. As with character creation, the cost of increasing Skills, Valor, and Wisdom increases as you go up in level. As another note you can increase an individual weapon skill out of a cultural weapon skill group. For example, our archer has the cultural weapons weapon skill of (Bows) meaning she has skill with all sorts of bows. If she wants, she could increase the level of her specific Bow skill above this. This has no affect on the cost of the spend so it would seem on first glance that it would be a waste, however, you cannot make a cultural skill group a Favoured Skill, so this sets you up to make that choice later.

When you increase your character's Valor, you gain a Reward which can be physical object or it can be an improvement to your gear. As stated before, there are some cultural specific Rewards. Our archer started with a Shepherd's Bow from the Woodmen culture. There are also three culture specific Rewards for each group. These Rewards have a certain degree of plot immunity such that even if the players lose the item somehow it will turn up again later. The book suggests that if your players do not like this sort of abstraction (I'm borrowing from the book almost word for word here) you can instead assume that they receive an equivalent replacement later. There are also Qualities which are non-culture specific and can be applied to an item you use. These Qualities can be representing a reputation that your weapon has gained or a gift of a new, upgraded item from a patron. Each single item can have a maximum of 3 Qualities and that includes the Cultural Reward, so the Shepherd's Bow can only take 2 more Qualities.

Increasing Wisdom is the same, each level above the 1st comes with special abilities. Some of the culture specific Virtues are inherently magical in nature, such as the Staunching Song of the Woodmen which was taught to them by Radagast, or the ability to send one's spirit out as a bear that the Beornings have. The non-culture specific Virtues are Masteries and each can be taken more than once. They provide some basic abilities like improving ranged or melee damage ratings by 1, improving some Favored ratings or other minor increases. 

After you've spent Experience and Advancement Points, you can choose an undertaking to focus on for the bulk of your time in the Fellowship Phase. The undertakings you have available in the core book include: Meet Patron, Get a new Trait, Heal Corruption, Raise Standard of Living, Raise Standing, Open New Sanctuary, or Receive Title. The Rivendell book adds some crafting rules. 

The option to Get a new Trait means that you change a Trait, not that you add one on top of the list you already have. You will always have five Traits. At the start it will be two from your Culture, two from your Background, and one from your Calling. When you take an undertaking to Get a new Trait, you drop one of your old ones to replace it with something else. It is encouraged that you keep to common sense and avoid totally re-inventing your character. That said, the dropped Traits aren't exactly gone, but the character has dropped their focus on them and no longer provide any mechanical benefit or chance to earn Advancement Points.

If the Fellowship happens at the end of an in-game year, the GM is expected to give a rundown of what has been going on in the world beyond, dependent on where the characters are and what they may have heard word of. If the characters have substantial Standing and are present in one of the locations for one of the events from the Tale of Years (one of the examples is Gandalf stopping by on behalf of recruiting allies for the White Council) then they might be allowed to involve themselves in the scene.

I was going to assume eighteen sessions and break them up into specific Adventure and Fellowship Phases instead of sessions, however, I need to add a nineteenth to allow for spending the XP of the last Adventure Phase. I am assuming the average number of 4 Advancement Points per session and alternating 2 session and 4 session length Adventure Phases. I'm assuming Fellowship Phases last 1 session. I am also assuming that each adventure has one instance where they gain the bonus Experience for making good progress on their objectives.


Advancement


Adventure Phase - The characters investigate rumors of darkness on the edge of a community and find the start of a colony of spiders which they fight to clear out. - 2 Sessions - 8 Advancement Points - 4 Experience - 3 Treasure

Fellowship Phase - The group takes shelter in the halls of the Woodmen. The archer devotes her undertaking to Meeting a Patron: Radagast - 1 Session - Increase Wisdom 1 Rank (4 XP), Increase Travel 1 Rank (4 AP), Increase Search 1 Rank (4 AP) - New Virtue: A Hunter's Resolve

Adventure Phase - Radagast sends the group to talk to Beorn and compare notes on the matter of the Mirkwood and they stop an orc raid along the way. - 4 Sessions - 16 Advancement Points - 7 Experience - 2 Treasure (5 Total)

Fellowship Phase - They reach Beorn's hall and recover as they connect with the Beornings and relate their experiences. The archer devotes her Undertaking to opening this as a new sanctuary for the company - 1 Session - Increase Valor 1 Rank (6 XP), Increase Song 1 Rank (8 AP) - New Reward: Feathered Armor

Adventure Phase - They return back to speak to Radagast and during the Journey they stumble across a haunted barrow which they managed to clean of wights. - 2 Sessions - 8 Advancement Points (16 Total) - 4 Experience (5 Total) - 8 Treasure (13 Total) - Gain 2 Shadow from the tainted treasure.

Fellowship Phase - Speaking again to Radagast, the archer takes the chance to heal her Corruption. - 1 Session - Reduce Shadow to 0 - No Experience Spending - Increase Stealth 1 Rank (12 AP)

Adventure Phase - The characters journey toward Dale, the Lonely Mountain, and the Wood Elves to compare notes on the actions of dark powers in the wake of their defeat at the Battle of Five Armies. Along the way they are stalked by great spiders. - 4 Sessions - 16 Advancement Points (20 Total) - 7 Experience (12 Total) - 3 Treasure (16 Total)

Fellowship Phase - The characters reach Dale to address King Bard and the archer chooses to improve her Standing by sharing out some of the treasures she has been garnering. - 1 Session - Increase Standing 1 Rank (12 Treasure), Increase Wisdom 1 Rank (6 XP), Increase Song 1 Rank (12 AP) - New Virtue: Staunching Song

Adventure Phase - King Bard receives word of a village needing aid and the company heads out to investigate after one of their member offered. They find the strange curses are the result of a servant of the dark powers and evil men from the East and they manage to drive them off. - 2 Sessions - 8 Advancement Points (16 Total) - 4 Experience (Total 10) - 2 Treasure (6 Total)

Fellowship Phase - Returning to King Bard the archer decides to establish the famous Bard as a new Patron. - Increase Riddle 1 Rank (8 AP), Increase Battle 1 Rank (8 AP), Increase Valor 1 Rank (10 XP)

Gorgon Archer

Culture: Woodman 
Cultural Blessing: Woodcrafty - when you fight in the woods, you use your Favoured Wits score for your basic Parry rating.
Background: Fairy Heritage
Calling: Slayer
Shadow Weakness: Curse of Vengeance - As corruption builds the character will become more spiteful and murderous.
Body: 4(5), Heart: 4(7), Wits: 6(8)
Endurance: 24
Hope: 14

Standing: 1
Standard of Living: Frugal

Damage Bonus 4 - Basic Body
Parry 6 - Parry with Buckler 7
Parry in Forests - 8 - Parry with Buckler in Forests 9

Fatigue: 13(14 Autumn/Winter)
Valor: 4
Wisdom: 3
 
Patrons: Bard, Radagast
 
Sanctuaries: Woodmen Home, Beorn's Hall, Dale (via another company member's undertaking)
Rewards: 
Shepherd's Bow (Woodmen Reward) - When you strike with an extraordinary success with this bow, you deal extra damage equal to your Heart.
 
Feathered Armor (Woodmen Reward) - When making a roll using stealth while wearing Feathered Armor, roll the Feat die twice and keep the best result.
 
Cunning Make (Quality) - A chosen defensive item has its Encumbrance reduced by 2.

Virtues:
A Hunter's Resolve (Woodmen Virtue) - Once per day you may spend a Hope point to recover Endurance equal to your Favored Heart.

Staunching Song (Woodmen Virtue) - A song of healing power. After a Fight you can roll Song to increase the amount of Endurance you recover and possibly treat a wound. You may spend a Hope to do the same for another company member.
Personality: Awe: 2, Inspire: 1, Persuade: 0
Movement: Athletics 2, Travel: 1, Stealth:4
Perception: Awareness: 2, Insight: 0, Search: 1
Survival: Explore: 3, Healing: 3, Hunting: 2
Custom: Song 4, Courtesy: 0, Riddle:2
Vocation: Craft: 1, Battle: 2, Lore: 1
Weapon Skills: (Bows): 3, Long-hafted Axe: 1, Dagger: 1
Traits:
Specialties: Mirkwood-Lore, Beast-Lore, Enemy-Lore: Spiders
Distinctive Features: Reckless, Just
Bow - Shepherd's Bow - Encumbrance 1 - Damage 5, Edge 10, Injury 14
Short Range 14, Medium Range 24, Long Range 34

Dagger - Damage 3 - Edge G - Injury 12 - Encumbrance 0
Leather Corslet - Encumbrance 6 - Protection 2d - Feathered Armor, Cunning Make
Cap of Iron and Leather - Encumbrance 2 - Protection +1
Buckler - Encumbrance 1 - Parry +1
Traveling Gear - Encumbrance 2 in Summer/Spring - Encumbrance 3 in Autumn/Winter
Lyre - Encumbrance 1

Further Notes


There are several different advancement methods at play here. The two main ones are Advancement Points and Experience Points. Advancement Points are a combination of accomplishment based and roleplaying based advancement where a success at a skill is needed to gain points, but each successive point requires connecting these successes to a roleplaying element as well as requiring a higher degree of success. Experience Points are story-progression based enhancement where they advance regardless of the success or failure of the characters save the occasional bonus gained when the characters advance their overall goals.

Secondary to this is the use of Treasure to increase ones Standing and Standard of Living. This sounds a bit like paying for friends and influence, but it ties into the gift-giving and tale-telling traditions of Middle Earth. The essential idea is that your character is taking these great treasures that they have found and telling the story of how they acquired them before presenting them to a great person. By contrast, when you use Treasure to increase your Standard of Living, you are taking groups of coins or items and selling it for more basic monetary purposes. Keeping Treasure abstract rather than specific allows the players to decide the nature of their treasures retroactively once it becomes narratively important.

Limiting advancement to the Fellowship Phases does a really good job of representing the alternately sequences of journey, peril, and refuge that occurs both within Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The method of cultural rewards handles the sort of signature weapons that the characters of that setting have. Of course, you might also end up picking up a relic of ancient days along an adventure which is something that happens fairly often in the stories. However, that item generally becomes a signature item which can then be improved by these rewards.

I didn't end up using the Masteries available to Wisdom increases as I was more interested in picking up a little bit of the healing magic the Woodmen culture has access to to represent just a little bit more of the original concept of the gorgon (which are connected to healing as well as death in some legends) and other flavorful abilities. Eventually, I would consider raising the Bow skill to its own thing out of the (Bows) skill so that I could then mark it as a Favoured Skill, but that is at least one Wisdom rank a head.

Further note that Endurance and base attributes don't end up improving. There is a Mastery that will allow you to improve your Favoured Attributes, but none that increase your basics. Likewise, the fact that Advancement Points are gained by successful rolls and you have a better chance to earn those points when you have a wider range of skills, so there is some incentive to improve a lot of your 0 skills to at least 1 to make it easier to succeed at rolls.

You also have the sort of switching about and narrative advancement options of opening up Sanctuaries and Patrons. These seem to be company-based so one person in a Fellowship Phase might be able to work at getting the company accepted in different places, which is a little bit of that group-based advancement that was so front and center in the Star Trek Adventures game.

The end result is that your character advances and does become demonstrably more effective at being an adventurer but the dangers remain similarly extreme. That random orc might become increasingly less likely to defeat you, but they are never inconsequential. Despite this, the gameplay does allow for the characters to sally forth against a large number of nameless foes in a manner appropriate to the mythic heroes of the setting.

Character Creation and the Gorgon Archer

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