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School Me on Hero Points and Improving PCs


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Hero Points are used to:

1. Raise Abilities and Keywords
2. Spend during conflicts to improve results of said conflict.
3. “Cement” people, objects, relationships with groups to your Hero.

I understand each of these on their own. And II really love the Cementing rule… one of my favorite HQ rules. And it is a kissing cousin to improving an ability, since cementing something is essentially adding it to your sheet as a new Ability, so 2 and 3 aren't that different.

But the difference between 1 and 1 & 2 is to be big and complex.

There's no way to know how fast PCs will advance, since it is dependent on how many HPs they use during a session.

Moreover, Laws' solution in HQ2 to build the Resistance Treadmill where the advancements come so fast you simply keep making the game harder isn't really my thing. 

But maybe I'm missing something!

How have the HPs worked out for people? How has advancement pacing worked out? How many HPs do Players tend to spend in a session? Have people built house rules to separate out HP spending during a session from an XP method? Have people built house rules in regard to advancement and pacing?

"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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Here's what I do, which seems to work out well.

1) every character gets 3 HP's at the start of a session.  They can use them in session to bump results (90%+ of usage), cement relationships (occasional), and in some rare cases add a new ability.

2) at the end of the session, if they have any HP's left they can use those to increase an ability or keyword or cement a relationship.

Most are lucky if they have any HP's left at the end of the session - success in the Finale almost always requires HP expenditure at a dramatic moment.  So, given that it's rare to have any HP's left at end of session, I provide them opportunities for experience based on their experiences during the session.  I track when they achieved Complete Victories and when they had natural Criticals on ability rolls.  I then give them the choice of raising one or two abilities from those abilities where they had such successes.  I try to keep it balanced though so those who have HP's left may only have one or no other options while those without may get to choose two.

For example, these were some of the results at the end of my 4th session after the heroes had saved a party of Healers from the Bad Dogs (Hell Hounds):

star_yellow.gif Add: Relationship with Serarernalda 13 as a new distinct ability
star_yellow.gif Add: Foe of the Bad Dogs 13 as a new distinct ability

star_yellow.gif Choose one of the following:
star_yellowhalf.gif Increase: Spear and Shield Combat by +1
star_yellowhalf.gif Increase: Heirloom Spear by +1

star_yellow.gif 1 HP used; you may apply remaining 2 HP as you wish

star_yellow.gif Increase: God-talker by +1
star_yellow.gif Choose one of the following:
star_yellowhalf.gif Increase: Sword of Death by +1
star_yellowhalf.gif Increase: Perceive Hidden Winds by +1
star_yellowhalf.gif Increase: Thunder's Voice by +1

star_yellow.gif 2 HP used; you may apply remaining 1 HP as you wish

star_yellow.gif 0 HP used; you may apply remaining 3 HP as you wish


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I suggest picking up Nameless Streets if you haven't already. Not only could its catalog of Keyword packages* aimed at Urban Fantasy Detective Noir play be handy for your Shadowrun game, it also has several alternate options for replacing the awkward Hero Points=XP dynamic that I've never much liked since I first saw it in good 'ol D6 Star Wars. I particularly like its suggestion for Flaws as Hero Point generators. Using them that way makes for a great carrot to encourage engaging with Flaws, without being so intrusive as that dynamic can sometimes be in FATE since Hero Points are less central to game play than Fate Points are in Fate. 

* Per our other discussion, Nameless Streets even specifically comments that the Keywords' Ability lists can be used positively to enumerate Package style use or normatively to guide Umbrella style use. NS is a real gem.

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