Earning XP

The Sweet20 System: Experience

So based on the request to have a mechanical XP reward for role-playing, and my desire to have XP rewards based on a system, I give you the Sweet20 System, ripped from the “The Shadow of Yesterday” system.

Levels

This system works on the premise that every encounter is worth a single XP, and the number of encounters it would take to get to the next level is thus the amount of XP it takes to get to the next level. In pathfinder, on medium progression, that works as follows:

Amount of XP gain to reach level:
2-3: 20 XP
4-5: 30 XP
6-7: 35 XP
8-10: 38 XP
11-20: 40 XP

The full Character advancement chart would look like this (Level:XP)

2:20
3:40
4:70
5:100
6:135
7:170
8:208
9:246
10:284
11:324
12:364
13:404
14:444
15:484
16:524
17:564
18:604
19:644
20:684

Your current XP will be converted into the new system’s XP.

Keys

The first way you get XP in the Sweet20 system is through Keys. These are kind of like Feats, but they do not give your character any special powers. Instead, they determine behaviors that will get XP for your character. Keys are motivations, problems, connections, duties and loyalties. You should pick one at 1st level, and one every odd level after that. You can never have more than five Keys.

Counters

Each Key has a Counter. If you go against the Key – that is, act according to the Counter – you can choose one of two options:

Lose 2 XP. Remove the Key and gain 7 XP. You can never take this Key again.

Key Scenes

The second way to gain XP in Sweet20 is Key Scenes. Key Scenes are made up by the GM when she is creating the adventure. Key Scenes are similar to some RPG experience systems in that they are particular junctures in the play session that the GM has decided beforehand are worth experience to the characters. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is one game that uses this.

These are not particular outcomes, though. “Saving the princess,” “killing or thwarting the evil overlord,” and “taming the wild beast” are not good examples of Key Scenes. Key Scenes should be tense, have multiple outcomes, and force players to make a decision for their characters.

“Discovering the princess is trapped in a high tower,” “meeting the overlord,” and “confronting the wild beast” are good Key Scenes, as each can result in multiple outcomes and do not put restrictions on what the player decision is for his character. Key Scenes do not have to tie into any particular overarching plot or story-line; they can be light and humorous or grim and serious.

Whenever a character is present in a Key Scene, he earns one to three XP as determined beforehand by the GM. These XP are given as soon as the scene is over.

Key List

Key of Bloodlust

Your character enjoys overpowering others in combat. Gain 1 XP every time your character defeats someone in battle. Gain 3 XP for defeating someone equal to or more powerful than your character (higher combined CR than your side of the battle.)

Counter: Be defeated in battle.

Key of Conscience

Your character has a soft spot for those weaker than their opponents. Gain 1 XP every time your character helps someone who cannot help themselves. Gain 2 XP every time your character defends someone with might who is in danger and cannot save themselves. Gain 5 XP every time your character takes someone in an unfortunate situation and changes their life to where they can help themselves.

Counter: Ignore a request for help.

Key of the Coward

Your character avoids combat like the plague. Gain 1 XP every time your character avoids a potentially dangerous situation. Gain 3 XP every time your character stops a combat using other means besides violence.

Counter: Leap into combat with no hesitation.

Key of Exploration

Your character has a wanderlust that drives her to see new places and things. Gain 1 XP every time your character visits a place of interest she hasn’t been to before. Gain 2 XP if reaching and exploring that place required overcoming difficulties. Gain 5 XP if reaching and exploring that place required overcoming life-threatening difficulties.

Counter: Finish a session without visiting any new place.

Key of Faith

Your character has a strong religious belief that guides him. Gain 1 XP every time he defends his faith to others. Gain 2 XP whenever this character converts someone to his faith. Gain 5 XP whenever this character defends his faith even though it brings him great harm.

Counter: Your character renounces his beliefs.

Key of Fraternity

Your character has someone he is sworn to, a friend who is more important than anyone else. Gain 1 XP every time this character is present in a scene with your character (maximum 3 per session). Gain 2 XP whenever your character has to make a decision that is influenced by them. Gain 5 XP every time your character defends them by putting himself at risk.

Counter: Sever the relationship with this person or the person dies.

Key of Glittering Gold

Your character loves wealth. Gain 1 XP every time you make a deal that favors you in wealth. Gain 2 XP every time you finish an session with more wealth than you started with. Gain 5 XP every time you double your wealth.

Counter: Lose or give away over half your fortune.

Key of the Guardian

Your character has a ward, someone who depends on him for security and protection. Gain 1 XP every time this character is present in a scene with your character (maximum 3 per session). Gain 2 XP whenever your character has to make a decision that is influenced by them. Gain 5 XP every time your character rescues them from harm.

Counter: Sever the relationship with this person or the person dies.

Key of the Impostor

Sometimes your entire life is a lie. You gain 1XPwhenever you pass yourself off as someone/something you’re not. You gain 2XP whenever you convince others in spite of serious skepticism You gain 5XPwhenever your story survives a deliberate, focused, “Hey everybody, look!” attempt to reveal your identity.

Counter: Be revealed as an imposter, or confess your imposture to those duped

Key of the Loremaster

Your character delights in uncovering lost knowledge. Gain 1 XP every time she learns something she didn’t know about the history of the world. Gain 3 XP every time she learns something lost, forgotten, or unknown to the world at large (secret keepers of knowledge notwithstanding).

Counter: Purposefully ignore or fail to investigate a clue that promises lost knowledge.

Key of Love

Your character has a deep love, whether friendly, erotic, or familial, for someone else. Gain 1 XP every time this character is present in a scene with your character (Max 3 per session). Gain 2 XP whenever your character has to make a decision that is influenced by them. Gain 5 XP every time your character puts herself in harm’s way or makes a sacrifice for them.

Counter: The relationship with this person is severed or made hostile

Key of the Manipulator

Your character works behind the scenes, manipulating others in order to be a shadow ruler. Your character must work for or be an advisor of someone in a position of power. Gain 1 XP whenever your character exerts her will over her ‘ruler’, even over minor matters – especially over minor matters. Gain 2 XP whenever the ‘ruler’ accepts your character’s advice over others. Gain 5 XP whenever your character’s influence makes the ‘ruler’ make a policy change or establish a new policy that works in your character’s favor.

Counter: Accept the mantle of power for one’s self or lose the position of favor with your ‘ruler’

Key of the Masochist

Your character thrives on personal pain and suffering. Gain 1 XP every time he is bloodied and 3 XP every time he is broken.

Counter: Flee a source of physical or psychic damage.

Key of the Mission

Your character has a personal mission that he must complete. Gain 1 XP every time he takes action to complete this mission (2 XP if this action is successful.) Gain 5 XP every time he takes action that completes a major part of this mission.

Counter: Complete or abandon this mission.

Key of the Pacifist

Your character has a personal commitment to nonviolence. Gain 1 XP for every session in which your character does not commit any violence. Gain 2 XP every time your character does not commit violence even though it causes her minor harm or inconvenience. Gain 5 XP every time your character does not commit violence even though it causes her great harm.

Counter: Purposefully harm another sentient creature

Key of the Philosopher

There is question that haunts your character. Only when she answers this question will she be ready to be the master of all she dreams. Pick a philosophical question for your character. “What is the measure of a hero?” or “Can one know herself better through fulfillment or denial?” are good examples. Gain 1 XP every time you can apply this question to the situation your character’s in. Gain 3 XP every time your character risks harm in pursuit of the answer.

Counter: Answer the question.

Key of Power

You don’t even care what you do with it, you just want it. You gain 1 XP whenever you earn a boon from someone important, earn a slight gain in prestige, or make a rival look bad. You gain 3 XP whenever you ruin, kill, or otherwise eliminate a rival, and improve your own position because of it.

Counter: Relinquish or lose power or position.

Key of Renown

“You must be the worst assassin I’ve ever heard of.” “But you have heard of me.” You gain 1 XP whenever you see to it that your name and deeds are known, by bragging about them or making sure there are witnesses. You gain 2 XP whenever you put yourself at risk to do something unnecessary or foolish that will add to your reputation. You gain 5 XP whenever you risk your life to take credit for your actions (bragging that you were the one who killed the Duke’s son, for example).

Counter: Deny or give someone else credit for an action that would increase your renown.

Key of the Ringleader

Whether it’s a band of thieves or a merchant’s guild, your character is focused on leading and growing their organization. You gain 1 XP whenever you make a decision based on the needs of your organization. You gain 2 XP every time your organization incrementally grows or expands. You gain 5 XP every time your organization expands into a new realm/area/level of operations.

Counter: Act against the interests of your organization or lose position as it’s leader.

Key of Unrequited Love

Your character has a love for someone who does not return this love. Gain 1 XP whenever your character has to make a decision that is influenced by them. Gain 2 XP every time your character attempts to win their affection. Gain 5 XP every time your character puts herself in harm’s way or makes a sacrifice for them.

Counter: Abandon your pursuit of this person or win their love.

Key of Vengeance

Your character has a hatred for a particular organization, person, or even species or culture. Gain 1 XP every time your character hurts a member of that group or a lackey of that person. Gain 2 XP every time your character strikes a minor blow at that group or person (killing a member of the organization or one of the person’s lackeys, disrupting their life, destroying their property). Gain 5 XP every time your character strikes a major blow at that group or person.

Counter: Let your enemy go or destroy the entire organization.

Key of the Vow

Your character has a vow of personal behavior that he has sworn not to break. This could be a dietary restriction, a requirement to pray at sunbreak every morning, or something else like that. Gain 1 XP for every session in which your character does not break this vow. Gain 2 XP every time your character does not break this vow even though it causes him minor harm or inconvenience. Gain 5 XP every time your character does not break this vow even though it causes him great harm.

Counter: Break this vow.

Making new Keys

You are encouraged to make new Keys for your characters, working with your group and GM. The rules for making Keys are:

A Key must involve a motivation, problem, connection, duty, or loyalty. Keys come in two types: * Motivations. When the motivation is fulfilled in play, gain an experience point. When the motivation is fulfilled against good odds, gain three experience points. * Everything else. When the Key comes up in play, gain an experience point. When the Key presents a minor problem, gain two experience points. When it presents a major problem, gain five experience points. All Keys have a Counter, which is a reversal from the Key by the character.

Journals

Journals earn from 1 3 XP ranging on the scale of “less-than-a-straight-recount/straight-recounting/insightful or character-developing”.


Author: Clinton R. Nixon
Copyright: The Sweet20 System is copyright 2004 Clinton R. Nixon. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
Colophon: This document was created using DocTools.

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