Story Points (SP) are a core part of playing Steampunkfitters. They are in essence how important, or influential a character is to the story but just possessing a large number of story points doesn’t automatically make a character important. There are a number of ways that a character can use their SP.

SP is a simulation of how a character would be viewed if they were in a novel or movie. A character with more SP may be viewed as the protagonist or even antagonist in the story. Naturally one would not expect these important characters to die right at the beginning of the story but the story becomes unbelievable if they are attacked repeatedly with no harm to them. We accept a little of this but it can’t go on forever.

Damage

When a character is attacked, to avoid harm the player can spend SP. This is a way of showing how the character’s expected role in this story is being diminished. SP being reduced does not automatically mean the character is suffering bodily harm. It is the willful suspension of disbelief that the character has survived what could be a deadly encounter.

Damage can also apply to social attacks as well. In this case, the character is under no threat of physical harm but their importance in the story is being reduced. If a character’s SP is reduced to zero by social attacks, the nature of the attacks are taken into account. If the intent of the attacks was to win the character over, the character goes from being hostile or indifferent to friendly and the player may invest SP into the character.

Once a character’s SP has reached zero (0) they are effectively out of the story. This may not mean they are dead however. If other players invest SP into the character they may be brought back but raising the SP of a character that has dropped to zero or lower costs twice as much.

To have this element of Steampunkfitters played properly, there should be a logical explanation of how the character was brought back and how the other characters assisted them. For example, a doctor could turn their attention to a fallen lady and pronounce “The shot passed by her and the shock caused her to merely faint. Some smelling salts will rouse her.”

When a player character reduces another character’s SP to zero (0) they describe how the character is taken out of the story.

Player: I cut his belt in two with my sword and his trousers fall around his ankles. Being terribly embarrassed, he attempts to run, tripping several times. He won’t be bothering us again.

An alternative to taking damage to SP is to have some or all of the damage inflicted on an attribute if that attribute is more than zero. When the player opts for this, the damage is considered permanent. The player must also explain how the damage is lowering the attribute. For example, a player could opt to have Charm effected by an attack and explain that the wound has knocked out teeth or scarred the character in the face.

Non Playing Character SP

The vast majority of NPCs are not expected to last long in the story, they are more or less disposable characters. These NPCs get only one SP for tracking damage. They are easily removed from the story with a well placed right hook.

Other NPCs are meant to be a threat. They show some skill and don’t immediately yield to the main character. These are more rare but are meant to be a temporary challenge to the player characters. These NPCs get two to four SP

Then there is the big bad, the Moriarty, the mastermind. Regardless of whether they are physically fit, they are important to the story and therefore should have a similar number of SP to the PCs.

Narrative Manipulation

When a player passes or fails a contest they can mark that contest as a pivotal event. If the contest was a success, they spend a story point to increase the importance of that event so that it has major consequences. For example, defeating one goon in a pack of miscreants wouldn’t normally have much of an effect on the overall story. The player spends a Story Point on the action and now the defeated goon was the toughest in the group and the rest flee in fear.

If the player marks a failed contest as a pivotal event, it will change a contest that may have had minor significance to something more important. In doing so, the character gains four (4) SP. For example, the character tried to pick a lock and failed. They mark that as a pivotal event and so the GM decides they broke down the door to get in but the crash alerted the neighbors and the constable arrives while the character is still in the house.

Advancement

At the end of each game session the Game Master can assign Story Points for good play. Remember that players can generate their own SP by narrative manipulation and this should be the main way for them to recuperate points. The SP award at the end of the game is a gift for making play enjoyable.

Some examples of SP awards can include:
Roleplaying out in game action and dialog +1 SP
Thoughtful strategy when faced with difficulty +1 SP
Failures that made players laugh instead of groan +1 SP

New skills may be purchased at the cost of 3 SP.

Attributes may be increased by spending the next attribute level in SP. For example, raising an Attribute from 0 to +3 would happen in three levels. The first level, +1 costs 1 SP, +2 costs 2 SP and +3 costs 3 SP. Negative Attributes follow the same pattern. Raising an attribute from -3 to 0 happens in three stages. The first level, -3 costs 3 SP, -2 costs 2 SP and -1 costs 1 SP. making it harder to raise very low attributes.

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