This week we talk about advancement. How it can affect behaviour, what forms it often takes, and when it’s required (and not required).

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  1. This episode hasn’t shown upon g+ yet so I’m forced to come comment here (what a tough life).

    Great episode. Advancement is definitely something I’d kind of taken for granted as a necessary part of RPGs.

    Alex commented on her friend with the brain injury who has had a transitional (transformational?) experience. I was talking recently with a friend about playing FATE. I mentioned that next time I play I really want to take some big consequences and have to deal with them in-game. I think this transitional advancement is kind of what I was trying to express a desire to see in his next game

    The first time I encountered the “gain experience on a failed roll” mechanic (an Apocalypse game for me, not Burning Wheel), I was floored. I mean, of course that’s how you should gain experience! Why had it never occurred to me before?! That encourages risk taking, reduces useless grinding, and best of all, gives mechanical value to failure!

    I think I disagree with Alex’s assertion that all character effort being rewarded with advancement is a bad thing. Obviously it is unrealistic. The world is full of unappreciated hard work. But I think that is one of the major draws of gaming, creating a world where your efforts do have value (even just fictional value).

    Lastly, thanks for answering my question, even if it was an answer I expected/dislike. “Keep trying stuff and eventually something good will happen” seems to sum up the advice given in most. How much easier life would be if you could always prescribe a list of tasks that, when completed, would have a predictable result for any desired outcome in life.


    1. Thanks for your comments, Matt. I think the “learn from failure” mechanic makes for an ah-ha moment for a lot of gamers. Though it seems I didn’t explain my stance on linear advancement well enough – I don’t object to it because it’s unrealistic, I object to it because the idea that hard work leads to success and success is always the result of hard work is a pervasive and oppressive myth that I actively want to dismantle.

      Sorry I didn’t have better advice on finding LARPs, though! I hope you do find a group 🙂



      1. So is linear advancement more acceptable if it’s clearly recognized as a fantasy element? I guess you kinda mentioned in a previous episode that you don’t care much for RPGs as escapism anyway.

        As a side note, you should devote a whole episode to LARP hosting issues once you ha e a few more under your belt (or maybe have your friend on as a guest). I organized and ran a western murder mystery 2 years ago (my only forray into LARPing so far). It was fun but most of my players didn’t really “get it” and it was A LOT of work and kind of expensive.


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