Experience Points“What does not kill me, makes me stronger.” Every battle scar, every spiritual vision, and every failed plan teaches a valuable lesson. “The spirits are capricious.” “Be wary of the Shadow Lords.” “Silver is painful.” By those experiences, the Garou grow and improve. Over time, werewolves pick up new skills or use and improve one existing ones. They grow better, stronger, more cunning and more talented. This kind of improvement is tracked through the use of experience points. After each chapter (our term for a game session), every player is awarded a number of experience points who participated in it.
End of Each Chapter
Players should receive between one to five experience points after each chapter (game session). You can use the following criteria, or choose elements that reflect your own style.
• One point — Automatic: Every character that participated gets a point after each chapter is concluded.
• One point — Learning Curve: Ask each player to list what his character learned during the chapter. If he
learned anything new or interesting, give the character a point.
• One point — Concept: If the player did a good job acting out her character’s concept, award her a point.
• One point — Acting: A special award for the player who was the most exceptional roleplayer that session. Award a point to the player that was the most entertaining or was the most true to her character concept (perhaps in a way that put them or the rest of the group in more trouble). Although this is meant as an award for only one player, feel free to give the award to multiple players if they all gave stellar performances.
• One Point — Heroism: If a character sacrifices themselves to help others, such as jumping on a wounded packmate to protect him from a Black Spiral Dancer or taking on three fomori with guns loaded with silver bullets so the rest of the pack can escape, award the character a point. Just taking part in a fight isn’t enough, however, because much of Werewolf focuses on heroism. Utterly foolhardy actions just for the sake of this award aren’t appropriate either — diving into a Hive isn’t heroism; it’s suicide. Only truly noteworthy deeds are eligible, and what actions are eligible are at your discretion.
End of Each Story
At the end of a story, a character may be given one to three additional experience points. The following criteria are some examples of how you might be awarded.
• One point — Success: Everyone gets a point if the pack succeeded in its mission or goal for the story. The goal doesn’t have to be a complete success —Werewolf is often a game of mixed success and hard choices — but even a marginal success should be celebrated as the Apocalypse looms.
• One point — Danger: If the character was in serious danger, she should get a point. Facing down a couple of bikers isn’t dangerous — this point should be awarded for the kinds of experiences that werewolves trade during moots to impress each other.
• One point — Wisdom: A cunning plan that worked. The right thing to say at the right moment. If the character (or player) said or did something that was resourceful, cunning, or just plain brilliant, give her a point.
Spending Experience Points
Experience points are spent to increase Traits (most of them, at least; see below). The chart below shows the various costs for each kind of Trait. Most costs are based on the Trait’s current rating multiplied by a particular number. If, for example, a player wanted to increase her Politics from 3 to 4, it would cost six points, whereas a Level Four tribe Gift would cost 12. If the player wants to gain a new Ability the character doesn’t currently possess, she pays three points to get the first dot.
Attribute: current rating x 4
Ability: current rating x 2
New Ability: 3
Gift: Level of Gift x 3
Gift: from other breed/auspice/tribe Level of Gift x 5
Rage: current rating
Gnosis: current rating x 2
Willpower: current rating
With one exception, players cannot increase Background Traits with experience points. Only Storytellers (race moderators in our case) can increase or decrease Backgrounds through the course of play. If the character gains a new (Storyteller character) friend through her ecological charity work, her Allies Background increases. Vice versa, if a key friend is killed by a Pentex First Team, the Allies Background might need to be decreased or removed altogether. If the player wants to actively increase a Background, you should work with them to provide opportunities in gameplay to try to do so. It can be as simple as holding a job to increase Resources, or as complex as a series of spirit quests to find new Ancestors. You don’t necessarily have to provide a checklist of tasks for players to accomplish in order to get the desired increase, however — it all depends on the Background in question and the current state of the chronicle. The Totem Background is an exception, however. Any pack member can spend experience points to strengthen their totem (and the totem spirit is likely to notice which pack members are more devout). You should still work to provide roleplaying experience and show that you are helping to improve your pack totem, but once you do so, each point in Totem costs two experience points.
Players can spend experience points to purchase permanent Rage, although doing so can be dangerous.
While increasing permanent Rage gives the character more points of Rage to spend, it also increases the character’s chance for frenzy (see Rage and Frenzy). From a story perspective, anything that would make the character intensely angry can help justify an increase in Rage: Learning that a corporation has been using your woods as a nuclear testing
site, watching a beloved pack mate fall under the claws of a Nexus Crawler, or conducting rites to whip the Garou into a fury are all potential explanations for stoking the white-hot fire in the werewolf’s chest.
Similar to Rage, a player can improve her permanent Gnosis rating with experience, to reflect the character’s becoming more spiritually attuned to the world. Increasing Gnosis rating gives the werewolf access to more Gnosis points, as well as making it easier for her to step sideways (see Walking Between Worlds). Some ways that a character could justify such an increase include studying under a mentor, seeking out a vision from a spirit, and going on a quest in the Umbra.
Permanent Willpower is low in experience point cost, but the justification for such a purchase can be more difficult. You may need to create or point out opportunities to allow characters a chance to validate the expenditure of points, such as forcing the character to confront her fears, putting her through an intense interrogation, or simply surviving a long and dangerous mission. Such an opportunity should not a fleeting experience, but something noteworthy that tests the character’s mettle.