Prism Chapter 13 Development

Art copyright  Clyde Caldwell, used by permission13.1 Skills

During your character's adventures, he may become better at a number of skills, develop new ones, and possibly forget some of his older ones.  His skills can change in the following three ways:

13.1.1 Awarded DP

13.1.1.1 How many do you get?

At the end of an adventure, or a large subsection of an adventure, the GM will award all characters who participated, a number of DP for them to spend.  How much she awards depends on a number of things:

Some GMs like to give out bonus DP for things like keeping a complete and neat character sheet, maintaining campaign logs, writing up the adventures of the characters as a story and presenting it to the other players, etc.  This is pretty non-traditional as it awards things that the player does instead of the character, so don't expect the GM to feel obliged.

An average performance might bring about 25-30 DP.  Poor performances would be worth 10-15 DP, or less for players who are very uninvolved with the game.  Competent, involved, contributing players will gather 40-50 DP.  Only the most outstanding performances will bring 60 DP, and then these would be Oscar award winners.

13.1.1.2 Spending your new DP

When the GM grants these points, they are spent exactly as the points you received for adolescence and apprenticeship.  Remember when spending them that it is your character choosing what to spend time and effort on, not yourself.  After spending them, you should recalculate the SVs for all the skills you spent points on.  It's easiest to do this if you erase the SVs for skills as you change things on them; then you can save the calculations for later, and know which skills need recalculation.

You can also trade the points in for plot points.  Every six development points traded in buys you one plot point.  The points you trade in are not added in to your development points.

13.1.1.3 Updating Similar Skills

Remember how you were writing in Recipient Sim Skills in when you originally did your skill development?  Every time you train in a skill now, you should check to see if there are any recipient skills listed for it.  If so, the Base value for that skill needs to be recalculated.

Using the fraction you wrote, figure out what that recipient skill's Base could now be; if this is better than what you currently have, update that Base.  It may not be.  For example, your Accounting skill may be listed on the lines of both Bureaucracy and Mathematics.  If your Training in Mathematics was much higher, you might find, in training in Bureaucracy, that the amount it can donate is trivial compared to the amount Mathematics can.  Since you typically pick whichever skill gives more points, Bureaucracy doesn't actually end up donating to Accounting.  But because you wrote it in as if it does, you'll always be able to check, in case someday, Bureaucracy ends up being able to donate more points to Accounting.

13.1.1.4 Other Adjustments

Don't forget to add the number of DP you just spent to the total you have next to Development Points, and write the new total down.

13.1.2 Study and Training

The GM may decide to award some extra skill to your character due to some time spent studying and practicing, taking pointers from someone knowledgeable, observing a real pro in action, etc., or an outstanding performance on your part using some specific skill.  In this case, the GM gives you some extra DP which must be spent on a certain skill she specifies; spend those points immediately, then go and do your normal development (as in the previous section).  During normal development you are allowed to train again in the same skill as if nothing special had happened.  The effects, such as updating the Similar skills, are the same as above.

Art copyright  Lou Frank, used by permission13.1.3 Atrophy

Even more rarely, your GM may decide that one of your skills will decrease.  You might be taught by someone trying to lead you astray; catastrophes might alter, scramble, or destroy memories; or, by far most commonly, you may simply have not used a skill for a long time.

The GM will tell you how many negative DP he has charged you, and the skill to decrease.  Use the skill development chart (Chart 6.3) to figure out how much training that amount of DP would buy, and subtract that amount from the Training value you currently have.  If it falls below zero, you are now Untrained in that skill.  Don't forget to update any skills that are recipient similar skills.  Also, don't forget to subtract the DP from your development points total.

13.2 Changing Permanent Factors

13.2.1 Stats

Generally, your stats will only be altered by magic, high technology, disaster, or other unusual circumstances.  The GM will decide how much your stats will change in most of these cases.  If so, you must add the amount of the change to the number of character points you have registered on your character sheet.

However, you may decide to have your character make a conscious effort to improve some aspect of himself.  You will choose how many DP to allot towards improving a stat; this should occur well in advance of actually receiving the DP.  Then your character should do whatever practice or training seems appropriate: lifting weights, long distance running or aerobics, muscle toning, practicing mind games and puzzles, having others quiz him about things passed on the road, etc.  (It is hard to imagine how to improve Will or Resistance.)

When you are next awarded DP, you must throw away the amount you decided to spend; these lost DP are not added into your development points.  The GM will assign a percentage, based on how hard it is to improve the stat in question, how appropriate your training was, and how dedicatedly you worked at it; this will run from 5% to 30%, averaging about 20%.  He will then roll d% against this chance once for each DP you spent; the number of successes will be the number of points your stat increases by.  You should also add this amount to the character points recorded on your character sheet.

13.2.2 Abilities

Only the most extraordinary circumstances will allow a character to gain or lose an ability.  Some extremely powerful magics or technological innovations may be able to give someone an innate ability.  The GM will determine when this will happen and how many character points it is worth; you don't pay for it, but you need to update your character point total by adding this value in, just to keep it accurate.

Note that the Special Possessions ability is not included in this discussion.  Powerful or unusual items found during adventures are not considered abilities.  However, losing the Special Possessions you had at character creation reduces your character points, as long as the loss is definitely permanent.

Art copyright  Gregory Walsh, used by permission13.2.3 Weaknesses

Gaining new weaknesses is much the same as gaining abilities, as described in the above section.

However, it is much more common to try to overcome a weakness.  Sometimes your character may be successful.  A foe may be slain or made peace with; a secret may be revealed; handicaps may be healed or repaired; debts may be paid off; mental weaknesses may be overcome.  The GM may even decide to declare a weakness as being overcome simply because you are not playing it out.

In some cases, this may create a new weakness in its place.  For example, the family of the slain foe may seek vengeance; the revealed secret may cause a loss of status or reputation; the effort to overcome alcoholism may cause your character to become a fanatic or neurotic.

If there is no new weakness, or the new weakness (or weaknesses) does not provide enough character points to cancel out the points of the original weakness, you must "buy off" the remaining points.  You must, next time you receive DP, throw away 2 DP for every character point you owe.  These are not added to your development points.  Remember to adjust your character points recorded on your sheet to account for the disappearing weaknesses as well as any new ones gained.

13.2.4 Aptitudes

Most GMs will simply not allow any changes to your aptitudes after character creation.  It is hard to imagine some type of technology or magic that changes aptitudes.

You may decide, for whatever reason, that your character has developed a new interest.  The thief of many years (and many development points) gradually comes to believe the study of magic is the only meaningful thing, and wants to devote himself to it.  It is very unlikely that this will be considered adequate reason to change your aptitudes by your GM.  Your character's patterns of thinking are just too ingrained.  Use this as a personality development; play out how frustrated your character is at longing so much for aptitude at something he simply isn't good at, wanting to be something he simply isn't.

There is one circumstance, however, where a GM may want to make it possible for players to change their aptitudes.  The GM may want to take a group of characters from one world background and translate them to another.  After these time-travelers have had opportunity to become accustomed to their new world, it seems somewhat reasonable to imagine that one of them might turn out to have a hidden aptitude -- that is, that one of them is actually a "natural" at starship piloting.  The space travelers may find one of their number has the magic gift.  None of these adventurers would have ever had the opportunity to use, or even be aware of, this hidden aptitude.

The difficulty is simply that you, the player, may not have anticipated being transported through time and space.  In the interests of concentrating on your character idea, you may have simply ignored a certain category, never even considering spending points on a hidden aptitude.  Now that your character has the chance to discover it, you find it's too late to buy it.

If the GM agrees that this hidden aptitude is totally in character, she may allow you to change your aptitudes.  Even in this circumstance, she will almost certainly not let you improve more than one aptitude.  This is completely at the GM's discretion.  She may not be intending the characters to stay in this world background after all, so she may deny the changes.  She may simply limit the amount of points the AV may change by.  Or she may have other reasons.

Art copyright  Brennon Guilbeau, used by permissionIf she does allow a change, you will still have to pay for it.  You may, if the GM agrees, reduce some other AV to help pay off some of the points.  In this case, it is not at all unreasonable to change many of your AVs by a small amount rather than one or two by larger amounts.  Many GMs will simply not allow you to change any AV by more than one or two points, when using the change to pay off some other change.

Any remaining points owed, if any, will have to be paid for with the next set of DP the character receives.  You must pay 3 DP for every character point gained.  Don't forget to update your character point total, either.

Any skills you have that fall into the category of a changed aptitude will have their Difficulties change in the same amount.  However, any training purchased before the change is unaffected.

13.3 Other Character Factors

13.3.1 Personality

It is entirely natural for your character's personality to change over time, as various events traumatize him, elate him, change his beliefs, or strike his psyche strongly.  This should develop naturally as the game progresses.  Major events, like the buying off of a weakness, will often have correspondingly major shifts in personality as well.

13.3.2 Appearance

As age changes over time, appearance may change.  Along with the effects of aging, characters may gain scars, lose or gain weight, change hair style or color, adopt new clothing styles or mannerisms, or alter other details of appearance.  It is helpful to stop and think about this occasionally, and write down any changes you think may have occurred.  Of course, some characters are static, because it is in their nature, but most will change over time.

13.3.3 Calculations

Whenever the factors used to calculate any of the Vitals or Movement statistics change, you should recalculate those statistics.  For instance, a change to Strength or weight may change LC and CC, and thereby Enc.  Penalty, Total Penalty, and Enc.  MV.

13.4 A Sample Session

Tomalfson, our character from the last Chapter, has just completed an adventure in which he traveled by boat to Tolnedra, met up with representatives of other nations, and set out on a quest to apprehend a group of political saboteurs and break their plan to throw the various nations into war with one another.  The party was full of hostility, because the nations involved are suffering pretty bad relations in some cases, but the nature of the quest requires that a representative of each nation be involved so no one nation can claim the victory.  During the journey, Tomalfson learned a good deal about people, most notably the fact that not everyone is the same (an easy lesson to overlook in Cherek).  He also spent much time on horseback (a new experience) and did a good deal of fighting.  He had a few opportunities to use his best talents to good use as well, earning the respect of his companions.

In practical terms, he is on his way to buying off his Identity Crisis weakness, but isn't quite there.  He picked up a new quirk; when he first was introduced to sweet pastries (not a popular thing in Cherek, they don't go with the ale), he fell in love.  He mostly trained in battle skills because it was what he needed on the journey so far (he realized how badly he had to get used to this armor, for instance).

The GM gave me 41 points for this adventure, plus an extra 5 points for Gadgetry because I spent some time learning tricks from Durnik, the legendary Sendarian and husband of Lady Polgara.  There's no better teacher of Gadgetry on the planet, she said.

The first thing I do is spend those five points.  Currently, my Diff in Gadgetry is 2, so 5 DP buys 9 points of Training.  My Training value becomes 19 and I note that I'll have to recalculate Bases for Gadget Repair and Mechanical Engineering by erasing their SVs.  I don't do the calculation right now because I want to save them up and do them all at once.  Also note that, if I had passed a cusp, my Diff would have to go up in that skill right away.

Art copyright  Robin Wood 1988, used by permissionNow, to spend my 41 DP.  First, I decide I want to trade six of them in for a plot point, to save for a rainy day.  This leaves me 35, and here's where I chose to spend them:

Now that I've spent all 35 points, I go back through the skills on a recalculation pass.  During this pass I'll recalculate the Bases for any skill on my list, and recalculate SVs for any skill I changed.  Then there are a few statistics that need recalculation in the Movement and Vitals areas.  You can see the results of all this on the following character sheet (the back of the first page is omitted since it is not relevant here).

Name: Tomalfson Player: Frank Prism
Stats Movement Description
Strength +8 CC 168 Sex: Male
Race: Cherek (Human)
Handedness: Right
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 180
Age (real): 23
  (apparent): late 20s
Hair: Red, short, unkempt
Eyes: bright blue
Skin: normal
Other: Sloppy with a tunic which has occasional, severe stains.  Is in no hurry.  Distracted; eyes are always unfocused.
Endurance +8 +9 +10 LC 504
Dexterity 0 Carried Wgt 39
Quickness -9 r Enc.  Penalty -23
Intelligence +17 Armor Penalty -54 -42
Perceptivity -4 r Total Penalty -77 -65
Will +3 +1 r Base MV 91
Resistance -10 Enc.  MV 14 26
Aptitudes Vitals
COMBAT 4 Hp 43
BODY 6
OUTDOOR 6 AT 13
AIR/SPC 6 DB 0 (+10)
SCIENCE 3 Shield -- melee 16 18
MIND 10 Shield -- missile 16 18
ARTS 7 Delay 34 Development
CRAFTS 7 Resist Poison +10 Character Points 100
MEDICAL 6 Resist Disease +10 Plot Points       (1 avail) 1
SOC/SPY 8 Resist Magic/Psi -10 Development Points 150 190
Abilities Weaknesses
Motion Sense (+15)
Detect Structural Weaknesses (+5)
Double-Jointed (+5)
Status: officer of the Cherek army (+2)
Absent-Mindedness (-15)
Reputation: not "one of the guys" (-5)
Identity Crisis: thinks he probably should be "one of the guys" (-5)
 
Mumbles to himself all the time (-1)
Writes letters and messages a lot (-1)
Adores sweets, especially pastries (-1)
(unspecified) (-1)

Name: Tomalfson Prism Skill Sheet

Aptitudes: CO 4  BO 6  OU 6  AI 8  SC 3  MI 10  AR 7  CR 2  ME 6  SO 8

Skill Cat Stat Diff Recipient SIM Skill Train Base Stat A/W Misc SV
Architecture CR I 2 Carpentry (1/2) 0 2 17     19
Area Knowledge: Val Alorn SO P 4 Area Knowledge: Cherek (1/3) 17 4 -4     17
Area Knowledge: Cherek SO P 4 Area Knowledge: Val Alorn (1/3) 13 6 -4     15
Area Knowledge: The West SC P -1 0 History (1/4) 13 27 0 -4     9 23
Armor Donning/Removal CO DQ 1   11 7 -4 +10a   24
Armor Maintenance/Repair CR I 2 Smithing (1/4) 5 3 17 +15b   40
Athletic Games: unspecified OU SEDQP 6   8 0 1 +5c   14
Bureaucracy SO I 8   0 -20 17     -3
Carpentry CR SD 2 Shipbuilding (1/4) 7 1 4     12
Detect Secret Doors/Machinery SO IP 8   0 -25 7 -10d +15b -13
Diving OU DR 6 Swimming (1/3) 4 9 -5     8
Flag Signals OU IP 5   8 0 7     15
Gadget Repair CR IP 1 Gadgetry (1/3) 10 23 3 9 7 +10b   30 49
Gadgetry CR I 2 Gadget Repair (1/3), Mechanical Engineering (1/4) 10 19 27 3 8 17 +5a   35 57
History: The West SC I 3   4 10 3 17     24 30
Hit Point Development CO E 7   8 0 10   25 43
Language: common spoken SC I 1 Language: common written (1/3) 36 12 17     63
Language: common written SC I 1 Language: common spoken (1/3) 36 12 17     63
Leatherworking CR D 1 Armor Maintenance/Repair (1/3) 7 0 0 +5a   12
Maneuvering in Armor: Chain CO SQ 3 Armor Donning/Removal (1/2) 14 26 0 0 +2a -70 -54 -42
Mathematics SC I 3   6 2 17     25
Mechanical Engineering SC I 4 Architecture (1/2), Carpentry (1/3), Gadget Repair (1/2), Gadgetry (1/4), Plumbing (1/6) 3 3 8 17     23 28
Physics SC I 4 Mathematics (1/3) 5 0 17     22
Plumbing CR P 0   9 1 -4 +5a +5b 16
Sailing OU DP 6 Shipbuilding (1/4) 2 0 -2     0
Shield CO SQ 2   14 23 0 0     14 23
Shipbuilding CR SE 3   2 2 9     13
Smithing CR SE 2 Armor Maintenace/Repair (1/3), Weaponry Engineering (1/3) 12 1 9     22
Swimming OU EDQ 4 Diving (1/3) 10 1 0     11
Weaponry Engineering CR I 1   10 4 17     31
Riding: Horses OU DW 5   5 0 1     6
                     
Martial Arts Strikes I BO SQ 6   8 0 0     8
Martial Arts Sweeps I BO Q 6   6 0 -9     -3
Disarming CO DQ 5   5 4 5 -4 +5c   10 11
Broadsword CO SSD 4 Disarming (1/4) 14 19 0 5     19 24
Heavy Crossbow CO D 7   2 0 0 +15c   17
                     
                     
                     
                     
                     
                     
                     

a=Double-Jointed; b=Detect Structural Weaknesses; c=Motion Sense; d=Absent-Mindedness


> ^ <