8.5   ADVANCING YOUR CHARACTER

As humans we change and grow.  Over the course of our lifetime we acquire new skills and forgot hobbies long since left by the way side.   During the early years we might developed our bodies, while later our minds might take precedence.   Even ambitions and beliefs, for which we have great conviction at the time, can be altered or even reversed over the course of years.   This human ability to adapt and change must be reflected in the game.

Too many games focus on the ever improving character (his stats getting closer and closer to perfection with each passing gaming session).   The truth, though, is that for every step forward there is a step back.   When we emphasize one thing it is almost always at the expense of another aspect of our being.   For this reason, Children of Fire does not use the experience point system found in so many other games.  

The question then remains, how can a player develop his character and how do these developments take place?

No part of a child of clay character sheet is set in stone.   Aspects, virtues, faith, strength, weakness, goals, specialties, and interests, all these things are flexible.    Nonnumeric characteristics such as goals may alter to whatever suits the character.  Numeric statistics like aspects are only confined to the limitations of humans.  Hence, no aspect can exceed 12 or fall below 4.  Virtues and faith can range anywhere between 0 and 20. 

Changes occur solely as a result of role-playing and are awarded by the storyteller at his own discretion.  Players who wish to improve an aspect of a character, acquire a new interest, or establish a new goal in life, should apprise the storyteller of their intentions.   It is up to him to then decide when and if this change will occur.

But change does not happen instantly.  Rather it is a gradual process where the character's new ability comes out slowly.  No one suddenly wakes up to find they are twice as strong as they were yesterday.  As a result, the following guidelines are offered to assist the storyteller.  First, no aspect or virtue can rise or fall by more than one point each gaming session.  Second, newly acquired talents must start as interests.  Only after a character has had an interest for a while and has done substantial role-playing to support it, can this ability be raised to the level of a specialty. Lastly, It is unlikely that a child of clay can acquire more than three specialties.  There just simply isn't enough time in the day to keep up with so many expertises.  Usually gaining a new specialty under these circumstances means dropping an existing specialty down to the level of an interest.   Once again, this is all at the discretion of the storyteller.

To promote this process, the author recommends the following strategy.   At the end (or perhaps even the beginning) of a gaming session the storyteller should spend some time talking to the players.  Ask them what they've learned from previous session and what direction they see their character going.   If you ask in what ways they see their character improving, don't forget to ask them what is suffering as a result of this change.   The answers to these question will help you interpret how they're role-playing.


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