Advancement and rewards

Character improvement and other goodies

There are two kinds of rewards your characters will earn from a mission: karma and nuyen.

I’ll typically award karma at a rate of 3-5 per session, depending on how much you get done, and also give out occasional bonus points for cool writeups of downtime actions and stuff like that. (Note: at-the-table cool stuff, like clever strategies, funny jokes, and excellent roleplaying will earn Bennies, not karma. This is to your advantage; Bennies are powerful.) Karma is turned into advances, which is Savage World’s terminology for levelling up – see below.

Nuyen will be negotiated in-game by your characters, as usual. Nuyen is only used to cover your character’s lifestyle costs for a while after the mission ends, during which time you can do some downtime actions; the more nuyen you get, the more of these you can do before you run out of money and start looking for work again. See downtime for details. Some of these actions let you convert nuyen into karma, LP, or other resources. Outside of working out how many downtime actions you get, you don’t need to track anything to do with nuyen.

Separate to nuyen is the Sprawlrunners concept of Logistic Points. LPs are what your characters “spend” to acquire illegal or untraceable gear from their contacts. LPs are part in-game money, but also partly based on your character’s reputation with their contacts. (If you prefer, you can use the term from The Sprawl - cred, where it’s deliberately ambiguous if it means currency or street cred.) The total number of LPs your character can access at once goes up naturally as they advance. You might also choose to negotiate a one-off LP bonus with Mr Johnson, rather than a greater nuyen payout.

Occasionally, we might need to figure out if you character has enough liquid funds to cover some expense; a bribe for information, say, or a big restaurant bill. For that, we’ll use Savage World’s wealth die system. See Wealth for more information.

Savage Worlds advances

Core SWADE has a simple structure for advancement: every so often, the character earns an advance. Each advance can be spend on a few things, such as improving traits or new Edges. Every three advances, the character also improves their rank, which unlocks new Edges and other abilities. Sprawlrunners doesn’t change this structure.

Advances are quite “large”, as it were. Each one is quite a significant power boost for a character. It’s slightly tricky to work out at what rate to hand them out, as our mission length varies quite a lot and our sessions are quite short.

For my campaign, to smooth over this, I’m going to make a small change, and re-introduce karma from Shadowrun. Karma will be simply spent on advances at a straight 10:1 ratio (ie. one advance costs 10 karma.) This means I can have a slightly more granular mechanic to reward you than just SWADE advances, but it doesn’t change any game balance.

Spending advances

Each advance can be used in one of a few ways:

  • Gain a new Edge.
    • Note that mages have access to a Power Edge called New Powers that gives you… new powers. You get to pick two new powers each time you take this, and you can take it as many times as you like. This is how you learn new spells.
  • Increase a skill that is equal to or greater than its linked attribute one die type.
  • Increase two skills that are lower than their linked attributes by one die type each (including new skills the character didn’t have before at d4). Note that you can’t increase the same skill twice.
  • Increase one attribute by a die type. Note that this option may only be taken once per Rank (so once at Novice, once at Seasoned, etc.)
    • Legendary characters may raise an attribute every other Advance, up to the racial maximum.
  • Permanently remove a Minor Hindrance, or reduce a Major Hindrance to a Minor (if possible). With the GM’s permission, and if it makes sense, two Advances may be saved up and spent to remove a Major Hindrance.

Alternative houserules for when to advance

These rules are for discussion and are not currently canon for our game.

The above advancement rules will take a charater from the rank of Seasoned (our starting level) to Legendary (SWADE’s maximum “level”) in about 9-12 months of play. There’s no level cap in SWADE; you can continue to advance forever, but your character does become more and more powerful. Eventually this will cause me problems - it’ll get harder and harder to create challenges without stretching the narrative - and we’ll have to talk about retirement.

There’s a few options we could take here:

  1. Ignore it, and either have your characters tear through opponents like tissue paper or lean further into pink mohawk and get bigger and bigger opponents, even if that starts to get silly.
  2. Retire characters at some appropriate point after Legendary rank.
  3. Slow the rate of progression down somehow to delay when we have to do the above.

Some ideas for how to slow stuff down:

  1. Simply award less karma across the board.
  2. Continue to award karma at the same rate but change the amount of karma it takes to advance on a curve as you rank up. So at Novice, it might be 5 karma to advance; at Seasoned, 10; but then it goes up to 15 and 20 points as you progress through Veteran, Heroic and Legendary.
  3. Keep karma and advances the same, but require more advances to go through the ranks. See below for an example. As stuff like Edges and your LP budget (etc etc) are gated behind your rank, this is something of a compromise; you get advances at the same rate, but it takes longer to get access to the really powerful edges.
  4. Some combination of (2) and (3).

Example of (3): normal SWADE uses four advances for each rank. Here, we make it only three advances to get from Novice to Seasoned, then +1 advances per rank after that; so it’s four for Seasoned to Veteran, five for Veteran to Heroic, etc. This doesn’t produce a huge change but is just an example. Obviously we could further change these however we want.

Number of advances Normal SWADE rank Possible houserule
0 Novice Novice
1 Novice Novice
2 Novice Novice
3 Novice Seasoned
4 Seasoned Seasoned
5 Seasoned Seasoned
6 Seasoned Seasoned
7 Seasoned Veteran
8 Veteran Veteran
9 Veteran Veteran
10 Veteran Veteran
11 Veteran Veteran
12 Heroic Heroic
13 Heroic Heroic
14 Heroic Heroic
15 Heroic Heroic
16 Legendary Heroic
17 Legendary Heroic
18 Legndary Legendary