Advancement and rewards

Character improvement and other goodies

There are two kinds of rewards my characters earn from a mission: karma and nuyen. Nuyen is used to fund downtime actions. Karma is used to Advance the characters.

I typically award karma at a rate of 3-5 per session, depending on how much the PCs 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.)

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 made a small change and re-introduced 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 my PCs than just SWADE advances, but it doesn’t change any game balance.

Alternative houserules for when to advance

These rules are for discussion with my table 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 advancesNormal SWADE rankPossible houserule