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Experience and the 3 Act Structure 
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Post Experience and the 3 Act Structure
Introduction
Experience and story structure in Penetrator is designed to follow a screenplay-like format. You can envision this as the usual 3-Act Structure normally taught, the 5-part Hero's Journey structure sometimes used or referred to as the 'monomyth', the more broken down 7-act version of the Hero's Journey, or even the Japanese Jo-ha-kyu version of screenplay. This gives several benefits to both the players and the GM. For one the GM has an easy-to-follow format for pacing, introducing NPCs, setting and action and will help the GM know when and how to wrap things up. Experience is handed out by Acts, which also allows easy pacing in that department, and allows for the characters to use XP as they go to prepare for upcoming scenes.

Experience
Experience in Penetrator are divided into two point pools: Move Points (MP) and Buy Points (BP). MP may be used to removed points from one skill or stat and transfer them to another. In this way you can lower or even get rid of skills that your character does not use, as their skill atrophies with disuse, and into skills that your character uses more often, or even into newly acquired skills. These distinctions need not be made prior to moving points, but can be alluded to later in roleplay. "Oh yeah, I stopped in at a firing range on that last world and shot a few hundred rounds through this awesome new SMG I bought. Let me show you a trick the range manager showed me..."

BP is used to directly purchase additional skills and attribute points to show a characters growth over time. New skills, stronger body and a more honed mind develop as a character gains experience through their adventures.

3 Act Structure
In the simplest 3-Act Structure the plot can be divided into Act I: Set-up, where the stage is set for the plot. The problems and main characters involved in the plot are introduced. Some event happens which reveals or alludes to the problems to come in the rest of the plot. Act I ends with a Dramatic Question: "Will the hero save the maiden?", "Will the characters survive the attack of the villains?", etc.

This leads into Act II: Rising Action. In Act II, the characters try to confront the problems shown in Act I, but begin to run into problems or end up having to acquire new skills, materials or tools to complete the task at hand. Sometimes this will involve some sort of unexpected plot twist. Usually Act II will involve a great deal of character development or even entrance of some sort of mentor or supporting cast characters.

Finally in Act III: Resolution the plot will reach it's climax, the characters confronting the problems revealed in Act I and finally answering the Dramatic Question. Following this climax there will be a period of plot resolution, where life is shown returning to a state of equilibrium. The characters go back to their normal lives, having learned something, or having been changed in some way. Alternately, some character may have been killed, or changed in some way that prevent sthem from returning to their normal lives.

Hero's Journey
There is also the 5-part Hero's Journey as an alternate format consisting of the following parts (From Wikipedia):
Quote:
1: A call to adventure, which the hero has to accept or decline,
2: A road of trials, regarding which the hero succeeds or fails,
3: Achieving the goal or ("boon"), which often results in important self-knowledge,
4: A return to the ordinary world, as to which, again, the hero can succeed or fail, and
5: Application of the boon, in which what the hero has gained can be used to improve the world


7-Sequence Hero's Journey
There can be a further breakdown of the Hero's Journey in to a 7-sequence Hero's Journey breakdown which contains 3 acts.

The first act contains sequence 1 and 2:
1 Setup: The characters and setting are introduced.
2 Point of Attack: The Dramatic Question or Quest is introduced. A call to action is made.

The second act contains sequences 3 through 5:
3 Initial Struggle: The heroes begin their quest and begin to encounter the struggles they must overcome. A point of no return may be breached.
4 Complications: Additional unforeseen problems may be uncovered, new allies introduced or another battle fought.
5 Valiant Attempts: Action or conflicts emerge as the heroes approach their final conflict. Things look uncertain and dangerous, leaving the plot in jeopardy for Act III.

In the third act, sequences 6 and 7 round out the plot:
6 Major Crisis: Final battles are waged, villains confronted and all the accumulated shit hits the fan.
7 Climax/Resolution: The heroes emerge (hopefully) victorious (or not). Results of the quest are clarified and made known. The heroes return home with the spoils of war (or the repercussions of their actions).

Jo-Ha-Kyu
Jo-Ha-Kyu is a methodology used in many Japanese arts, include screenplay writing. It espouses that a story should start slowly, with the setup and expositions, then pick up pace as you move into the action and climactic battles, and finish quickly with a short, concise resolution. This is often a tidy way of going about these story peices, regardless of which format you utilize in your story. Giving your characters breathing room in the setup and thoroughly exploring what is about to happen gives everyone a chance to prepare mentally and to look into possible plans and resources they may need for the rest of the plot.

Moving quickly through the action and up to the final battle serves to keep the players' attention and build dramatic tension as the final battle approaches. Long breaks, or too much time wasted here can defuse tensions and give the characters too much preparation time, making the final conflict seem too easy.

Then, after the final battle, lingering too long on goodbyes and cleanup of the plot can become tedious and the players may lose interest before the GM resets and moves into the setup of their next adventure (if there will be one). Better to make a swift, clean break from the plot and revel in a story well-told.


Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:22 pm
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Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:22 pm
Posts: 50
Post Re: Experience and the 3 Act Structure
MP & BP Awards
Over the course of the story, the characters will be awarded BP and MP. The benchmark for these rewards is a total reward of 6 Build Points and a reward on the final act/sequence of 12 combined Move and Build Points. There is no set Move Point per story total goal, but Move Point totals should start relatively small at the beginning of the story and become larger per act/sequence until the final XP reward at the end of the story. This allows the characters to adapt their skillset to the changing story and develop their characters over time, without too much explosive overall character growth. The exact breakdown is up to the GM's discretion; Some examples are below:

Code:
Act I: 3 MP / 1 BP
Act II: 6 MP / 2 BP
Act III: 9 MP / 3 BP

Code:
Hero Sequence 1: 4 MP / 0 BP
Hero Sequence 2: 6 MP / 0 BP
Hero Sequence 3: 7 MP / 1 BP
Hero Sequence 4: 8 MP / 2 BP
Hero Sequence 5: 9 MP / 3 BP

Code:
Act I: Sequence 1:   4 MP / 0 BP
Act I: Sequence 2:   5 MP / 0 BP
Act II: Sequence 3:  6 MP / 0 BP
Act II: Sequence 4:  7 MP / 1 BP
Act II: Sequence 5:  8 MP / 1 BP
Act III: Sequence 6: 9 MP / 2 BP
Act III: Sequence 7: 10 MP / 2 BP


Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:00 am
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Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:22 pm
Posts: 50
Post Re: Experience and the 3 Act Structure
Spending MP/BP
Upon receiving an XP reward, the player may spend his character's MP/BP to raise and lower his character's statistics. MP is spent by moving that many points worth of skills, attributes, etc from one stat to another on the character's sheet. BP is simply added into a stat to raise it's level. You may combine points moved with MP along with BP to create a larger raise in a given stat.

Levels in a Skill are worth the same as the values listed in the character generation thread: 1 for levels 1-3, 2 for 4 and 5, and 3 for level 6. Skill groups still give a -1 discount when raising or lowering the entire group at once. Specialties are 1 point.

Attributes levels are worth 4 times the listed values: 4 points for levels 1-3, 8 for levels 4 and 5, and 12 for level 6.

Connections are worth double for either Influence or Power.

Wealth usually not accumulated or lost through XP, but if the GM decides to allow a character to trade off a piece of gear with MP, or to acquire one using MP, use just the point value of the total level of the item times 4. So a level 6 piece of gear would be worth 12 points (3pts for level 6 x 4 = 12pts). Generally speaking only hard-to-come-by signature or treasured possessions should be allowed to be traded off, and purchasing gear with MP/BP should be reserved for story-building pieces of gear that basically become a facet of the character and story's development by themselves, such as signature weapons, flagships, etc.

Lifestyle levels are an exception to the restrictions on Wealth expenditures, and are normally available at double point values.


Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:13 am
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