Goal-based Advancement In Fate

Somebody asked me about the advancement scheme I used in Bastards, so I am posting the write-up I did at the start of the campaign. I should add some commentary, but for now, here it is. Bear in mind that this was written for players with no previous Fate experience.

Experience in Fate is measures in milestones; characters are always evolving, but dramatic milestones warrant greater advancement. In The Bastards, milestones are connected to advancement in one of the character's schemes.

What's a Scheme?
At some point, each player should concoct a scheme to get their character towards the goal on their character sheet. A scheme should be a major milestone towards the goal; the starting assumption is that each goal will require two to four schemes. We'll see how that bears up. Each scheme should be composed of three or more phases (steps, whatever).

Advancement is linked to the progress of your schemes! Your character will change no matter what, but if you want to add skill ranks and increase your refresh rate, concoct a scheme and carry it out.

A scheme is an Aspect - you can invoke it whenever you are actively working towards your immediate scheme, or use it to declare that you already took some action that would be in keeping with your scheme.
There is room on your character sheet to write your immediate scheme and three phases, at least in shorthand, but you'll probably want to keep notes elsewhere. You can also post your schemes in the wiki.

Below are some milestones, and the possible advancements. The term "table consensus" is used pretty freely when discussing changing aspects; if you feel another player is changing an aspect in a way the story doesn't justify, you are free to say so. Discussion is encouraged here - there is nothing wrong with a player changing an aspect simply because they aren't enjoying playing it.

Session Milestone
At the beginning of a session, players may each do ONE of the following:
• Change one of their five basic Aspects. This requires table consensus - everyone must agree that the new aspect is relevant.
• Swap two adjacent skills on the ladder. The skill being raised must have been used in the previous session, and the skill being lowered must have either had no successes in the previous session or else failed at least once.
• Add a new stunt, reducing their refresh by one
• Add a new relationship aspect to their list; it must involve somebody they were in conflict with during the previous session.

Players may also change their scheme at the start of a session, in addition to one of the above.

Phase Milestone
When a character completes a phase toward one of her schemes, the player:
• Gets a session milestone, as above; and
• Gains another skill point. It may be added immediately to her skill ladder as a new +1 skill; or it may be banked (in "unspent points") until she has enough to add a skill at a higher rank.

When adding more than one point of skills, the player can move skills up the ladder to fill the slot, as long as no skill moves more than one rank. (For example, if a player adds a +3 "slot" to their sheet, they can move a +2 skill to fill it, move up a +1 skill to take the place of the old +2 skill, and add a new +1 skill on the bottom.)

Scheme Milestone
When a character has executed one of her schemes, the player:
• Gains both Session and Phase milestones, as above; and
• May change either her Place or Goal. This requires table consensus, and should reflect events in the story, but fairly radical character revisions are possible at this point.

Story Milestone
When every player at the table has carried out a scheme, all players:
• Gain a new point of Refresh - that is, they gain an extra fate point at the beginning of each session going forward; and
• Clear any extreme consequences, provided they were not acquired in the previous session. This simply opens up the consequence, it does not change whatever Aspect was created by the consequence (although that can now be changed at any session milestone, as usual.)


This system got a lot of use for two-thirds of the campaign, and less at the end.

Schemes were things like: Manufacture a city-wide crisis; Get my younger brother killed by Delphineus; Remove the Captain of the Guards; etc.
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