[RPG] Skill Point vs. Refresh Progression/Ratio in Dresden Files RPG


We started our characters at 6 refresh and 20 skill points. The suggested progression is 1 skill point at the end of every scenario (a significant milestone) and 1 refresh + 1 skill point "when a few scenarios have concluded" (a major milestone).

Using this method, we have found ourselves 3 scenarios later with 7 refresh and 23 skill points; however, if we were to start new characters at 7 refresh, they would come with 25 skill points (not 23). Continuing down this road makes me feel like the ratio of refresh to skill points will continue to diverge.

I'm debating giving out intermediary skill points to maintain that 5:1 ratio, but curious to see what the rest of you guys are doing. Have you guys noticed the same thing? Does this pose a problem for the future?


Best Answer

The following is mostly anecdotal, but: It all depends on how big the story is going to get and what the mood is.

My party started out with five refresh, 20 skill points, and a skill cap of 4. A focused practitioner, a wereform, and a pair of minor talents. Around 30 sessions later, we concluded the campaign, at six refresh (Well, the very last session was at seven) and 35 skill points, cap 5. I've also run a few short lived games (One scenario, or two to three sessions) with high refresh characters. One time we even threw it up to 13 refresh! (and man, and an explosion that was! Haven't seen that much accidental playerdeath since the last time we ran Paranoia!) That said, those high refresh games actually had less than the recommended amount of skills.

Thing is, skills and refresh actually do completely different things in Dresden. Skills give you a way to model close, tense, mortal conflict. As long as the skill cap stays at 5 or below, the players are humans amid the world of the supernatural, and they can see the fantastic things around them, and run and hide and try to find some weakness to the horrible things outside. Every conflict probably has people walking away with consequences, and not small ones. The game has a bit of grit to it, is what I'm saying. If you've ever played shadowrun or a really good game of old World of Darkness, you know the mood I'm talking about. The more skills there are in play, the more the game is about skill. (I know, it took me a while to figure out that! Slow learner.)

The more refresh there is in play, the more the world tends to look like a story book. Strange powers become commonplace. Crazy random happenstance happens whenever it's convenient as players make declarations and the world of magic is impossible to ignore. Since skills are less powerful here, players often tend to use magic to solve problems that mortal means probably could have accomplished. A game of Exalted or new World of Darkness probably feels a little like this.

Don't think of skills and refresh as equal pieces of a 'levelup.' Think of the Skill/Refresh dynamic as a slider between mortal and supernatural, or between simulationist and storybook. The levels in the book are your halfway markers (actually, I suspect that those are the settings the authors and a majority of playtesters liked best) as apposed to a word of god ratio. Adjust them as you and your players like, to suit the tone of the game you're trying to run. Most games are built around one mood, and the system aids that. FATE isn't infinity flexible, but it can range pretty far if you tweak it a bit.

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