The first experience system of MYFAROG was similar to that of RuneQuest, with skill ranks awarded to the skills used successfully. I saw this as the most realistic system, and stuck to it for a long time.
Eventually I realised that this experience system was very complex, hard to keep track of and also didn’t work very well in all contexts. Like how to learn a language? A new script? It just got too clunky. It also took away some of the role-playing aspect of the game, and forced the players to ‘skill grind’ in order to improve this or that skill. I recalled how I locked the W-key on my keyboard in Morrowind, and had my character run into a wall, whilst I did other things, for many hours some times – only to have my character improve his Athletics skill. My character became faster, sure, but what a bore.
An Entrance to the Realm of Death:
So I did something I never thought I would, and tried a level based system. It worked well, but there are no ‘classes’ or ‘professions’ in MYFAROG (only ‘character roles’, similar to ‘achievements’ in computer games, only the character roles actually matter), and the level system was only ever used to gain new skill and spell ranks, new attribute ranks and new talents. Although it worked well, it also took a lot of freedom away from the players. Instead of developing their characters as they saw fit, it forced them to whenever they leveled up award this or that many skill ranks to skills, gain one talent or one attribute rank, and then wait for the next time the character leveled up before anything could be done in this context again.
The level based system encourages more role-playing than the ‘skill grind’ system does, sure, but it is horribly unrealistic, and it just takes away so much freedom from the player in relation to how his character advances.
So I did what I should have done to start with, and made a system where experience points are used to buy skill ranks, new spells, new spell ranks, new talents and new attribute ranks, similar to that of most modern games, really (but I think I saw it first in GURPS). The player can buy whatever he can afford, and if he can not afford what he wants he can save the experience points until he does. If he wishes to play a character who only develop his skills, then fine, he can. Or a character who just buys new talents all the time. Or a character with very good attributes.
The MYFAROG player can do pretty much whatever he wants to with his character, and as I see it: that is the main attraction with role-playing games in general. Being forced to follow a path others have set up for you is no fun. I want to play however and whatever I like to, and then when I learn to like my character with time, the immersion comes naturally, willfully and with great joy.
Some limitations in MYFAROG:
Max 2 new ranks to each attribute (base = 3 to 18; max = 20)
Max 15 ranks to most skills (max 5 or 10 to some)
Max Int * 3 spells known
Max 15 ranks to each spell
Max 65 (= all) talents
Male characters can not gain the ‘Valkyrja’ or the ‘Maenad’ character roles
Female characters can not gain the ‘Einheri’ or ‘Bacchante’ character roles
Limitations to characters of most all races
Alignment limitations; certain character roles have a pre-requisite in this context
Even if you survive all else, time will eventually kill your character….
PS. MYFAROG has been completed now, but I wait for the regional maps to be drawn before I can print and publish it.