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Characters in games using the Ubiquity Roleplaying System often begin play with fewer than 2 Style points. Methods of gaining them, and situations for using them are clearly defined in the various settings using the system, but little indication is given for the number of points the average character in an ongoing campaign might accrue. Similarly, the rate of use versus acquisition is vague. A notation in the rules indicates that GMs ought to limit players to earning 5 points per session, but that there is no cap for total points a character can have at one time.

Obviously, allowing characters to rack up too many points without needing to spend them on thwarting evil will dilute tension, and starving them for points will likewise starve a game of the heroic action the system and settings promise.

Of course, each game and group will develop differently and their game will express localized tastes, but in general I suspect that there are thresholds of 'too few' and 'too many' Style points on which most can agree.

  • The example of play in Hollow Earth Expedition has its protagonaist spending 8 Style points very quickly at the start of an encounter against very fearsome opposition - citing that these are all the points the player has.

  • The example of play in Desolation has more conservative uses of Style and does not give any indication of how many points are in the characters' pools.

  • All for One: Regime Diabolique does not provide an example of play, but examples throughout the book cite spending multiple Style points at a time.

SO:

If one were to organize a one-shot, a limited run game, or if one were just starting out, what number of Style points per character is recommended to keep tense situations interestingly dangerous, while also giving players the freedom and ability to 'be the hero'?

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(FYI answerers, this is the sort of question that is best answered from experience rather than conjecture.) –  SevenSidedDie Apr 16 '11 at 16:53
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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I've run a number of runs using Ubiquity, both at home and at cons. I have very rarely had to deal with a player hoarding Style points (at least not for very long). It's a game-style thing; I encourage the players to use their Style by showing them the cool things they can do with them and that more Style points are always available as long as they participate and join in the fun.

In Ubiquity, Style points (or chips, since we usually use poker chips to represent them) serve as a positive reinforcement tool. A character is defined using Motivations and Flaws. If the character plays true to his Motivation, or willingly succumbs to his Flaw, there is an instant reward of style points that can then be used to make the character perform better. So the GM has a method to guide the players towards a communal enjoyable experience.

Essentially, the more fun you make the game for everyone, the more Style chips you get.

If a player hoards his chips, he is less able to be heroic and, therefore has less of a chance to gain more Style points, while a player that uses his in a steady manner will generally find more chips coming back his way.

For con runs, I generally start the players with a minimum of 3 Style chips, and make sure to reward cool roleplaying actions and events with more. For continuing games, players do not get to keep chips between adventures, always starting with the same amount each time. This encourages players to use all the chips they have during the final encounter, which is usually when they need them the most!

There are no real hard numbers to go by, since, as you hinted in the question, that really becomes an individual element of each gaming group. Based on my experience, each group will eventually arrive at a desired level as they game. The one thing I do recommend is to avoid stinginess. There's really not a concept of having "too many Style points" in Ubiquity.

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Chosen for answering all elements of the question fully. Thanks~ –  Runeslinger Apr 18 '11 at 7:50
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To me Style Chips are a way for a GM to reward both good role playing and when exciting things happen. I tend to award a lot of Style points, provided that they'll be used in an adventure. Sometimes, if a player is role playing their PC well, especially if they're doing things because of faults and critical failures on the dice (e.g., if the player rolls a 0 and gets a result that the player knows is wrong and acts on it, that gets Style). Also, if the players do something knowing that it'll have a negative effect, but is definitely in character, that gets rewarded with Style (e.g., a player running Gilligan (from Gilligan's Island) shooting a flare gun into a ship loaded with dynamite).

I also feel that having more Style points allows for characters to be able to perform more "pulp-ish" actions. The hardest task of a GM is to make certain that there's a balance of awarding style and the style chips being used. They'll typically earn and use them at the beginning, getting a comfortable amount by the middle, and towards the end be about completely out.

As long as there's tension throughout the adventure, don't be too worried whether you've awarded too much Style.

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