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In Beyonder, when a character levels up, they can spend some Essence to increase one of their Barriers. They gain a Barrier Ability every time they do this. There are also paired-Energy Barriers, which a character gains by increasing two different Barriers.

Does a character get an additional Barrier Ability for overcoming a paired-Energy Barrier, in addition to the one they get for increasing a single Barrier?

The Rulebook is rather coy on this topic. This is all it says (p. 98, emphasis mine):

[...] In addition, whenever you overcome a Barrier you can choose a Barrier ability.

When you increase your Barrier, find the list of abilities below for the relevant Energy type (Body if you’ve just overcome a Body Barrier, for instance). You can choose any ability equal to or lower than your new Barrier.

Note that there are also Barrier abilities for paired Energies—Inner, Outer, and Ethereal. For instance, if you have Barriers in both Mental and Emotion you can choose Inner Barrier abilities. This is done in the same way as choosing abilities for a single Energy, but the lower of the two Barriers is used to determine number, maximum level, etc.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I made the tag; as the site's leading expert on it, it'd be great if you were to edit the tag wiki to give it a meaningful description. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Oct 30 '17 at 2:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman Thanks! I have submitted an edit to the tag wiki. \$\endgroup\$ – gone Oct 30 '17 at 4:51
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You gain one Barrier Ability when you increase a Barrier.

You do not gain an additional ability if your Barriers happen to be in paired Energies. One Barrier increase, one Barrier Ability. (There are no "paired-Energy Barriers", which seems to be part of the confusion here. There are only "paired-Energy Barrier Abilities".)

The designers eventually clarified this point on their blog:

Playtesters of Beyonder were unclear about whether this [paired-Energy] Barrier Ability was in addition to the normal one or instead of it. After carefully considering the implications for game balance, we have decided that the Barrier Abilities available for Opposed Energies, as well as those for The Six, give you additional options to choose from, not extra abilities. This decision was made because these abilities are very potent. However, to add some extra control, if you do choose one of the Opposed Energy abilities or The Six, you may also switch one of your previously chosen Barrier Abilities for another of equal or lesser Barrier. This reflects your character’s additional control over the Energies that suffuse their being.

In other words, if you have Body Barrier 1, and then add Physic Barrier 1 to that, you can choose exactly one of the Physic Barrier 1 Abilities or the Outer Barrier 1 abilities. As a consolation, you can then re-assign your original Body Barrier 1 Ability, replacing it with any other Body Barrier 1 or Physic Barrier 1 Ability.

From a player's perspective, getting one Barrier Ability instead of two turns out to be more balanced anyway. Those paired-Energy Abilities are more powerful than they look, so much so that they're easily competitive with single-Energy Abilities several levels higher.

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