Advancement in the Handsome Ranch adventure path.
The Handsome Ranch adventure path is designed to carry starting Greenhorn characters (or Novice, if you’re using the Cortex Core Rules) to the level of Veterans. The difference between the two “starting” levels is (according to the Cortex Core Rules): 6 Attribute points, 6 Skill points and 4 Trait points. Now granted, the player character might not follow that exact progression, ending up with more Attribute point purchases and fewer Skill point purchases for example, but in the end that’s still a rough approximation of advancing from Greenhorn to Veteran. And that rough approximation is all we’re really shooting for.
Now, once you boil down all those numbers you end up with roughly 188 Advancement points in difference between the two levels. Since we’re not being really rigid here, not wanting to tie our player characters down by insisting they spend those Advancement points in any particular way, we’ll go ahead and figure that this is our real goal here. 188 Advancement points.
Since each session of play grants the player character between 1 and 4 Advancement points (getting one “freebie” just for showing up for the session) we’re going to assume an average of about 3.5 Advancement points per session. This assumes that the individual players in question show up for the session and met two or three of the other requirements for earning Advancement points. (Roleplaying, Plot Interaction and advancing the Story, namely.) Yes, we’re assuming a lot here but if your players aren’t pulling off two or three of these each session…well, sheesh. Smack your players.
To achieve the 188 Advancement point goal in something less that 54 or so sessions (I mean, come on! That‘s a lot!), we’re going to cheat a bit. Just a little bit.
We’re going to break down the whole campaign into different chapters. Each chapter will consist of about three sessions each with the third and last session of each part being considered a “The End” adventure. Thus by completing one chapter of the campaign they can lay claim to the big Advancement point bonus (3-6 points) one gets from wrapping up a storyline, plot or chapter.
Again, dealing freely with rough estimates, we’re going to assign an average of about 8.5 Advancement points for those specific sessions rather than 3.5 (assuming an award of about 5 Advancement points for the bonus in each). It doesn’t have to be a 5 point bonus each time but we’re just playing around with numbers here.
Now, just to shake things up a bit we’re setting up about eleven chapters to this adventure path. Each has about 3 sessions and the last session of each chapter should give us that Advancement point bonus.
That won’t quite bring us up into the neighborhood of 188 points, so we’re going stick a few little “Sidesteps” in here and there. Sidesteps are going to be some little mini-adventures with an average Advancement point award (about 3.5 on average) that are simply short and dirty little adventures. Side quests, if you will.
These sessions can be played anytime during the chapters they reside in (though they’ll usually work best as a “kick off“) and make a nice session for those times when your group hasn’t the spare time for a full adventure. They are fairly short by comparison and typically have little or nothing to do with the overall campaign. You can even skip them entirely without messing anything up, though you miss out on that little Advancement point boost. You can always stick in some other adventures of your own for that matter (or anyone else’s that fits) if you’re really dead set on getting that 188 Advancement point total by the time we’re through.
So there’s the rough framework we’ve set up for our campaign. Now we need only fill in the particulars. On to the background page for the Handsome Ranch adventure path.
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