Ironclaw :Are You Experienced?

Copyright ©2001 By Joseph Teller

Originally Published in Interregnum APA

Ironclaw is the Anthropomorphic Fantasy Role-Playing game that is published and copyright 1999, 2001 by Sanguine Productions Ltd. (See :

I find the experience award system too limiting and the GM we have for Ironclaw playtesting has always made the 'extra' point block be a competitive one that only one player would be awarded. This has made for very limited character development and there is a high dislike by many of the players that would be playing in my "Timeclaw" (Dr. Who setting, Ironclaw mechanics) game for this kind of competitive playing style.

So for Timeclaw I changed the experience system to reflect a different set of values and needs, including giving players much-desired feedback regarding their roleplaying. This system could be adapted to regular Ironclaw as well.

Everyone gets a 'flat' point award for being present and involved in the game, of 3-2-1. Then the GM privately awards additional point blocks (which can be combined with those from the flat block but not with each other). These blocks will range from 0 to 3 in each category.

The categories I came up with (with some help from Kiralee) are:

Learning Experiences

Cooperation: This marks the ability of the character/player to work with the others "as a team". We wanted to discourage 'loner' characters in our games as they are usually more disruptive than useful or interesting to have around.

Idiom: This is the ability of the player to portray the character they've built. If the honorable character does dishonorable acts they will not be awarded idiom points. If the Heroic character acts cowardly (or the coward acts the hero) then they are acting outside their idiom. If the player uses out of character knowledge to succeed then they are definitely out of their idiom.

Genre: This is the ability of the player and character to stay within the proscribed genre of the game. In Dr Who a "Kill everyone, loot the bodies" playing style is not within Genre, and neither is failing to investigate a mystery or trying to make huge amounts of financial profit.

One place I'm bending the rules here about is romance and sex - although they did not happen much in Dr. Who this is a mature Dr. Who game and we accept the presence of such occurring within the game so long as its within character idiom. A character that tended towards lots of foul language (unless in an alien tongue and never translated) would be outside Genre as well.

In a different setting the Genre expectations would be different. In Jadeclaw I would presume that the concepts of honor would be very important, and in Ironclaw the affects of Class Struggle and staying within the expectations of one's position within society would be very important.

Humor: We appreciate the humorous side of life within our games as well as the serious. So those who say funny things or take funny actions that do not detract from the game will be awarded.

Creativity: This is for clever thinking and actions and finding ideas to get thru situations that the GM has failed to plan for and which make the game more interesting. It will also be used to award points for folks who put extra effort into their characters (producing artwork, journals, fiction, etc. related to their character).

Effectiveness: This is the ability of the player and character used to advance the story line and its events. A character that simply hangs around and does nothing but follow folks around until the big action scene will find themselves not getting too many of these points, those who actually keep the flow of the game and in-character play going and who take action instead of reaction will get effectiveness points.

Learning Experiences: these points may come earmarked for a specific skill or trait, or may be a loose block like the rest. Basically this is the character learning something about themselves, the universe, or their fellow companions during events. This is the fuzziest category, and includes rewards for those who take risks (successful or not) that can be learned from. These will be the rarest points awarded within the game, and often 0 will be awarded here.

So, instead of the standard 10 or 11 point total award limits of basic Ironclaw we have a wider range of points (but getting a 3 point block in all categories will be nearly unheard of, more likely is a 6 to 15 point award (assuming 1 point in most categories, and a few greater point awards for a session).

A GM who feels that the point delivery is being too accelerated under the system can choose to reduce the flat rate points for basically being involved to a 2-1 award instead of the 3-2-1 award. Generally point inflation in our playtests of the system hasn't shown a great need for this for our own group.

This also gives the players something they complained about the lack of under the group point award system we used in other games, feedback from the GM in regards to the game and their playing and some guidelines as to what is valued with the game by the GM and players.

Now, the information is distributed on index cards to the players (either at the end of the session or the start of the next session) and thus kept private. This is to reduce the competitive problem that occurs in many games by handing out eps.

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