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Beats As Bennies

Good Advice Found in "Deviant: The Renegades"

By Neal LitherlandPublished 20 days ago 3 min read

The Chronicles of Darkness covers a huge variety of monsters, ranging from vampires and werewolves, to the damaged souls of changelings, and the tormented existence of the artificial beings known as Prometheans. Of all the games out there, though, one of the most unique is Deviant: The Renegades. A dark twist on superheroes, Deviants have been broken in ways that leave scars, and they've become something more than human... but also less. Wounded and pursued by dark conspiracies, it is a game unlike anything else the setting has to offer.

However, there's also a footnote on page 97 that I think it worth talking about, because it fixes a rather glaring problem with the Chronicles of Darkness system, and it provides you better options for your game in general.

From Beats To Bennies

In the Chronicles of Darkness system, you gain experience points which act as your currency for adding new abilities to your character as the chronicle progresses. Everything from increasing your attributes like Strength and Intelligence, to improving your skills, to gaining new powers costs you a certain amount of XP. When this edition of the Storyteller System came out, though, it introduced the concept of the Beats System.

Short for Story Beats, the basic idea was that instead of just giving everyone a set amount of experience points after every session, players would be encouraged to pursue particular paths in order to earn a beat. From resolving smaller goals, to completing story arcs, to just getting the crap kicked out of you, there are all sorts of different ways to earn beats. Once you have a certain number of beats, they become the amount of XP you earn. The problem with this system, of course, is that players who pursue earning beats will get more XP than players who don't, even if pursuing beats to get more points goes counter to actions that would make sense for a character to take, or even what makes sense for the story as it unfolds.

This issue became enough of a problem that, in some books, the publisher even suggested making a beat pool, ensuring that all players get the same amount of beats, divided evenly... but page 97 of Deviant proposes a far more elegant solution, in my opinion.

Numbers... it's all about numbers...

The sidebar in Deviant is relatively small, but it provides a simple option that I think it worth pursuing for Storytellers. This sidebar simply suggests that a standard amount of experience points by given to your players for every game, but that when they would earn a beat you instead give them a bennie. These bennies (a common term for a token or pool of additional points that can be used during a given game) can be used for basically anything you feel is appropriate as the Storyteller, but the suggestions made include: regaining a Willpower point, gaining the 8-again rule on a given roll, or adding a single success to a given roll.

This solves a lot of problems with a basic fix. Because beats are so deeply ingrained in the Chronicles of Darkness game system that you can't just remove them without making problems for yourself. This allows you to leave them in as a function of the game, but without making beats a requirement of character advancement. This means that if characters want to pursue these beats-as-bennies-pool, they can do so without distancing their progression from the other PCs, while still being rewarded for their efforts.

All in all, I think that rather than making this a sidebar suggestion, this is something Storytellers should really embrace. Especially since this removes one of the major obstacles that's kept me from really embracing the latest edition of the Chronicles of Darkness as both a player, and a Storyteller.

Like, Share, and Follow For More!

That's all for this week's Crunch topic! Don't forget to check out my full Vocal archive for more... or if you'd like to read some of my books, like my sci-fi dystopian thriller Old Soldiers, my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife or my latest short story collection The Rejects, head over to My Amazon Author Page!

To stay on top of all my latest releases, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and now on Pinterest as well! And if you'd like to help support me and my work, consider Buying Me A Ko-Fi or heading over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a regular, monthly patron! Even a little bit of help can go a long way, trust me on that one.

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About the Creator

Neal Litherland

Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.



Blog: Improved Initiative and The Literary Mercenary

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