JB planted this seed in my head and now it is growing.
In the Soft Horizon system there are a couple of things that happen as characters advance and they aren’t perfect. First, you tend to just get better at things and so eventually you fail less. And that means that some major steam in the system leaks out. That’s no good.
Second, your advancement lacks diversity. Sure you can advance specializations, but even that is just getting better and better. You are refining your capabilities but not really expanding them. Since we want the Soft Horizon to eventually get downright magical, advancement should nicely lead us there.
So JB suggested some exceptional abilities. Stunts, if you must, but let’s not call them that. Powers maybe. So try this:
Once you have a d12, you open up the ability to gain Powers with advancement.
Whenever you roll an advancement you can instead add a Power. Your d12 takes you well out of the ordinary and into the legendary. You are being revealed as a citizen of the multiverse and not just your home plane.
So far in my head, Powers are just selected from a list. I’d like them to be generateable somehow but I’m still thinking about that.
A first effort would be to make them literally exceptional — a power lets you break a rule. So let’s look at a few of those:
Saviour. When you heal a community’s wound you get a scar with that community. As with pillar, it extends by healing more communities.
Leader. On a legendary success you can introduce an NPC that saves the day. They are your pal. Add a bond with that NPC. Tell us more about them. Again this extends by adding more NPCs. This is not strictly a power that increases your ability but rather it makes more people who know and love you. It extends your narrative persepctives by adding more people.
Inventor. On a legendary success you can introduce some Loot that solves the problem. You get that loot. Describe it. Give it dice (either 3d6 or 1d8). Take this multiple times to improve the loot. Loot scale: (3d6 or 1d8), 2d8, 1d10, 2d10, 1d12
Ascend. You achieve your true form. You get a new head. You are no longer a citizen of any specific place. You realize a new purpose. Add a debt.
Tough as nails. One of your wounds does not count against your muscle skill. I think this can increase in the obvious way: take it again and your first two wounds are ignored. This starts to put you in superhero territory pretty fast!
Will of steel. One of your debts does not count against your mind rolls. As with tough as nails, this increases in an obvious fashion.
Planewalk. You can shift to a new plane. Describe how that happens. This might need a session limit (like once per session). Can you take someone else? I think you have to, really, for the game to work (preserve party integrity). How might it increase though? Maybe the next step allows you to open a gate for a period of time in which anyone can come through? The time period expands perhaps?
Pillar of the community. When you heal a community’s debt you get a bond with that community. Because this is a bond on your character sheet, you can use it even in circumstances that have nothing to do with that particular community: people have heard of you and your deeds and respond to that. I think this logically extends by simply bonding with more communities.
I think these things might chain — maybe you need to Ascend in order to unlock some powers?
Any further thoughts?
The Soft Horizon is a series of games. Currently The King Machine is available (and it’s really really good), Sand Dogs is coming soon, and the Handbook is being assembled — soon Patrons will have a glimpse.