It’s the season of giving. In that spirit, I’m going to offer some advice and under-the-hood information about character rewards in Earthdawn.

The recommended Legend Awards on page 120 of the Gamemaster’s Guide are calculated to advance player characters at a reasonably steady pace. We derived this by figuring out how much it costs to advance in Circle and dividing that up into a number of game sessions.

The exact Legend total can change based on how you distribute your starting points, but it amounts to only a couple hundred Legend — it might be a big deal at the very start of your career, but it’s miniscule when you’re a Journeyman and getting thousands of Legend Points each session.

For example, to qualify for Fourth Circle, you need to raise your 7 Discipline talents (5 from First Circle, one each from Second and Third) to Rank 4. Six of these are already at Rank 3 (because they needed to be to reach Third Circle). Thos costs (500 * 6), or 3000 Legend Points.

Then the Third Circle Discipline talent needs to be raised from Rank 0 to Rank 4, which costs 100+200+300+500 = 1100 Legend Points. This means that the minimum Legend needed to go from Third to Fourth Circle is 4100 Legend. (Of course, this doesn’t factor in advancing optional talents, increasing skills, raising attribute values, weaving permanent threads, or any of the other myriad things you might spend points on.)

After running the numbers for a character’s full progression, the other factor at play is how many game sessions should it to take for a character to earn that many Legend Points. From these numbers, we do the math and that gives us the recommended “Legend per Session” awards. The range comes from deciding on a “fast” advancement and a “slow” advancement — understanding, again, that actual advancement will be a bit slower because of all the other stuff you can spend those points on.

Going back to our Fourth Circle example, we know a character needs to earn 4100 Legend before they can qualify. Breaking that down into a range of session awards gives us these figures:

  • 1 Session: 4100/1 = 4100 Legend/session
  • 2 Sessions: 4100/2 = 2050 Legend/session
  • 3 Sessions: 4100/3 = 1367 Legend/session
  • 4 Sessions: 4100/4 = 1025 Legend/session
  • 5 Sessions: 4100/5 = 820 Legend/session
  • 6 Sessions: 4100/6 = 683 Legend/session
  • 7 Sessions: 4100/7 = 586 Legend/session

(Fractions are rounded off, since you can’t award fractional Legend Points.)

At this point, it’s just a matter of deciding what seems appropriate and picking values that fit — and it’s more art than science. Two to three sessions for “fast” advancement seems good, while five to six sessions feels right for “slow” advancement. Picking pretty, round-number values in those areas… 800 to 2000 seems like a good range. That sets the bounds for the awards given to Third Circle characters (who are working their way toward Fourth).

As a bit of sanity check, we look at what happens if all the sessions give the average award value (in our example: 1,400 Legend per session means it will take 2.93 sessions to earn the minimum needed to qualify for Fourth Circle).

Remember, these are minimums. I would add a fudge factor for all the extra spending that is available — an extra session every four is a good place to start.

If you crunch all the numbers for advancement and look at the recommended awards in the Gamemaster’s Guide, it comes out to be about 67 session awards (using nothing but the average award value) to earn the minimum required to advance from a brand-new First Circle character to Fifteenth Circle.

Of course, with all the other stuff on which to potentially spend Legend Points, the actual number of sessions would be longer (about 84 session awards with my 25% fudge factor).

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look under the hood. Next time around, we’ll take this information and apply it to monetary rewards.