LoA title image for character advancement.

For tabletop RPG’s the journey is the game, there is no end game; it ends when the last adventure is run, the characters are retired (or killed), and a new campaign begins with new characters. You win by overcoming obstacles and surviving the day, only to come up against more diabolical challenges and more deadly foes. Over the course of their careers, characters grow more powerful and resourceful, gaining a reputation known far and wide – they build a Legacy.

A character’s Legacy consists of three components, Experience, Cunning, and Reputation, each building on the other as the saga unravels. With each new adventure, the characters will progress, advancing skills, and changing the way they are perceived in the world. In this system, characters gain levels by completing adventures, beginning at Level 0 and gaining one level per completed adventure. However, it should be noted that one adventure may take several session to complete.

At each level, characters gain one of three rewards, a number of skill ranks, a number of action points, or a reputation point, based on the Leveling Matrix. Character advancement builds on mechanics used in character creation. For each level that is gained, characters increase the chance for success based on ability score and how points are spent.

My Writing Distractions logo using the initials WD.

As characters adventure and gain experience their capabilities increase, this is referred to as leveling up. At each level characters may get Skills, Skill Points, Action Points, Training Points, Reputation Points, or increase their Character Rank. Details are included below and in the other tabs.

After a game session, the GM will let their players know if they may move their character to the next level. Depending on pacing, this could occur after each session or after specific story points have been achieved. The Leveling Matrix below is numbered 1-36 with the listed reward(s) for each level.

LevelSkillsSkill PointsAction PointsTraining Points
Reputation PointsCharacter Rank
0  5  Novice
1 3    
23 2   
3 3    
42 3   
5 3  1 
62 2   
73  1  
8  3   
102 211 
11 3    
122 3  Expert
133  1  
14 32   
152   1 
16  31  
17 3    
183 2   
193  1  
20 32 1 
22  31  
23 3    
243 2  Master
253  11 
26 32   
28  31  
29 3    
30  3 1 
313  1  
32 32   
34  31  
3533  1 
36333  Epic

At those levels were character gain skills, they may purchase a skill in any Specialty skill tree they own and in the Proficiency skill trees, or purchase spells (when applicable). Novice skills have a 1:1 skill cost, while Expert skills and spells have a 2:1 skill cost, and Master skills have a 3:1 skill cost.

Skills cannot be held for later purchase – if a skill is not purchased for the level, it is lost.

These points may be used to increase the chances of success. At a level where a character gains skill points, players may add up to one point to a Specialty skill they own, or any of the proficiencies. The skill point total is added to the skill rank (attribute + modifier) of all owned skills to determine the chance of success.

No more than one skill point can be placed into any one skill tree for that level, and they cannot be held for later use – if a skill point is not placed for that level, it is lost.

Granted frequently, a number of Action Points are gained at specific levels. These can be saved or spent at the player’s discretion over the course of the adventure and campaign. Used for a variety of effects, Action Points give the players the ability to influence events over the course of the game, including re-rolls, gaining modifiers, assigning difficulty modifiers, etc.

A full listing of how these points may be used is included in the Action Points tab.

Beginning at level 7, characters gain Training Points to further their capabilities. During downtime, it is assumed they practice existing skills and learn new skills, pick up spells, etc., but only those who are driven to be the best become the persons of Legend. Completely optional, these points can be used to focus on a skill, improve physical conditioning, practice crafting or professions, enhance studies, research new spells, increase attributes, or augment damage resilience. As different types of training can require one-to-four points, these can be used immediately or cached into a training aspect at the player’s discretion.

A full listing of how these points may be used is included in the Training Points tab.

At intermittent levels characters gain a Reputation Point. With these points, the character may choose to increase their Reputation Rank and Social Status, or spend them to gain other significant rewards, including armament bonuses, followers, and authority.

A full listing of available options and how they work is included in the Reputation Points tab.

This is a delineation of the experience, knowledge, and ability increases gained during adventuring. It is broken into four graded ranks that offers a rough progression of development as characters advance. Characters pass through each rank automatically as they level up, gaining specific capabilities, and the ability to more easily dispense with foes of a lower rank.

Novice. For the first twelve levels (0-11) characters are considered to be inexperienced adventurers, as they learn how to deal with situations and increase their abilities. At this rank the focus is on advancing existing specialty skill trees and proficiencies, with the addition of skills, spells, and skill points.

Expert. In the next twelve levels (12-23), characters have acquired the knowledge and experience they need to begin picking up more advanced skills and purchase new specialty skill trees. At this rank characters can gain Expert skills in current specialties that have a minimum of four skill points, purchase skills in any unowned specialty (gaining access to that skill tree specialty, which is advanced normally), or take a kill shot against Novice ranked foes at any time.

Master. In the next twelve levels (24-35), characters have a status of superiority, granting them access to the most advanced skills. At this rank, character can begin to purchase Master skills in current specialties that have a minimum of eight skill points or take a kill shot on a Novice or Expert ranked foe at any time.

Epic. At this level the characters become legendary; they are able to continue gaining experience awards at the same rate as Master rank as they continue to level up and may kill shots on a Novice, Expert, or Master ranked foe at any time.

Action Points

As adventurers travel a dangerous world it makes sense that they’d learn a few tricks, techniques, and gambits to help them survive, but players don’t live those threats. The Action Points mechanic is meant to emulate the level of craftiness, guile, and ingenuity that comes with living this type of dangerous life.

At intermittent levels, characters get a number of Action Points, which can be used to influence play during the game. A dynamic resource, these allow players to alter die rolls and manipulate roleplay situations. Exactly what can be done with them depends on the number of points that a player is willing to spend on one action. The degree of the effect rises with the number of points spent, but once points are spent, they’re gone.

Using Action Points

Because Action Points can potentially play havoc with an encounter, there are a few rules regarding their usage. As mentioned, a number of these points are gained at intermittent levels (per the Leveling Matrix), requiring the players to spend them judiciously. Some will use them for re-rolls often, while others will hoard them for use against the toughest foe. Their best use is somewhere in between, but it’s ultimately left to the discretion of the player.

There are, however, some rules regarding when and how they may be used.

  • Action Points may only be spent once per round
  • Any single foe can only be affected by Action Points one time per round
  • A Simple modifier cannot be made any easier
  • Action Points cannot be used for another character, unless otherwise noted

Also, players should keep in mind that Action Points are meant to be used in dramatic moments to create fun and memorable experiences. Getting into the habit of using them for re-rolls will ultimately take away from their usefulness.

Action Point Image with chips, die, and an explanation of NPC stances.

Action Point Effects

Depending on how players choose to spend them, character’s might have a small hoard of points or none. The exact effects of the Action Points depends on how many the player has and is willing to spend. As might be expected, the bigger the spend, the greater the effect.

One Point

  • Re-roll a dice action after a failed attempt
  • Add a Simple (+4) modifier to any dice action, before the attempt is made
  • Change the stance of an NPC by one level for a specific interaction (may be combined with any related Action Point usage)

Two points

  • Penalize a foe with a Difficult (-4) modifier to a dice action, before the attempt is made
  • Reduce a Critical Hit that is scored against the character to a standard hit
  • Act out of turn, begin initiative actions or take move actions at any point in the round
  • Sway the stance of a Neutral NPC to Friendly for a specific interaction

Three Points

  • Turn a standard hit into a Critical Hit
  • Inspire an ally with a Simple (+4) modifier to any single dice action
  • Automatically succeed without a die roll
  • Sway the stance of an Unfriendly NPC to Cordial for a specific interaction

Four Points

  • Cause any dice action that a GM makes against any character to fail, before the attempt is made
  • Act out of the initiative turn with any remaining attack actions (ignore speed factor rules)
  • Sway the stance of an Antagonistic NPC to Cordial for a specific interaction

Five Points

  • Cause any dice action that a GM makes against any character to fail, after the attempt is made
  • Take one extra action in the round (ignore speed factor rules)
  • Reset an interaction based on an NPCs response during a roleplay scenario to rewrite history

* A Dice Action is any action that requires a player to roll a die, such as a skill roll, armor check, saving throw, etc.

**A Roleplay Scenario is any non-combat interaction between a character and an NPC

Training Points

Most everyone with skills is going to practice, whether to increase their overall capabilities or pick up new capabilities. But for those who want to make their names and deeds the stuff of Legends, they must be driven. Training Points provide characters with the opportunity to display that drive and determination.

It is time spent off-panel that can be used for:

  • Individual Skill Focus (1)
  • Improved Physical Conditioning (1)
  • Crafting or Profession Practice (2)
  • Study Time (2)
  • Research (2)
  • Attribute Increase (3)
  • Fatigue Resolve (4)

As there are different point values associated with these, players must choose the type of training in which their character engages and either spend the points or cache them into one of the aspects. Each is described in detail below.

Individual Skill Focus

This straightforward spend allows the character put additional training into a single skill in a skill tree, adding a permanent +1 modifier per Training Point spent. Because this modifier applies only to a single skill, it does not count towards skill prerequisites for picking up Expert or Master level skills nor does it affect any other skills in the skill tree.

Improved Physical Conditioning

Whether Combat Fatigue or Casting Fatigue, once a combat encounter exceeds the number of rounds equal to the character’s Constitution score, that dreaded -4 fatigue modifier sets in. By improving their physical conditioning, characters are able to extend the number of rounds by one per Training Point spent.

Crafting or Profession Practice

Background skills can add a great deal to character development and provide useful opportunities to gain contacts, create personalized gear, find information, make money, etc. Because they often involve apprenticeships or other schooling, these are typically purchased during character generation and expensive to pick up later. So long as the proper resources are available to practice, characters can pick up specialties (S) under an owned parent background skill by spending two Training Points. Only specialties can be gained with these points.

Study Time

Learning new things requires time, patience, and a subject. So long as there are resources available to study said subject, characters can spend their downtime learning something new from the Scholarly or Industrial trees by spending two Training Points. Either parent skills or specialty (S) skills can be learned, but as always, in order to get a specialty (S) skill, the character must first have its parent skill.


Some casters are just overachievers, wanting to acquire as many spells as possible to increase the range of their abilities. Assuming they have access to the required resources, these characters can spend their spare time in libraries and laboratories mastering the ability to cast one new spell by spending two Training Points.

As always, this applies only to the available unknown spells in their current spellbook. Those with the skills to cast spells from other Foundations must have an available source of information, and those wanting to acquire spells from specialty spellbooks, must have the background skill requirements in addition to an available source of information.

Attribute Increase

It takes intense effort and determination to sculpt mind, body, or persona into something greater, but for those with the desire, Training Points can be spent to increase attribute scores. These can take the form of working out to build muscle mass (Strength), an intense aerobic regimen (Constitution), balance and flexibility exercises (Agility), coordination and awareness drills (Perception), seeking out information to read, listen, and learn (Knowledge), or engaging in ever-more challenging interactive roles (Influence). By taking the time and effort of focusing on one of these, characters can spend three Training Points to increase the appropriate attribute score by one.

There is a limit to the training, however, characters may not spend more than six training points on any one attribute score.

Fatigue Resolve

Whether dealing with Combat Fatigue or Damage Fatigue, that -4 modifier makes everything more difficult, but character’s can train to better fight through it. It is a process of study to recognize how to adapt and physically work around disabilities caused by exhaustion or injury combined with subjecting the body to intense physical strains to learn how to mentally deal with it and remain focused. By spending four Training Points that character reduces Fatigue modifiers by one.

Reputation Points

In order to level up, characters must achieve goals. As these achievements add up, it changes their relationship with the world. Exactly how this change is reflected is up to the player, using Reputation Points to buy into one of four reward paths.

  • Reputation Rank
  • Heirloom Design
  • Ally/Minion
  • Ascendancy

Each path has an escalating series of rewards that allows characters to build towards a specific goal or players may choose to pick up components of multiple rewards.

Reputation Rank

For those who want their name and story to grow into something legendary, with exaggerated tales of character exploits told around campfires the world over, this reward is for you. With every Reputation Point spent the character’s Reputation Rank increases by one.

In addition to modifiers that affect NPC reactions and any Influence-based roleplay attack skills, adding ranks will also increase the character’s Social Status once specific levels have been achieved, i.e., Recognized = Prestigious, Renowned = Aristocratic, and Famous = Royalty. After all, there is nothing quite like walking into a tavern with NPCs falling over themselves in recognition of the character’s notoriety.

Heirloom Design

Ancile, the mythical shield of Mars. Ascalon, the spear Saint George used to kill the dragon. Excalibur, sword of Arthur. The One Ring. Items are as much a part of the story as characters. Yes, finding Mjolnir can be cool, but that story has been told. How much cooler is it to design a weapon, shield, ring, etc, and then to name it yourself? Within the Reputation system, players can choose to follow the path of Heirloom Design can do just that.

Reputation Points can be used to purchase one of the three types of augments from the Craft Magic rules, without the normal requirements or process of crafting. Points can be used as follows:

     1Increase standard quality to masterwork quality
     1Purchase a Minor Modifier, Effect, or Power
     1Increase a Minor Modifier, Effect, or Power to Medium
     2Purchase a Medium Modifier, Effect, or Power
     2Increase a Medium Effect to Major
     4Purchase a Major Power

Players are free to spend points as they go, utilizing the upgrade options for augments, or save the points to buy a higher level augment. Those who fully commit to this path may have one Major Augment, one Medium Augment, and one Minor Augment, or else some combination thereof. It’s up to the player to define the nature of these, whether it’s the latent power of the item, granted power of a deity/demon, spiritual possession, etc.


Some characters acquire followers as they adventure. Different than hirelings or Underlings, these are people who recognize greatness when they see it and want to be part of the character’s story. The Ally or Minion is completely loyal to the character, and while generated by the GM, they are player-controlled as far as actions and general die rolling is concerned.

An Ally/Minion may be profession-based, combat-based, or roleplay-based, as defined by the player, with a suitable background, stats, name, motivation, and voice defined by the GM. By having this be a GM creation, players will have the opportunity to get to know their follower(s), if they wish, with plenty of potential for roleplaying, adventure hooks, etc.

Reputation Points may be used to purchase an Ally/Minion as follows:

     1Purchase a 4th level Ally/Minion
     1Increase the Ally/Minion by 4 levels

Those who fully commit to this path could end up with a 28th level Ally/Minion, eight of them at 4th level, or a combination therein.


For those with a dream of ruling or rising through the ranks of politics or society, a powerful reputation goes a long way. This path is entirely a roleplay, requiring the player to engage in off-panel activities to work their way into each position. Although similar to Reputation Rank rewards, this path offers a more in depth experience, and potentially greater benefits.

In time these characters will typically established haven, with access to masters in the crafting and trade professions. Aid can also come in the form of allies, contacts, etc, and it will almost certainly include adventure hooks. Groups can get involved with actions and politics of an ascending character, if interested, but most often the roleplay and events surrounding it occur outside of group game play.

Players can choose to fully commit to this path or only take it a specific distance at their discretion, with each point buying into the next level, per the table below.


These reward titles are generic terms based in a feudal system. In the descriptions below are details for each that may be customized to the campaign world and can include periodic increases in Reputation Rank, Wealth Class, and/or Social Status, depending on the type of Ascendancy. Some organizations, such as guilds, gangs, or secret societies may have fewer available titles, allowing the character to move into lead positions more quickly, but it should be possible to cross over into local politics or society at some level to continue the advancement.

Vassalthe character has established a respective relationship with someone holding a position that will offer an introductory experience and a degree of privilege in exchange for services or loyalty. In this position the character has gained entry into an organization, clique, etc, and begins to acquire the knowledge needed to advance.

Liege – at this level the character has moved into a position of authority or privilege over others, but remains beneath the initial benefactor. While this position carries an increase in responsibility and visibility, they are relatively minor and designed to test ability and/or loyalty.

Overlord – this is the first taste of real authority and grants characters access to some level of the inner workings and behind the scenes activities. It often carries an increase in the quality of contacts and access to private lodgings.

Governor – characters at this level have moved into a broader scale of authority and visibility that now oversees the lower introductory levels and allows for the acquisition of Vassals.

Baron – the character has moved into an upper tier, and is now privy to most of the inner workings, as well as the decision making process. While there is still a focus on the lower levels, it involves more delegation and reporting than engagement.

Duke – at this level the character has entered the inner circles that actually govern, and are able to influence governing decisions. There is a shift in thinking from internal to external concerns, with a degree of dealing with external elements.

Archduke – this is the level where the decisions that shape the direction and perception of all the levels below are made. It includes decisions about how to deal internal issues and external threats.

Sovereign – the character has risen to the level of ultimate authority in the organization.

In roleplaying games, it’s the GM’s job to set up the story, but ultimately the game is about collaborative storytelling. It works best when the responsibility to entertain doesn’t fall entirely on the GM. In short, the players have responsibilities too. These suggestions are meant to help everyone at the table engage in the game.

Participate. During the game, players do stuff. Characters are the stars of the story and it’s not going to get anywhere waiting around for something to happen. Characters have goals, players should be thinking about how to achieve those goals. Be active. Investigate. Ask questions. Look around. Follow leads. Don’t wait for stuff to happen, be aggressive and make stuff happen.

Play Your Character. It doesn’t matter if a character has thirty pages of backstory if it doesn’t show up in the game. Someone who comes from a family of merchants should always try to negotiate on price, a gambler should be constantly making side bets on everything, a trouper should be performing, etc. The character exists in the actions they take. It’s not up to the GM or other players to read the back story, players should take every opportunity to display the character’s traits, skills, advantages, and disadvantages. It’s called roleplaying for a reason – show don’t tell.

Don’t try to Stop Things. Negating the actions of another player is useless. If one character decides to punch a difficult NPC and another stops it, ultimately nothing happened. It was a waste of time. Instead, go with the flow. This relates back to collaborative storytelling. Things are always a lot more interesting at the table when people are doing stuff. Whether it’s going with the flow or dealing with the consequences, don’t negate, extrapolate.

Take Control of your Character. “But my character wouldn’t do that” is a terrible excuse and contrary to the game on a fundamental level. This is quite simply a refusal to participate. Remember when Bilbo told Gandalf to bugger off and refused to leave his hobbit hole? No – because that would have been a terrible story. Having a preconceived notion of what a character would or would not do is ridiculous and causes frustration at the table, embrace the complications and find a way to participate. And those who find themselves constantly refusing to go along with group decisions need to reconsider their character’s motivations.

Don’t Roll Unless the GM Makes You. Too often those with a roleplay disadvantage want to try to make a save to overcome it or assign themselves some sort of penalty, don’t. Roleplay through the situation and let the GM call for saves or assign modifiers – it’s not the player’s job. Besides, if the dice decide how you roleplay, you’re not doing it right!

Don’t Harm Other Players. Stealing from another player character or screwing the group to achieve a personal agenda is all about exerting power over the other players. It’s selfish and causes turmoil in the group (unless that’s the point of the campaign). There are a lot of things to kill, steal from, and insult in the game that won’t get offended. Don’t be that person at the table, respect the other players.

Pay Attention. The best way to be dismissive of a GM and other players is to be sitting there doing something else during a game session. Whether it’s a module or a home brew adventure, a GM put effort into it and other players are participating. If the story is moving too slow, get involved to move it along. Ultimately, if you don’t have the patience for it, perhaps you should seek another game. It’s better for everyone to have an empty chair instead of someone who isn’t paying attention, because no one has to try to entertain an empty chair.

Don’t Split the Party. It’s not the danger inherent to splitting up, or even that it’s totally unrealistic – the problem is that it leads to a break in the action with some players having to sit around and wait their turn, with no opportunity to participate. No one wants to just sit and watch, it’s a group game and it’s best to keep the group together.

Play the Game. This is a game played by multiple people and everyone is part of the story. Respect the other players. Respect the story. Understand that you will not always get your way and that not getting your way can be fun too. Do what’s best for the game and the story. Be positive. Be active. Be interesting. Don’t be afraid to get into the role, use an accent, come up with catch phrases, give your character a personality and have fun with it. Most importantly, make sure you walk away from the game with good memories that you can talk about for years to come.