On Advancement

The question was asked, "Do you feel that "character advancement" is necessary for an RPG that is intended for campaign play. Or do you think that people are capable of coming up with their own goals?"

I think the most important part of an RPG was mentioned in the very last part of the question: goals. The player, even more so than the character, needs goals. 

In an adventure, the goal is usually stated outright or given to you in a way that it's rather obvious. We like to call them "plot hooks."  In a one-shot or a convention game, the goal is often listed so the player can see what it is before they even sign up. In a sandbox game, you often see multiple plot hooks thrown out until the party bites onto one. Either way, the party has an idea of what the goals are for the game. 

There can be a couple different types of campaigns, too. There is one where the goal is obvious and stretches across multiple sessions. This campaign is almost just a long adventure. The other is an open (again, sandbox) campaign where the party can be participating in different adventures each sitting. The open sandbox is the type of campaign where there needs to be some kind of long-term goal. 

With D&D, we've been made used to character advancement in the form of going up levels. Sure, the player can have their own goals like becoming king or getting rich or world domination. Those goals are usually very long term and very difficult for starting characters to achieve. 

The thing about that is, unless you are advancing in the way I believe the question was asked, you are always playing a starting character. How do you become king if you're no different than any other commoner? How do you become rich if the only creature you stand a chance against relatively poor rats and goblins? 

I think this is the reason character advancement is needed.  Goals are good, but you need help achieving them.

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