After a conversation with two other great Kiwi game designers, I was motivated to adopt and adapt a Key based system for Asterisk World XP. It could equally be used in Dungeon World with minimal extra changes.
Experience is gained by invoking Keys. A Key must involve a motivation, problem, connection, duty, or loyalty. It must be an action that the character takes, rather than a situation that the character may passively find herself in.
Each character has two Keys at any one time, and may use the key in the following ways:
- Mark 1 XP when you _____.
- Mark 2 XP when you _____ despite a clear and present danger to yourself, directly associated with doing so.
- Mark 2 XP when you _____ despite having to go directly against the wishes of the rest of the characters.
- Mark 3 XP when you _____ despite an inevitable and significant cost to yourself, directly associated with doing so.
- Key of Adventure: Thoroughly explore a new environment
- Key of Alcoholism: Drink when it would not be appropriate
- Key of Awesome: Act in a cinematic, interesting manner
- Key of Belief: Defend your belief, or convert someone to your belief
- Key of Bloodlust: Start or cause a conflict
- Key of Chaos: Perform or incite random or unplanned acts
- Key of Conscience: Help someone who cannot help himself
- Key of Cowardice: Avoid or flee a dangerous situation
- Key of Deception: Try to pass yourself off as someone else
- Key of Freedom: Free someone from literal or figurative bondage
- Key of Greed: Act to obtain new wealth or physical items
- Key of Honor: Act according to your code of conduct
- Key of Knowledge: Learn something new and significant
- Key of Questing: Take action trying to advance your personal mission
- Key of Renown: Act to improve your social standing
- Key of Vengeance: Act against your hated target
- Key of Violence: Hurt a defenseless or unworthy target
You can only mark XP from each Key once per scene for each of the four different levels. For the levels above 1 XP, you must confirm with the GM that it really is dangerous, or that there will be a cost. Every 5 XP marked with Keys gives a Character Point to spend on advancements. These Character Points may be spent immediately, regardless of what is happening in the story.
You are encouraged to come up with personalized Keys for your character with the assistance of the GM. The GM may also have Keys that are always in effect and do not count towards the two Key limit.
Alternatively, you can ignore keys completely and simply gain 1 Character Point per session, and an additional one at the end of each adventure.
In Dungeon World, a new level might be 10 XP from keys, depending on how quickly you want people to improve.
Please suggest more keys, or other ways to improve the system. For reference, the TSOY Key system I started from is described here.