Buying and improving skills, spells, and abilities is central to advancement in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy.
So how do I do it?
Some important facts about my game:
- it's a pickup game, so characters are only involved and tracked when the players show up and play them.
- I only charge for one week of downtime costs between game sessions. So weekly upkeep doesn't crush PCs who don't adventure because of real-world issues.
- Time passes on 1:1 ratio with the real world.
- We don't use any non-point based learning. Period - no Time Use, no nothing.
With those in mind, here is basically what I do:
Spells: Wizards can learn one new spell between each session, assuming they stay in town and pay upkeep (no Dumpster diving with Urban Survival or roughing it with Survival).
Why? To avoid wizards rapidly expanding their spell list and basically being able to add a wide breadth of coverage each and every session.
New Skills: Depends. If it's not on your template, it's $40/point to learn it and you're limited to one, and it must be cleared with the GM. If it's on your template, you aren't limited at all and there is no cost.
Why? To encourage people to stay with their template. It's only a minor obstacle, but it does seem to remind people that "Hey, I'm a Knight, not a Barbarian" or "That's not what Holy Warriors do, generally."
New Abilities: Broadly, meaning Advantages. On your template? Unlimited purchase, no monetary cost. Off-template, $40/point (at least) and it must be cleared with the GM.
Why? To allow people to develop in an unlimited way within their niche, but control expanding the niche and thus possibly undermining the utility of other current or future characters.
New Lens: These can be purchased piecemeal, but when finally adding the lens-specific new skills and advantages you have to pay a new-ability cost for the whole template. At that point, you get access to everything from the lens's base template with regards to skills, advantages, and power-ups.
Why? I like allowing piecemeal purchase, but it's easier to have a flat fee for adding a lens in-game (they cost $2,000) and then let the player work out the best way to get to the lens during play.
Overall, this has worked pretty well. Advancement is fast, but dramatic expansions in magical coverage and new abilities are limited. Within your niche, you can expand freely and become a bigger, better (whatever) without limitation. Outside of it, you aren't paying any more character points, but must expend in-game resources to expand your niche. The result has been a knight-among-Knights, very wizardly Wizards, Holy Warriors who worry about undead and demons primarily, and so on. Plus, it makes your starting choices interesting not limiting.
After playing this way for a couple of years, I'll say that it's been working well.