Character Growth

X-Men First Class has two primary methods for character advancement, episode progression and season progression. Episode progression growth occurs during the Tag Scenes at the end of each episode. Season by season growth occurs in between each season of the television show. This game uses a modified version of Smallville’s Character Growth system. Please refer to this write-up in the place for the correct procedure for all moves related to character advancement.

Episode Progression

Challenging a Value

It’s been a long hard week filled with pitched battles and intrigues, and you’re getting in too deep. Your friends and allies want to help you out, but there are things you learned that, if they were revealed right now, might ruin everything you’ve worked for. So what happens when your Value statement conflicts with the action you want to take? Maybe you’re trying to roll your Truth The truth must come out d10 to misdirect a close ally and keep him from knowing the Real Deal about your discoveries, but your statement doesn’t work. If it were I must keep the truth safe, you could justify it. So what can you do?

In these situations, you are challenging your Values. Because drama happens (and it happens a lot), you have the opportunity to roll in opposition to your statement and to challenge your Lead’s Values. In game terms, this means you can roll triple the die rating of your Value die; however, the challenged Value steps back by one for the rest of the episode. You’ll determine the long-term consequences of this challenge at the end of the episode during the tag scenes.

When you challenge your Values, your worldview is shaken up just a little bit. Maybe you discover something about yourself you didn’t realize before, or maybe someone you hold in esteem (or even contempt) has taught you something. There are a lot of ways you can work this into the game and it can add some exciting layers to the drama onion you are all working to create.


  • Declare the challenge.
  • Roll triple the die rating you currently have in this Value.
  • Step the challenged Value back by one for the remainder of the episode.


Jimmy Johnston has managed to catch up with Magnus in a bar in Salem Center. He tells Magnus that Raven was apprehended by the Feds for infiltrating the New York Military Academy and destroying a top secret military experiment the night before. Jimmy can’t tell Magnus that he knows Raven was innocent because she spent the night in his bed. Jimmy wants to convince Magnus that she has been wrongfully apprehended, and that the two should see to her rescue mission. Mike, Jimmy’s player, decides to make this about Justice, saying that Jimmy can convince Magnus that with his strength, Magnus has a better chance of breaking Raven out of her wrongful imprisonment. . Mike notes that with this new dilemma, Jimmy is likely to have a skewed sense of justice for a time, and decides to challenge his Virtue statement Justice: ‘You get what you deserve’. Mike takes up three six-sided dice and adds them to his pool for this roll, but he also has to step back his Justice to d4 until the end of the episode.

Challenging a Relationship

Like all Traits dependent on emotions, Relationships are not stagnant. They change and grow at the speeds of the seasons, tides, or even hours of the day. This is doubly true in Smallville where the day-to-day drama can cause hell and high water in the blink of an eye. Old friends become bitter enemies. Longtime foes find friendship and love. Odd acquaintances discover common ground on which to join forces.

Like Values, when you wish to take an action that’s in conflict with your Relationship statement for that Lead or Feature, you can challenge your Relationship and roll three dice instead of one in a Test or Contest. That Relationship steps back by one die rating for the rest of the episode, but in the tag scenes you can rewrite your statement and redefine your connection to regain the original die rating, if you wish.


Jimmy has been working hard the last few sessions on growing his friendship with Zakariah, and he’s managed to gain a bit of success in doing so. Now, Zakariah has managed to get himself in trouble with a very powerful organization of mutants, and he isn’t planning on telling Charles Xavier about it. Jimmy knows about this trouble, and he’s decided to confront Zakariah about it, leaving him an ultimatum to tell Xavier,or he’d do so for him. Right now, Jimmy’s relationship statement to Zakariah states: “Outsider who needs a friend.”, a statement that doesn’t quite compliment the ultimatum Jimmy is about to offer Zakariah. The solution? Jimmy challenges his Outsider who needs a friend d8 Relationship, which not only makes it appropriate to use in this case (he’s putting the trust earned between the two at risk) but it brings in three times the dice. Mike, Jimmy’s player, adds 3d8 to his roll, steps back his Zakariah d8 to a d6 for the remainder of the episode, and makes a note to address the statement in a tag scene between Jimmy and Zakariah.


  • Declare the challenge.
  • Roll triple the die rating you currently have in this Relationship.
  • Step the challenged Relationship back one die for the remainder of the episode.

Rewriting Values

As your Lead collects experiences, his worldview changes. In a setting as dramatic as Smallville, this is fairly normal. The woman who began the season as a villain may end up the hero. The staunch defender of the status quo might have a change of heart and save the day. A once popular Samaritan may react to a tragic event by becoming self-focused and insular.

Your Values can be stepped back during the course of the episode by challenging them, but this doesn’t immediately affect your statement. At the conclusion of the episode, however, you have the chance to rewrite your Value statement, revising how your Lead sees it. This happens during a tag scene

Any Value that was stepped back during the episode may be restored during the tag scene to its previous rating, but because you challenged it, you rewrite the statement to reflect your new perspective. Alternately, you can leave it at the reduced rating and step up another Value (perhaps with a rewritten statement of its own) to reflect your shifting priorities. Remember that your total steps in Values always remain the same.


In the Challenging Virtue example, Jimmy lowered Justice to D4. Jimmy and Magnus went on to save Raven and return her to the school. Mike, the player of Jimmy decides that the night spent with Raven was enough to make him fall for her. In his tag scene, he has a romantic discussion with Raven, and the two hook up again. Jimmy’s Justice is left at a D4, while his Truth is stepped up to D6, leaving his statement as Sometimes a lie is best for everyone.


  • May only do so during a tag scene (at the end of an episode).
  • May only step up a Value if you stepped back another during the episode by challenging it. You may rewrite the statement of a Value you step up.
  • Must rewrite your Value statement if you’re restoring a challenged Value to its prior rating.

Rewriting Relationships

Just as your own Values may shift and change over the course of a story, so too can your investment in other people. In fact, your Relationships with other Leads and with Features can change frequently, often dramatically. This is all part of the unfolding narrative in any Smallville story, and it keeps things interesting.

Your Relationships can be stepped back during the course of the episode by challenging them, but this doesn’t immediately affect your statement. Just as with challenged Values, at the conclusion of the episode, you have a chance to rewrite your Relationship statement and how your Lead sees the other person. This happens during a tag scene (see page 74) that involves that other Lead or Feature—or at least your Lead’s experiences with that person.

Any Relationship that was stepped back during the episode may be restored during the tag scene to its previous rating, but because you challenged it, you rewrite the statement to reflect your new perspective. Alternately, you can leave it at the reduced rating and add a die equal to its original rating to your Growth pool. Unlike Values, your Relationships can come and go without any reciprocal stepping up or back of other Traits.

You may also step up a Relationship during a tag scene by using your Growth pool, just as you would with Assets and Resources. You have to put work into a Relationship to make it better.


In the Challenging Relationships Example, Jimmy delivered an ultimatum to Zakariah, who reluctantly agreed to inform Xavier of the danger Zakariah was in. In the end, it proved to be a very prudent move that saved Zakariah from potential harm. Mike, the player of Jimmy, temporarily stepped back his relationship with Zakariah to a d6. In a tag scene, the two have a conversation about where they stood with one another, and it was clear that their friendship was not compromised by the disagreement. Jimmy returned the relationship with Zakariah to a d8, but changed the statement. Jimmy’s relationship to Zakariah now reads: We trust eachother, a statement that defines the relationship in a way that compliments the progression in the storyline..


  • May only do so during a tag scene (at the end of an episode).
  • May step a Relationship up if you stepped it back during the episode by challenging it.
  • Must rewrite your Relationship statement if you’re restoring a challenged Relationship to its prior rating.
  • May step a Relationship up using Growth if you want to improve it more than its original rating.

Tag Scenes

At the end of every adventure, each Lead player gets a tag scene to resolve the challenges to his Relationships and Values and to look forward to what’s on the horizon. You may also attempt to develop your character’s Traits. This scene is short— sometimes incredibly short—but it should always involve roleplaying. Other characters may be present, and two Leads may share the same tag scene.

Watchtower does not frame tag scenes, although she’s free to make suggestions. You can go around the table, or each player can go as he comes up with an idea. The player frames the scene and briefly describes the action. It can be as short as thirty seconds or as long as a few minutes. This is cool-down time; have some fun with it.

Most importantly, describe what your shifting Drives and self-improvement look like in the story. It might just be a sentence or two, but it’s your opportunity to put a cap on the end of your character’s story for this episode. Don’t skimp on it.


If you challenged any of your Relationships or Values over the course of the episode, you may choose to rewrite the Drive’s statement. If you rewrite the Drive to reflect the Lead’s new understanding of that character or Value, you may return it to its original rating.

However, if your Lead’s understanding of the Drive is unchanged, you may leave it at its new lower rating. When you do this for a Relationship, you add a die equal to that rating to your Growth pool. This is in addition to the Drive’s original dice rating you already added during the episode. When you do this for a Value, you may step up the dice rating of a different value by the same number of steps, or split the steps between two other Values. So, if you challenged Power twice, from d8 to d4, but do not wish to rewrite it, you may keep it at d4 and step up your Love from d6 to d10, or step up your Love and Duty to d8. Value ratings show priority—as one becomes less important to you, others move up to take its place.


You may also select one Asset, Resource, or Relationship you wish to step up. (You may not step up Values in this way;

to step up one Value, you must challenge and step back another Value, as described above.) You may also gain a new Asset, Resource, or Relationship in this way; these new Traits always begin at d4. No Trait can ever get higher than d12; if it’s up there already, you should be looking at other Traits to spend time on! The watchtower has the final say on growth, and may restrict your ability to roll advancement when the advancement could impact the quality of the story being told.

Watchtower rolls the dice rating you wish to step the Trait up to along with another die depending on what kind of Trait it is, as follows:

  • Powers & Power Sets d12 (Gear Powers / Power Sets may roll with the most appropriate specialty.)
  • Distinctions d10
  • Locations d8
  • Relationships and Extras d6

Watchtower rolls these dice and adds the two highest together, and you roll all the dice in your Growth pool plus the single highest Stress your Lead still has on his sheet. If you have a Heritage Distinction and you’re stepping up one of its related Abilities, you may roll the dice rating of your Heritage, as well. Add the two highest. Plot Points may not be used to add additional dice to the roll or result; ignore dice that roll 1.

If your result is higher than Watchtower’s, you may step up the selected Trait by one die size. If Watchtower’s result is higher or you tie, you may still step up the selected Trait, but only by stepping back another Trait by one step.
A growth pool resets at the end of every session, when all the Tag Scenes are done. It is wise to use the growth pool in every Tag Scene, for steady advancement and character growth.


Every season you may add or step up Assets (including Distinctions, Abilities, and Gear), Resources (including Extras and Locations) and Relationships. It helps to think of a season as having an overall plot with multiple story arcs underneath that plot, and for this system we’re treating these story arcs as the means of getting new and better Traits. Here’s a guide to how many steps you may apply to your Lead sheet, with a new Trait counting as 2 steps (i.e., a d4).

  • Assets: Three steps per season, divided among Distinctions, Powers, Power Sets, and Gear Powers/Power Sets. If you have a Heritage Distinction, you may only step up or add Abilities associated with that Heritage. If you step up an Ability or a Heritage Distinction, you may also add a Special Effect to that Ability or to an Ability covered by the Heritage Distinction, but only one Special Effect may be added to an Ability per season.
  • Resources and Relationships: Four steps per season, divided among Extras, Locations, and Relationships. Remember to add statements to any new Relationships you add to your Lead sheet.

Character Growth

X-Men: First Class morethanbob