Learning Lessons

Once the action of an Episode ends, the problem is solved, and the story is finished, there is still one phase left: the ‘Letter To The Princess’ (or, alternatively, an entry in a group diary). Just as in the original cartoon series, it’s not only important that a problem is solved--it’s also important how it was solved and what the characters learned from the experience. To that end, the basis of character advancement and the accumulation of Experience Points in S4E is based not simply on the completion of the Episode itself, but upon the Lessons the characters learned from an Episode. Additionally, just as in the original cartoon, the method of identifying these Lessons and earning Experience Points from them in S4E is for the players to compose their characters’ own Letter To The Princess.

The characters’ Letter To The Princess doesn’t have to be poetic or written in the narrative format of the letters or diary entries from the original cartoon series (although there’s nothing wrong with doing so); it’s perfectly acceptable for a Letter To The Princess to simply be a list of the Lessons the characters learned from playing the Episode, and a short explanation of each one. Once they are satisfied with their Letter To The Princess, the players present it to the GM, who then awards the group Experience Points for the Lessons the GM feels are representative of meaningful character growth.

The first step in composing the Letter To The Princess is to identify the Lessons the characters learned over the course of the Episode. Lessons should be meaningful and represent character growth and change as a result of their experiences during the Episode. In addition, Lessons should be phrased as a statement, in a complete sentence. For example, if a character spent a considerable portion of time during an Episode taking care of children who seemed to get into all kinds of trouble by showing up trying to help, they might learn the Lesson, “It’s important to know your limits so you don’t do more harm than good.” Each character’s individual Lessons are added to the list which makes up the Letter To The Princess, and any duplicates are removed; for example, if more than one character learned “It’s better to make peace than to get even,” that Lesson would still only be added to the Letter To The Princess once.

As a character progresses through Episodes, accumulating Experience Points and increasing their power and capability, it’s only natural for the scope of the Episodes they are participating in to expand and change; in their youth, a character might deal with the challenges of being a foal-sitter, where later in their life, they might face the responsibilities of ruling an entire kingdom. Because characters gain Experience Points from the Lessons they learn during an Episode, it’s important to understand that the nature of the Lessons a character learns changes and matures over time along with them. No character is ever finished learning Lessons about life and the world around them: it’s just their perspective that shifts as they progress, and even a princess learns and grows--though the Lessons they learn may be different than the ones learned by their subjects.