When the Last Ship Sailed
In many ways, the long-term benefits a PC can gain by spending XP are a means of integrating the mechanics of the game with the story.
Players can codify things that happen to their characters by talking to the GM and spending 3 XP. For example, a spinner named Jessica spends a long time working in a kitchen in a restaurant that she believes is owned by a man working for agents from Ruk on Earth. During that time, she becomes familiar with cooking. Jessica’s player talks with the GM and says that she would like to have the spinner’s experiences have a lasting effect on the character. She spends 3 XP and gains familiarity with cooking.
Some things that a PC can acquire as a long-term benefit are story based. In the course of play, the character might gain a friend (a contact) or build a log cabin (a home). These benefits are probably not the result of spending XP. The new contact comes to the PC and starts the relationship. The new home is granted to him as a reward for service to a powerful or wealthy patron, or maybe the character inherits the home from a relative.
Things that affect character abilities, like a familiarity or an artifact, are different. They likely require XP and time, money, and so on. Long-term benefits can include the following.
Familiarity: The character gains a +1 bonus to rolls involving one kind of task.
Contact: The character gains a long-term NPC contact of importance – someone who will help him with information, equipment, or physical tasks. The player and GM should work out the details of the relationship.
Home: The PC acquires a full-time residence. This can be an apartment in a city, a cabin in the wilderness, a base in an ancient complex, or whatever fits the situation. It should be a secure place where the PC can leave his belongings and sleep soundly. Several characters could combine their XP and buy a home together.
Title or job: The PC is granted a position of importance or authority. It might come with responsibilities, prestige, and rewards, or it might also simply be an honorarium.
Wealth: The PC comes into a considerable amount of wealth, whether it’s a windfall, an inheritance, or a gift. It might be enough to buy a home or a title, but that’s not really the point. The main benefit is that the PC no longer needs to worry about the cost of simple equipment, lodging, food, and so on. This wealth could mean a set amount – perhaps 50,000 dollars – or it could bestow the ability to ignore minor costs, as decided by the player and GM.
Artifact: The PC creates an artifact that has a power of his choosing. If the item is fairly simple, the GM can skip the crafting details and just say that after a period of time, the PC creates it. For an item that significantly alters gameplay – granting the character vast telepathic powers or giving him the ability to teleport at will – the GM might require difficult rolls, a considerable amount of time, and rare, hard-to-find components and materials.