Sparked by this youtube vid
Using DnD as example howabout a player has a pre-determined Fate in the form of their own mini saga and a player “levels” by achieving their Fate
For example the first two lines of one player character’s saga might be:
“Snurri Halfspear / slayer of Lackscale”
“Kyra the Waterkin / born of the one-eyed man into the darkness”
(In a dark age setting i like to use the fact that sea levels rose dramatically after the ice age and so around the coasts there are many sunken towns and temples – also a bit of Cthulhu in everything just cos
Then in the game world there is a big rock facing out to sea on a cliff with a much weathered idol of Odin (the one-eyed man) carved into it. There’s a hole between the statue’s legs that drops into a water pool of an underground stream heading down (born into darkness).
At the bottom of this shallow pool there is a broken spear, magical, say +1/+3 vs reptilians or aquatic creatures or something like that, glows pale blue when critters like that are near, broken at the shaft and can’t be fixed non-magically so spear acts as a short sword.
Beyond the pool there is a long airless tunnel which they can’t get past without water breathing.
In the course of trying to find out how Kyra can learn to breath underwater they learn of deep one attacks led by a too strong large blue scaled deep one with a lot of the scales on his left shoulder and neck removed somehow by a wound. Kyra learns how to water breathe (Waterkin) and they go back to the tunnel where they discover it is a back entrance to the deep one leader’s lair giving them the advantage of surprise (slayer of Lackscale).
So the players can do what they like but only level when they achieve their fate.
Players can write their fate or at least agree to it – especially nickname.
One to four lines at a time?
GMs can add specific solutions into the game that fit the player’s fate and/or the player’s may figure a plausible alternative that fits.
Once the players have achieved their first set then add some more.