Mention Count: 2.
In Angel, characters have Drama Points, which can be used for a number of quasi-narrative purposes. PCs get either 10 or 20 at the start of the game, depending on how powerful they are otherwise. (Think of the difference between Angel or Buffy on the one hand and Xander or Wesley on the other hand.) They have five uses, as follows:
Heroic Feat, which gives you a +10 bonus on any one roll; I Think I’m OK, which instantly heals half the damage a character has taken to the point it’s used; Plot Twist, which creates a “lucky break” for the characters; Righteous Fury, which costs 2 Drama Points and gives a +5 bonus for all rolls for one fight; and Back From The Dead, which allows a character to come back from death.
You can get more Drama Points by trading in experience points or — more interestingly — acting in a number of ways which reinforce the genre. For example, self-sacrificing heroic actions earn Drama Points. The GM also has the option to give out Drama Points when he takes over narrative control of a situation. For example, if he narrates that a PC is knocked out without warning, said PC gets a few Drama Points in exchange.
Since Life and Death on Winter Hill is a short-term game, I don’t think it makes sense to hand out experience points. I’d cut out the middle-man and just grant 4 or 2 Drama Points per session, depending once more on the power level of the character.
What are the genre conventions I want to encourage? I do actively want this to take place in the Whedonverse, so I think giving out Drama Points for witty lines makes sense. Drama Points for angst doesn’t make as much sense. Loyalty, on the other hand, is fairly important. Perhaps 2 Drama Points every time someone makes a difficult decision involving loyalty? I’m not sure exactly how to codify that. Possibly Loyalty should be an disadvantage in character generation, much the same way as Honorable is in the base rules.
I’m also thinking about other ways to use Drama Points as narrative currency. I want to give players narrative control over NPCs, both because I like making players do my work for me and because I think I can leverage that control for more emotional involvement. (More on that in a later post.) It seems like you should be able to invent an NPC for 1 Drama Point, and take over long-term control of an NPC for something like 3-5 Drama Points.