in my games I tend to base the XP awards on what I think the characters should get based upon thier level, performance, etc. rather then what the rule books tells me too (at least when I play 3.0 or 3.5, back in my BECMI D&D and 1&2e days I was alot more rulebook like in giving out experience, of course I was happy with the advancement rate under those systems, and find that 3.x advances the characters much to rapidly for my tastes.)
I wasn't to fond of the 3e/3.5 rate of advancement either, especially with combat heavy modules rocketing the PC's through the levels. At first I began awarding 1/2 Xp for encounters but eventually went to more of a RP/Story based award system where I gave it out for successfully completting objectives and what not as opposed to a hack a critter xp fest.
My players are enjoying the system rather welland feel like they are actually developing and earning their way as opposed to "slashing" their way to fame.
I've been completely happy with any D&D experience chart. 1st edition xp for gold was silly and I saw a lot of expoitation of 2nd edition xp award methods. 3rd works okay, but doesn't favor problem solving or RPing. The almighty hand of the DM must be involved.
One of my more whacky DMing ideas was a campaign in which I tracked -
The players had only vague ideas as their stats...Rudy the Warrior was a bit stronger than Tony the Ranger, but Sven the Paladin was strongest. Jeremy the mage needed help carrying his spellbooks and other equipment. And Kristen the Rogue, whew...She was fast, and could talk a man out of his thumbs, but she caught a cold in the mildest of drafts. Thus, their stats were known as general comaparisons with each other. Which enhanced roleplay quite a bit, I must admit.
Hit points were more problematic, simply because I practically needed a thesarus to keep wound and hit descriptions varied. Describing a hit as "just a scratch" got old rather quickly. Player's were allowed to roll their HD of course, but didn't know their con bonuses or penalties, so again, they only had a vague idea.
Experience was pretty simple. Although I ended up implementing private notes to players when something that they had done warranted a special bonus or award or when they did something that incurred a penalty; as long as I felt that it served the goal of keeping the game fun and helping the player roleplay, I'd give them a note at the end of the game giving a general list of bonuses and penalties...
This all worked fairly well. The players were intially skeptical, but went with it. We all had fun with it. Sadly, I had underestimated the record keeping that I would be required to keep up with during game and after. And with a group of 12 players, it became cumbersome. More sadly, the party got themselves killed...But I think that I would have had to import an assistant or abandoned some of the secret record keeping...
My current xp awards grant xp for combat, but these rewards are minimal unless the PCs are strongly challenged or outmatched. In a typical module they get 75 to 80% of the combat xps for the climactic final battle.
This works well as they avoid minor encounters as "not worth it" and know that the real xp are in situations where they could lose if the play poorly or have bad luck: advancement is dangerous.
I also award xp for role-play. At name level and above, these awards are minimal unless they are tied into a specific character goal. At name level, the characters are required to define their goal. Actions that further this end receive substantial xp, other role-play receives fairly little. If you have read my Thrommel posts, the epic goal of Kristianna is the defeat of Iuz. The epic goal of Carnail is to become the most powerful/skilled fighter in the world in individual combat. The effect of this is to focus the players on developing some aspect of their characters rather than on "completing dungeons".
Finally, I award no xp for money recovered (unless the character is a thief). However, I do award xp for money SPENT, if it is spent on worthy campaign goals. This has the effect of encouraging players to settle down and rule, donate money to appropriate charities, etc, as well as keeping them relatively poor. Carnail at the present time receives most of her xp through a training school she operates, training military personell of Perrenland. She subsidizes the training with her personal funds, so that they pay less per level to train. Thus she received no xp for recovering her horde, but has received substantial xp for using it to foster the development of her country. _________________ My campaigns are multilayered tapestries upon which I texture themes and subject matter which, quite frankly, would simply be too strong for your hobbyist gamer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mp7Ikko8SI
I may try to keep XPs secret. Good thread. My players are chronic point counters and will whine incessantly if they come up 100 short after an adventure. One less thing for them to fudge would be great. And since in 3E making items costs XPs, it would be interesting to see how reluctant they would be at crafting all these items if they have no idea how many XPs they have. Hmmm.
I love the idea of keeping xp secret. My players will never again know what their xp is, or how much was awarded. I will say, that some of the less mature players (which will include the father and mother of the 14 year old, but not the 14 year old player in my group ) will whine.
I once played in a campaign with a DM who kept all stats. The only things we knew were the descriptions of our characters, and their equipment. He was unbelievable in the amount of information he could track and maintain. (He couldn't hold a job, and the price of playing was a bag of groceries ) It was great. There are few of us who could do such a thing. I tried tracking HP and a few other things for my players (but not xp), and it was an utter failure.
In a related thread on Epic play, I have been very curious as to other DM's handling of xp. It seems to me, as a general statement, that the only combat that should give xp should be life threatening. However, in 3E this is definately not the case. Would anyone agree? I have been improving every encounter and making the assailants downright viscious, and then awarding off the chart at the listed EL.
If you read Gary Gygax's reports of his Castle Zagyg playtests (with either AD&D or Castles & Crusades rules), you'll see he's giving XP in improvised lump sums (though by no means solely for roleplaying).
I'm DMing my first 3.5 campaign, so I'm pretty hesitant to change the rules too much without first trying them. I have no problem with "rocketing" to around 3rd level (it keeps one bad dice roll from killing off a character). After that, I'm more hesitant.
But XP strictly for role-play sounds interesting.
Issues I see:
Disagreement between player and DM's concepts of the character (especially when the character concept seems to automagically change to fit the encounter).
I can see Joe Powergame whining about not getting levels as fast as Johnny Roleplayer. Worse is that Milla Vanilla (who is just as mediocre a player as Joe) doesn't whine, but lets the frustration just build until she leaves the group.
As always, Player's Rule 0 applies: a good DM makes for a good time.
As for my campaign, XP is awarded for the following:
Up to 50 XP per current level per session, for "beyond the call" role-playing.
Up to 50 XP per current level per session, for posting a story, picture, journal entry, etc. to the campaign website (a Yahoo group).
So a 3rd level character who RP's extremely well and then posts a good story about it gets up to 300 XP per session. This does add up over time, and often makes the difference between leveling and not leveling. I don't demand much, and gauge the reward largely based on the players' abilities. (So a player who just isn't that good gets a better reward than a really inventive player would for the same idea. I know it's not fair, but it's my group, and I want them to stay friends.)
I got the idea from my DM in another game. It definitely makes the players seek to define their characters better, and makes for some good reading (and excellent plot hooks).
EDIT: I have not yet "adjusted" XP to fit my perception of play, but a level every 3-5 sessions (assuming little time wasted outside the game) is my goal.
I do not use XP in my campaigns, as I dislike the bookeeping - mine and the players. Instead, I use a level to adventure system. In short, to advance a level, you must complete a number of adventures equal to your present level. So, if you just made 10th level, you will need to complete 10 adventures suitable for a 10th level character before you can advance to 11th level.
Advancement is quick at low levels, when players may feel unduly constrained. It is moderate at middle levels, where PCs have a good range of abilities and there are a lot of solid adventuring possibilities to be had. It is difficult at "high level," where the system begins to break down by degrees. And advancement is ridiculous at ultra high level, where all sorts of issues crop up.
I am playing with my brother in a campaign where he is playing a Fighter nick named "Cleave." While this should be just as trite and ridiculous as it sounds, it is working very well.
Cleave never does anything spectacular (he bounces at the local pub when not adventuring, in order to pay for room and board). His character Int is mediocre & Wis is low. This is in a high power (strong ability score) party of very experianced and high quality gamers.
That said, he is the most interesting and vivid character in the group. He makes chopping wood seem engaging. Thoughts on granting xp for this type of play?
It can be tough balancing XP rewards for good gameplay. Some players just aren't that good at the roleplay, but are tactical geniuses.
I give XP for good roleplaying, which is an intentionally vague and subjective standard. But I try not to give enough XP to create jealousy or cause any friction in the group. So far, I'm finding that a bonus of 50 XP per level per session is a decent starting place. In other words, an (otherwise boring) 3rd level fighter who is played to the hilt ('scuse the pun) can earn up to 150 XP per session.
I try to judge "creativity" by the standard of the player. So the flamboyant uber-role-players don't walk away with everything.
I gave up keeping track of XP years ago. Now I just wing it. Players have no idea how close they are to the next level. They ask, sure, but I just give vague answers like, "You're getting there," or "You just went up two sessions ago, shut up!"
I've DM'd long enough to be a pretty good judge on when they should go up. A first level character will probably advance after his or her first adventure. A tenth level character will need quite a few adventures to advance.
I do make a point of stressing that killing monsters and gathering treasure has nothing to do with advancement. And I also respond to good roleplaying/problem-solving/tactical moves with a "Bonus XP for you!" They don't know that the only bonus XP they get is a mental note in their DM's head, but you get the idea.
I've always hated giving XP as a DM and since most of my gaming experience is DM'ing, for the last 16 years, it's been a constant thorn in my side. I created a hundred and one ways in which to alleviate this suffering but all just made it more painful, like moving around a dagger embedded in your thigh.
It took me 16 years and a decent group of players to realize the option of just not using XP at all. D'oh! Now I gear level ups much like GVD does, although not so codified. Basically, on the completion of the major meta-plot, which may have dozens of minor goals within them, I award a level. At least, this is how I plan to do it from now on as it is a system in progress.
What helped, however, to get to this decision was getting rid of the rules for magic item creation that REQUIRE XP. For the most part, this can be accomplished by using the alternate 'Power Component' rule for magic item creation, where you have to have a suitably hard to find item, such as the horn of a basilisk, to create a magical item.
In my mind, this is a GREAT system, as it not only logically reduces the amount of items created, a problem I felt that rose from the XP system and the ability to willy-nilly create whatever item you wanted, whenever, but it also turned item creation into an adventure. Plus it makes PC's with a focus on magic-item creation, collect monster bits after battles and lug them around, which is always fun _________________ In more modern times, only Delglath of Rinloru is known to have crafted any items from the stone of this atrocious place. Even masters of the dark arts such as Xaene and Karoolck would hesitate to follow.
I definately like the idea of levels per adventure, rather than experience points. Simplifies things greatly, while keeping the original intent.
A few concerns, that perhaps people who use this system can answer.
How do you handle xp for events outside of adventuring? One of my main level PC's now gets much, if not most, of her xp from running her training school.
How do you deal with classes that are meant to level quickly, or level slowly? At least in 1st and 2nd edition, thieves and druids are supposed to advance quickly, clerics and fighters medium, and paladins and mages slowly, at least prior to name level. _________________ My campaigns are multilayered tapestries upon which I texture themes and subject matter which, quite frankly, would simply be too strong for your hobbyist gamer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mp7Ikko8SI
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