Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More Thoughts On Experience Points

Yesterday, good Chgowiz blogged about his rule of assigning 100 Experience Points for each Hit Dice of a creature. I’d quite forgotten he was giving that a whirl—I was bogged down in my own battles over XP.

I never figured out quite how I wanted to do XP in Castles & Crusades. I ended up with a default system of points for attendance, and a small bonus for the best roleplaying/moments/participation of the evening. It worked ok, but I got the distinct impression my group wanted something a bit more specific than the lump “attaboy” sum I was doing.

So will I give 1 HD=100 XP a whirl when we pick back up with fantasy? I’m not sure. I don’t give XP for treasure, but do for extra-credit things like finding/drawing a pic of your character, maintaining a character journal, or sharing something cool with the group. We’re in a bit of a summer lull right now, so it seems I have some time to reflect what I want to accomplish with how I hand out Experience.

I also occasionally hand out the much-coveted "Mulligan Stones", which allow a player to reroll one of their rolls (very vital in a game where I rolled frequently on some lethal encounter tables), so I’ll need to balance XP awards with that as well.

If you do anything off the beaten path in your D&D/C&C/S&W/LL/DD/Whateverwhatever game, I'd love to hear about it. It might just give me the extra bits I need!


Siskoid said...

Yeah, I hate to calculate individual XP, and don't like the sort of "doing things for XP" attitude that often comes with it.

Last time I played D&D, I basically gave the equivalent of 1000 pts per session (modified by role-playing and perhaps how much stuff was done). It was a cheap way to track levelling (all classes except Mage levelled to 2nd level after 2 sessions, etc.).

In all my other games, I'm basically giving 1-3 XP with leveling possibilities every 5 or so. That's across the board to all players present. I reward role-playing and cool moves/lines with Story points (call them what you want) as they occur. These can be used like you Mulligan pts for a variety of effects (based on the specific game's tone - sometimes they've got more options than others).

R said...

I stopped giving out individual XP years ago. It was just too tedious. Also, I felt like it skewed the game. If PCs were close to leveling, they'd be more likely to go looking for a fight.

Now I just give a flat rate each session. It starts at 1,000 increases at higher levels. The end result is my players actually aren't afraid to retreat from combats now, or come up with reasons to completely avoid them altogether.

Swordgleam said...

I'm all about leveling by fiat. My players get a version of "drama points" that they can use to do badass things. I don't think anyone ever had more than three of them at once over a year's worth of gaming.

When I first started playing, my DM had an interesting way of assigning xp. At the end of the session he'd turn to each of us in turn and say, "So why should I give you any experience points, huh?" We'd then scramble to define and defend all of our actions that session. I really have no idea how he turned that into xp, but we leveled at roughly the same speed even though no two people ever got quite the same amount of xp per session.

It did encourage all of us to take notes.

Roger the GS said...

I guess what flat 100/HD would do is make advancementy faster at low levels but flatten it out at higher, as standard D&D monsters increase in xp haul more or less exponentially as they go up in HD.

A.L. said...

While not for D&D, the system I've been using of late is one I stole from a friend as it works really well while keeping things fair.

You get whatever amount of points (usually 1 in a game like L5R) for attendance.

You then get points for Objectives, Learning Curve, and RP discussion.

Objectives are things you accomplished this session that were important to you, or you are proud of. As well as setting objectives for future sessions. Larger objectives (i.e. avenged my father's death) are worth more XP. You get a set allotment of points for objectives, not on a per objective basis (so in L5R 1 XP for objectives).

Learning Curve is things you learned, or your character learned. I.E. "I learned why it's not a good idea to wear all metal armor while fighting a red dragon" or "I learned that I no longer need to be coddled and protected and can handle my own fights". Again, particularly deep learning curves are worth more, but in general this is another XP.

Role Play Discussion is a way to get to know the characters and what people are thinking about them. A time to share little quirks or habits your character has that don't have time to come out during game, as well as to talk about the things you liked, or particular moments in the game involving other characters. It lets people help establish their character while letting you see how others see them, and where they are looking forward to seeing things go. This is also worth 1 XP in l5R in our games.

The result usually comes out to 4-5 XP per session for people, with occasionally more XP for particularly dangerous sessions and what not. It also keeps the focus on the Role Play as you are worrying about what you or your character learned, what you did, and actually analyzing your views of peoples characters and the interactions.

Dave said...

I think tracking XP leads to metagaming. "Oh, if I kill this thing I'll have enuf points to level up." XP have always been a broken thing about D&D, and doing this by fiat is definitely the only way to go. (Yeah, yeah, IMO, YMMV, ok, ok...)