Loot=XP

If it doesn't fit into a category above, then inscribe it here, O Mighty One...

Moderators: DJ LaBoss, finarvyn, michaelcurtis, Harley Stroh

User avatar
grinnock
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 5:53 pm
Location: NoVa
Contact:

Loot=XP

Post by grinnock » Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:03 am

I've been using Holmes/Cyclopedia D&D to fill some crunch in my campaign, is anyone using the rule that 1 gold counts as 1 xp taken out of a dungeon? I've started using that, as xp levels are so low in that ruleset, and the group meets infrequently. It's evocative for the kind of low-powered thievery my game is focused on.

Thoughts, critiques?
My blog, full of OSR goodness, monsters, and session reports: Carapace King

User avatar
finarvyn
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2486
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:42 am
FLGS: Fair Game
Location: Chicago suburbs
Contact:

Re: Loot=XP

Post by finarvyn » Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:52 pm

In general I don't really use XP, but I've been wondering about how fast characters level up "by the book" compared to other RPGs. It always seemed odd that XP charts in most D&D-style RPGs double with each level but the powers given (HP, to-hit) don't.

The problem that I see with GP=XP is simply that the gold is a reward of its own, so by giving out lots of gold and giving out XP you sort of double the bonus. I prefer to give out XP based on game sessions played, regardless of whether they get lots of loot or not.

I think that the key comes down to how quickly you want them to raise in levels and how often you play. If I get my group together weekly I need to slow down advancement or make new characters more often, but if they play less regularly I may speed up advancement.

How's that for a non-answer. :wink:
Marv / Finarvyn
DCC Minister of Propaganda; Deputized 6/8/11
DCC RPG playtester 2011, DCC Lankhmar trivia contest winner 2015; OD&D player since 1975

"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
-- Gary Gygax
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!"
-- Dave Arneson

Tortog
Mighty-Thewed Reaver
Posts: 343
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:44 pm

Re: Loot=XP

Post by Tortog » Tue Oct 04, 2011 11:56 pm

finarvyn wrote:...
The problem that I see with GP=XP is simply that the gold is a reward of its own, so by giving out lots of gold and giving out XP you sort of double the bonus. I prefer to give out XP based on game sessions played, regardless of whether they get lots of loot or not.

I think that the key comes down to how quickly you want them to raise in levels and how often you play. If I get my group together weekly I need to slow down advancement or make new characters more often, but if they play less regularly I may speed up advancement.

How's that for a non-answer. :wink:
I highlighted the parts of your answer where I think that you hit a home run on your reasoning. :D

I haven't used the GP=XP thing for years, but my experience was it ruined the game. It always seemed to be the case that no matter how hard I would work to tell a story, or create RP situations: no one cared... they just wanted more treasure. I would have folks drop out of the game simply because they thought I was being too miserly with the GP. I would also get folks who would stop and loot every town and shack; they'd slow down the game to a crawl as they stopped to open every box, barrel, or corpse. They'd even get miffed at me when they found nothing most of the time, or alter the players alignment, or NPC reactions as a reflection of this unseemly behavior. To which my response was always the same: "If your going to act like evil, rotten b*stards, then at least have the decency to declare it on your character sheets."

Getting to the second statement about the need to moderate PC level growth. This to me it the defining mechanic for any RPG. "It's all in the timing and delivery" as the old saying goes. My solution for the Beta test is that I'm not bothering to hand out XP at all. The provided materials only tell me the threshold for each of the levels, but gives me no further data on calculating. The idea of using the XP awards from a different system just didn't seem right to me.

As A point of logic I've always felt that if the Module says: "...is designed for 4-6 characters of 1st to 3rd level..." then 6, 1st level PC's should be able to handle the entire dungeon. I have 8 PC's (w/ 2HD each) divided amongst 4 players. Since we only meet every 2 weeks, I decided not to scale things up too much so as to allow them to move more quickly trough the dungeon crawl. I'll be using story and world developments/interactions between modules (I hope) to provide the dramatic tension and sense of accomplishment.

Since I'm sticking with 5 overall levels for the entire campaign arc and have been sticking to a 1DCC level= 4th level in 3.5... I feel that the players owe me 4 levels worth of campaigning before they get to level 2. They get credit for 1/2 level from the 0-lvl crawl, and another 1/2 credit for the getting to Silverton and searching for the clues. By the time they come out of the dungeon they will have gained enough experience to go to 2nd level. They can then take advantage of "between the modules time" for training. From that point on they will have increasingly longer travel times/distances between module locations as an attempt to account for any perceived discrepancies in the dungeon experiences. I'm relying entirely on my own sense of "pacing" for this exercise, and trust that folks who are better with numbers will handle this side of the games development.

User avatar
finarvyn
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2486
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:42 am
FLGS: Fair Game
Location: Chicago suburbs
Contact:

Re: Loot=XP

Post by finarvyn » Wed Oct 05, 2011 2:38 am

Tortog wrote:I'm relying entirely on my own sense of "pacing" for this exercise, and trust that folks who are better with numbers will handle this side of the games development.
But of course you've hit upon the secret that you don't need anyone else's numbers at all! As you said, you control the pacing so you simply imagine what the campaign should entail and what obsticles are set to be overcome and then divide it up into parts. When characters overcome each part, they get some sort of reward for it.

The numbers on the chart really mean nothing to me, which is why it never bothers me that OD&D, C&C, S&W, OSRIC, DCC RPG, etc don't match. Why fixate on the numbers if you can look at the "big picture" instead? I love your approach!
Marv / Finarvyn
DCC Minister of Propaganda; Deputized 6/8/11
DCC RPG playtester 2011, DCC Lankhmar trivia contest winner 2015; OD&D player since 1975

"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
-- Gary Gygax
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!"
-- Dave Arneson

jmucchiello
Chaos-Summoning Sorcerer
Posts: 779
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:28 am

Re: Loot=XP

Post by jmucchiello » Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:28 am

For a game that talks about putting power back in the GM's hand, DCCRPG would be a great place to experiment with no xp tables. Imagine a game where the rules simply state "You gain a level when the DM damn-well tells you you gain a level. Level lose is handled the same way." Poof! no complaints about why Dwarves level slower than Warrior. Poof! no need for a "balanced" system for assigning XP to monsters.

If there was a chance Joseph might use that system, I would recant anything bad I said about having only 5 levels. :)

jamescbennett
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:44 pm

Re: Loot=XP

Post by jamescbennett » Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:08 am

In the 4th Ed campaign I run, I use the "you level up when the DM says you level up" method. While it keeps character advancement on track with the story, the distance (for want of a better word) between the characters' actions and the level advancement reward makes it, in my opinion, an emotionally unsatisfying solution. Pining for the visceral simplicity of "one dead orc = 10 xp" is one of the things that makes old-school gaming so attractive.

Similarly, I like the xp for gp rule. I'd rather give out a concrete chest of coins than a nebulous story award. It's been decades since I've actually played with it, so I may have forgotten the problems it causes. But, if I remember correctly, when we dropped the xp for gp rule, we just went from "I steal everything I see" to "I kill everything I see." I think the solution is the same: rule that a harmless peasant's coin, like a harmless peasant's life, isn't worth any xp.

Harley Stroh
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 1804
Joined: Wed Sep 15, 2004 4:02 am
Location: On the run.
Contact:

Re: Loot=XP

Post by Harley Stroh » Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:47 am

One useful attribute of the "gold = XP" model is that it encourages creative solutions that don't involve weapons. I don't need to kill the dragon; I will still be rewarded if I come up with a clever solution to get at his hoard. If we abstract this even further it could be "adventure goal = XP", wherein gold isn't always the adventure goal. Sometimes it is, ("Loot the Tower of the Elephant") and sometimes it isn't ("Assassinate the Patriarch!"). But something about gold pieces for XP is just so tangible, whereas Goal Rewards seem less exciting. Although, maybe that is just my inner old grump speaking.

But yeah, at least in our home game, PCs go up in levels when I say so. (Usually, when we have a higher level adventure to playtest. :twisted: )

//H

Edit: Ninja'd by James.
The lucky guy who got to write some Dungeon Crawl Classics.

DCC Resource thread: character sheets, judge tools, and the world's fastest 0-level party creator.

jmucchiello
Chaos-Summoning Sorcerer
Posts: 779
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:28 am

Re: Loot=XP

Post by jmucchiello » Wed Oct 05, 2011 7:46 pm

jamescbennett wrote:In the 4th Ed campaign I run, I use the "you level up when the DM says you level up" method. While it keeps character advancement on track with the story, the distance (for want of a better word) between the characters' actions and the level advancement reward makes it, in my opinion, an emotionally unsatisfying solution. Pining for the visceral simplicity of "one dead orc = 10 xp" is one of the things that makes old-school gaming so attractive.
The next trick is to keep them at 1st level for like 6 months real time without them rebelling. :) (Not that I've accomplished this either.)

Tortog
Mighty-Thewed Reaver
Posts: 343
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:44 pm

Re: Loot=XP

Post by Tortog » Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:27 pm

Whether I use the no XP system, or a meticulous track of per kill XP, or story/achievement awards depends entirely upon my sense of what the players want. If I'm running a game for my old high school / college group (they Guys I grew up with) I have established bonds of trust with the players, so the no XP system works quite well. However, these days most of my gaming is done at game shops where I never know who will be playing, so some kind of functional XP system would be nice. I simply defaulted to the no XP style because I have no XP system to test... fortunately my current group of gamers are enjoying the storytelling and adventure. The subject of XP hasn't even come up, no one is asking for it or why they haven't received any yet... so I must be doing something right. 8)

I must confess, that in the past, I have had poor experiences with DM's who are too arbitrary about when they let players level up... and that 's is greatest weakness as a leveling mechanic. It's real easy for the DM to turn into a "tyrant at the table" or lose their perspective on things and let the players get too much power too early in the game and the balance is thrown off. Most often I use an amalgam of all 3 styles; I cut the combat XP by 1/3 or 1/2 normal, throw in XP for some RP & per dungeon &/or story achievement goals*, but I only let them level up "between" the modules of the story arc. I find this last part crucial in avoiding the "infinitely scaling dungeon." The last thing I need to worry about is players leveling up halfway through the dungeon... then I have to go back and re-balance all the future encounters... which leads to more leveling... its a vicious cycle that quickly turns a game into a cartoon carnival. If I don't tweak the CR of the remaining encounters, then I still end up with a cartoon carnival... it's just that the players are striding through the dungeon like demi-gods.

--------------------------------------
* I'm sure that I'm not the only DM to have noticed that you can "train" the players actions/reactions by weighting the XP awards towards certain behaviors. Hence the lessening of combat awards (because I don't like to focus on that aspect), and the addition of Role play awards based on how many other players they involve. Players are more than willing to look for and engage in RP if the know they are going to get something tangible out of it... Want your thieves to be out there volunteering for trap detection / disarming? Tell them that you've assigned CR values to the traps; its a whole arena of XP that only they can get, and since the combat XP is so low the rewards outweigh the risks. This technique can just as easily work for folks who love combat heavy scenarios... just weight the combat XP real heavy and drop the other types of awards to 1/2. If everyone wants an "Ocean's 11" style game where everyone is a: Thief/ (fill in the blank), then ya, Loot = XP works just fine... :mrgreen:

jamescbennett
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:44 pm

Re: Loot=XP

Post by jamescbennett » Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:31 am

jmucchiello wrote:The next trick is to keep them at 1st level for like 6 months real time without them rebelling. :) (Not that I've accomplished this either.)
I kind of accidentally did this when we first started the 4th Ed campaign. I built the opening superadventure to cover levels 1-3 using the "1 level = 10 encounters" model from the 4th Ed DMG. It took me a few sessions to realize that this was designed for groups that can get together once a week rather than once a month. Oops.

Fortunately, my players are friends I've been gaming with for a very long time, and they trusted me enough to hang around until I got things figured out. I moved to a 1 level per adventure, 1 adventure per 2-ish sessions model, and it seems to be a comfortable pace.

ragboy
Cold-Blooded Diabolist
Posts: 546
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 4:19 pm
Contact:

Re: Loot=XP

Post by ragboy » Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:17 am

I'm actually considering ditching XP and levels completely in this system (before the actual rules come out...). I like the way Savage Worlds does its XP -- you use XP to buy character traits. So, you only get 1-3 XP per session, but once you have 5 (I think...been months since I played the system) you can buy attribute bumps, class features (mixing my systems), and the like.

I think there are some built in "experience rewards" that could stand in for XP and levels:
- Luck -- X number of XP's buys you a luck point
- Skills (for thieves) -- same as above buys you some skill percentages.
- Spells/Spell check bonuses, etc -- Lots of rewards available for the spellcasters.
- HP/base attack/more/better Mighty Deeds, etc.
- Attributes -- this would have to be controlled, of course, but should be available -- especially for the poor saps that are running around with sub-9 stats.
- Mooks/Henchmen -- Followers...

I don't know. I haven't thought too deeply about it, but the XP/level mechanic makes me tired. It's all bookkeeping and game balancing that I don't think is needed. Even though I love D&D, I also love the "level-less" aspects of Savage Worlds. I wished that piece hadn't been ported over from D&D.

I guess what I'm looking for is a way to build a character's power without a bookkeeping metric. Anyway...
AKA Paul Wolfe
The Mystic Bull: Check out our two FREE prehistoric adventures: The Steading of the Nergalites AND The Tribe of Ogg and the Gift of Suss
In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer (PDF) and softcover: 12 Short Adventures for DCC!
The God-Seed Awakens: 3rd Level Adventure for DCC. New patron, new spells, lots of new monsters and the living weapons of the Empire of Thal!
My Gamer Profile

User avatar
finarvyn
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2486
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:42 am
FLGS: Fair Game
Location: Chicago suburbs
Contact:

Re: Loot=XP

Post by finarvyn » Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:48 am

jmucchiello wrote:Imagine a game where the rules simply state "You gain a level when the DM damn-well tells you you gain a level. Level lose is handled the same way." Poof! no complaints about why Dwarves level slower than Warrior. Poof! no need for a "balanced" system for assigning XP to monsters.
jamescbennett wrote:In the 4th Ed campaign I run, I use the "you level up when the DM says you level up" method.
Harley Stroh wrote:If we abstract this even further it could be "adventure goal = XP", wherein gold isn't always the adventure goal.

But yeah, at least in our home game, PCs go up in levels when I say so.
Interesting. I thought I was pretty much the only person on the planet who abandoned XP and yet I see a clear pattern here. Perhaps this would be an interesting line of thought for Joseph to weigh in on...
Marv / Finarvyn
DCC Minister of Propaganda; Deputized 6/8/11
DCC RPG playtester 2011, DCC Lankhmar trivia contest winner 2015; OD&D player since 1975

"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
-- Gary Gygax
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!"
-- Dave Arneson

User avatar
GnomeBoy
Tyrant Master (Administrator)
Posts: 3743
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 1:46 pm
FLGS: Bizarro World
Location: Left Coast, USA
Contact:

Re: Loot=XP

Post by GnomeBoy » Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:16 am

In an effort to cover the subject, I'm going to ask: If you (anyone) don't use an XP table, do you feel that you still developed your sense of "when" to level up characters based on having used an XP table (or tables)?
Gnome Boy • DCC playtester @ DDC 35 Feb '11. • Beta DL 2111, 7AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since '77 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.

Link: Here Be 100+ DCC Monsters

bygrinstow.com

Kuruz, Mendicant, N • AC 8, 4 hp • R-1, F0, W0 • S9 A8 S9 P11 I16 L8
Zend, Grave Digger, L • AC 9, 3 hp • R-1, F0, W1 • S14 A6 S9 P13 I13 L6
Mercer, Outlaw, N • AC 12, 2 hp • R0, F-1, W1 • S7 A9 S6 P13 I8 L13
Dejah, Ropemaker, C • AC 10, 2 hp • R0, F1, W-1 • S8 A12 S15 P7 I11 L7

User avatar
reverenddak
Moderator
Posts: 768
Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:04 am
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

Re: Loot=XP

Post by reverenddak » Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:34 pm

I'm open to alternatives to XP awards and tables. But how would one accommodate the variable progressions of different classes if you don't use the XP tables? I'd be curious. I like that some classes can level sooner than others, and some classes are harder and take longer. And the only way to regulate that is with some soft of granular XP awards and XP tables, especially in a Class/Level based game. The only reason to have uniform level progression is for balance. But that only makes sense to a point. For example, nowhere in narrative fiction are members of an adventuring party all equal in level or skill. Gandalf, Aragorn & Bilbo each had significant levels of experience and skill.
Reverend Dakota Jesus Ultimak, S.S.M.o.t.S.M.S., D.M.

(Dungeon) Master In Chief of Crawl! fanzine. - http://www.crawlfanzine.com/

"[...] there is no doubt that Dungeons and Dragons and its imitators are right out of the pit of hell." - William Schnoebelen, Straight talk on Dungeons & Dragons

jmucchiello
Chaos-Summoning Sorcerer
Posts: 779
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:28 am

Re: Loot=XP

Post by jmucchiello » Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:34 pm

finarvyn wrote:Interesting. I thought I was pretty much the only person on the planet who abandoned XP and yet I see a clear pattern here. Perhaps this would be an interesting line of thought for Joseph to weigh in on...
You need to get out more. Over on ENWorld.org the number of DMs who have abandoned XP in various versions of D&D (early, 3e, Pathfinder, 4e, whatever) is probably in the 20% range. And that is one of the largest D&D fansites.

User avatar
reverenddak
Moderator
Posts: 768
Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:04 am
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

Re: Loot=XP

Post by reverenddak » Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:56 pm

There really is no difference between arbitrarily leveling characters, arbitrarily issuing XP or using the specific & granular rules of XP tables, regardless if you use GP=XP or not, the level gain rate is controlled by the DM. So it doesn't matter. Having a base-line, or some sort of standard, is pretty much required for a Class/Level based game.

I'd be curious how DMs level their player characters. In general terms of what rate, and why that rate.

I DM once a week, and I'm still fiddling with XP values to see if I can find the sweet spot that works for me. So far I'm aiming for a level for every 10 or sessions, which would be about 2 or 3 obstacles each session. The easiest way for me to keep track is to issue XP instead of keeping "role". I have 4-6 players out of a pool of 8 show up every week.
Reverend Dakota Jesus Ultimak, S.S.M.o.t.S.M.S., D.M.

(Dungeon) Master In Chief of Crawl! fanzine. - http://www.crawlfanzine.com/

"[...] there is no doubt that Dungeons and Dragons and its imitators are right out of the pit of hell." - William Schnoebelen, Straight talk on Dungeons & Dragons

User avatar
finarvyn
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2486
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:42 am
FLGS: Fair Game
Location: Chicago suburbs
Contact:

Re: Loot=XP

Post by finarvyn » Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:12 pm

jmucchiello wrote:
finarvyn wrote:Interesting. I thought I was pretty much the only person on the planet who abandoned XP and yet I see a clear pattern here. Perhaps this would be an interesting line of thought for Joseph to weigh in on...
You need to get out more. Over on ENWorld.org the number of DMs who have abandoned XP in various versions of D&D (early, 3e, Pathfinder, 4e, whatever) is probably in the 20% range. And that is one of the largest D&D fansites.
Ah, well I don't hang out in 3E sites that much. I spend more time on OD&D/AD&D/C&C type sites instead. Nice to see that the 3E guys are catching up to me, however! :P
Marv / Finarvyn
DCC Minister of Propaganda; Deputized 6/8/11
DCC RPG playtester 2011, DCC Lankhmar trivia contest winner 2015; OD&D player since 1975

"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
-- Gary Gygax
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!"
-- Dave Arneson

User avatar
Aplus
Hard-Bitten Adventurer
Posts: 141
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:06 pm

Re: Loot=XP

Post by Aplus » Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:29 pm

If a unified XP table is used, I tend to grant levels without counting XP. However, I let the players know what actions influenced my decision. For example, "you guys did a really good job milking this level of treasure while avoiding a lot of trouble and playing smart, so I'm granting a level." I want them to know that smart play will impact the rate at which they level.

In older D&D versions where different classes level at different rates - i.e. a thief needs 1,200 xp while a magic-user requires 2,500 xp to reach level two, I use the gold for XP method. I figure the difference in XP required to level is there for a reason (although I still haven't quite determined what that reason is). I do not award any XP for defeating monsters, since I personally value sneaky, smart play over heroic ass-kicking style play (and the amount of XP for monsters is so small to begin with). I will generally award some bonus XP if I find the players' antics particularly entertaining, because hey, I'm here to have fun too!

So I guess with regard to DCC my decision would be based on what the final class advancement tables look like. (unified XP versus different for each class).
Check out my DCC Resources Page for cool stuff!

User avatar
finarvyn
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2486
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:42 am
FLGS: Fair Game
Location: Chicago suburbs
Contact:

Re: Loot=XP

Post by finarvyn » Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:22 am

Aplus wrote:In older D&D versions where different classes level at different rates - i.e. a thief needs 1,200 xp while a magic-user requires 2,500 xp to reach level two, I use the gold for XP method. I figure the difference in XP required to level is there for a reason (although I still haven't quite determined what that reason is).
The reason is supposed to be game balance, but my players don't seem to mind if the characters aren't all "equal" as we play. (i.e. the thief player never seems to complain about being "behind" because the thief has things she can do that the others cannot.)

Abandoning the XP charts has taken a layer of "bean counting" away from my game that I appreciate. I figure that characters can simply advance at a convenient point (end of module, after a major encounter, when a goal gets accomplished, whatever) instead of when the numbers say they should advance.

Works for me, anyway. :)
Marv / Finarvyn
DCC Minister of Propaganda; Deputized 6/8/11
DCC RPG playtester 2011, DCC Lankhmar trivia contest winner 2015; OD&D player since 1975

"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
-- Gary Gygax
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!"
-- Dave Arneson

User avatar
JediOre
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 1127
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: In a galaxy far, far, away (Missouri)

Re: Loot=XP

Post by JediOre » Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:26 am

My group enjoys experience points. It gives them a measure of where they are at any given point. We all like watching the gauge climb, so-to-speak.

Tortog
Mighty-Thewed Reaver
Posts: 343
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:44 pm

Re: Loot=XP

Post by Tortog » Mon Oct 10, 2011 1:24 am

GnomeBoy wrote:In an effort to cover the subject, I'm going to ask: If you (anyone) don't use an XP table, do you feel that you still developed your sense of "when" to level up characters based on having used an XP table (or tables)?
An interesting question. I have 3 ways to respond:

1. For me the answer is a qualified "yes." Some of my sense for when leveling up is needed has developed from using XP tables; but if I had to put a % on its influence... 33%. Of equal importance are my ability to "read the audience" which is mostly observation of the players. What gets them excited? Are they waving their arms animated while they role play something, or are they over tensed with shoulders up around their ears and talking in hushed tones... Are they yawning and getting distracted? These are all clues and ques about how to proceed. Lastly, and one of the most telling indications that the players have spent too long at their current level: how ridiculous do the encounters have to be to make it a challenge? Putting it another way: are the monsters out of place for the environment and/or story? if the answer is yes, then they PC's need to get leveled up and sent off to somewhere else.

My beta test group provides some excellent examples; before they leveled up, as they were nearing the climax of the module, the opposing forces were starting to become unrealistic... a gaggle of 0 lvl pcs Vs army of animated statues and guardians... I had mixed feelings when they managed to drain the water into the second level, so when they got there I chose embellishments to maintain the sense that of "overwhelming," or "Destined" Victory theme. They are on an epic quest; they just didn't know it yet.

An example of the second aspect: When I brought them back from the "training dream." They awoke within the tomb... again. I'd planned some more plot exposition and a chance to fight their way out using their new powers. From my POV this would be a great way to see the differences... and give them some practice with the new "toys." One look at their slumped shoulders and glum expressions told me that if they had to stay in that dungeon for 1 more session: I'd loose them, and not likely get them back. Solution... on to the overland trek even though I wasn't entirely ready for it yet. :wink:

2. (speaking of DCC#1, but it's the same in many modules) The module awards alone have the potential to take the party to nearly 3rd level... without any combat at all {1650XP}. Theoretically it is possible for the right mix of PC's to "ghost" their way in and out, finding everything and succeeding on the tasks without ever killing anything: and gain enough XP for a new level. Now these are awards for a different system, but even if they only find or accomplish half these tasks then they will be well on their way to the next level.

3. As I've said before, I would prefer there to be a functional XP system, if the beta had one I'd be using it in some fashion. Every game system has its own ways of dealing with Level progression or skills/ability progression that tells you where the authors idea of the pacing should be. This is my base-line. If it is something I can work with then I use it, adjusting faster or slower to match my tastes Vs the players on this issue. The better I know my players the easier this is, but I nearly always find the happy balance point.

----

About the different XP thresholds for the levels of each of the classes; back in the old days I used the tables and charts without really thinking about it... because that's all there was. Then 3.x and the d20 engine came along and "flattened" everything out, "... and in the darkness bound them all..." to the same XP table. I didn't like it much, mainly because leveling up characters takes up an entire session as they all go up together... necessitating hours of searching through references, debating on what rule applies, etc. The XP awards are generally too large and we'd spend nearly every-other game session doing paper-work. Yet when I slowed the progression down, they'd all whine at me... go figure. :evil:

Now that I have the chance to go back, I find myself hesitant. There certainly isn't any reason for the Dwarf and Elf "class" to pay more XP for levels... they are weak knock-offs of the other classes, and anything that comes from race (seeing in the dark, or "treasure hound") aren't sufficient to justify the increased XP. The Halfling abilities with 2- weapon fighting, regenerative Luck, & share Luck ability are quite a bargain for the XP/Level progression. By using the "no XP, you level when it is appropriate for the story" method I can bunker in and wait for everyone else to hash things out; then use that system as my base-line. I think it'll be faster than I like, but only time will tell.

Pilgrim
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 47
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 7:14 am

Re: Loot=XP

Post by Pilgrim » Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:29 am

For me, it's all about hardcore mode and truly earning advancement for my characters.

I really dislike playing with a gimme, whether with magic items, dice rolls, or leveling. When I play I want to know that my playing earned the levels, earned the rewards, through smart, careful, and often times lucky game play.

I generally have an adversity to games where XP is ignored, mostly because that is what determines advancement. XP is the bread and butter of the game, the characters and their leveling. Without it, I don't know, it just doesn't feel right.

I guess I've just always been turned off by the idea that the story was what the players were playing through, as opposed to being the outcome of what the players do. Advancing at DM whim just feels too similar to that mindset.
"Not all those who wander are lost." ~ JRR Tolkien

User avatar
finarvyn
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2486
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:42 am
FLGS: Fair Game
Location: Chicago suburbs
Contact:

Re: Loot=XP

Post by finarvyn » Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:03 am

Pilgrim wrote:I guess I've just always been turned off by the idea that the story was what the players were playing through, as opposed to being the outcome of what the players do. Advancing at DM whim just feels too similar to that mindset.
It sounds like our game styles are actually pretty similar. The only difference is that I don't take the time to count XP during play, and you do.

Think about this absurd example: suppose the party kills an orc who happens for whatever reason to have a 100,000 GP gen in his pouch. Is that monster kill worth 100,000 XP? I know that no reasonable GM would do this, but it's the idea that I'm considering. I've seen quite a few dungeons over the years with a hefty hidden treasure somewhere that hardly anyone ever happens to find. But what if they do? Does stumbling onto a secret door and thus getting the loot constitude "better" role play?

In general I find that most XP comes from treasure, and treasure totals are often quite arbitrary. Not much treasure early in a module, then a big payoff at the end. Rather than keep track I just wait until the end of the adventure and say: "Congrats! You did it, so here's your level!" Then everyone does their level-up stuff together.

Anyway, I've done it both ways and both work just fine.
Marv / Finarvyn
DCC Minister of Propaganda; Deputized 6/8/11
DCC RPG playtester 2011, DCC Lankhmar trivia contest winner 2015; OD&D player since 1975

"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
-- Gary Gygax
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!"
-- Dave Arneson

jmucchiello
Chaos-Summoning Sorcerer
Posts: 779
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:28 am

Re: Loot=XP

Post by jmucchiello » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:50 am

Pilgrim wrote:I guess I've just always been turned off by the idea that the story was what the players were playing through, as opposed to being the outcome of what the players do. Advancing at DM whim just feels too similar to that mindset.
Story is a loaded word in these kinds of discussion. Don't think of it as "story". Think of it as modifying rumors. When the party alters the rumor landscape of the campaign world, they gain rewards. Do this enough and in the right way and you gain levels.

For example, a green dragon lives in the Dark Forest. That rumor might exist at the beginning of the campaign. A 1st level party altering/destroying that rumor might gain a couple levels immediately, a higher level party might need to do something else in addition to "killing" the dragon to gain a level.

This ties level gain to the campaign and reduces the need to track XP for each "kill". If the players defeat bandits that have infested the King's Highway for decades they not only gain renown for the deed but "power" in the form of levels. While it may seem like the party is only gaining levels at the "end of a story" in fact they are gaining levels at the beginning of new rumors.

Pilgrim
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 47
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 7:14 am

Re: Loot=XP

Post by Pilgrim » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:25 am

But in doing so, you break the balance between classes. Magic-users have to gain more XP due to the power they wield, thieves level faster than other classes. The balance between classes depends on this differentiation between levels to keep things in check. By leveling the entire party at once, the magic-users will be gaining access to their spells, but in scale, the other classes will now be falling behind because they are no longer gaining the advantage through faster level gain.

This is one of the reason players of 3.x have such problems as parties gain levels above 7th, with the unified leveling that 3.x introduced, there is no longer an XP/level buffer in place to keep casters from overshadowing other classes.
"Not all those who wander are lost." ~ JRR Tolkien

Post Reply

Return to “DCC RPG General”