Thread: Morrus on ... XP
Saturday, 3rd March, 2012, 12:57 AM #21
Scout (Lvl 6)
- Join Date
- Aug 2004
- Boise, ID
ø Ignore Tamlyn
We play 3.5 D&D and the PCs level "roughly whenever I feel like it."
Before I started DMing for the group I created an elaborate Excel spreadsheet to track and allocate XP. While setting up the spreadsheet was fun (I'm an Accountant!!!), I quickly learned that tracking XP was not fun at all. So now the PCs level up when I feel it's appropriate, either based on what they've accomplished or what they're about to face in the game.
I'll have the characters to level up after an encounter is over. I usually warn them before the next session to have their new character sheets ready. So if they do level up during the session, they've (supposedly) already prepared.
The only allowances I make for individuals is for the player who keeps notes. I let his character level up a few sessions before the others.
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Magsman (Lvl 14)
- Join Date
- Feb 2002
- Portland, OR
ø Ignore Dragonblade
Group XP or whenever the DM feels a level is appropriate is the only way to go for me. Everyone levels together.
I loathe individual XP awards and won't tolerate it in any game I play in ever again. I have played in far too many games where the DM had their favorite pet players and something as simple as quoting the DMs favorite movie would get their star players bonus XP, while everyone else pretty much had to actually buy the DM food or books to ever get bonus XP. Thats complete BS and I'll never tolerate it again. I feel very strongly about it.
Nor should players be punished for missing sessions. Missing the session is its own punishment. If someone is just flaking out, then boot them from the game. Don't deal with out of game issues via in-game incentives or punishments. I consider that very poor form.
Cool moments at the table, or rewards for good play are fine, but they should come in the form bonus action points, or free rerolls or something.
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
- Join Date
- May 2006
- Marietta, GA
ø Ignore Dykstrav
I can sum up my x.p. style in saying that players earn x.p. You have to do something to get it, it's not yours by merit of just showing up at the table. I reward participation and effort.
I give out individual x.p. awards, generally based on what the characters actually do over the course of a session (not necessarily "achieve," I'm looking for basic interaction and effort). The big reason is to give players an incentive to participate in the session. I'm just tired of seeing players that show up and bury their noses in a smartphone/laptop/comic book/whatever and roll dice when prompted. I've tried having discussions about this, but the only method I've ever seen that consistently makes people pay attention to what's going on in the game is to only grant the characters x.p. for encounters/challenges they participate in. Have your rogue hang back instead of checking for traps? Fine, but the fighter at the front of the party that blunders into the trap gets the x.p. for finding and surviving it.
Absent characters generally get no x.p. Since I'm adjusting the encounters to compensate for the absence of the character, it's perfectly fair to adjust the amount of x.p. that goes out as well. There's also a world of difference between a player that gets stuck at work or with family issues than someone who misses the game because it's just not a priority for them... Someone that misses a game or is late because of unavoidable situations or "real life" sometimes gets x.p. Since everyone has one of these moments every now and then, it's common for a player to miss about one session out of every six or seven in my experience, and it evens out over time.
I don't give awards for roleplaying. It's a roleplaying game, so I assume that's going to happen. If by "roleplaying" you mean social interaction... I consider social challenges a type of encounter and award experience accordingly. Describing your character's heraldry? Not really x.p. worthy, that's something you should do as part and parcel of designing your character. Convincing the duke to send troops to defend an important mountain pass? That's an encounter really, it just doesn't involve initiative and attack rolls--definitely worth some x.p.
I also don't give x.p. awards for backgrounds. I expect a certain amount of this to happen by merit of the game's nature. I also don't feel that the character's past should be as cool as what they are doing right now, and I don't want to read novellas for first-level characters. I'm happy with half a page (or less) that includes a basic explanation of the character's family situation, how they got their class skills, why they decided to become an adventurer, and at least two "loose ends" that I can exploit for future adventures. The reward that you get for writing a background is in seeing that background incorporated into the ongoing game.
For things like people bringing sodas to share, hosting the game and so forth, I give out one re-roll during the session. That encourages people to do it on a regular basis without skewing the experience progression.
I award x.p. during the week, between sessions, and send them out through email. Players handle leveling up on their own time, away from the table. Sometimes I use training rules, but most of the time I just require a player to explain why they got new abilities that aren't directly related to the game's narrative. A fighter wants to take a level of cleric? Why? Did you have a religious experience? Barbarian? Why? Does your character have anger issues or something? Wizard? Why? What order of wizards accepted and trained you?
Gallant (Lvl 3)
- Join Date
- Jan 2012
ø Ignore Warunsun
Savage Worlds where you do earn "bennies" or fate chips but they aren't encounter-based so it works much better in that system.
As far as XP goes during my time with First and Second edition I calculated experience points individually and awarded them at the end of sessions. Players would then advance their characters at the end of the session before they went home if they had earned enough points to do so. I overseen any rolls needed such as to learn spells or gain hit points.
Starting with Third edition and continued in Fourth edition I have awarded experience points per group at the end of sessions. I also began using standardized results for hit dice rolls (max hit points at first and second level, 75% thereafter) and point build ability scores—these became core for fourth edition. This allowed folks to level up at home with less oversight. Other than some rolls to learn spells in 3E there wasn't much to oversee anymore for advancement.
If people missed during first or second edition they definitely earned no experience and no treasure in my D&D games. I started being more generous sometime during third edition and used to award half-experience but no treasure to anyone that missed for a legitimate reason. When I started running fourth edition I started giving out full experience to absent players as long as they had a legitimate reason to miss and they told the group before hand. Sometimes I would even give out treasure to the player. I respect when a player tells the group and DM before hand when they know they are going to miss so I try to reward the considerate thinking. If they miss too much I would ask them to quit the group. But I also have some folks that are part-time players or "guest stars". These guest stars sit in occasionally and play whatever character I give them—usually Companion characters but sometimes fully stated characters. It works better for part-timers than trying to maintain a traditional character.
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
In my Planescape 4e D&D game so far I track the group's XP, individual XP "doesn't exist". They level between sessions. From the player's side it probably looks a lot like DM fiat, but when they leveled I sent out a summary of how their XP broke down.
That's an important point because I'm going for more of a sandbox approach. The players need to be able to choose risk vs reward, and the XP they get should reflect that.
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
- Join Date
- Mar 2005
- Victoria BC
ø Ignore Lanefan
Individual XP for each combat/encounter based on whether there was any contribution by that character to resolving said encounter. I also give out a "dungeon bonus" for each adventure once it's done, again on a character-by-character basis - the assumption here is this covers all the fiddly little things done during an adventure that would normally earn XP but I can't be bothered calculating (and in a small part replaces XP-for-g.p. which I scrapped a very long time ago). Usually broken down by time - if the adventure was 10 days long but your character for some reason was only around for 6 of those days you'd get 6/10 of whatever the full dungeon bonus is for that adventure.
Abesnt players have their characters run by the players who are present, they gain XP as normal based on what they do.
Cound not vote for part 3 of this poll as I give out XP on an irregular basis when it's relevant that I do so - if I know someone is close to bumping I'll give 'em out more often (sometimes twice or more per session), if nobody's close then several sessions might go by between XP handouts.
When a character bumps a few benefits of the new level are gained on the spot, the rest have to wait until the character trains into it - usually back in town.
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Acolyte (Lvl 2)
- Join Date
- Aug 2005
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
ø Ignore Victoly
I do group XP. In addition to XP for adventurous success (I normally work out XP based on overcoming a challenge rather than just for killing monsters, so that players are encouraged to sneak past monsters or parley their way past troubles if that suits the character and/or the moment), I'll usually give out a "story bonus" or "roleplaying bonus" to the group as a whole for each session. That bonus will be bigger if there's a lot of talk in a particular session; smaller if there isn't. That way, players still get roughly the same amount of experience if they decide to spend half the session chatting up locals at the bar and gaining useful info while having a fun time roleplaying rather than rolling dice to kill monsters. So long as people are having fun I think they should be rewarded.
In my view, one player's happiness at receiving a special experience bonus doesn't outweigh everyone else's disappointment at not receiving one. Different people like to play in different ways, and I don't want to punish someone just because they're not quite as talkative or witty as someone else at the table. Individual XP bonuses also run the risk of DM favoritism - as was noted by an earlier poster - and as a DM I feel like I'd just end up giving out equal individual bonuses anyway to ensure that I wasn't playing favorites.
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
- Join Date
- Jul 2006
- Harbin, China
ø Ignore Hautamaki
I use a modified OD&D system.
The point of XP is to reward players for overcoming challenges, however sometimes the difficulty can be highly subjective, so figuring out how much XP to give can be difficult. Especially if the PCs find a clever way to bypass, nullify, or completely obliterate a challenge that you initially thought would be very difficult. What happened in my games is that players would always attempt to kill monsters, even if they didn't have to, even if, 'realistically', a party of adventurers on a quest would have no reason whatsoever to take a side track to attack an owl bear they spotted tracks for way off in the distance. Players would also never run away from a battle under any circumstances, so putting a battle they would not be able to win would be a no-no. I was forced to always provide parties with the exact right amount of challenge; which to me impacted the game's verisimilitude.
So I decided to scrap that system. Now, players get experience for recovering loot and bringing it back to a safe place, and for accomplishing quests/missions. They get exactly 0 experience for killing a monster or disabling a trap. Monsters and traps are obstacles they have to figure out how to overcome, not the goal of the quest. This frees me up to do all sorts of things like put in monsters that are too strong for the party, and the party must either sneak or talk their way around them. The fact that the party also has this option and they know that this will not reduce the amount of XP they get on a given adventure also frees them up to find more clever or role-playing based ways to get around a given set of obstacles.
Experience is always awarded to whichever living characters make it back to a safe place when they get there. Whatever treasure the party recovered from the dungeon (treasure they brought in there doesn't count) gives them 1 point of experience per gp resale value of the treasure; treasure given to the PCs as a reward for completing a quest also counts for XP. If they are able to negotiate a higher resale value by using gather information, history checks, appraise, etc, so much the better, they took those skills they absolutely should be rewarded for using them with more experience too. Players also receive quest experience upon giving proof of quest completion to whoever gave them the quest. But I usually don't give extra quest experience unless there's not nearly enough loot either in the dungeon or in the quest giver's possession for them to get enough experience just by the gp value of the treasure they get though. For example, if a poor farmer asks the PCs to kill a local dire bear that has been eating his cows, neither the farmer nor the dire bear is going to have any treasure for the PCs but if the PCs are good-aligned they should realistically consider taking the quest and be rewarded with XP at least when they complete it.
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
ø Ignore OpsKT
Well Morrus, I had to hit a lot of checkboxes because it depends on the game.
For D&D, I long ago got rid of XP in favor of the 'advance every 8-12 encounters/events' method. Leveling up is handled in between sessions, which usually cap an adventure end or at least a 'chapter.' I track the encounters for each cahracter, and when they hit the magic number, that character goes up.
For Savage Worlds, they get individual XP, but extra rewards are hard to earn. So they usually get 2 XP per session. As it only takes 5 XP for an 'advance' however, this works well. If you're not there, you get 1 as long as we knew in advance, 0 if it's a "no call/no show" kind of thing.
In WoD: Mage I do XP at the end of the session. Individual awards are possible, but for the most part they average out the same over the course of the campaign. As the XP use is very organic, people end up good at the things they tend to do the most.
For support NPCs, it depends on the game. In D&D they level up when everyone in the party levels up. If someone is behind due to missing a session or two, the NPCs don't level up till that last guy does. NPC's never get the extra rewards.
~No one wins in the Edition Wars. The whole hobby loses.~ KT
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
I kinda wanna try running a campaign with old school XP, to encourage the PCs to get out and find adventures they're interested in, instead of stuff I'm come up with.
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