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Pathfinder 2E Absolute XP

CapnZapp

Legend
I personally prefer absolute XP over the relative XP used by Pathfinder 2.

That is, instead of an Orc yielding 40 XP when you first start out, and then 30 XP when you have leveled up, and then 20 XP when you have leveled up again...

...I prefer that if an Orc gives 40 XP (say) it does so no matter your level. It's always 40 XP. Instead you need more and more XP to level up.

In short, classic XP.

Here's a scheme to accomplish that (not using 40 XP as a baseline, but instead starting off by requiring 100 XP to reach second level):

absolutexpandawards.png

The interesting bit is what I explore in the Comments column, which I'll discuss in the next post.

Edit: Just like in the core game, all xp awards are per character and assumes a four-man party. So if the newly hatched heroes kill two level 1 goblins (worth 2 XP each) and bring back the lost bracelet for a level 1 quest completion (worth 10 XP), Alice gets 14 XP, Bob gets 14 XP, Cyril gets 14 XP and Daphne gets 14 XP...
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
First off: for this particular exercise I have gone with a baseline of 50 monsters per level, not 25 as in the Paizo default. On the other hand, quest XP is boosted considerably compared to monsters. (In Adventure Paths, completing a quest gives you 30-80 XP which is to be compared to the 40 XP of a monster of your own level)

But that's not what I wanted to philosophize over...

Instead have a look at the strange line in the Comment column for level 1: Cf. 1-1-2-4-6-10 to 1-1½-2-3-4-6

What this does is, it compares the xp haul for monsters in this scheme with what you would have gotten if you kept the default progression. In Paizo's original scheme, you'll recall that while a monster your own level gives 40 XP, a monster one level lower gives 30 XP and a monster one level higher gives 60 XP (and so on). I have just translated that into what you would get if we replace the baseline (40 XP) with whatever this scheme is getting you.

What that line is telling you is this:
First off, the bolded part is your own level, so it's identical.
The next number to the right is for one level higher (level 2 in this case). With this scheme you're getting 4 XP, with the original scheme you would have gotten 3 XP.
Then you get 6 instead of 4 XP.
Then you get 10 instead of 6 XP.
For numbers to the left of the bolded number, we go down in level. The first number to the left is 1 instead of 1½, for instance.
And the second (leftmost) number is 1 (because we dislike half of an XP) and 1.

You can't maintain the exact same xp yields when you switch from relative to absolute numbers. So why not embrace this and focus on the upside? :)

In this case we have a system that encourages heroes to take risks and track down fearsome monsters that are three or more levels higher than the heroes. On the other hand, "farming" relatively low-level critters gives less than it would have done under the default scheme.

For instance, a level 3 hero gets 160 XP if his party brings down a level 7 monster in the default scheme, or four times the 40 XP you get for a monster of your own level.

In this scheme, the same hero would get 35 XP (because every level 7 monster always gives that), to be compared to the 6 XP you get for a monster of your own level. This means going for the BBEG gives you almost six times the XP (5.83) instead of just four times!

Any thoughts...? I find that this more accurately mirrors the actual risk you are taking. The risk vs monsters of relatively low level just isn't there, while fighting monsters higher level than yourself carries considerable risk.


Zapp

PS. This is about rewards, not encounter budgets. The assumption is you aren't changing the way you populate encounters (that is, you still run adventure paths as written).
 

aco175

Legend
I do not play PF, but can see where they were going with XP for threats that become less of a treat. At first it appears to be more recordkeeping for the DM. Another thought is to where it fits with a sandbox and if 'farming' the lower threats for XP is worth it- or even happens. As the DM, I would likely add challenge to the orcs to make them a challenge again if the PCs skipped them at the lower level.

Does the PF2 system have something else that XP needed is 2000 (or whatever) to gain level 3? The XP can come from a bunch of orcs, but the game is saying that at some point the orcs are worth less, since the threat is less. By giving the full XP is the game math going to be skewed? Is this at 3rd, 5th, 10th level? I would think that keeping the full XP is not a problem.

Another thought is the game and players. If they are having fun and you are fine with it, then it is ok. At some point, my players would grow tired with killing orcs and look for the orc chief, or orc/ogre crossbreeds to gain more XP. I would add giants and beasts that they keep as pets to give out more XP. I guess I would not worry that much about it.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I should add that in my experience (I have GMd one adventure path from 1 to 20; whether you call that limited experience or not I leave up to you) the most danger doesn't come from a single high-level boss.

The most danger comes from fights where there are as many monsters (or nearly so) as heroes. For instance, given an Extreme-threat encounter budget, you can place a single L+4 monster in that encounter. But it is likely more trouble for the heroes to feature four at-level foes, for instance. Or two L+1 monsters and one of those at-level ones.

Three monsters have three times as many actions as the single BBEG, and at least twice as many hit points. And most debuffs are likely to only hit some, not all, of the monsters.

Disclaimer: This applies during the first half of the game. Once heroes reach level 15 or so, they can handle much harder fights than a mere 160 XP fight, since by that time monsters below your own level just melt away: the casters now have so awesome spells that you can add a dozen L-2's and the difficulty doesn't change, because the spell the wizard planned to cast is going to wipe these with zero extra effort.

Case in point:
It's one of the few Extreme-threat encounters of the entire campaign. And it was a rout. This fight is scripted to take place on a platform that raises to the top of the tower, where beams of light will grant the BBEG five lives(!)

And I stuffed the encounter with many more opponents because I knew Extreme wasn't nearly as scared as before. But the BBEG didn't even get the chance to initiate the encounter. He got slapped with the Fleeing condition and so he could not start the raising of the platform, and when he got back to normal all his eleven allies were dead (the party wiped them all in two rounds flat), and he made an attack, inflicted a bit of damage, and was then promptly whaled upon by everybody and died.

Then the heroes scored a critical success and I told them about the light resurrection thingy. So they simply lifted his carcass outside the platform before going up to investigate (and disable the source of his energy)

Fight over - and campaign over - like it was some Moderate-level routine warm-up exercise.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I do not play PF, but can see where they were going with XP for threats that become less of a treat.
Just to clarify that (perhaps surprisingly) I'm actually not criticizing anything in this thread. Relative xp is not a thing that gets in the way or ruins your game or anything like that. It just is. That I find no xp (aka milestone leveling) to be the far easier approach for most games is kind of off-topic.

For this thread I should reiterate absolute xp is not inherently superior. I just prefer it.

In this thread I'm mostly fishing for comments and analysis on the fact you cannot maintain the exact same ratios between at-level foes and not-at-level foes when you switch between absolute and relative XP (and vice versa) :)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Does the PF2 system have something else that XP needed is 2000 (or whatever) to gain level 3?
In Pathfinder 2, you always need 1000 XP to level up. If you're level one, you need 1000 XP to reach level two. If you're level nineteen, you need 1000 XP to reach level twenty.

This corresponds to 25 monsters of your own level. If you kill an orc as a level 1 hero, you gain 40 XP. If you kill a Pit Fiend as a level 20 hero, you gain 40 XP. In all cases, killing 25 monsters your own level means 40x25=1000 XP.

This is what I call "relative XP" as opposed to "absolute XP" which doesn't care about the hero's level. One example of the latter is when an Orc gives 2 XP while a Pit Fiend gives 7000 XP.
 

aco175

Legend
In Pathfinder 2, you always need 1000 XP to level up. If you're level one, you need 1000 XP to reach level two. If you're level nineteen, you need 1000 XP to reach level twenty.

This corresponds to 25 monsters of your own level. If you kill an orc as a level 1 hero, you gain 40 XP. If you kill a Pit Fiend as a level 20 hero, you gain 40 XP. In all cases, killing 25 monsters your own level means 40x25=1000 XP.

This is what I call "relative XP" as opposed to "absolute XP" which doesn't care about the hero's level. One example of the latter is when an Orc gives 2 XP while a Pit Fiend gives 7000 XP.
This clears that up, thank you. Trying to get first impression of the system and thinking that it is lacking, although I do not see the periphery stuff that may make it work better.

Does this system make it easier to 'budget' an encounter? Do you just grab 4 monsters of same level and call it an encounter. This allows me to grab 1 monster at N+1 for more XP and double at N-1 to equal the same budget, the 160xp. I guess I can see where the orc is worth only 10xp at level 5 and 40 at level 1.

It seems like a system change to go to absolute XP over relative XP. Would you be able to use the PF1 monster manual for XP? I would hate to change the values in my book and then need to change the level requirements to more a 5e type. I'm not a big math-type on the boards, so I'm not sure I can help.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
This clears that up, thank you.
You're welcome.

I'll leave your general questions about Pathfinder 2 XP awards for another thread, but you did ask one thing I can address here:

It seems like a system change to go to absolute XP over relative XP.
Actually no. I would foresee not many changes at all.

It's mostly just an aesthetic preference which you prefer.

Would you be able to use the PF1 monster manual for XP?
I haven't considered it and I wouldn't recommend it. Many monsters are much more (or less) dangerous in PF2. It's really two completely different games.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
You can't maintain the exact same xp yields when you switch from relative to absolute numbers. So why not embrace this and focus on the upside? :)
I’m not sure I follow. In the relative scheme, XP doubles every two levels. You can extrapolate this all the way out as far as you want and convert it to an absolute scheme. All the way out, the XP value for +1 creatures is half way between +0 and +2. Obviously, if you’re not interested in extrapolating the original scheme, that doesn’t matter.

LevelTo Next LevelCreature/HazardSimple HazardMinor Acc.Moderate Acc.Major Acc.
−120421540
0306322.560
1100040843080
215006012645120
320008016860160
43000120241290240
540001603216120320
660002404824180480
780003206432240640
8120004809648360960
916000640128644801280
1024000960192967201920
113200012802561289602560
1248000192038419214403840
1364000256051225619205120
1496000384076838428807680
1512800051201024512384010240
1619200076801536768576015360
172560001024020481024768020480
1838400015360307215361152030720
1951200020480409620481536040960
2030720614430722304061440

Also, how does the proposed scheme handle hazards? Simple hazards are ⅕ the XP of a complex hazard, which is usually the same as a creature of that level. A shrieker is a level −1 simple hazard, so would it be worth 0.2 XP, which I assume would round down to 0 XP? Is that intended?
 

payn

Adventurer
For me XP values are a necessary evil. They help determine challenges and set level up expectations in game design. However, Im milestone all the way. I wont ever award XP ever again as GM. So, as long as the system works it can be whatever it needs to be.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I’m not sure I follow. In the relative scheme, XP doubles every two levels. You can extrapolate this all the way out as far as you want and convert it to an absolute scheme. All the way out, the XP value for +1 creatures is half way between +0 and +2. Obviously, if you’re not interested in extrapolating the original scheme, that doesn’t matter.
I might have not been clear.

I was talking about the interaction between fighting, say, a L-1 creature between one level and another.

With the relative system, such a critter is guaranteed to always be 75% of the baseline (an at-level creature). It is always 30 XP which is 75% of 40 XP.

You simply can't maintain that exact ratio over levels. Take your suggested scheme, for instance. While at level 3, yes, a level 1 creature is 75% of the XP you get from an at-level creature (60 XP vs 80 XP), this does not hold true at level 4 (80 XP is 67% of 120 XP).

I just mentioned it to say I didn't find it super compelling to strive for, so I didn't even try. No biggie :)
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
For me XP values are a necessary evil. They help determine challenges and set level up expectations in game design. However, Im milestone all the way. I wont ever award XP ever again as GM. So, as long as the system works it can be whatever it needs to be.
I feel the opposite. I won’t play in a game that uses milestone leveling, and it’s not something I would use in mine. I’m not interested in the kind of game that implies (story-driven adventures). However, I don’t think milestone versus other schemes is the intended topic of this thread.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
For me XP values are a necessary evil. They help determine challenges and set level up expectations in game design. However, Im milestone all the way. I wont ever award XP ever again as GM. So, as long as the system works it can be whatever it needs to be.
I'm about to GM the Abomination Vaults, where using xp is recommended. So I thought I'd dust off my old xp for gold scheme and update it for use.

Anyway, you're right. It might well be the players will rebel against having to keep track of xp and we will dump the idea. It's just that I've been told awarding xp offers the players a layer of agency in that it matters if they clean out one level before they descend to the next.

This was not true when we played Extinction Curse. As long as the job was done, the quest was done, the milestone was reached, and you leveled up. Making sure to find every little crawly-creepy in the corners were not even considered.

But here it allows the heroes to decide for themselves whether to explore more on this level, hoping to level up before going further down. Or so I'm led to believe.

Then, to emphasize the quests over the actual monster slaying, in order to encourage smart play over brute slaughter, I have tweaked the xp awards for monsters and quests.

What do you think? :)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I feel the opposite. I won’t play in a game that uses milestone leveling, and it’s not something I would use in mine. I’m not interested in the kind of game that implies (story-driven adventures). However, I don’t think milestone versus other schemes is the intended topic of this thread.
Let me just add that most Paizo APs are "story driven". I found Extinction Curse to be an outright roller coaster. Tracking xp there would have been - again imho - entirely wasteful (just extra admin for no benefit).

But I'm not entirely against xp*. <aside>I do feel they should be the default, and that WotC and Paizo should stop propagating the illusion xp is some kind of quasi-scientific and accurate measure. Once you've pierced this veil, and realize the party will always be at a level the GM is happy with, you're free to use them to your heart's desire! :cool: </aside>

*) I used them in my last campaign (the xp-for-gold experiment that was a Sandpoint sandbox) and I am suggesting to use them in this thing.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Also, how does the proposed scheme handle hazards? Simple hazards are ⅕ the XP of a complex hazard, which is usually the same as a creature of that level. A shrieker is a level −1 simple hazard, so would it be worth 0.2 XP, which I assume would round down to 0 XP? Is that intended?
To be honest, I have never understood why "simple hazards" should be worth so little xp. Hazards are lethal in Pathfinder 2!

Same with "Minor accomplishments". Yech! That's for beancounters only - I can't imagine ever spending time on a quest or other accomplishment if it only gives out that little xp. Such a paltry amount is saying "don't waste a single second on me, I'm super unimportant". In the AP I just played, quests gave 30 or 40 XP (using the relative system), sometimes more, sometimes less. The text never bothered with handing out anything less than 10 XP. (Something like 3 XP when you need 1000 XP is a rounding error, not a meaningful reward!) <end rant>

I scaled my proposal so I wouldn't have to use fractional xp (with the sole exception of level -1 critters; because I feel 100 XP is a beautiful starting threshold) but I'll use the same solution I used there to answer you: round up to 1!

Edit: thank you for your extrapolated progression. It will be useful for people that find value in keeping the "feel" of the PF2 default system!

As you might have gleaned from my earlier mention, I'm basing my xp progression on the actual PF2 wealth progression. Why wealth and not xp? Because having a 1:1 gold to xp ratio sure makes things easier when you run xp for gold! To compare Kenada's and my systems, you might be interested in knowing a level 20 creature is worth 7000 XP in my system. :)
 
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kenada

Legend
Supporter
Let me just add that most Paizo APs are "story driven". I found Extinction Curse to be an outright roller coaster. Tracking xp there would have been - again imho - entirely wasteful (just extra admin for no benefit).
I’ve run several PF2 APs. I always augmented them, and things never went exactly according to plan. We also had parties of mixed levels (due to carious reasons). With that said, I’m not a fan of the default assumption that the bulk of your XP comes from fighting monsters. Other systems do it better.

But I'm not entirely against xp*. <aside>I do feel they should be the default, and that WotC and Paizo should stop propagating the illusion xp is some kind of quasi-scientific and accurate measure. Once you've pierced this veil, and realize the party will always be at a level the GM is happy with, you're free to use them to your heart's desire! :cool: </aside>
I’d certainly agree with dispensing with the idea that encounters can be balanced in all situations, though I’m not sure we have the same things in mind.
 

payn

Adventurer
I'm about to GM the Abomination Vaults, where using xp is recommended. So I thought I'd dust off my old xp for gold scheme and update it for use.

Anyway, you're right. It might well be the players will rebel against having to keep track of xp and we will dump the idea. It's just that I've been told awarding xp offers the players a layer of agency in that it matters if they clean out one level before they descend to the next.

This was not true when we played Extinction Curse. As long as the job was done, the quest was done, the milestone was reached, and you leveled up. Making sure to find every little crawly-creepy in the corners were not even considered.

But here it allows the heroes to decide for themselves whether to explore more on this level, hoping to level up before going further down. Or so I'm led to believe.

Then, to emphasize the quests over the actual monster slaying, in order to encourage smart play over brute slaughter, I have tweaked the xp awards for monsters and quests.

What do you think? :)
I think you are on the right track then. I dislike using XP because it tends to lead the players decisions based on what they think the best reward is, as opposed to what seems best to their goals. XP awards always felt inorganic and gamey to me. Though, if you are going for an old school approach, then it makes sense. I like the XP system to work, I just prefer it stay under the hood.

That said, I wish PF2 was a little more into resource attrition for an old school approach. This would add to the press your luck approach to Abomination Vaults. Though, I am getting into that old school vs nu skool territory again. I think your proposed system will work and I think it would be interesting if the players understand how it works too. Might feel more like a tournament as a megadungeon tends to feel.

Do you also intend to use this XP system with traps, haunts, hazards, etc..?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
That said, I wish PF2 was a little more into resource attrition for an old school approach. This would add to the press your luck approach to Abomination Vaults.

Do you also intend to use this XP system with traps, haunts, hazards, etc..?
"Me too" and "yes, I don't see why not"
 

nevin

Adventurer
I think you are on the right track then. I dislike using XP because it tends to lead the players decisions based on what they think the best reward is, as opposed to what seems best to their goals. XP awards always felt inorganic and gamey to me. Though, if you are going for an old school approach, then it makes sense. I like the XP system to work, I just prefer it stay under the hood.

That said, I wish PF2 was a little more into resource attrition for an old school approach. This would add to the press your luck approach to Abomination Vaults. Though, I am getting into that old school vs nu skool territory again. I think your proposed system will work and I think it would be interesting if the players understand how it works too. Might feel more like a tournament as a megadungeon tends to feel.

Do you also intend to use this XP system with traps, haunts, hazards, etc..?
Playing for the first time in a Milestone game I'd argue that it creates a bigger problem. not having XP disconnects the player from the reward. I find Consequences fix those player's. If the players only go for the best percieved reward then "other NPC's " will do the stuff more important to the populace and begin to overshadow the PC's. Or if they do thing's like slaughter a whole tribe of orcs for XP, then the whole ecology get's messed up and a Druidic Order becomes thier enemy. Or a few levels later the High level 1/2 orc adventuring party that left the village 15 years ago comes after them. Plenty of ways to deal with greedy, Pc's abusing any system in the game.

I completely agree on resource attrition. My mage (first in pathfinder) never runs out of spells. I run out of high levels spells but I've got what feels like an unlimited amount of lower spells. I'll never agree mages are overpowered but I completely see how a DM that wanted to run the mage short on resources would get frustrated.
 

ronaldsf

Explorer
First off, I wanted to say that I'm using an Absolute XP variant with my "Westmarch-lite" campaign that I'm setting in Otari, which is incorporating Menace Under Otari, Troubles in Otari, Abomination Vaults, and anything other players want to GM. (I'm adding a new "quest line" on the adventurers' guild's jobs board occasionally; in the last session I introduced a job post about an "emerald spire" in the nearby wood.) However, I am keeping the 2:1 ratio of XP for every 2 levels that is in the original design. The reason I'm using Absolute XP is to account for mixed level parties, as there is no consistent group of players, and character death means making a new character that starts at Level 1. (I am also using the Proficiency Without Level variant.)

For the problem that CapnZapp raises, of wanting to incentivize taking on higher challenges with a disproportionate amount of XP, I'd be more inclined to take a "softer" approach to XP, and not be chained to the math. For example, if an APL+2 level creature "feels" narratively and in actual encounter difficulty like a deadly boss fight, I'd be inclined to give it the Severe XP reward of 120. There are places in the OP's posted formula, where sometimes several enemies that are lower level than the party come off as hardly a threat at all, and yet still would yield a lot of XP... I just had that experience running mitflits against a party consisting almost entirely of martial characters.

So, if the goal is to reward the party for assuming high risk, I'd be more inclined to give ad hoc rewards, or plant high level treasure, rather than to create numerical rewards that might produce strange results in some situations.

EDIT: What I meant to say wasn't that I keep the 2:1 ratio of XP every 2 levels, but that I keep the original designers' XP ratio's intact. And since I use the Proficiency Without Level variant, I'm using the 3:2 ratio every 2 levels that is in the GMG.
 
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