D&D General An alternative to XP

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Then you are the anomaly IME, not the norm.

Why? You can adventure without leveling, so if you are pulling a PC out of the adventure to level you are sort of metagaming IMO because their only reason to train is to gain a new level...
Party enters Keep on the Borderlands and does pretty well. After several days of hard adventuring characters A and B have bumped and need training while C, D, and E haven't yet. Party goes back to the town to restock; A and B stay there to train up and are replaced by new recruits F and G. Party goes back in; a few days later C needs training, D is dead, and E (who judging by its slow advancement must be a Paladin!) is still 1st level. Party goes back to town again; A and B are still training, C joins them, new recruits H and I are taken in, and back into the field they go.

Lather rinse repeat; and thus is troupe play born. :)
So, like I said, IME we only pulled PCs and introduced new ones if it was pertinent to the story.
If someone can't adventure right now because she's busy training I'd say that's pertinent to the story. :) The party have a choice: recruit a replacement and carry on, or wait for her to finish training and thus maybe give the dungeon a few weeks to restock itself and prepare defenses.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
“Can we go kill some orcs? I’m really close to leveling!” is literally the effect I’m talking about in action. Humans are motivated to make the progress bar fill up. Now, you may not like the effect that causes on your game, that’s totally fine. But the effect is very real.
And as I see it that levelled characters in the setting kind of know when they're ready for training - and when they're potentially about to need training - I-as-DM really don't have any problem with this.
That’s like saying jackhammer isn’t a powerful tool for everyone. A jackhammer is objectively a powerful tool. It might not be the right tool for the job you’re doing, and if so, obviously you shouldn’t use it. But it’s still a powerful tool, independently of your need for it (or lack thereof).
Jackhammers, like fireballs, can be universal problem-solvers in the right hands. :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
@Rabulias

That is talking about time in the campaign and keeping your game world equal to real life for the sake of simplicity when , not about saying "if you go a week without playing the game, a week should pass in game time". That would be ridiculous if that was the case.
I always read that DMG passage as saying exactly what the bolded bit says above, and thus I too thought it ridiculous.

That said, I also think Gygax assumed sessions would never end in mid-anything and wrote his books accordingly.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
My argument was that you can be just as loosey-goosey with combat XP if you want to, so the benefit is not with counting encounters over XP, it’s with judging encounter difficulty after-the-fact and awarding progress (be it a fraction of an encounter or an amount of XP) based on that, as opposed to planning combat encounters around an award budget and then giving that budgeted award regardless of how difficult the encounter actually ended up being. Whether the award is XP or counting encounters doesn’t actually make a difference, except that the former is more granular.
Regardless how loosey or goosey the system in use might be, my issue is with judging encounter difficulty after the fact in that doing so would unfairly penalize parties who made an encounter easier on themselves (or got lucky with the dice) while unfairly boosting parties who made a mess of things and thereby made an encounter appear harder than it should have.

That said, I don't plan anything around "award budgets" (the very thought makes me shudder). Instead, they do what they do and they get what they get. Getting past that trap is worth 85 xp? That's what they'll get (divided however way, depending on who did what) for getting past it; and I'll have put the trap in first before assigning any sort of xp value to it. Ditto monsters, or any other xp-awarding element.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I always read that DMG passage as saying exactly what the bolded bit says above, and thus I too thought it ridiculous.

That said, I also think Gygax assumed sessions would never end in mid-anything and wrote his books accordingly.
Although, if you could somehow insure sessions never ended mid-anything, then having away-from-table time equal to in-game downtime could be interesting. I can’t imagine how one would realistically insure that, short of having the luxury of always being able to keep playing until you resolve whatever you’re doing. But if you could.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Regardless how loosey or goosey the system in use might be, my issue is with judging encounter difficulty after the fact in that doing so would unfairly penalize parties who made an encounter easier on themselves (or got lucky with the dice) while unfairly boosting parties who made a mess of things and thereby made an encounter appear harder than it should have.
Yeah, for sure, that is a drawback of such a technique.
That said, I don't plan anything around "award budgets" (the very thought makes me shudder). Instead, they do what they do and they get what they get. Getting past that trap is worth 85 xp? That's what they'll get (divided however way, depending on who did what) for getting past it; and I'll have put the trap in first before assigning any sort of xp value to it. Ditto monsters, or any other xp-awarding element.
That doesn’t surprise me, given what I know of your play preferences.
 

Oofta

Legend
About as much as you have a level stamped on yours and get better at fighting because you've worked at your desk job for the last year.
Huh? As a software developer my skills grew and expanded during the course of my career. So, yes, I did level up. Why would I level up in a class unrelated to what I did? 🤷‍♂️
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Huh? As a software developer my skills grew and expanded during the course of my career. So, yes, I did level up. Why would I level up in a class unrelated to what I did? 🤷‍♂️
Oh, goodness, now people in real life have classes to go with their levels? This is bizzarro world.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Okay, we're at the gaslighting stage. Cool. Toodles.
I would appreciate it if you didn’t accuse me of a literal abuse tactic. If you think I’m being dishonest, fine, (I’m not, but obviously I can’t convince you otherwise), but there is a world of difference between that and gaslighting, and you trivialize the term by using it to describe arguments on the internet.
 

Oofta

Legend
I’m not even talking about motivation, I’m talking about satisfaction. People like to see progress bars fill up when the do a thing. They just do. That’s why idle clicker games are so popular. Motivation is a much more complex subject though.

Maybe you don’t consciously recognize the impact, but seeing a visual indicator of progress being made still triggers a release of dopamine in your brain. That may or may not translate to you enjoying a game of D&D that uses XP more than one that doesn’t, but that’s a much more complex subject.
What is true for the majority is not necessarily true for everyone. Heck, it may not be true for 49% of the people. I also think it comes with baggage. I think leveling is rewarding, XP is just bookkeeping and paperwork.
For the fourth time now, that’s a complete legitimate reason to prefer not to use XP.
Then for the fourth(?) time my argument isn't against some people like using XP when I don't. It's that everyone finds XP a net reward. I disagree with your stance because I find XP annoying. Something has to be valued, has to be considered a reward in order to be rewarding.
Cool. Thanks.

Well, handing out XP isn’t inherently rewarding. Seeing a clear indication of progress as a result of your actions is inherently rewarding, and XP provides such an indication of progress towards leveling up. Is that something you should include in your game? Maybe, if you and your players like the effect it has on the game. Maybe not if they don’t. It’s a complex subject. I stand by my assertion that XP isn’t right for every campaign, but it could improve most campaigns. If your campaign is one that it isn’t right for, awesome! Have fun!
I find leveling rewarding, but it's secondary to goals achieved by my PC.
Actually that is also a well studied and understood phenomenon. That’s why the amount of XP required to level up increases even though the number of encounters required to gain thar amount of XP stays roughly the same.
Again, I don't disagree that it is a common phenomenon for the majority of people. It's not true for 100% because the person receiving the XP has to enjoy the progress XP shows more than they dislike the hassle of tracking it. Getting XP isn't just a benefit, it has a cost as well. If the cost outweighs the benefit then it's a net negative. The only person that can determine that balance is the recipient.
 


Oofta

Legend
Oh, goodness, now people in real life have classes to go with their levels? This is bizzarro world.

I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. People can get better at what they do. I got better as a software developer through practice and learning. For a game like D&D you have to vastly simplify that process which means giving PCs classes and those classes have levels which roughly model real world growth. What's bizarre is that you've insisted that "people in real life also earn XP". The only reason to have XP in a game is because of that simplification of class levels and that we measure growth in spurts not the continual improvement of reality.

I'm done. Have a good one.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
What is true for the majority is not necessarily true for everyone. Heck, it may not be true for 49% of the people.
Indeed, but I’m talking about a deep-seated psychological reaction. It’s true that everyone finds it satisfying to see a clear indication of progress as a direct result of their actions. Whether or not you like XP in D&D is a much more complex thing, and certainly not everyone does.
I also think it comes with baggage. I think leveling is rewarding, XP is just bookkeeping and paperwork.
XP shows an indication of progress towards leveling. It also requires additional bookkeeping. I think that tradeoff is worthwhile for most, but not all, campaigns.
Then for the fourth(?) time my argument isn't against some people like using XP when I don't. It's that everyone finds XP a net reward.
I have never claimed that everyone finds XP a net reward, so you are tilting at windmills with this.
I disagree with your stance because I find XP annoying.
My stance does not preclude you finding XP annoying.
Something has to be valued, has to be considered a reward in order to be rewarding.
This is a problem of language - the term “reward” has baggage that’s getting in the way here. Whether you or anyone else values XP or not isn’t really relevant to whether or not seeing an indication of progress as a direct result of your actions triggers your brain’s reward system. It just does. You might still dislike XP, and I am making no claims to the contrary.
I find leveling rewarding, but it's secondary to goals achieved by my PC.
Ok
Again, I don't disagree that it is a common phenomenon for the majority of people. It's not true for 100% because the person receiving the XP has to enjoy the progress XP shows more than they dislike the hassle of tracking it. Getting XP isn't just a benefit, it has a cost as well. If the cost outweighs the benefit then it's a net negative. The only person that can determine that balance is the recipient.
Absolutely. If you think I’m claiming otherwise, you’ve misunderstood my argument.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Party enters Keep on the Borderlands and does pretty well. After several days of hard adventuring characters A and B have bumped and need training while C, D, and E haven't yet.
Then C, D, and E wait; or A and B go back with them for the sake of the adventure and don't metagame needing to train to level?

Party goes back to the town to restock; A and B stay there to train up and are replaced by new recruits F and G. Party goes back in; a few days later C needs training, D is dead, and E (who judging by its slow advancement must be a Paladin!) is still 1st level. Party goes back to town again; A and B are still training, C joins them, new recruits H and I are taken in, and back into the field they go.
IME never happens. Unless you play with a merry-go-round of PCs and players, that is...

Why replace characters when they are already there? If the adventure is so important you can't wait then you just go finish the adventure and train when you get back. If you need to train to be powerful enough to continue on, then everyone waits, because otherwise you have lower level PCs going back without the higher level ones anyway.
 

Oofta

Legend
Indeed, but I’m talking about a deep-seated psychological reaction. It’s true that everyone finds it satisfying to see a clear indication of progress as a direct result of their actions. Whether or not you like XP in D&D is a much more complex thing, and certainly not everyone does.

XP shows an indication of progress towards leveling. It also requires additional bookkeeping. I think that tradeoff is worthwhile for most, but not all, campaigns.

I have never claimed that everyone finds XP a net reward, so you are tilting at windmills with this.

My stance does not preclude you finding XP annoying.

This is a problem of language - the term “reward” has baggage that’s getting in the way here. Whether you or anyone else values XP or not isn’t really relevant to whether or not seeing an indication of progress as a direct result of your actions triggers your brain’s reward system. It just does. You might still dislike XP, and I am making no claims to the contrary.

Ok

Absolutely. If you think I’m claiming otherwise, you’ve misunderstood my argument.

But ultimately a reward has to be viewed as a reward. If you give someone $50, for a lot of people that would be a reward. For a millionaire it's inconsequential, it's not a reward. If you get that $50 but you also have to spend an hour sitting watching a video it may be a reward for some but for others it will be outweighed by the cost.

XP has to be considered a net benefit or it is not going to trigger a reward center. So I simply disagree. In order for the reward center of my brain to, well consider something a reward, it has to have value to me. For someone else receiving Hummel figurines may be immensely rewarding for others it might be "why are you giving me this?"

But we're at an impasse. I simply disagree and we're never going to agree. Have a good one.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
But ultimately a reward has to be viewed as a reward. If you give someone $50, for a lot of people that would be a reward. For a millionaire it's inconsequential, it's not a reward. If you get that $50 but you also have to spend an hour sitting watching a video it may be a reward for some but for others it will be outweighed by the cost.
You’re talking about conscious value placement. Indeed, this is a highly subjective thing and depends on all kinds of complex factors like cost vs. benefit, personal relevance, and all number of other things. I don’t disagree with what you’re saying here at all.

What I’m talking about is unconscious, instinctive neurochemical reactions in response to stimuli. Seeing a clear indication of progress towards something as a direct result of your actions triggers a release of dopamine in your brain. It just does. That’s just how our brains work. That doesn’t necessarily mean you will like or ascribe value to the thing that caused the release of dopamine. Again, that’s a much more complex phenomenon, and not what I’m talking about.
XP has to be considered a net benefit or it is not going to trigger a reward center.
That’s just factually incorrect. It will have to be a net benefit for a person to consciously consider it worthwhile, and the neurochemical reward is a factor in that cost/benefit analysis - albeit one most people won’t consciously register. It is not the only factor, and I do not claim it is. I claim only that it is a factor, and that is pretty much inarguable.
So I simply disagree. In order for the reward center of my brain to, well consider something a reward, it has to have value to me.
Your brain’s reward system doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t have a concept of value in that sense, that’s abstract thinking, which is handled more by the frontal lobe. The reward system just goes “do thing -> release dopamine” and another part goes “dopamine good, want do thing so get dopamine.” Of course, if doing the thing to get the dopamine is also unpleasant in some way, your rational brain might decide it isn’t worth it. That is, again, not what I’m talking about.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Then C, D, and E wait; or A and B go back with them for the sake of the adventure and don't metagame needing to train to level?


IME never happens. Unless you play with a merry-go-round of PCs and players, that is...

Why replace characters when they are already there? If the adventure is so important you can't wait then you just go finish the adventure and train when you get back. If you need to train to be powerful enough to continue on, then everyone waits, because otherwise you have lower level PCs going back without the higher level ones anyway.
@Lanefan plays a very different sort of game than you, of a sort I often describe as “troupe play” or “open table play.” In that style of play, there is indeed a “merry-go-round of PCs,” and often of players as well. A campaign in this style of play is not a contiguous series of adventures staring a consistent cast of characters, but a setting and play space in which any characters may explore and pursue whatever goals strike their fancy. Players will often control many characters each, usually one at a time but sometimes multiple simultaneously, and those characters will pop in and out of play pretty regularly.

West Marches is the closest thing to this style of play that I think most folks who aren’t accustomed to it would be familiar with. Imagine West Marches, only everyone is allowed to have as many characters as they want, and there’s no default goal of exploring an unmapped territory (there may be an unmapped territory, and some characters may want to explore it, it just isn’t a default goal of play to do so.)
 

Oofta

Legend
You’re talking about conscious value placement. Indeed, this is a highly subjective thing and depends on all kinds of complex factors like cost vs. benefit, personal relevance, and all number of other things. I don’t disagree with what you’re saying here at all.

What I’m talking about is unconscious, instinctive neurochemical reactions in response to stimuli. Seeing a clear indication of progress towards something as a direct result of your actions triggers a release of dopamine in your brain. It just does. That’s just how our brains work. That doesn’t necessarily mean you will like or ascribe value to the thing that caused the release of dopamine. Again, that’s a much more complex phenomenon, and not what I’m talking about.

That’s just factually incorrect. It will have to be a net benefit for a person to consciously consider it worthwhile, and the neurochemical reward is a factor in that cost/benefit analysis - albeit one most people won’t consciously register. It is not the only factor, and I do not claim it is. I claim only that it is a factor, and that is pretty much inarguable.

Your brain’s reward system doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t have a concept of value in that sense, that’s abstract thinking, which is handled more by the frontal lobe. The reward system just goes “do thing -> release dopamine” and another part goes “dopamine good, want do thing so get dopamine.” Of course, if doing the thing to get the dopamine is also unpleasant in some way, your rational brain might decide it isn’t worth it. That is, again, not what I’m talking about.
Give me a Hummel figurine as a gift and it's a nuisance, something I'd throw away except for the fact that I don't want to hurt your feelings. Give one to my sister-in-law and she will love it and gladly add it to her collection.

There's no way my unconscious is going to turn "this is idiotic" into "ooh, shiny!".

Then there's intrinsic vs external rewards, and arguments that the incentive motivation studies are inherently flawed, yada, yada, yada.

But like I said, we're at an impasse. No matter how much you insist that you're right, I disagree.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Give me a Hummel figurine as a gift and it's a nuisance, something I'd throw away except for the fact that I don't want to hurt your feelings. Give one to my sister-in-law and she will love it and gladly add it to her collection.

There's no way my unconscious is going to turn "this is idiotic" into "ooh, shiny!".
Ok? Recieving a gift doesn’t necessarily cause a release of dopamine. I mean, unless that gift is like, really calorie-dense food, that you then eat. It might release setatonin, if it’s a thing you like. That’s the happy brain chemical. Dopamine is the I did a good job brain chemical. Maybe if you won the Hummel figurine in a test of skill, then you’d get dopamine. Not because you got a Hummel figurine, but because you won a test of skill.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top