D&D General An alternative to XP

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
You're the one who keeps saying things like
Which is accurate
Triggering dopamine was the phrase you used, I was just echoing your terminology.
watching progress bars fill up triggers dopamine. Getting a Hummel figureine isn’t watching a progress bar fill up.
But I don't care about the progress bar filling up no matter how much you insist that everyone does.
I don’t insist everyone cares about it. I insist that it causes a certain neurochemical response in your brain (because it does). Whether or not a person consciously enjoys the thing that triggered that neurochemical response overall is a much more complex thing, of which the neurochemical response it creates is just one factor among many.
In any case, I agree that XP works great for some people. In other cases the external rewards are detrimental to the intrinsic rewards without even realizing it. But it's largely a matter of preference and choice. If getting XP is how you level, and the source of XP is transparent then people are more likely to pursue the source of XP than play their character. Along with I don't see that extra accounting adds value, I'd rather have people do what makes sense for their character, not what gives them the most shiny XP.
And that’s perfectly fine, I take no issue with that.
But barring a long term in depth psychological study that proves that everyone agrees with your assumption over the long term in the
context of something as complex as playing D&D, I'm never going to agree and simply don't understand your obsession with this.
I’M NOT SAYING EVERYONE AGREES WITH ME!

I’m not obsessed with anything; at this point I’m just trying to set the record straight because you keep mischaracterizing my argument at every possible turn.

People should do what makes sense to them. I've given my reasons for not using it, you have yours.
Absolutely.
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Ah, yes, this is a nice example! Me likey very much. :D

This is a perfect example of story related to training (which is totally good!). And how you choose to handle this as DM is up to you, but this would have been my approach...

Elf PC heads out and others are waiting. Why wait? Is there nothing for them to do in the area for a minor side-adventure while they wait? The player of the Elf PC could bring in another PC, but IMO that just complicates things. I would offer that player an NPC or (a favorite of mine) ask them to play the bad guys and get them involved on my side of the DM screen!
Here's where the hypothetical will have to diverge from the real, as the reality is that due to covid there's only one player in the game (running multiple PCs), that being the person who lives here with me. Thus, the reality in this case is that no player missed out on anything.

So, let's go to the hypothetical and say that the characters are each run by different players, and carry on:
We play out a bit of that and everyone has fun.

Returning to the Elf PC now, we see his journeys are interrupted as you said by local conflict. Depending on the extent of this, it is a chance to play out a different side-adventure as a solo, have other players join as NPCs (unless you really want the whole multiple PC thing...) or as bad guys, etc. It could go many different ways.
So, were this to happen in a normal game I'd try to work it such that the Elf PC's player and I could get together for an off-cycle session during the week to sort this out; failing that it would be done by email. I very much try to keep player knowledge and character knowledge in synch*, meaning the very last thing I'd want is for the players of the other PCs to learn this one PC was in trouble when their own PCs had no such knowledge.

The rest of the party had decided to stand down for a while due to it being both their healers who were off long-term for training (their Dwarf Cleric had to travel nearly as far in a different direction); this would likely have been the case in a multi-player situation as well, and normally that six-eight weeks of downtime would have passed in the ten minutes of table time it would take to deal with the level-up benefits from training.

* - largely because IME some players are constitutionally incapable of separating the two and thinking only as their characters.
They shouldn't of course, they should get XP for something they did while the Elf was away. There is no reason they literally have to do nothing unless you choose that as DM... 🤷‍♂️
The reason they'd be doing nothing is because their player(s) decided they'd be doing nothing, and I-as-DM honoured that decision. If they'd decided they wanted to keep adventuring while their two companions were away for training I'd honour that decision as well.

I'm not at all married to the idea that everyone in the party should have the same number of xp or even be the same level.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Probably worth pointing out here that in a 3e-4e-5e system where all classes advance at the same rate milestone levelling and milestone xp work out to being pretty much the same thing in practice.

In a 0e-1e-2e system where classes advance at different rates, milestone xp and milestone levelling would be very different beasts.
Even when all classes advance at the same rate, there’s a pretty significant difference between milestone XP and story-based advancement (or “milestone leveling” as many people call it). The most obvious differences being the visible indication of progression XP provides, and the additional bookkeeping it requires.
Being able to break it down by individual is to me about 95% of the reason for using xp in the first place.
Well, yeah, in a game like yours, that would be the primary benefit.
An example from last night's session (and @DND_Reborn will like this as it involves training! :) ): on completing a mission a PC Cleric needed to train but as he's an Elf operating in Human lands the nearest place he could train was Elven lands, about three weeks journey away. The rest of the PCs agreed to stay put and wait while this PC and another went off to train.

However, when that Elf PC arrived at the Elven lands he walked face-first into a local religious conflict (VERY long story behind this!) and spent several days helping sort that out before he could start his training.

Why should anyone else other than that one Elf get any xp for what that Elf did while three weeks away from the rest of the party?
They shouldn’t, but this sort of scenario isn’t one that would come up in a typical modern D&D game. Your game has a lot of factors to consider that most modern D&D games don’t, such as training to level up (though there is an option for it in the DMG, I think most groups don’t use it), and most modern groups wouldn’t dream of having one party member go off on their own for three weeks while the others just chill in town.

Individual XP makes perfect sense in the context of your game. Your game just plays out very differently than how I think most people play these days.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Yet the sentence immediately prior to that, partly cut off, specifically states you can't gain two levels at once.
You can, though. What is says is you can't be awarded XP sufficient to level and then go out to get more before you train.

Here is the prior part of that passage:

1646088991513.png


Notice the first highlight, "additional"...

What you cannot do:

You cannot be awarded XP sufficient to level (the "gains experience points") and "are almost sufficient to gain yet a second such level" then "forego the period of training and study"..."in favor of gaining a few more points" to complete the second such level.

What you can do:

If the initial award is sufficient to level you twice, you can level twice, because you are not going back out to get more XP--which cannot be earned until you train for your level(s).

Nothing in the text says if you gain experience (when it is finally awarded) to gain two levels, you can't gain both if you train for both. If you play that way, you are just limiting your players advancement unnecessarily IMO.

In the fiction the PCs get xp each morning after having had a chance to "sleep on it" and take in the previous day's events and experiences.

At the table I give out xp less frequently than that, unless I know someone's close to bumping in which case I will do them daily.
No problem if you run it that way, but the rules support (by how the DM calculates treasure recovered and difficulty of all the encounters towards weighing the XP awarded) giving out XP after the adventure is done (or has a significant break, as I mentioned).

For me, sleeping on it is not enough, so I don't give XP daily. If you are still in the middle of the adventure, you don't typically have adequate time to reflect on what has happened because you are more concerned about what is happening (i.e. the adventure).

If one gives xp for treasure. Otherwise, loot is merely its own reward. :)
Well, the game specifically states you are supposed to award XP for treasure and XP for magic items retained... In fact, IIRC many times the loot was the bulk of the XP. Choosing not to award XP for loot is fine, but that wasn't how the game was designed. Many passages discuss how players might find awarding XP for loot strange and the designers acknowledge as much:

1646089691193.png
 

Oofta

Legend
Which is accurate

watching progress bars fill up triggers dopamine. Getting a Hummel figureine isn’t watching a progress bar fill up.

I don’t insist everyone cares about it. I insist that it causes a certain neurochemical response in your brain (because it does). Whether or not a person consciously enjoys the thing that triggered that neurochemical response overall is a much more complex thing, of which the neurochemical response it creates is just one factor among many.

And that’s perfectly fine, I take no issue with that.

I’M NOT SAYING EVERYONE AGREES WITH ME!

I’m not obsessed with anything; at this point I’m just trying to set the record straight because you keep mischaracterizing my argument at every possible turn.


Absolutely.

I really don't understand what you're trying to get at. Either you are stating things like the following
"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."​
as indisputable fact or you are not. If you are stating it as indisputable fact, I disagree because XP has to be viewed as a reward and I don't. If you are not, what you wrote is misleading. If it's the former we'll just have to agree to disagree because there's no way to prove it one way or another. That's all I've been trying to say.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Here's where the hypothetical will have to diverge from the real, as the reality is that due to covid there's only one player in the game (running multiple PCs), that being the person who lives here with me. Thus, the reality in this case is that no player missed out on anything.

So, let's go to the hypothetical and say that the characters are each run by different players, and carry on:
Sounds good!

So, were this to happen in a normal game I'd try to work it such that the Elf PC's player and I could get together for an off-cycle session during the week to sort this out; failing that it would be done by email. I very much try to keep player knowledge and character knowledge in synch*, meaning the very last thing I'd want is for the players of the other PCs to learn this one PC was in trouble when their own PCs had no such knowledge.

The rest of the party had decided to stand down for a while due to it being both their healers who were off long-term for training (their Dwarf Cleric had to travel nearly as far in a different direction); this would likely have been the case in a multi-player situation as well, and normally that six-eight weeks of downtime would have passed in the ten minutes of table time it would take to deal with the level-up benefits from training.

* - largely because IME some players are constitutionally incapable of separating the two and thinking only as their characters.
Sure, keeping things separate is a good way to go. If other PCs also have training elsewhere, then there is no issue really.

In the past I've had similar situations arise and ran a solo-session or two with the individual player before bringing the whole group back together. If nothing happens to the other PCs, you hand-wave/ narrate it all in a few minutes as you said.

The reason they'd be doing nothing is because their player(s) decided they'd be doing nothing, and I-as-DM honoured that decision. If they'd decided they wanted to keep adventuring while their two companions were away for training I'd honour that decision as well.
Well, you asked why should they receive XP while the Elf was off doing their thing. If they choose to do nothing, they get nothing, and if everyone is fine with that, no issue. I was just suggested what could be done if they wanted to get some XP as well.

I'm not at all married to the idea that everyone in the party should have the same number of xp or even be the same level.
LOL me neither! The PCs in my games were all over the place. Here is a screen shot of the class/levels for our last major AD&D game...

1646090295566.png

Ranging from 9th to 15th... The laggards because players joining later, others because they missed sessions (if a player can't play, but another player will take over the PC for the session, the PC is awarded half XP), etc.

Finally, a house-rule I did have for AD&D was this: during "time off" like you described, I award the PCs 1 xp / level / day. It isn't a lot, of course, but it represents the idea that those PCs did something with their lives during that time. :)
 


Oofta

Legend
If xp isn't a reward, either to the player or the character, then what is it?
Extra bookkeeping and overhead. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it works great for some people and it can be a useful tool to achieve goals if people are motivated by it and feel like getting XP is a reward. I'm just not one of those people.

The nature of the game is that as you play if your PC survives at some point you gain a level. But XP and leveling are not inherently linked to each other. Much like AL, I basically tell people to level up after X number of hours of play when they next have some downtime.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I really don't understand what you're trying to get at. Either you are stating things like the following
"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."​
as indisputable fact or you are not.
I am.
If you are stating it as indisputable fact, I disagree because XP has to be viewed as a reward and I don't.
It doesn’t have to be viewed as a reward. That’s not how brains work. The dopamine it objectively releases to see an indicator of progress directly result from your actions is a factor (one among many) in whether or not you view it as a reward. The latter is a more abstract concept involving conscious thought, while the latter is a base instinctive function.
If you are not, what you wrote is misleading. If it's the former we'll just have to agree to disagree because there's no way to prove it one way or another. That's all I've been trying to say.
There absolutely is a way to prove it, this is all very thoroughly researched and documented psychological phenomena I’m describing. Seeing an indication of progress as a result of one’s actions triggers dopamine. What one thinks about the activity and whether they “value” the indication of progress is a separate question, although the dopamine it triggers is undoubtedly one of the factors that affects how they feel about it. If you don’t find XP valuable, then clearly other factors outweigh the dopamine for you. I’m sure you’re not the only one.
 


Oofta

Legend
I am.

It doesn’t have to be viewed as a reward. That’s not how brains work. The dopamine it objectively releases to see an indicator of progress directly result from your actions is a factor (one among many) in whether or not you view it as a reward. The latter is a more abstract concept involving conscious thought, while the latter is a base instinctive function.

There absolutely is a way to prove it, this is all very thoroughly researched and documented psychological phenomena I’m describing. Seeing an indication of progress as a result of one’s actions triggers dopamine. What one thinks about the activity and whether they “value” the indication of progress is a separate question, although the dopamine it triggers is undoubtedly one of the factors that affects how they feel about it. If you don’t find XP valuable, then clearly other factors outweigh the dopamine for you. I’m sure you’re not the only one.
Then we disagree and no I don't care what studies say because there are others who believe the premise is fundamentally flawed and the real world doesn't always fit neatly into a study primarily done on college students over a short period of time. Have a good one.
 



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