• COMING SOON! -- Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition! Level up your 5E game! The standalone advanced 5E tabletop RPG adds depth and diversity to the game you love!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

Goal-Based Level Ups

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Here's a rules module for advancing characters by completing goals. What do you think?

This is a system for granting more character levels to PCs as they progress by achieving Goals. Achieving any goal awards an experience point (XP) to that PC, and a PC gains a character level after earning a number of XPs according to the following schedule, subject to GM modification:

4 XPs: high-fantasy campaign
8 XPs: low-fantasy campaign
16 XPs: no-fantasy campaign​

There are four types of goals: Session, Character, Party, and Story.

Session Goal​

Players decide what they want to accomplish in one session. This can be as simple as “getting out of bed.” Players establishing more difficult goals can be rewarded with hero points or role-playing bonuses.

Character Goal​

Each character has at least one goal that drives its actions. This is usually the Goal written on the character sheet. PCs can earn an XP by accomplishing that goal or by making significant progress toward the goal, as determined by the GM.

Party Goal​

The PCs and GM collectively determine a party goal, which should be based on the talents, relationships, and needs of all PCs. If the PCs are members of a faction, the party goal can be that faction’s expectations of the party.

Story Goal​

A story goal, determined by the GM, is accomplished when PCs advance the story or campaign in their favor. Story goals are also called “quests” or “adventures.”
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Emerikol

Adventurer
I think you have some good ideas but I am not sure they would occur at the same pace. So a character goal might be something that takes a good while in game time to see to fruition. Whereas a session goal is a pretty regular occurrence. Maybe that doesn't matter to you but that means they won't each hold the same weight.

So I might be tempted to assign a value to various goals depending on how hard they are to achieve.
 

Bayushi_seikuro

Adventurer
I like the ideas.
I think some people might feel that a character goal of 'get out of bed' is an exploit, but to me, it reminds me of the way XP was handed out in the first Legend of the Five Rings or 7th Sea - everyone gets an XP for coming to the session.

I think your ideas could also be modified by - maybe multiplying the XP needed by the Tier level. I think my opinion of levelling is along the lines of - it's pretty easy to learn a job, even one with a steep learning curve, but it gets harder to increase your skill at it. In my real day to day, one of my banes is the yearly things we have to fill out that ask us 'what are your career goals for next year?' and I feel I've plateaued in what I have access to learning at work :)
 


DeviousQuail

Explorer
What's missing here is any real sense of risk-reward correlation at either the individual or group level.
Agreed. Something like: found a treasure worth X gold -> 1 XP, survive a hard encounter -> 1 XP, survive a deadly encounter -> 2 XP, complete a difficult task -> 2 XP, complete a major quest -> 4 XP, exercised one of your ideals/bonds/flaws in a session -> 1 XP.
 

Here's a rules module for advancing characters by completing goals. What do you think?
We played with something similar, except the DM would grant certain bonuses during play if they were achieved. So if someone achieved their story goal, they would get exp, but also an inspiration point. If we reached a party goal, we could choose between a a pool of 3d6 dice that we could add to any roll or 2d10 healing to be split up as we wished. There was a giant list. He did a great job of keeping track of it all.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
@Emerikol, they are definitely not goals of the same weight. @Bayushi_seikuro has the right of it - the Session Goal is the "thanks for showing up" goal. Even if a PC doesn't complete any other goals, that PC would gain a level after four sessions in a high-fantasy campaign. The same PC could earn a level in a single session by completing all four goals during that session. If a PC wants to get the one-session-level-up, that's her incentive to aim to accomplish all of the goals at the same time. Which is a recipe for a pretty memorable game session.

@Bayushi_seikuro, I recognize the diminishing-returns model, and I suppose that could be reflected in the difficulty of the goals. A low-level party goal might be "Kill the Kobold Chief," while a high(er)-level party goal might be "Kill the Evil King and his Army." Even if, as a player, my party and story goals get harder, I can still set my session goals at a low bar, and have a level-up to look forward to (if I manage to show up to four sessions). If, as GM, I feel that PC power should taper off after a while, I can increase the number of XPs needed for each level. But I wouldn't say that all GMs feel that way.

@Lanefan, @DeviousQuail, this module does not quantify risks in order to present greater rewards. Mostly because: how would one do that, anyway? Is an adult blue dragon really worth 16,750 XP? That's only if you kill it, right? What if it was taking a bath when you fought it, and it mostly fried itself with its own breath weapon? What if blue dragons are the sacred patrons of the PCs' faction? What if you recruit it instead?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
@Lanefan, @DeviousQuail, this module does not quantify risks in order to present greater rewards. Mostly because: how would one do that, anyway? Is an adult blue dragon really worth 16,750 XP? That's only if you kill it, right?
You get the xp if you neutralize it as a threat, be that by killing it, charming it, recruiting it, convincing it to forever leave the area, or whatever.
What if it was taking a bath when you fought it, and it mostly fried itself with its own breath weapon?
One of the very first changes I ever made to any monster way back in the day was to make Dragons immune to their own breath-weapon mode. Otherwise a fire-breathing Dragon would burn out its own throat every time, which makes no sense at all.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
@Emerikol, they are definitely not goals of the same weight. @Bayushi_seikuro has the right of it - the Session Goal is the "thanks for showing up" goal. Even if a PC doesn't complete any other goals, that PC would gain a level after four sessions in a high-fantasy campaign. The same PC could earn a level in a single session by completing all four goals during that session. If a PC wants to get the one-session-level-up, that's her incentive to aim to accomplish all of the goals at the same time. Which is a recipe for a pretty memorable game session.
This may lead to a secondary problem where one PC gets too far ahead of the other PCs. I knew a guy back in the early 80's who'd decided every five dungeons he'd let his PCs advance and then he forgot about x.p. At that moment, I was thinking first level was going to be a bear and higher levels would be too fast in some cases. Of course at that time, our level advancement wasn't what it is today.

So I'd be nervous about personal goals being too easily attained. It's a nice carrot I suppose to get the shy player to come out of his shell. Maybe have the personal goals get harder each time they are achieved. Or maybe provide some other reward for personal goals.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I’ve used goal-based XP before and played in games that used them. Something I did that I’ve seen no other GM do is use group consensus to decide whether players accomplished their goals. That is, the players decide collectively whether they achieved their goals. I had no say on the matter.

My reasoning for doing that is it eliminates the problem of the GM and the players being on different pages. The point of having the goals was to give the players something to work towards during the session (and as a reminder of their plans). As long as they were doing what they wanted to do, then that’s all that mattered. As a player, I hated when I though I accomplished my goal, but the GM didn’t agree.

So I'd be nervous about personal goals being too easily attained. It's a nice carrot I suppose to get the shy player to come out of his shell. Maybe have the personal goals get harder each time they are achieved. Or maybe provide some other reward for personal goals.
You could also reward players partial XP for helping each other complete personal goals. That’s something Worlds Without Number suggests for goals-based XP, which I want to try if our upcoming one-shot turns into a full campaign (along with the consensus-based approach described above). It won’t help someone who never accomplishes any of their goals, but that strikes as a completely different problem.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
You could also reward players partial XP for helping each other complete personal goals. That’s something Worlds Without Number suggests for goals-based XP, which I want to try if our upcoming one-shot turns into a full campaign (along with the consensus-based approach described above). It won’t help someone who never accomplishes any of their goals, but that strikes as a completely different problem.
Interesting idea. What if the group gets "paid" for all the personal goals achieved. Maybe you make that the rule for all rewards. So the group has a vested interest in helping each other achieve their goals.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Interesting idea. What if the group gets "paid" for all the personal goals achieved. Maybe you make that the rule for all rewards. So the group has a vested interest in helping each other achieve their goals.
I can see a few issued with combining the awards for everyone. It equally rewards people regardless of participation (not necessarily a bad thing), and it means XP per session will vary depending on the size of the party (e.g., due to attendance). The approach I suggested (with partial XP) also has the latter problem, but it seems like it would be more pronounced with the goals aggregated and awarded at the group level. Again, they may not be a bad thing either. It might encourage players to attend as many sessions as they can (though it won’t help when the reason is a scheduling conflict rather than apathy).

Edit: To clarify an assumption, I am assuming that players don’t consistently help everyone out with every goal, so they on average get only a subset of possible partial XP. Also, thinking about it some more, I’m not sure there is much of a difference in impact due to attendance, so I struck that part out.
 
Last edited:

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
This may lead to a secondary problem where one PC gets too far ahead of the other PCs. . . So I'd be nervous about personal goals being too easily attained. It's a nice carrot I suppose to get the shy player to come out of his shell. Maybe have the personal goals get harder each time they are achieved. Or maybe provide some other reward for personal goals.
The character goal intent isn't "how do you want to get an XP today?" That's the session goal. The character goal is what drives the character, or what guides his decisions. It can be short term, yeah, but it's more descriptive of the character if it's broad, thematic, etc. The problem of PCs using character goals to get ahead is somewhat mitigated by the GM's ability to award XP to other players for sub-character goals.

I’ve used goal-based XP before and played in games that used them. Something I did that I’ve seen no other GM do is use group consensus to decide whether players accomplished their goals. That is, the players decide collectively whether they achieved their goals. I had no say on the matter. . .

You could also reward players partial XP for helping each other complete personal goals.
Consensus for XPs seems to open the possibility of resentment between PCs. On the other hand, resentment toward the GM is fine - it happens every time she assigns damage, anyway!

I've thought about rewards for helping other PCs with their goals. It could work. But it's also pretty easy to decide that your Session Goal is helping another PC.

Interesting idea. What if the group gets "paid" for all the personal goals achieved. . . So the group has a vested interest in helping each other achieve their goals.
Then the group fell silent, as they each began to doubt the other's loyalty. . .
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Consensus for XPs seems to open the possibility of resentment between PCs. On the other hand, resentment toward the GM is fine - it happens every time she assigns damage, anyway!
I can see how it might not be for every group, but I’m not sure I follow. Is it that one player could screw another out of XP they deserved? It’s not voting for who gets the XP. The point of requiring consensus is that everyone has to agree with the result. No one should have to feel bad about that.

I also expect there shouldn’t be resentment towards the GM just for doing one’s job, but that’s an entirely different discussion.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
. . . I’m not sure I follow. Is it that one player could screw another out of XP they deserved? It’s not voting for who gets the XP. The point of requiring consensus is that everyone has to agree with the result.
It wouldn't necessarily be screwing another player, but all one player has to do is say, "you know, yeah, no, I don't think you accomplished that goal," and another player doesn't get her XP. No argument needed - just a lack of consensus. Even if there is a reason, "I know, you killed the vampire, but you didn't cut off its head and bury it with garlic," the player who didn't get XP might feel left out or resentful if other PCs level up after that game.

Looking back, I read @Emerikol's idea as "PCs get individual XP for helping each other," instead of "the party gets a greater group award for helping each other." Individual versus party XP is fodder for another thread, although the Party and Story Goals are basically party XP, so my proposed XP module seems to use both individual and party XP.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
It wouldn't necessarily be screwing another player, but all one player has to do is say, "you know, yeah, no, I don't think you accomplished that goal," and another player doesn't get her XP. No argument needed - just a lack of consensus. Even if there is a reason, "I know, you killed the vampire, but you didn't cut off its head and bury it with garlic," the player who didn't get XP might feel left out or resentful if other PCs level up after that game.
Someone can’t veto an award just by disagreeing. In that case, the group needs to talk it out and reach a consensus. Consensus is required. The way I’ve seen this scenario play out is someone disagrees, and they talk about it. It’s gone both ways. Sometimes the first person admits it may be tenuous and forgoes the XP. Sometimes the other person is persuaded that it should count. The important part is that everyone agrees with the conclusion.

Like I said in my response, it’s not for every group. Some groups may not be able to reach a consensus. They would not be a good fit for this approach. Since I prefer it, I’d use it as a litmus test to decide whether I’d want to run for that group or have those players at my table (but most likely not).
 

You get the xp if you neutralize it as a threat, be that by killing it, charming it, recruiting it, convincing it to forever leave the area, or whatever.

One of the very first changes I ever made to any monster way back in the day was to make Dragons immune to their own breath-weapon mode. Otherwise a fire-breathing Dragon would burn out its own throat every time, which makes no sense at all.
You are too logical. Go to the back of the class! ;)

As per the OP's Q: Yes some of it this would work. Sure would like to see a play session example, though. Some of it has been added to games over the past but a codification of tiers would be a nice starting point.
 




Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top