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OSR/older D&D and XP from gold - is there a "proper" alternative?

Legatus Legionis

< BLAH HA Ha ha >
What is the motivation with the PC's?

Did a NPC hire the group to eliminate monsters in the area?

Are the PC's wanting to clear an area of monsters to build/protect their fiefdom?

Here collecting gold (for its XP value) is not the goal.


I have had PC's wanting to go hoard robbing to help finance the castle/fiefdom creating.

I have had paladins going to quests (to find their sword, horse, etc.) so gold is not the object of their adventure.

I have had wizards going on quests to find magical tomes to increase their spells.

I have had clerics adventure to destroy those of faiths not of theirs.

I have had thieves and fighters who wanted the gold.


Giving XP only for killing an adversary is a job for the warriors, so the other classes loses out.

While some XP should be group awarded, some should be individually awarded.

Group XP for;
"defeating" the monsters/obstacles,
treasure(s) collected (magical & non-magical ie. coins...)

Individual XP for;
"role playing" one's PC.

I find that for experience points, having it balanced between the various methods of earning XP is in everyone's best interest.
 

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billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Agreed that this can lead to problems. I was in a TBT game where the DM tried to revive gold = XP, but it blew up because of this kind of stuff. People pocketing gems etc and keeping them for themselves, and my PC was super Cha and was able to parley that into special deals with nobles etc to gain gp on the side which the DM awarded for as well. So I outpaced everyone because of my stats and RP.

So why did you let the GM run the game that way rather than set him straight that the XPs gained for obtaining treasure should be equally shared? The problem wasn't XP for gold, but allowing the PCs to compete in a non-competitive game.
 

howandwhy99

Adventurer
So... what why I don't like it. What I would like to learn is if there are good alternatives that are "osr/old school appropriate" to gold as XP out there?

thanks,
Gold as XP means you can trade your treasure for XP. The local merchant is the best place to get XP in such a game, after sneaking past monsters to collect all the treasure you can.

I prefer XP for roleplaying, which simply means each role (class) gains XP for the unique way each class is designed to be mastered. Become a master roleplayer in your class and your gaming piece will increase in class-related abilities (as presumably the player has increased in ability at playing that class's game in D&D).

There are many different ways to improve at playing an actual game, four of which are included in D&D. However, only three really have underlying systems for players to master (and really only two and a half ever finished in early published D&D). These different roles are:

1. Gaming (fighting-man) - manipulate the game design seeking game-related objectives which improve your standing within.

2. Puzzle Solving (magic-user) - manipulate the game design in order to discover more and more of the underlying design of the game.

3. System Balancing (cleric) - think like a game designer and attempt to balance the game as an operational system in one of three ways (one of which the player must declare): growth cycling, equilibrium balancing, or death spiral system collapse.

4. Resource Acquisition (thief) - this is not a separate game system itself within the underlying game, but a basic action of it. Therefore this is a simpler class to play with less difficulty to master. To focus it and make it harder, I only reward for treasure gained that is stolen property from something in the game guarding it.

What this does is set up individual scoring and personal objective selection as D&D originally was designed. It also sets up cooperation as the obviously best strategy. However there is an additional challenge when gaming with any player seeking to improve in an alternate class, what I think is called orthogonal conflict. Overcoming these in order to cooperate is so beneficial to all parties cooperation becomes a learned skill between players as they struggle to become a team with wholly different world focuses. It is as much a challenge (and enjoyable reward!) as mastering the actual game designs set for each of the chosen roles.

Lastly, when you take XP out of gold then treasure (game resources) become their own rewards and differ in value depending on the roles played and strategies chosen. You can play at any level with no resources or tons (there is a technical system limit), but balancing resources in the game design (campaign world, module, monster's treasure, etc) remains vitally important.
 
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Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
So why did you let the GM run the game that way rather than set him straight that the XPs gained for obtaining treasure should be equally shared? The problem wasn't XP for gold, but allowing the PCs to compete in a non-competitive game.

Well I did warn the DM and tell him what it SHOULD, but I wasn't DM, it wasn't my game, and that is specifically how the DM wanted to run the system... and then the game blew up like I'd already warned him...
 

Mordorandor

Villager
Well I did warn the DM and tell him what it SHOULD, but I wasn't DM, it wasn't my game, and that is specifically how the DM wanted to run the system... and then the game blew up like I'd already warned him...

Games don’t blow up, people do.

That’s probably too flippant a way of saying that while systems can incentivize certain behaviors, they don’t necessarily predicate behaviors, and players are just as culpable in propelling a game into a downward spiral with the way they choose how to play in such a system.

I ran sessions using 1 GP = 1 XP, with XP unevenly divided. Some after-adventure sessions became interesting but never unmanageable. Players are more in control of their characters/decisions than they sometimes believe.
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
I'm kind of bothered by gold as the source of XP, because it too can distort the game! It encourages PCs stealing and hiding treasure from each other - if you palm that golf-ball-sized diamond and don't share it, you might have just gone up 2 levels. Not all adventuring should be about money. And what you learn from an adventure isn't just about the reward.

The reason XP for HP sucks is that it warps the reward structure of the game away from completing the adventure and accomplishing your goals to... you know, nonstop murder. XP for GP mostly works, because whatever else you want to encourage your players to do, you can simply have someone rich and powerful offer to pay them to do it. Done and dusted.

Of course, you're right, because equating wealth with advancement warps the reward structure of the game around acquiring wealth-- possibly at the expense of other party members. If you're not trying to run D&D like an open-ended boardgame with a high score table, it would be undesirable if your players picked up on it and started... well, doing exactly what you just described.

If you want to encourage goal-oriented and team-oriented gameplay, the reward structure should... reward players for advancing the team's goals. I'm not aware of any D&D-adjacent game that does this as well as Iron Crown Enterprises' High Adventure Role Playing, or HARP; in HARP, the party has a shared goal, and each party member has 2-4 personal goals, and the XP structure is based (individually) on either advancing or completing those goals.

HARP awards larger XP totals for pursuing party goals, to encourage teamwork. I would be inclined not to do that, because encouraging (purely IC) intraparty strife is something I view as part of my responsibilities as Dungeon Master. But it's... not difficult to adjust the ratio of party:individual XP rewards to encourage the desired amount of tension between them.

Unfortunately, if you're running 5e, I don't know enough about the XP system or how often PCs are expected to level to give you rough numbers... but basically, if you break it down by # of encounters and # of sessions per level, you can pretty easily translate that into an XP reward based on a rough estimate of how much a given accomplishment brings the party (or the PC) to a stated goal.
 

For me, the reasons why I think Gold for Exp is so alluring has more to do with the knock on effects of making attaining treasure the primary focus of play, for context the version I'm looking at for our Pathfinder 2e West Marches would involve paying to level, rather than just getting exp when you acquire gold, or when you spend it on whatever.

1. Treasure is an amoral motivation-- whether the characters in your party are good or evil or neutral the need for funds, wealth, and magic items is a believable motivator. This means that characters of differing moralities have a common goal for their adventuring, and that as a GM I don't need to worry about or police anyone's motivation to adventure. My variant capitalizes on this because since the treasure spent on leveling is only used for that purpose (as opposed to being able to pick up a magic item at the same time) the flavor of what makes you level can be bent to support your character's morality: the default might be paying someone to actually train you, but its acceptable to say you put the wealth toward an orphanage, or sent it home to your starving village, or used it to fund the operations of a cult to your evil god, or donate it to the descendants of the people who built the ancient ruins you just plumbed, or effectively donate your cut of the stuff to a museum. Similarly, secondary objectives, like rescuing hostages can still come up, but they aren't the sole motivator, meaning characters who aren't interested can always fall back on the possibility of finding treasure anyway or the need to preserve the party as a source of future wealth or some such, but if your character WOULD care about that, you still can.

2. Treasure works great for nonlinear content because it represents a granular and an expansive nonbinary victory condition, if you have a dungeon where treasure is the goal, then all paths that offer the possibility of treasure are viable routes (as opposed to say, the single path that leads to a boss monster that must be defeated for the good of the realm, that make all the other paths only obstacles and distractions) and the party can experience partial success by getting part of the total wealth stashed there. This inherently supports interesting adventuring locations that don't have to be straightforward, and where the party can focus on exploring the space without developing tunnel vision on a single point or a solitary objective. This also supports sandbox play by allowing the party to choose how much of a dungeon to explore (rather than a 'but thou must!' due to the story consequences of the location demanding they address some particular threat.)

3. All of the above can have the additional effect of refocusing the game on personal stories by providing a reason to adventure that doesn't have to hog the narrative spotlight. I like to call this 'adventurer slice of life' where the goals of the adventure take a back seat to the relationships and personalities of the characters, along with whatever situations they find themselves faced with. More traditional goals tend to make the adventure about the destination (beat the BBEG!), rather than the journey. Similarly it can make downtime more believable where the characters settle to enjoy their successes before planning a new expedition, which is nice because it helps avert the "zero to godlike in a few weeks" plot holes that seem to riddle a lot of games.

4. In my game, using wealth to level helps the West Marches format by empowering players to set their own progression speed-- they can ensure they're well kitted before moving on, or they can rush to catch up in level with their friends who play more, they can weigh their preparedness against the possibility of taking on higher level (and therefore more rewarding) content. It also helps the hexcrawling because getting the treasure back to a friendly port is necessary to 'finalize' your acquisition of wealth so all kinds of pirate like events are possible, like ambushes by rival crews. Similarly we have rules about how players are going to gather parties and schedule sessions with GMs, and be the ones to figure out their own cuts, which has cool implications since player owned ships, and paid hireling crews are a part of this too-- the GM is just going to enforce whatever distribution the players agreed to prior to setting out.

5. It can encourage information gathering proactively, since the players can effectively always be looking for new sources of wealth, I love stuff like this because it really makes all those cool little simulation elements in systems actually get used-- things like 'Gather Information' or 'Research' in Pathfinder 2e, the lack of a plot means that there's nothing to grind the train to a halt if the players don't know what to do, they can always just search for new leads on where to get treasure, there's always an answer to 'what do we need to do next' that isn't "look for monsters to kill" or "give the GM puppy eyes for the next bit of plot."

6. If you have to actually spend money to level, it makes leveling as fungible as your gold is-- if you wanna prop up a buddy or a secondary character or something, you can literally pass wealth around to facilitate that, which in a leveled West Marches, is nice-- you can invest in your fellow players, or in having more options for future expeditions.

7. It provides a natural tradeoff to the decision of how many players are even invited to come along on any given adventure-- we're scaling the adventure for four pc's of the level of the lead in terms of both encounter guidelines (though GMs aren't restricted to balanced monsters, not everything is meant to be fought), and treasure, so bringing more people is intrinsically safer... but probably means they're going to want more of a cut. Because gold scales exponentially as you go up in level, there's a significant pay off to trying to punch a little above your weight class, but that is very much something that will be very risky, and demand touch and go tactics and weighing how far you can push your luck.
 


DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
The nice thing about both XP for treasure and XP for defeating monsters by CR is that they're clean and objective.

The XP for goals model I prefer requires the DM to determine (or negotiate) how much total XP any given goal is worth and what percentage of that total any specific achievement represents,
 


CapnZapp

Legend
It's because it's an old thread necromancy.

Morrus has repeatedly rearranged the forum structure, giving existing forums new names and new content.

In other words, this forum probably WAS appropriate... when the thread was started. Go look at the earliest threads (in this subforum) - you'll discover they are from back in 2002(!) when neither Pathfinder nor Starfinder even existed. :)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The nice thing about both XP for treasure and XP for defeating monsters by CR is that they're clean and objective.

The XP for goals model I prefer requires the DM to determine (or negotiate) how much total XP any given goal is worth and what percentage of that total any specific achievement represents,
Any model that "requires" the DM to do much of anything really doesn't. :) Just wing it. XP is not the science you might think it is. Thinking XP is "objective" is a very common fallacy.

The secret is: the heroes are the level the GM or adventure needs them to be.

Calculating XP is just one giant elaborate smokescreen to hide that truth behind math to make it seem rational or "scientific". That's not bad in itself, but where it goes wrong is if the GM believes it too.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
For me, the reasons why I think Gold for Exp is so alluring has more to do with the knock on effects of making attaining treasure the primary focus of play, for context the version I'm looking at for our Pathfinder 2e West Marches would involve paying to level, rather than just getting exp when you acquire gold, or when you spend it on whatever.
Just beware: Pathfinder 2 is probably the least suitable D&D clone to use (without variant rules) for classic XP for Gold adventuring goodness. That is because it is always better to spend every piece of gold on leveling up than just about any other purchase imaginable.

XP for Gold works best when leveling up doesn't give THAT large of a power-up. Or when purchasing a magic item DOES give a very large power-up. Items in PF2 are designed to give modest benefits on top of a continuously leveled character. Your level is VERY decisive, your items (except possibly striking runes) are not.

XP for Gold works best when spending 100 gold towards leveling up and spending 100 gold on a shiny new magic item grants comparable benefits. Benefits that ideally aren't THAT great, so that spending 100 gold on wine women and song doesn't feel too stupid...!

Otherwise gold becomes just another name for XP. You lose the indirect quality of the original proposal - the fact that, you know, gold isn't XP but... gold. (=Gold that buys you stuff but also levels as opposed to XP that can only buy you levels).
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
Calculating XP is just one giant elaborate smokescreen to hide that truth behind math to make it seem rational or "scientific". That's not bad in itself, but where it goes wrong is if the GM believes it too.
Nah. If the reward structure of the game is purely arbitrary, then you might as well just use milestones or straight up Oprah leveling. Tracking experience points is a whole lot of effort if you're only going to waste that effort by discarding the benefits. The whole point of the reward structure is to encourage the players to lean into the desired gameplay experience... more than anything else, by telling them what it is.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Tracking XP isn’t really worth it in trad play, which I think is the assumption being made here. XP makes more sense in OSR or Story Now where there’s not supposed to be a “GM’s story”, and the GM’s not supposed to want the PCs to be in any particular place. The reward structure is part of the loop that creates the intended experience, so it serves a vital role.

Just beware: Pathfinder 2 is probably the least suitable D&D clone to use (without variant rules) for classic XP for Gold adventuring goodness. That is because it is always better to spend every piece of gold on leveling up than just about any other purchase imaginable.
Given the namesake of this thread, the obvious solution is to do what most OSR games do, which is base their structure on B/X rather than AD&D. B/X does not award any XP for selling magic items. It’s quite explicit about that too.

Dungeons and Dragons Basic Rulebook B22 said:
When the adventure is over, the DM gives experience points to the surviving characters. Experience points (abbreviated XP, as ep stands for electrum pieces) are given for non-magical treasure and for defeating monsters. For every 1 gp value of non-magical treasure the characters recover, the DM should give 1 XP to the party (this will be divided among all the player characters). Experience points are not given for magic items.
See also: Awarding XP in the Old-School Essentials SRD.
 

I'm not worried about that, for a few reasons, most especially that the game is dangerous enough that trying to optimize by not having items is liable to get them killed, and because treasure scales exponentially so the money you don't spend now doesn't mean much next level. On a practical basis, going on lower level adventures than you already are, is monetarily a waste of time.

I'm learning OSR adventure structure for the explicit purpose of bringing out the potential in pf2e's systems. I don't think the system is better suited for trad play, although what I'm doing is arguably a new construction of neo trad, specifically.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I'm not worried about that, for a few reasons, most especially that the game is dangerous enough that trying to optimize by not having items is liable to get them killed, and because treasure scales exponentially so the money you don't spend now doesn't mean much next level. On a practical basis, going on lower level adventures than you already are, is monetarily a waste of time.
You need to specify which exact system you're having in mind because while all of this might be true in one version of D&D it certainly is not in all of them.

Pathfinder 2 in particular. Having run the game as written almost nothing above is applicable.

Not having items = with the possible exception of Striking runes you need no items in PF2. Items are minor boosts that does not even come close to what a level-up grants you. This in sharp contrast to 5E or 3E, games that allow you to find items powerful enough to (re)define your entire character.

Not saying this because I think one approach is better (though I certainly do); saying this because every gold piece spent on items instead of XP is a bad decision. (Unless you inflate the level-up requirements to perhaps twenty times what a level-appropriate item costs)

The money you don't spend now = for items this is an accurate observation. Not sure how you figure it fits with an XP for gold scheme though?

Lower level adventures = same assessment, same question
 


Wasn't asking for advice in the first place Zapp, I know the system roughly as well as its currently possible to know it. Ignoring items to level up as quickly as possible because levels are strong isn't a concern because as you level your needs in terms of wealth go up, and the gold you need to do anything increases exponentially. My adventures for this have a designated level, so leveling up for more power means taking lower pay ln the job because the purchasing power of the gold matters less.

Meanwhile, its a West Marches, players who play more have more opportunities to get wealth, while they could level as quickly as possible, they have a social incentive to have adventuring partners for content meaningful to them. Further, items can provide outlets for crisis situations, or allow them to show off more powerful builds. Even in the context of ABP, property runes, more spells per day, and various other forms of utility are rigorously useful. The threat of losing a character is likely enough, I have a retreat subsystem to facilitate "in over your head" scenarios after all.

In turn, we have gold sinks like ships and hireling crew planned and being adjusted as partial necessity.
 
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nevin

Adventurer
Hello

So I'm looking into the Spiked Gobling Punch system (itself based on GLOG, itself based on older editions of D&D, a simple yet very intriguing system, esp magic) and one of the (to me) striking elements is that you don't get XP for killing monsters, but from gold. The logic is that your characters aren't going in the dungeon (or other adventurish things) to kill monsters - they are going in there to get treasure. This encourages the players to favor cunning over brawn and leads to better play. I'm given to understand that this feature is not unique to GLOG but is how it was done in older editions (I started playing with 2nd ed).

I really do agree that killing the monsters shouldn't be the objective. And I really think that cunning over brawn is good. There is no need to force battle, it will happen sooner or later anyway. Monsters as XP can really distort the game.

buuuuut

I'm kind of bothered by gold as the source of XP, because it too can distort the game! It encourages PCs stealing and hiding treasure from each other - if you palm that golf-ball-sized diamond and don't share it, you might have just gone up 2 levels. Not all adventuring should be about money. And what you learn from an adventure isn't just about the reward.

It can also lead to logic-defying situation. If two groups go into an identical barrow, and at the end of one there is a small copper bowl worth 5 gp, the party made xp... but if the other groups - having faced the same traps and the same monsters - find at the end a 50 pound bejeweled golden bowl worth 10 000 xp, they somehow learned 2 000 more than the unlucky people who found the dinky bowl? A group of hero that repels a week long zombie siege in an abandoned tower might gain nothing, while others who rob a fat merchant might bet 500 XP for a lazy heist. This isn't right.

Lastly it can put odd constrains on the GM, as the power and advancement of the heroes is now directly tied on monetary reward. If the GM wants to run some kind of gritty game with low monetary reward where the heroes are constantly poor... they won't level up. Conversly, if the party is going to find a huge sum for plot reason... probably a bad idea too.

So... what why I don't like it. What I would like to learn is if there are good alternatives that are "osr/old school appropriate" to gold as XP out there?

thanks,I played with gave ex for gold. It was experience for encounters and in my games i gave experience for completion to everyone and gave individual awards for things I thought deserved it. But

Hello

So I'm looking into the Spiked Gobling Punch system (itself based on GLOG, itself based on older editions of D&D, a simple yet very intriguing system, esp magic) and one of the (to me) striking elements is that you don't get XP for killing monsters, but from gold. The logic is that your characters aren't going in the dungeon (or other adventurish things) to kill monsters - they are going in there to get treasure. This encourages the players to favor cunning over brawn and leads to better play. I'm given to understand that this feature is not unique to GLOG but is how it was done in older editions (I started playing with 2nd ed).

I really do agree that killing the monsters shouldn't be the objective. And I really think that cunning over brawn is good. There is no need to force battle, it will happen sooner or later anyway. Monsters as XP can really distort the game.

buuuuut

I'm kind of bothered by gold as the source of XP, because it too can distort the game! It encourages PCs stealing and hiding treasure from each other - if you palm that golf-ball-sized diamond and don't share it, you might have just gone up 2 levels. Not all adventuring should be about money. And what you learn from an adventure isn't just about the reward.

It can also lead to logic-defying situation. If two groups go into an identical barrow, and at the end of one there is a small copper bowl worth 5 gp, the party made xp... but if the other groups - having faced the same traps and the same monsters - find at the end a 50 pound bejeweled golden bowl worth 10 000 xp, they somehow learned 2 000 more than the unlucky people who found the dinky bowl? A group of hero that repels a week long zombie siege in an abandoned tower might gain nothing, while others who rob a fat merchant might bet 500 XP for a lazy heist. This isn't right.

Lastly it can put odd constrains on the GM, as the power and advancement of the heroes is now directly tied on monetary reward. If the GM wants to run some kind of gritty game with low monetary reward where the heroes are constantly poor... they won't level up. Conversly, if the party is going to find a huge sum for plot reason... probably a bad idea too.

So... what why I don't like it. What I would like to learn is if there are good alternatives that are "osr/old school appropriate" to gold as XP out there?

thanks,
So in 1e you only got experince for gold or treasure if the encounter was higher kevel than the party. If they faced level appropriate encounters they didnt get exp for that.
 

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