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D&D General XP Awards for -- what????

When do you award XP?



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pemerton

Legend
Seeing as we're drifting away from just D&D . . .

Agon 2nd ed has some interesting advancement tracks. In each conflict, you earn glory equal to the DC of the conflict (if you succeed and are the best), half that (if you succeed but another player rolled higher than you) or 1 (if you fail, or if you elected not to participate and instead aided another PC - which is one way to earn extra Bonds with other characters). At various Glory totals your "name die", which is similar to a MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic PC's affiliation die (ie you are always adding it to your pool) steps up.

A separate advancement procedure is Boons: these are something like level-features or feats in D&D terms, but more systematised (you get to add a second epithet - which is something like a MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic Distinction; or you get to step up your epithet dice, or one of your four "domain" dice, which are comparable to MHRP specialities, but broader; or a bit like In A Wicked Age attributes - Arts and Oration, Blood and Valour, Craft and Reason, Resolve and Spirit).

One way to earn Boons is to progress down the Fate track: this happens when you run out of renewable resources to meet certain sorts of consequence cost; Fate is not renewable, and when you get to the end of the Fate track your PC's journey is over.

Another way to earn Boons is to please the gods: at the end of each session (which is a one-island scenario) you mark a star in a god's constellation if you pleased that god, and every three stars marked earns a boon. Completing a certain number of constellations, by filling in all 3 of its stars, also means that the heroes journey is at an end and they return home. (The "certain number" is 3 for a shorter game, or 5 for a longer one.)

Players have a big say in deciding whether they pleased or angered the gods, but it is not utterly free-form: it's structured by the details of each scenario, which puts certain gods and the PCs' relationships with them into play; and the players can also bring other gods into the situation through their own choices around action declaration and resource expenditure.

Filling in stars in a constellation also earns the players one of their key resources - Divine Favour. There are other stages in the end-of-session phase that restore Divine Favour and also allow PCs to establish Bonds with one another.

The interplay of advancement tracks, and of resource expenditure and recovery, is pretty interesting.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I don't think 4e was ESPECIALLY designed for slow advancement. Lets assume you do one full-up combat per session. Each level consists of 10 'tranches' of XP (exactly 10 at-level encounters). However, each PC should receive something like 20% of their XP from quests (I'm assuming each PC completes one minor and one major quest per level, which makes sense). Encounters are also often higher than PC level, either combats or SCs. There's no advice on ratio of SC to combat, but the DMG claims you should have 1 level + 3 encounter, 3 level +1, 3 at-level, and one level - 1. That would indicate 9 per level, so we can assume 4 sessions would be required, maybe 5 per level (as I would actually assume more like 8 total encounters per level, given minor quest XP which isn't mentioned in the summary). Thus 4 combats. In some cases you might get through things faster too, so this seems like a MINIMUM progress rate.

IME we played 4 or so sessions per advancement at lower levels, but it seemed like higher level play went faster in 4e. With 30 levels to get through for a full 'start to apotheosis' campaign, you might expect to do it in 1-2 years. I think that is a LOT faster than most AD&D games advanced, though the rates there could vary hugely depending on the GM and how you ran combats and such.

Personally I found that the most fun seemed to be had with a rate of advancement of about 1 level every 2 or 3 sessions.
To me, that's crazy fast. I'm more interested in gaining a level or two a year, such that a) the campaign has headroom to last longer and b) levelling becomes a back-burner thing rather than constantly front and center. At high level, if advancement almost stops completely that's not the end of the world; because the mechanics of all editions kinda crap out after a certain (variable by edition) point.
You got a power, you learned how to use it, you had some real fun with it, then you got a new one! Play for maybe 20 sessions, move on to Paragon, etc. I always found that AD&D got bogged down with slow advancement, it just gets boring to be eternally the same level (especially if that is like 1st through 3rd which seemed to be pretty common).
Only boring if you're looking at levelling as a goal rather than a side effect.
 

Only boring if you're looking at levelling as a goal rather than a side effect.
This has always been an interesting (puzzling as well!) aspect of your play.

Why can’t leveling be both a goal and an emergent (or incidental if you’d like) side effect of play?

I’m imagining your envisioning some kind of moral hazard to play that I have neither experienced nor am able to envision (given my priors). Is this part of your “No metagaming” purity test?
 

To me, that's crazy fast. I'm more interested in gaining a level or two a year, such that a) the campaign has headroom to last longer and b) levelling becomes a back-burner thing rather than constantly front and center. At high level, if advancement almost stops completely that's not the end of the world; because the mechanics of all editions kinda crap out after a certain (variable by edition) point.

Only boring if you're looking at levelling as a goal rather than a side effect.
I'm just looking at playing at different levels as the goal, not 'leveling as a prize' or something like that. Gah, I have no interest in playing exactly the same character for an entire year at a time. Nope, not even faintly interested. I'd play the same character at a bunch of levels for a year or two, or maybe even 3 or 4 if it was a really engaging story/character and I liked the people I was playing with a lot. I never did understand the taste for this endless maundering around at level 1, 2, 3, .... Not that I'm dissing anyone's tastes, but it sure ain't for me.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
This has always been an interesting (puzzling as well!) aspect of your play.

Why can’t leveling be both a goal and an emergent (or incidental if you’d like) side effect of play?
Well, it can I suppose. It's a question of focus. If one (or a table) doesn't focus on levelling and just lets it happen when it happens, however infrequently, then it's a side effect. If it becomes a goal, then the push begins to have levelling happen more often and-or sooner; and somehow levelling seemed to very much become a goal/focus starting with 3e.

I put it that way as I assume the player continuing to play throughout is a given.
I’m imagining your envisioning some kind of moral hazard to play that I have neither experienced nor am able to envision (given my priors). Is this part of your “No metagaming” purity test?
Not really, I don't think - if I understand your question. Moral hazard?
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
Well, it can I suppose. It's a question of focus. If one (or a table) doesn't focus on levelling and just lets it happen when it happens, however infrequently, then it's a side effect. If it becomes a goal, then the push begins to have levelling happen more often and-or sooner; and somehow levelling seemed to very much become a goal/focus starting with 3e.

I put it that way as I assume the player continuing to play throughout is a given.

Not really, I don't think - if I understand your question. Moral hazard?
It's an insurance & economics term & the reason that you can't insure a 300,000$ house for $2,000,000. You have a moral hazard when someone insulates themselves from risk to such a degree that they no longer have any incentive in taking steps to avoid or mitigate risk on their own because someone else will bear the cost.

5e style wackamole healing empowered by death saves is unquestionably an example of a designed in moral Hazzard because Alice eats Bob's failure to avoid risk by consuming an extra spell slot & a bonus action to make him whole* even if he takes zero effort to avoid further risk once he's whole*

It's another economics term
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
If it becomes a goal, then the push begins to have levelling happen more often and-or sooner; and somehow levelling seemed to very much become a goal/focus starting with 3e.

I’d say leveling has always been a goal of D&D since the beginning.

I think with 3e, perhaps the focus sharpened a bit because leveling came to mean so much more.

But D&D has always been about increasing personal power to then delve deeper and face more dangerous threats… which in turn yield greater rewards, and so on.

How XP is awarded is a game saying “this is what the game is about”. I like that clarity… it lets me know what’s expected and how to play well. But having that goal as a player need not limit the goals my character can have. They can work in conjunction.

I think when that synchronicity is absent, you potentially run into problems. I’d say that this is why 5e’s default XP system isn’t great and gets largely ignored in favor of milestone leveling, even in their published material.

But then the question, to me at least, is what does milestone leveling tell us about the game? What’s the game about? How can I play it well? The answers are far less clear with milestone leveling.
 

I’d say leveling has always been a goal of D&D since the beginning.

I think with 3e, perhaps the focus sharpened a bit because leveling came to mean so much more.

But D&D has always been about increasing personal power to then delve deeper and face more dangerous threats… which in turn yield greater rewards, and so on.

How XP is awarded is a game saying “this is what the game is about”. I like that clarity… it lets me know what’s expected and how to play well. But having that goal as a player need not limit the goals my character can have. They can work in conjunction.

I think when that synchronicity is absent, you potentially run into problems. I’d say that this is why 5e’s default XP system isn’t great and gets largely ignored in favor of milestone leveling, even in their published material.

But then the question, to me at least, is what does milestone leveling tell us about the game? What’s the game about? How can I play it well? The answers are far less clear with milestone leveling.
It seems easy to presume that if you grant levels or XP based on milestones then the game becomes about achieving those milestones. Maybe it's too easy and that's incorrect.

One of the DMs I play D&D with does fiat leveling when the PCs have done something substantial toward advancing one of their goals. Seems to work well at his tables. The obvious presumption those games are about the PCs pursuing their goals is consistent with my experience there.
 

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