D&D General XP Awards for -- what????

When do you award XP?


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The problem there is the one @Lanefan pointed out in #190. That discussion is almost guaranteed to result in an argument & a GM that looks like they are trying to force a player to do something they don't want to. Just explaining why it's a problem is easy for the problem player to ignore & for everyone else to just shrug it off because "Bob sez he's trying" when Bob is really just blowing off the whole thing.
The problem is that, in what I perceive as an increasingly overblown concern, these players are for some reason unable to see the direct connection between making boring choices and experiencing a boring game. That is an issue with reasoning and understanding simple cause and effect. They should probably sort themselves out in this regard before doing literally anything else in life.
 

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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
The problem is that, in what I perceive as an increasingly overblown concern, these players are for some reason unable to see the direct connection between making boring choices and experiencing a boring game. That is an issue with reasoning and understanding simple cause and effect. They should probably sort themselves out in this regard before doing literally anything else in life.

If only there were...
A section about the importance of risk sharing & coordinating as a group somewhere in the new PHb
The fact that you keep veering back there to 5e's favorite dead horse flogging blame the gm for not discussing it with those players in a way they accept that avoids the earlier noted arguments along the way to seeing the error of their ways kinda shows why such a section is very much justified too.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
If only there were...

The fact that you keep veering back there to 5e's favorite dead horse flogging blame the gm for not discussing it with those players in a way they accept that avoids the earlier noted arguments along the way to seeing the error of their ways kinda shows why such a section is very much justified too.
What the players are supposed to do in this regard is already outlined in the D&D 5e PHB's Introduction. Paraphrased, that's to work together to create an exciting story of bold adventurers who confront deadly perils. Players that don't choose to do that are working against the explicit intent of the game and only have themselves to blame when the outcome is boring or frustrating.
 

M_Natas

Adventurer
I'm not a fan of the XP system, my progression system is varied and detailed upthread.
But I understand what you're saying. Perhaps the better way to use Milestone's effectively is to have a variety of goals on the table that will lead to one earning a Milestone. And it should be ever changing as goals may alter through the course of the story. That way it wouldn't be viewed so much as a straight jacket.
but the more complex the milestone-system becomes, the more it resembles an XP system.
I just think my biggest problem is, that I don't see anything wrong with XP and can't fathom why people hate it so much that they would want to use an (in my eyes) inferior milestone system that needs to be tweaked a lot to get similar results.
 

pemerton

Legend
I just think my biggest problem is, that I don't see anything wrong with XP and can't fathom why people hate it so much that they would want to use an (in my eyes) inferior milestone system that needs to be tweaked a lot to get similar results.
In the context of 4e D&D, my answer is what I posted upthread: the 4e XP system awards roughly 1/10 of the XP needed to level per roughly 1 hour of dedicated play (ie the players actually engaging the fiction by the play of their PCs).

So instead of tracking all the minutiae of that - what encounters were tackled, what skill challenges occurred, what free roleplaying the players engaged in - why not just level the PCs ever 10 hours of serious play, which is to say every 3 to 4 sessions? Or to put it another way, if XP are primarily a pacing device - which is what they are in 4e D&D - then why not just cut out the intermediary and do pacing-based levelling?

This approach to XP also bears upon your earlier post:
XP as a Design Element puts by default the Control in the Player's Hand. Every Game with XP says, by just having XP, that you as the player have control over your progress.
This claim is not true, at least in the case of 4e D&D. The players get XP whatever they do, provided they are engaging in serious play. The only way in which players can control their progress is by consuming content more quickly - eg completing an encounter or a skill challenge in half-an-hour rather than an hour - but at least at my table no one is interested in that sort of intensity of play!

Of course in Gygaxian dungeon-crawling (which I choose as an example just because it is so different in this respect from 4e), the players can control their progress by choosing which rooms and dungeon levels to explore and raid. This just shows how different XP are in Gygaxian play compared to 4e - they're a reward for success in dungeon-crawling, not just a pacing device.

There is a corresponding difference between the two systems, also: in Gygaxian play the players exercise significant control over framing, by choosing where to explore and loot. Whereas 4e assumes that the GM will exercise control over framing, although of course having regard to the cues that players send via player-authored quests.

In a milestone system, it is the opposite. By default, the DM decides, when the Players advance. Only under one certain condition (reaching the milestone), they reach the next level. Of course, the DM can put in more conditions (personal player goals, certain side quests ...) to give a little more control back, but the DM has to put in work to give the players some more agency.
Over the past few months I've been GMing a bit of Torchbearer. It doesn't use XP as such - characters gain levels when their players spend a certain number of Fate and Persona points. These are point spent to allow various sorts of dice pool and dice roll manipulation, a bit like Inspiration in 5e D&D.

Players earn Fate and Persona by taking and/or succeeding in actions that are connected to their PCs' Beliefs, Instincts and Goals. At the end of each session there is also a vote for MVP and for Teamworker - each is worth one Persona.

This is a type of milestone system but the control is in the players' hands to a significant degree, and it does not require any particular work from the GM. I would assume that something like this could be fairly easily adapted to 5e D&D.
 

but the more complex the milestone-system becomes, the more it resembles an XP system.
I just think my biggest problem is, that I don't see anything wrong with XP and can't fathom why people hate it so much that they would want to use an (in my eyes) inferior milestone system that needs to be tweaked a lot to get similar results.
So I imagine like many DMs I went back and forth on the XP system. At one point I even developed an XP system that kept track of everything such as new locations they travel to (major trade routes, cities, institutions...etc) and characters' new experiences (prominent NPCs, new spells/powers...etc), essentially rewarding the exploration and social pillars. I then dropped all that and for the longest time and just used milestones because I wasn't satisfied with simple XP progression, particularly once the PCs hit the higher levels as the system wasn't matching my story pacing, as it was requiring me to make changes constantly to the XP tables, and I do not like inconsistency, especially if I as DM am inconsistent.

I then got inspired from a couple of threads/posters here (one being @iserith with his method for Inspiration) and I thought what do I want to see at the table that would reflect the growth of a character and that is when it hit me... characters delving into their personal traits, flaws, ideals and goals. That is real character growth and certainly creates a + at the table.
(1) So being able to earn and use inspiration by leaning on the character's emotional and mental alignment is far more of an achievement than just the slaying of another monster.
(2) Other character growth comes from a sense of accomplishment - reaching ones goals. I do not track the journey as that is the minutiae so that is where milestone leveling can kick in.
(3) And the third way one can gain a level is a specific time-lined event/experience of some significant importance in the story and in the lives of the characters. A game-changer.

And they are all player-facing, although I as DM can instigate number (3) at any time depending on the story.

Those are the three ways that I feel are right for me to progress the characters for high level play that would also align with the pacing of our table's storyline. But the 1st two, particularly the 1st, allows the players to have some degree of influence which I feel is important and the reward for earning and using all those inspirations, being a level advancement, will encourage players to bring about more of those magical role-playing experiences at the table. Experience points don't necessarily do that unless the player is so inclined.

It is a new system (2 sessions in) and I'm really happy with the results so far (and I believe the players are too).
The inspiration mechanic was a good thought but the gaining advantage was not a big enough incentive, certainly not at higher levels. Tying the level advancement to it is much more of a push for players to utilise the system, at least at my table.

EDIT: The plus side to all this is there is less for me to track and it encourages the players to really think about their characters, and not just focussing on the mechanical aspect of them.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Then it's up to the DM to explain to them how they are wrong in that conclusion. They can choose to move forward. If they don't, that's on them.
If the whole table is hanging back, then your point is sound: they need to collectively find a way to get on with it.

The problem comes when only one or two players have their characters hang back, and the rest press on and take the hits. This alone is bad enough, but when the DM uses group xp or milestone/fiat levelling and thus doesn't reward the pressers-on with more xp than the hangers-back, it becomes much worse; as now the hangers-back are in fact being systematically encouraged to do so through a lower-risk same-reward paradigm.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The problem is that, in what I perceive as an increasingly overblown concern, these players are for some reason unable to see the direct connection between making boring choices and experiencing a boring game.
You're misinterpreting the situation I've been describing, I think.

The hang-back players aren't necessarily bored. Anything but, in some cases. But, and here's where I have an issue, some or all of that interest comes from making sure their characters survive and thrive where others perhaps do not, through intentionally - and, as I pointed out earlier, sometimes incrementally - leaving the risk-taking to others while still reaping the rewards those taken risks provide.
That is an issue with reasoning and understanding simple cause and effect. They should probably sort themselves out in this regard before doing literally anything else in life.
Problem is the opposite: they understand cause and effect just fine.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
What the players are supposed to do in this regard is already outlined in the D&D 5e PHB's Introduction. Paraphrased, that's to work together to create an exciting story of bold adventurers who confront deadly perils.
That passage, if your paraphrasing is correct, quite blatantly assumes a Big Damn Heroes style of game. Thankfully, not all games are like that; and it'd be really nice if 5e were to at least acknowledge that not everyone wants to play in that style. Some other perfectly valid styles that don't suit the above paraphrase:

--- cloak and dagger including heists, scams, spying, etc. Locke Lamora stuff.
--- courtly or other intrigues where the PCs aren't all necessarily working for the same side(s) but could be, no-one knows
--- raiding and marauding i.e. you're the ones the Big Damn Heroes are sent out to stop, only they can't. Includes pirates games
--- "Diplomacy"-style campaigns, where the PCs work together only as long as they have to but each have their own conflicting agendae
--- West Marches campaigns, where there may or may not be much story involved until well after the fact when someone (usually the DM) ties all those loose threads together.

For me, any of those would be more interesting in the long run than a Big Damn Heroes game.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
In the context of 4e D&D, my answer is what I posted upthread: the 4e XP system awards roughly 1/10 of the XP needed to level per roughly 1 hour of dedicated play (ie the players actually engaging the fiction by the play of their PCs).

So instead of tracking all the minutiae of that - what encounters were tackled, what skill challenges occurred, what free roleplaying the players engaged in - why not just level the PCs ever 10 hours of serious play, which is to say every 3 to 4 sessions? Or to put it another way, if XP are primarily a pacing device - which is what they are in 4e D&D - then why not just cut out the intermediary and do pacing-based levelling?
Because it's still, in the end, group xp - everyone gets the same.

Group xp is bad, as I've noted and explained various times already this thread.
This claim is not true, at least in the case of 4e D&D. The players get XP whatever they do, provided they are engaging in serious play. The only way in which players can control their progress is by consuming content more quickly - eg completing an encounter or a skill challenge in half-an-hour rather than an hour - but at least at my table no one is interested in that sort of intensity of play!

Of course in Gygaxian dungeon-crawling (which I choose as an example just because it is so different in this respect from 4e), the players can control their progress by choosing which rooms and dungeon levels to explore and raid. This just shows how different XP are in Gygaxian play compared to 4e - they're a reward for success in dungeon-crawling, not just a pacing device.
Further, in Gygaxian dungeon-crawling the players can also control their progress relative to each other far better then they can in your 4e model, as in Gygaxian play xp are awarded individually by PC rather than the whole group getting the same.
There is a corresponding difference between the two systems, also: in Gygaxian play the players exercise significant control over framing, by choosing where to explore and loot. Whereas 4e assumes that the GM will exercise control over framing, although of course having regard to the cues that players send via player-authored quests.
This is one area where I fail to see the difference between 1e play and 4e play, assuming use of the same adventure. I mean, if you ran a 4e crew through Night's Dark Terror would there be any reason to expect them to approach it any differently than would a 1e or B/X crew?
Over the past few months I've been GMing a bit of Torchbearer. It doesn't use XP as such - characters gain levels when their players spend a certain number of Fate and Persona points. These are point spent to allow various sorts of dice pool and dice roll manipulation, a bit like Inspiration in 5e D&D.

Players earn Fate and Persona by taking and/or succeeding in actions that are connected to their PCs' Beliefs, Instincts and Goals. At the end of each session there is also a vote for MVP and for Teamworker - each is worth one Persona.
Your previous posts about Torchbearer had quite piqued my interest in the system - until this. Meta-currencies like these that can affect dice rolls or other in-game things are a non-negotiable hard pass for me.

And I can't even get our crew to vote for the MVC (Character) once a year, never mind once a week! :)
 

Meta-currencies like these that can affect dice rolls or other in-game things are a non-negotiable hard pass for me.
Lanefan, this is a bit of a tangent but related, how do you deal with characters played 2D within your games? For example if the player is say more concerned with mechanics and power-gaming than actually roleplaying their character realistically in a particular situation.
Have you weeded out those types of players from your table or is it not a concern?

Second question do you award experience points for great roleplaying?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Lanefan, this is a bit of a tangent but related, how do you deal with characters played 2D within your games? For example if the player is say more concerned with mechanics and power-gaming than actually roleplaying their character realistically in a particular situation.
Have you weeded out those types of players from your table or is it not a concern?
Combination of a) I don't have any serious powergamers and b) it's not that much of a concern given that even the more 2D-ish types still tend to play each character as itself, thus it's fairly easy to tell if something's out of whack.
Second question do you award experience points for great roleplaying?
Rarely if ever*, as doing so makes it just too easy to fall into the DM-favouritism trap.

* - unless it's an xp-granting social encounter, in which case while those who do the talking usually get most or all of the xp, sometimes I'll give xp to characters for their admirable restraint. :)
 

Combination of a) I don't have any serious powergamers and b) it's not that much of a concern given that even the more 2D-ish types still tend to play each character as itself, thus it's fairly easy to tell if something's out of whack.
Fair.

Rarely if ever*, as doing so makes it just too easy to fall into the DM-favouritism trap.

* - unless it's an xp-granting social encounter, in which case while those who do the talking usually get most or all of the xp, sometimes I'll give xp to characters for their admirable restraint. :)
Interesting. The reason I asked is because if you did you would be essentially giving meta-currencies (XP) to affect dice roles (level advancement), except in say Torchbearers instance the ability to affect dice is immediate and temporary.

With regards to your DM-favouritism camp, in 5e this is more easily handled with ideals, bonds and flaws - so there is something to reference to in order to guide one for justifying the rewarding of a player BUT we did have an instance in our last session where the 1 player disagreed with me for withholding his earning of Inspiration (which now is integrated to level advancement in our game). I felt his roleplaying of a particular social encounter had not satisfied any of his personality traits.
Then because I wanted to be completely fair and unbiased, I opened it up to the other players for their commentary as we do for contentious issues. They each had successfully earned an Inspiration for their characters. In any event they did not agree with him and the discussion took easily a half hour to 45 minutes, he is quite the stubborn chap and because this is a new system I sprung on them I felt it needed to be discussed to limit future issues.
I'm hoping it is not going to be a problem, he is very much power-gamey whereas the others are stronger role-players.
 
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M_Natas

Adventurer
In the context of 4e D&D, my answer is what I posted upthread: the 4e XP system awards roughly 1/10 of the XP needed to level per roughly 1 hour of dedicated play (ie the players actually engaging the fiction by the play of their PCs).
So instead of tracking all the minutiae of that - what encounters were tackled, what skill challenges occurred, what free roleplaying the players engaged in - why not just level the PCs ever 10 hours of serious play, which is to say every 3 to 4 sessions? Or to put it another way, if XP are primarily a pacing device - which is what they are in 4e D&D - then why not just cut out the intermediary and do pacing-based levelling?

This approach to XP also bears upon your earlier post:
This claim is not true, at least in the case of 4e D&D. The players get XP whatever they do, provided they are engaging in serious play. The only way in which players can control their progress is by consuming content more quickly - eg completing an encounter or a skill challenge in half-an-hour rather than an hour - but at least at my table no one is interested in that sort of intensity of play!
D&D 4e seems to be an outlier. I haven't played it, so I'm going off on your description... it sounds like they adjusted the XP system to work like a milestone system. And that is of course not clever and more complicated than just using Milestones in the first place.
Of course in Gygaxian dungeon-crawling (which I choose as an example just because it is so different in this respect from 4e), the players can control their progress by choosing which rooms and dungeon levels to explore and raid. This just shows how different XP are in Gygaxian play compared to 4e - they're a reward for success in dungeon-crawling, not just a pacing device.

There is a corresponding difference between the two systems, also: in Gygaxian play the players exercise significant control over framing, by choosing where to explore and loot. Whereas 4e assumes that the GM will exercise control over framing, although of course having regard to the cues that players send via player-authored quests.

Over the past few months I've been GMing a bit of Torchbearer. It doesn't use XP as such - characters gain levels when their players spend a certain number of Fate and Persona points. These are point spent to allow various sorts of dice pool and dice roll manipulation, a bit like Inspiration in 5e D&D.

Players earn Fate and Persona by taking and/or succeeding in actions that are connected to their PCs' Beliefs, Instincts and Goals. At the end of each session there is also a vote for MVP and for Teamworker - each is worth one Persona.

This is a type of milestone system but the control is in the players' hands to a significant degree, and it does not require any particular work from the GM. I would assume that something like this could be fairly easily adapted to 5e D&D.
Torchbearer sounds like it is an XP System. Fate and Persona seem to be a form of XP to me in the way you describe it.
 

pemerton

Legend
Because it's still, in the end, group xp - everyone gets the same.

Group xp is bad, as I've noted and explained various times already this thread.
Bad for you, perhaps. It caused no issues at all in my 4e game.

I mean, if you ran a 4e crew through Night's Dark Terror would there be any reason to expect them to approach it any differently than would a 1e or B/X crew?
Yes. They're very different systems.

Torchbearer sounds like it is an XP System. Fate and Persona seem to be a form of XP to me in the way you describe it.
Fate and Persona are earned as I described, and can be spent as I described. Only when spent do they count towards level gain.

I don't think there is any published D&D XP system which requires making a choice about resource expenditure as a necessary step in the process.
 


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
If the whole table is hanging back, then your point is sound: they need to collectively find a way to get on with it.

The problem comes when only one or two players have their characters hang back, and the rest press on and take the hits. This alone is bad enough, but when the DM uses group xp or milestone/fiat levelling and thus doesn't reward the pressers-on with more xp than the hangers-back, it becomes much worse; as now the hangers-back are in fact being systematically encouraged to do so through a lower-risk same-reward paradigm.
If it's a problem for some of the players, that's for them to work out with their fellow players. There will always be some amount of this: the fighter stands in the chokepoint and takes the hits for the wizard and rogue behind them. The rogue takes the hits when disarming the trap. The cleric becomes the primary target for an intelligent enemy after casting a healing word to bring an ally up from 0 hp. "Kill the wizard first." And so on.

You're misinterpreting the situation I've been describing, I think.

The hang-back players aren't necessarily bored. Anything but, in some cases. But, and here's where I have an issue, some or all of that interest comes from making sure their characters survive and thrive where others perhaps do not, through intentionally - and, as I pointed out earlier, sometimes incrementally - leaving the risk-taking to others while still reaping the rewards those taken risks provide.

Problem is the opposite: they understand cause and effect just fine.
The claim made by you and another poster as I recall was that the DM will be blamed for the game being frustrating and boring because players weren't taking risks. So now you're saying they're not bored or frustrated?

That passage, if your paraphrasing is correct, quite blatantly assumes a Big Damn Heroes style of game. Thankfully, not all games are like that; and it'd be really nice if 5e were to at least acknowledge that not everyone wants to play in that style. Some other perfectly valid styles that don't suit the above paraphrase:

--- cloak and dagger including heists, scams, spying, etc. Locke Lamora stuff.
--- courtly or other intrigues where the PCs aren't all necessarily working for the same side(s) but could be, no-one knows
--- raiding and marauding i.e. you're the ones the Big Damn Heroes are sent out to stop, only they can't. Includes pirates games
--- "Diplomacy"-style campaigns, where the PCs work together only as long as they have to but each have their own conflicting agendae
--- West Marches campaigns, where there may or may not be much story involved until well after the fact when someone (usually the DM) ties all those loose threads together.

For me, any of those would be more interesting in the long run than a Big Damn Heroes game.
I disagree with your interpretation of this as being "Big Damn Heroes." The text later on even leaves open the possibility of becoming villainous. What it says is what I paraphrased and nothing more: This is a game about you portraying an adventurer in a world of swords and sorcery. Your job is to boldly confront deadly perils. In the doing, you have fun and create exciting, memorable tales.
 


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
D&D 4e seems to be an outlier. I haven't played it, so I'm going off on your description... it sounds like they adjusted the XP system to work like a milestone system. And that is of course not clever and more complicated than just using Milestones in the first place.

Torchbearer sounds like it is an XP System. Fate and Persona seem to be a form of XP to me in the way you describe it.
D&D 4e's experience point awards are as follows:
  • XP for killing monsters
  • XP for overcoming a trap or hazard
  • XP for succeeding at a skill challenge
  • XP for a major or minor quest completed
As well, a "milestone" in D&D 4e was achieved whenever the PCs completed two encounters without an extended rest. As a reward, they get an Action Point, if they don't already have one. An Action Point could be spent to give the PC an extra standard action in combat.

So, as you can see, the experience point awards are pretty much the same as D&D 5e's standard and milestone XP methods (including for non-combat challenges). D&D 5e also introduces story-based (commonly and incorrectly referred to as "milestone XP") and session-based awards as an option.
 

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