D&D General XP Awards for -- what????

When do you award XP?


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
No one that supports bounded accuracy gets to try and make this point. And the math BA was meant to take away had way more of a purpose than XP calculations.
What does it mean to "support" bounded accuracy? I don't even give it a second thought. It just is.

If you don't know when you've achieved a significant goal, there's more problems than just the leveling method.
It's not about realizing it after it's done, but knowing what to pursue before it's done. If I have to clear out the dungeon to level up perhaps because that's all the content the DM has, or because it's the only way to get to the next step in the DM's prepared plot, just say so, and that's what I'll do. Leveling up in these instances are ways to incentivize the players sticking to the limited content. No problem with that at all, but let's not beat around the bush about what it is.
 

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Vaalingrade

Legend
What does it mean to "support" bounded accuracy? I don't even give it a second thought. It just is.
Accepting its putrid curse on the game.
It's not about realizing it after it's done, but knowing what to pursue before it's done. If I have to clear out the dungeon to level up perhaps because that's all the content the DM has, or because it's the only way to get to the next step in the DM's prepared plot, just say so, and that's what I'll do. Leveling up in these instances are ways to incentivize the players sticking to the limited content. No problem with that at all, but let's not beat around the bush about what it is.
Again, if the group doesn't know their goals, both core plot and player generated, there's a larger problem.
 

I don't even know any DMs IRL who use XP.

Between 3.5E and 5E, all of them have swapped to some sort of system which is either Milestones, Sessions, or something else. One of the DMs I know threatened to use XP in a campaign in 5E but the players were unenthusiastic about it so he didn't.

Personally when I run I use something which basically amounts to session-based, except it's maybe a bit more like hours-based because session length varies a lot. I do notice no-one in my game ever seems to complain that we're levelling too slow or too fast though, unlike some games I play in (I've never complained about either to be clear, but some players do). So I guess I've been doing it kind of right (I'm not running D&D 5E atm though).
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Accepting its putrid curse on the game.
Seven years in and I haven't seen an issue with it. It doesn't mean I "support" it in any meaningful way.

Again, if the group doesn't know their goals, both core plot and player generated, there's a larger problem.
Then is sounds like we agree that if the DM is explicit about the "plot goals" needed to level then there's no problem.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Personally when I run I use something which basically amounts to session-based, except it's maybe a bit more like hours-based because session length varies a lot. I do notice no-one in my game ever seems to complain that we're levelling too slow or too fast though, unlike some games I play in (I've never complained about either to be clear, but some players do). So I guess I've been doing it kind of right (I'm not running D&D 5E atm though).
Curious if your pacing matches what is recommended in the DMG for "session-based advancement" (page 261) - 2nd level after first session, 3rd after another, 4th after two more, then 2 to 3 sessions per each subsequent level.
 


hawkeyefan

Legend
XP is Hardly number crunching. I'd the players can add gold, they have no problems with adding XP.
And uneven leveling can be avoided by giving group XP instead of individual XP.

I'm not bad at math. I can handle doing the calculations necessary to handle the XP system.

But it's boring and I don't want to spend even the few minutes it would take. I'd prefer a more engaging XP system. The games I've played recently have XP or advancement systems that turn into a discussion about play and the events of play, and involve input from everyone.

I'd much rather do something like that than sit and tally numbers and then divide the total and all that.
 


Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Tracking XP is pretty much a waste if it's fundamentally a pacing mechanism (which it mostly is in modern D&D - you are pretty much going to get yours) and most content is curated to provide a challenge for these specific characters. It's fundamentally different if we're talking about static challenges or xp systems built to reward achieving objectives that are not mostly a given.

In Blades or Classic D&D my opposition does not get stronger as I do. I can seek stronger opposition, but that orc remains an orc and the Lampblacks will be Tier 2 unless something happens in the course of play that makes them stronger. Tracking progress matters more in such situations than it does in a more set piece adventure path style play.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
It certainly is a pacing mechanism, but it's also something that, in part, drives my decisions when playing. I play in three games and DM one game. The three games are sandboxy, though the size and focus of the sandboxes varies a bit. Each one handles XP differently.

In the desert hexcrawl, we get XP for combat only, so we tend to beat things up a lot and take their stuff. Social only comes up when we think it might be amusing or puts off a tough challenge until we're in better shape to tackle it (then inevitably betray and kill them later).

In the West Marches style hexcrawl, we get XP for combat and for quests. So we choose the quests that will net us the most XP for the least amount of effort and fish for random encounters as much as possible between town and the quest location. I played in this one last night and went from 4th to 5th level in about 3 hours.

The third campaign is more of a town-to-megadungeon type setup, but we get XP more like Dungeon World End of Session move. The DM asks some questions and we have a conversation about it and get XP that way. One of the questions is "Did we battle any notable monsters?" The impact on play is that we don't actually seek out combats with as many things as possible like in the other two games, but rather just one notable thing then we're good (at least where that question matters - there are others).

So I guess whatever method you're using, consider what sort of play it's incentivizing because it will tend to have an impact on what your players actually do in your game. Story-based advancement incentivizes sticking to the prepared plot. It's not that great for games that don't have a plot. Session-based advancement incentivizes just showing up regularly and doesn't really incentivize playing any particular way. And so on.
 

M_Natas

Adventurer
Tracking XP is pretty much a waste if it's fundamentally a pacing mechanism (which it mostly is in modern D&D - you are pretty much going to get yours) and most content is curated to provide a challenge for these specific characters. It's fundamentally different if we're talking about static challenges or xp systems built to reward achieving objectives that are not mostly a given.
But creating encounters and worlds that Level with the Players is an encounter design and world building problem and not an XP problem.
But I agree that a world that levels with the players kills the feeling of progress you get from leveling. If every encounter feels equally difficult, why did we level at all?
 

payn

Legend
But creating encounters and worlds that Level with the Players is an encounter design and world building problem and not an XP problem.
But I agree that a world that levels with the players kills the feeling of progress you get from leveling. If every encounter feels equally difficult, why did we level at all?
Traveller is one of my favorite RPGs so you certainly dont even need to level. For D&D, I really like the bounded accuracy approach. The world makes sense and progress is shown slowly enough, without having to have infant punching to show progress for the PCs. YMMV.
 

pointofyou

Adventurer
It certainly is a pacing mechanism, but it's also something that, in part, drives my decisions when playing. I play in three games and DM one game. The three games are sandboxy, though the size and focus of the sandboxes varies a bit. Each one handles XP differently.

In the desert hexcrawl, we get XP for combat only, so we tend to beat things up a lot and take their stuff. Social only comes up when we think it might be amusing or puts off a tough challenge until we're in better shape to tackle it (then inevitably betray and kill them later).

In the West Marches style hexcrawl, we get XP for combat and for quests. So we choose the quests that will net us the most XP for the least amount of effort and fish for random encounters as much as possible between town and the quest location. I played in this one last night and went from 4th to 5th level in about 3 hours.

The third campaign is more of a town-to-megadungeon type setup, but we get XP more like Dungeon World End of Session move. The DM asks some questions and we have a conversation about it and get XP that way. One of the questions is "Did we battle any notable monsters?" The impact on play is that we don't actually seek out combats with as many things as possible like in the other two games, but rather just one notable thing then we're good (at least where that question matters - there are others).

So I guess whatever method you're using, consider what sort of play it's incentivizing because it will tend to have an impact on what your players actually do in your game. Story-based advancement incentivizes sticking to the prepared plot. It's not that great for games that don't have a plot. Session-based advancement incentivizes just showing up regularly and doesn't really incentivize playing any particular way. And so on.
And if you give something like story-based advancement for the characters' pursuing their own goals and interests the characters will pursue their own goals and interests. That matches the experience at my friend's tables.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
And if you give something like story-based advancement for the characters' pursuing their own goals and interests the characters will pursue their own goals and interests. That matches the experience at my friend's tables.
Yep, that's right. My only dispute would be with a DM who either hides the "significant goals" needed to level up, in effect making it "you level when I feel like it." That takes it from being a thing that is earned to becoming a magnanimous DM gifting us something. No thanks.

For what you describe, I would use milestone leveling as defined by the D&D 5e DMG. You get set XP for a given reasonably defined goal (e.g. rescue the prince from the cultists, recover the jade monkey from the dungeon, resolve the conflict you have with your evil necromancer father, etc.).
 

pointofyou

Adventurer
Yep, that's right. My only dispute would be with a DM who either hides the "significant goals" needed to level up, in effect making it "you level when I feel like it." That takes it from being a thing that is earned to becoming a magnanimous DM gifting us something. No thanks.

For what you describe, I would use milestone leveling as defined by the D&D 5e DMG. You get set XP for a given reasonably defined goal (e.g. rescue the prince from the cultists, recover the jade monkey from the dungeon, resolve the conflict you have with your evil necromancer father, etc.).
I haven't noticed any complaints at my friend's tables. I don't know exactly what heuristic my friend is using but the levels haven't felt either unearned or unduly delayed. I figure there's room for both your preferences and my friend's approach. Though probably not at the same table.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I haven't noticed any complaints at my friend's tables. I don't know exactly what heuristic my friend is using but the levels haven't felt either unearned or unduly delayed. I figure there's room for both your preferences and my friend's approach. Though probably not at the same table.
Sure. Me stating my preference is not a judgment on anyone else's preferences. People like what they like. I just want to know the goal up front, so that I know what I need to do and that, when I've done it, I know I've actually earned it.
 

M_Natas

Adventurer
Another problem with milestone leveling is, that you can't outpace the DM. When the DM has a CR 12 Monster as the BBEG for the End fight, he will make sure, that you are level 12 (simplification, we all now a 12th level party will wipe the floor with one CR 12 creature).
With an XP system it is possible to outlevel the Endboss. Reach level 13 or 14 in a campaign that was supposed to go to 12.
With Milestones that is not possible.
 

pointofyou

Adventurer
Another problem with milestone leveling is, that you can't outpace the DM. When the DM has a CR 12 Monster as the BBEG for the End fight, he will make sure, that you are level 12 (simplification, we all now a 12th level party will wipe the floor with one CR 12 creature).
With an XP system it is possible to outlevel the Endboss. Reach level 13 or 14 in a campaign that was supposed to go to 12.
With Milestones that is not possible.
You describe that as a bug but there are some people who would think of that as something more like a feature. That opponent is what the DM told you it was and it was as serious a fight as you were promised.

The ability to turn such an opponent into a speedbump is also a feature. Some DMs would rather that happen through planning and approach and tactics than through outstripping the expected level. Opinions will of course vary here.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Another problem with milestone leveling is, that you can't outpace the DM. When the DM has a CR 12 Monster as the BBEG for the End fight, he will make sure, that you are level 12 (simplification, we all now a 12th level party will wipe the floor with one CR 12 creature).
With an XP system it is possible to outlevel the Endboss. Reach level 13 or 14 in a campaign that was supposed to go to 12.
With Milestones that is not possible.
I don't see this as a problem per se, but I think story-based advancement is a better choice for this type of adventure or campaign structure. (Which may be what you mean by "milestone." I prefer the D&D 5e DMG's definitions though.) The players are thus incentivized to stick to the plot so they can get to that CR 12 BBEG at the end game. Not my preference as a DM to design and run these sorts of games, but as a player I don't mind as long as I know what "significant goals" will allow me to level up. Ultimately it's a way for DMs to reduce prep time and preserve the prep they do create.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
You describe that as a bug but there are some people who would think of that as something more like a feature. That opponent is what the DM told you it was and it was as serious a fight as you were promised.

The ability to turn such an opponent into a speedbump is also a feature. Some DMs would rather that happen through planning and approach and tactics than through outstripping the expected level. Opinions will of course vary here.
In the case of 5e I think the problem is lesshow a level 12 party will wipe the floor with an encounter designed to challenge a level 8 or 10 partyso much as the fact that a level 8 or 10 party won't inversely find an encounter built for a level 12 party to be a thing that wipes the floor with the party without heavy force multiplying teamwork & nonrecoverable resource consumption.
 

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