D&D General XP Awards for -- what????

When do you award XP?


payn

Legend
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.
Hopefully the enemy can just wait while we do unrelated things to build up power to bulldoze them.
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
XP is Hardly number crunching. If the players can add gold, they have no problems with adding XP.
I think the reference was to the number-crunching the DM had to do before it got to the players.

But it's still a triviality.
And uneven leveling can be avoided by giving group XP instead of individual XP.
Uneven levelling is in no way a problem unless you're playing 3e or something adjacent. 4e is a bit more forgiving of a small level variance within the party, and 0-1-2-5e don't care until-unless the variance is huge.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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.
Flip side: you can't beeline to the Endboss and get there while still underpowered. In the above example you'd bypass a lot of the preamble stuff and get to the CR 12 Endboss when you're only still 9th-10th level - and find yourselves really up against it.

For me this is a feature.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
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've never gone off to grind to fight the main boss.

Also, you act like the DM can't just throw on some HD on the dude.
 



MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
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.
How is this a problem? Seems like a good argument FOR milestone leveling in a story/plot-focused game.
 

M_Natas

Adventurer
How is this a problem? Seems like a good argument FOR milestone leveling in a story/plot-focused game.
It is a problem because the players don't have a choice? They can't decide that they need more Power to beat it, that they wanna do some more side quests to be better prepared and get stronger to increase their chances, if those side quests don't give XP = Level Ups.
Like in all the newer WotC published adventures, all characters who play trough it will be exactly the same level at the end, because every chapter gives a level.
It takes away a little player agency.
 

pemerton

Legend
It is a problem because the players don't have a choice? They can't decide that they need more Power to beat it, that they wanna do some more side quests to be better prepared and get stronger to increase their chances, if those side quests don't give XP = Level Ups.

<snip>

It takes away a little player agency.
Why should players get to choose how mechanically powerful their characters are, vis-a-vis the obstacle the GM frames them into?

I mean, there are approaches to RPGing that half-answer the question, but they also give the players significant authority to do their own framing. (I'm thinking mostly of Gygaxian dungeon-crawling, where the players get to choose both (i) which goals to pursue to earn XP, and (ii) which rooms/levels to tackle - ie they get to do a lot of their own framing.)
 

M_Natas

Adventurer
Why should players get to choose how mechanically powerful their characters are, vis-a-vis the obstacle the GM frames them into?

I mean, there are approaches to RPGing that half-answer the question, but they also give the players significant authority to do their own framing. (I'm thinking mostly of Gygaxian dungeon-crawling, where the players get to choose both (i) which goals to pursue to earn XP, and (ii) which rooms/levels to tackle - ie they get to do a lot of their own framing.)
Because mechanical player agency is important, too?
The difference between an XP and a milestone system is, that by default in an XP system the players have control over the Level advancement, they have choices, they can do everythingthat gives XP to get a new level. In a milestone system they have no control, no choices. You have to do exactly this one (or maybe two) things to get a Level.


By design Milestone is limiting player choice and agency while XP is expanding player choice and agency.

Like ... let's say pokemon. In every Pokemon Game I have full control over how much power my pokemon have by deciding how much I train them. The story is very railroady in Pokemon, but I have freedom of choice over the strength of my team. If you would put Milestones onto pokemon, like you get 10 levels for every arena you beat, Pokemon would suck, because now you have no story agency and no mechanical agency anymore.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Because mechanical player agency is important, too?
The difference between an XP and a milestone system is, that by default in an XP system the players have control over the Level advancement, they have choices, they can do everythingthat gives XP to get a new level. In a milestone system they have no control, no choices. You have to do exactly this one (or maybe two) things to get a Level.


By design Milestone is limiting player choice and agency while XP is expanding player choice and agency.

Like ... let's say pokemon. In every Pokemon Game I have full control over how much power my pokemon have by deciding how much I train them. The story is very railroady in Pokemon, but I have freedom of choice over the strength of my team. If you would put Milestones onto pokemon, like you get 10 levels for every arena you beat, Pokemon would suck, because now you have no story agency and no mechanical agency anymore.
This looks to me more like an objection to games that feature a prepared plot or path than the method by which XP is handled. It just so happens that story-based advancement is better suited to games with a prepared plot or path, whereas standard XP works better for sandboxes. In the former case, the method incentivizes the players to stay on the plot (which helps reduce and preserve the DM's prepared content). In the latter, the method incentivizes the players to do whatever it is that earns them XP (e.g. killing monsters), but otherwise doesn't push them in any other particular direction.
 

M_Natas

Adventurer
This looks to me more like an objection to games that feature a prepared plot or path than the method by which XP is handled. It just so happens that story-based advancement is better suited to games with a prepared plot or path, whereas standard XP works better for sandboxes. In the former case, the method incentivizes the players to stay on the plot (which helps reduce and preserve the DM's prepared content). In the latter, the method incentivizes the players to do whatever it is that earns them XP (e.g. killing monsters), but otherwise doesn't push them in any other particular direction.
I would say with a preplanned plot, so a railroaded adventure, XP would be better because that gives the players in one area a little more controll. If you have Milestones and a railroadstory, players have no real choices at all. Not on the story side, not on the mechanical side. It's like pokemon with Milestones again.
 


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I would say with a preplanned plot, so a railroaded adventure, XP would be better because that gives the players in one area a little more controll. If you have Milestones and a railroadstory, players have no real choices at all. Not on the story side, not on the mechanical side. It's like pokemon with Milestones again.
On a preplanned plot, the players having "more control" isn't necessarily ideal. In a basic game structure common to many tables, the DM prepares a plot-based game and there's nothing else much outside of it to engage with (except perhaps killing some time with intraparty banter and of course shopping). So incentivizing the players with XP to go off the script isn't a great idea. Instead, you use story-based advancement with clear "significant goals" so the players engage with the prepared content only.

I would quibble with calling a plot-based game a "railroad" though if the players have consented to following the plot to the best of their understanding. Which I think is a good topic for Session Zero if the DM wants to run such a game. Plot-based games are generally a lot less prep than a sandbox, so it's common in my experience for DMs to gravitate toward this structure. It's not my cup of tea because I find them very strange to run, but then I have more time to devote to prep than others.
 

M_Natas

Adventurer
@M_Natas

You talk about players having control over level advancement. But if the GM has sole authority over framing, how does that work?
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.
A GM or Game Designer can of course take some of that control back by limiting what will give XP, how many opportunities there are for getting XP and so on.
But if we start by D&D 5e RAW, getting XP is a player choice. Do I fight this monster or not? Do I go looking for fights or not? (I as a DM would also increase the opportunities for XP, like for roleplaying, completing quests, finding lore, exploring ...). Now, the DM can totally limit, how many opportunities there are for killing monsters. But the DM would have to really railroad, to really limit the scope of the world to do that. He would have to put in work to take the Level Advancement away from the players.

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.

With XP your start point is player agency and you have to reign that in.
With Milestones your start point is no player agency and you have to put that back in.
 

M_Natas

Adventurer
On a preplanned plot, the players having "more control" isn't necessarily ideal. In a basic game structure common to many tables, the DM prepares a plot-based game and there's nothing else much outside of it to engage with (except perhaps killing some time with intraparty banter and of course shopping). So incentivizing the players with XP to go off the script isn't a great idea. Instead, you use story-based advancement with clear "significant goals" so the players engage with the prepared content only.
Yeah, but that is forcing the players mechanical and story wise to stay on course. As a player, I wouldn't like that, to be forced to not stray away a little, not to have the opportunity to do anything else in the world. Such a game would feel like a dead world, where there is nothing outside the walls of the plot.
For playing D&D you need to create an Illusion, an Illusion of a living, existing world where you have agency in. With milestones and a fixed plot, you are killing this illusion. Your choices don't matter. You follow a preplanned path of encounters and if your dice a lucky, you succeed.
With having XP you are saying that there is the possibility to go off the rails, even if the players never take that opportunity, you say mechanically, the world is open to you. The illusion of an open world is stronger, the illusion that your choices matter is stronger.
With Milestones on the mechanical side, you take away that illusion. Your choices don't matter, the world is not open for you to explore.
The more railroady the story, the better XP help with the Illusion of choice. It will increase the game experience for the players and create a stronger illusion of a living world.
I would quibble with calling a plot-based game a "railroad" though if the players have consented to following the plot to the best of their understanding. Which I think is a good topic for Session Zero if the DM wants to run such a game. Plot-based games are generally a lot less prep than a sandbox, so it's common in my experience for DMs to gravitate toward this structure. It's not my cup of tea because I find them very strange to run, but then I have more time to devote to prep than others.
It all comes down to the Illusion of choice. Players usually hate it, when they feel that they have no choice. Even if they agree to a plot based game.
On the mechanical side, milestones don't give an illusion of choice, XP do.

So even if it is a little easier for the DM to use Milestones, XP will improve the feel of the game, improve the illusion of an open world full of adventures that is for the players to discover.
 


M_Natas

Adventurer
Isn't that what we were arguing was the whole point of XP earlier in this same thread? Conditioning the players to do what you want?
Yeah, but Milestone is a more extreme less subtle version of that. With XP you can do x, y and z to get XP and level up. With Milestones you can only do X to level up.
XP is nudging, Milestone is forcing.
 



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