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5E XP for gold 5th Edition campaign

The thing that always conceptually bugs me about XP for gold is that it doesn't allow for XP from something like being dropped in a prehistoric jungle and fighting your way our past a bunch of dinosaurs and such (no loot). That's something that seems to me like it should provide quite a bit of XP, whereas slipping past the guards and grabbing a pile of gold seems like it should provide minimal increase in your combat capability (and levels primarily increase your combat capability).

So, for those who are fans of XP for gold, how would you address my concern?
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
The thing that always conceptually bugs me about XP for gold is that it doesn't allow for XP from something like being dropped in a prehistoric jungle and fighting your way our past a bunch of dinosaurs and such (no loot). That's something that seems to me like it should provide quite a bit of XP, whereas slipping past the guards and grabbing a pile of gold seems like it should provide minimal increase in your combat capability (and levels primarily increase your combat capability).
When you say "always conceptually bugs..." you're possibly even righter than you know: that was a frequent criticism of D&D back in the day. Any number of games used 'more realistic' experience systems, including 2e, and all later eds, as a result.

So, for those who are fans of XP for gold, how would you address my concern?
/Just/ gold for XP is an odd variant, usually you could get XP from combat, too, just maybe not the lion's share depending on how good you were at picking out the better-off monsters. But, given you were using gp-only-for-XP, you could make dino teeth & hides appropriately valuable, or you could offer prize money for exterminating them... or, and this happened in 'Lost World' stories, after killing your way through a lot of dinos you could find a volcanic cave dripping with uncut jewels.

Conversely, you could have excess 'undeserved' gold stolen from the PCs before they get xp from it.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
When you say "always conceptually bugs..." you're possibly even righter than you know: that was a frequent criticism of D&D back in the day. Any number of games used 'more realistic' experience systems, including 2e, and all later eds, as a result.

/Just/ gold for XP is an odd variant, usually you could get XP from combat, too, just maybe not the lion's share depending on how good you were at picking out the better-off monsters. But, given you were using gp-only-for-XP, you could make dino teeth & hides appropriately valuable, or you could offer prize money for exterminating them... or, and this happened in 'Lost World' stories, after killing your way through a lot of dinos you could find a volcanic cave dripping with uncut jewels.

Conversely, you could have excess 'undeserved' gold stolen from the PCs before they get xp from it.
Always remember never bother saving the bar maid just the princess because greed is good
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
I can see it being fun for a specific campaign, or even for one or two adventures in a campaign, but I think that it wouldn't work well a lot of the time.
Absolutely. It is a specialized campaign style, not a suggestion to replace the default rewards chapter of the DMG :eek: :cool:

As for your individual points, a comment or five:
My only criticisms are:

1. I makes magic items readily accessible by claiming that losing XP makes up for increased power. That argument didn't work at all in 3.x, and I don't see why that should change. Given that a +1 weapon is essentially equivalent to four experience levels (the number of levels required to get +2 to an attribute) I find that argument difficult to sustain.

2. It discourages altruistic PCs. Even if you allow tithes and donations to substitute for carousing, character advancement is driven by the accumulation of wealth. This style wouldn't work if, for example, you were trying to run a campaign modeled after Lord of the Rings or Star Wars where the ultimate goal has nothing to do with wealth at all. That means you need to structure the campaign around the fact that character advancement requires wealth. That's not going to be every campaign.

3. It requires access to a place to expend wealth during downtime. If you're stuck wandering around the wilderness or plane-hopping, you're unable to advance. If there's a time limit hanging over the PCs head, you're unable to advance. Again, you must structure your campaign to allow for downtime, and allow for the ability to spend wealth -- often absurdly large amounts of wealth as levels increase. You'd be making the Count of Monte Cristo look like a chump.

4. It encourages PvP. Since wealth is transferable and XP isn't, it encourages players to steal from each other, lie about treasure, etc. Great for a pirate campaign, maybe, but not all the time.

5. Treasure disbursing is a lot more difficult for the DM. In 5e, you really only have to think about gold until players have about 2,000 gp each. At that point, they can essentially buy everything they could want. You can let them find troves with tens of thousands of gp, and there's really no problem with that because it doesn't translate directly or easily to more character power. This eliminates that benefit.
1: Come on, even a single level is EASILY worth much much more than a measly +1 to your attacks. That doesn't mean there is a problem, or rather, a challenge, only that's it's pretty much the converse of what you're arguing.

The real issue is if you can speed up your leveling by selling off all your loot. That is, if the value of your loot (even if the sell price is half the buy price) is considerable compared to the xp you need to level up.

The solution is that you might want to tweak rewards to yield more cash relative to (the value of) items. Of course, the old skool solution is to simply say "you can't sell items" or rather "nobody has large amounts of gold lying about so they won't pay much for your stuff. Barter on the other hand..."
Concrete example:
If you sell your magic sword (market price 1000 gp) you get:
25% cash: you get 250 gp (which you then can spend for xp)
50% permanent items: you get items as if you spent 500 gp
75% consumables: you get potions, scrolls etc as if you spent 750 gp

2: Yes, xp-for-gold is unabashedly old school. Your party is venturing forth into the unknown, to explore the wilderness, to find the loot, and maybe slay a few Dragons. A good time will be had by all - including those who lay down their lives in the pursuit of fame and fortune!

3: Yes, xp-for-gold is a sandbox style. You need a map with a couple of dozen features. Where is the Goblin caves? Where does the Manticore lair? Where do the Ogres roam? Tucked away in one corner is Home Town (which might actually be called that!), which slowly grows as the heroes carouse away their ill-gotten gains! :)

4: Hard no. There's no need for in-game rules against theft and murder because you simply don't play with players that can't cooperate, or don't understand the spirit of the xp-for-gold campaign style. The unwritten assumption is that you don't steal from your fellow party members, any quest givers, or the shopkeepers back in town. You do try your hardest to bring back fallen comrades... or at least their belongings ;)

5: Not having much of anything to purchase for gold (past level five or so) is actually 5th edition's biggest drawback, so I respectfully disagree.

XP-for-gold works best if you have a robust magic item economy, with prices based on actual utility for adventurers, which 5E definitely does not have.

Why? Because if you don't offer magic shoppes with compelling inventories, the whole idea of "should I level up or buy this juicy item" falls apart.

Here's a concrete example. For my Tomb of Annihilation campaign (not a xp-for-gp campaign) I created all the magic shoppes myself:
https://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?595068-The-many-and-fabulous-bazaars-of-Port-Nyanzaru-and-beyond
I relied extensively on Sane Magic Prices as well as Pathfinder SRD to do this. 5E has been an utter letdown in this regard.
 

Doug McCrae

Adventurer
d) because it makes xp important again. Ever since D&D abandoned having different xp charts for different classes (a Thief levelling up faster than a Magic User given the same XP), or paying XP to enchant items (upgrading that +1 Sword into a +2 Sword costs 5000 gold and 1000 XP, say) there really is no need for xp anymore…
Why does xp need to be important?
 

Doug McCrae

Adventurer
If you only want Conan-esque mercenary PCs wouldn't the easiest way to do that be to simply require it at the start? Generally speaking I think the best way to achieve X behaviour from the players is to upfront tell them that's what the game is about.

Frex the best way to run a Sherlock Holmes style game wouldn't be to give xp for solving mysteries that baffle Scotland Yard, it would be to tell the players "This is a Sherlock Holmes game". If the players start acting in an un-Sherlock Holmes fashion then ask them to stop.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Why does xp need to be important?
Fair question.

XP has been a part of every edition of D&D (and Pathfinder).

But now it serves no purpose (other than to trick players into believing character advancement happens at an objective and scientifically controlled rate, I guess). You can remove XP and level up the party whenever you want with zero impact.

But what if I don't want to remove XP? What if I happen to dislike keeping xp around as a vestigial remainder of past editions?

Why, I re-add back real purpose to XP, of course!
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
If you only want Conan-esque mercenary PCs wouldn't the easiest way to do that be to simply require it at the start? Generally speaking I think the best way to achieve X behaviour from the players is to upfront tell them that's what the game is about.

Frex the best way to run a Sherlock Holmes style game wouldn't be to give xp for solving mysteries that baffle Scotland Yard, it would be to tell the players "This is a Sherlock Holmes game". If the players start acting in an un-Sherlock Holmes fashion then ask them to stop.
Maybe I read you wrong, but choosing to run XP-for-gold isn't to make players act a certain way.

Obviously you will want to tell your players about the nature of the campaign up-front, so they can create characters suitable for sandbox play.

You run the xp variant because you like it, not to force the players into a play style...

Or maybe I completely misread your point...?
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
I'm not sure I like the idea of XP for gold. An ancient red dragon is worth 36,500 XP, but it's horde will average around 720,000+ gold(in coin, gems and art), plus magic items. That's waaaaaay too much XP to hand out, so you're going to end up with a bunch of piss poor dragons(and other monsters) if you want to have any kind of leveling balance. Finding the large horde is one of the major ways to have fun in D&D.
 

CubicsRube

Registered User
I'd disagree on that. I'd still be happy with 36,500 gp in a hoard as a player. More than that would be overkill.

I'm late to this thread, but heres my view on gp for xp:

Gp for xp is certainly not the only way to run a campaign, but it radically changes the dynamic from pursuing a story (milestones), or finding and defeating terrible monsters (xp for combat), to looting and spending.

Often overlooked with gp for xp is that players have to spend the gp. That itself starts creating player driven story if it's done well. If a fighter starts up a mercenary company then they may get the ire of competing businesses who feel their territory is being encroached upon. Or perhaps a local duke wants to curry favour and get them involved in a dispute they are in that is on the brink of war.

This problem only gets more pronounced when chaeavters start bringing back things in the 100,000s. Perhaps said pc can command a standing army of 300 mem and women and they possess 3 galley ships. Suddenly they may start looking like an invading force to to king at capital, or the people of freetown might beg for independence and will gladly support your cause, even though it might mean war.

All this is possible with other types of xp of course, but gp for xp rewards this kind of play. Its play has gp -> player spends gp -> player gets xp but creates consequences -> dm uses said consequences to present the player new choices, etc.

There's a lot of interesting possibility in that style, but you have to be prepared to put the work in for your world to respond to the pcs actions, and it IMO is not at all well suited to published adventure paths.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
I'm not sure I like the idea of XP for gold. An ancient red dragon is worth 36,500 XP, but it's horde will average around 720,000+ gold(in coin, gems and art), plus magic items. That's waaaaaay too much XP to hand out, so you're going to end up with a bunch of piss poor dragons(and other monsters) if you want to have any kind of leveling balance. Finding the large horde is one of the major ways to have fun in D&D.
But now you're assuming a 1:1 XP to GP ratio. You can change that, you know.

If you dislike the overall idea that's one thing (and nobody's forcing ya), but don't slam the whole concept over a detail (and a fairly extreme at that; tier IV dragon treasures isn't exactly an average data point...)
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
I'm late to this thread, but heres my view on gp for xp:

Gp for xp is certainly not the only way to run a campaign, but it radically changes the dynamic from pursuing a story (milestones), or finding and defeating terrible monsters (xp for combat), to looting and spending.

Often overlooked with gp for xp is that players have to spend the gp. That itself starts creating player driven story if it's done well. If a fighter starts up a mercenary company then they may get the ire of competing businesses who feel their territory is being encroached upon. Or perhaps a local duke wants to curry favour and get them involved in a dispute they are in that is on the brink of war.

This problem only gets more pronounced when chaeavters start bringing back things in the 100,000s. Perhaps said pc can command a standing army of 300 mem and women and they possess 3 galley ships. Suddenly they may start looking like an invading force to to king at capital, or the people of freetown might beg for independence and will gladly support your cause, even though it might mean war.

All this is possible with other types of xp of course, but gp for xp rewards this kind of play. Its play has gp -> player spends gp -> player gets xp but creates consequences -> dm uses said consequences to present the player new choices, etc.

There's a lot of interesting possibility in that style, but you have to be prepared to put the work in for your world to respond to the pcs actions, and it IMO is not at all well suited to published adventure paths.
Absolutely!
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Just a heads-up: if you're interested in the Pathfinder 2 thread on this topic, I've linked to it in the first post.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Why does xp need to be important?
So you can get more XP than the next guy, pull ahead of him, and 'win' the game?

now it serves no purpose (other than to trick players into believing character advancement happens at an objective and scientifically controlled rate, I guess). You can remove XP and level up the party whenever you want with zero impact.
That's not an entirely unfair characterization - I'd note that in 5e, XP does have an effect, in that the XP requirements to level relative to the XP value of a standard encounter budget, lead to faster leveling in Apprentice Tier, and after 11th level, and slower leveling through the putative 'sweet spot.' So arbitrarily leveling that lingered too long in Apprentice tier or skipped through the sweet spot too quickly could contribute to an overall less enjoyable campaign.

But what if I don't want to remove XP? What if I happen to dislike keeping xp around as a vestigial remainder of past editions?Why, I re-add back real purpose to XP, of course!
...and, in your opinion, that real purpose is?
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
So you can get more XP than the next guy, pull ahead of him, and 'win' the game?
Yes :)

But no :)

That's not an entirely unfair characterization - I'd note that in 5e, XP does have an effect, in that the XP requirements to level relative to the XP value of a standard encounter budget, lead to faster leveling in Apprentice Tier, and after 11th level, and slower leveling through the putative 'sweet spot.' So arbitrarily leveling that lingered too long in Apprentice tier or skipped through the sweet spot too quickly could contribute to an overall less enjoyable campaign.
Of course, you don't need XP to do that. Just tell your players "level up quicker in tier I and slower in tier II" and done.

...and, in your opinion, that real purpose is?
Isn't that clear?

Since you no longer need different XP amounts to level up as a Thief or a Magic User, that function has been rendered moot. Since you no longer need to spend XP to enchant items, that function has been rendered moot.

So here's a new function: to track your advancement and give you a new kind of character build option: should you fast-track level-ups (at the expense of not having many magic items), or should you take it a bit slower (and enjoy lots of magic item bonuses)? :)
 

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