Saturday, December 8, 2012

Critique This XP Award System

Critique me!!  An email sent to my players in the Pathfinder TOEE game.

I am making the dungeon more than just a place where you kick down a door, kill, loot, lather-rinse-repeat.  What you do has consequences, especially in the Temple itself, as the thing is so small and the various factions are so close to each other.  As such, it might not be the best thing to kill all that you see.  Which leads to a discussion of XP, how you get it, etc.

In Pathfinder the only way to get xp is by killing shit.  Gold, gems, magic items--none of those give you xp, like they did in the old days.  I'm all for a good fight, but if you think you have to get xp for killing and only for killing, that tends to bog down every encounter into endless fighting.  I'm giving xp for different things, and I'm using the PF slow progression chart for xp, because you're going to get way more opportunities to get xp than just treasure.

Group XP:

I'm giving xp for monsters on a 100 xp per level/HD of the bad guy. Any special abilities it has might jack up the xp award.

Likewise, if you manage to deal with the monster in some other way that takes him out of the game on a permanent basis, like having someone else kill him, scaring him off, tricking him into a deadly duel or into a trap, making an ally of him, bypassing and trapping him in the dungeon in such a way that his threat factor to you and others is significantly reduced, he fails his morale check and runs away, making him think he has to leave for some reason like forged orders, etc.  That all counts as the same as a kill for purposes of xp.  Simply skipping a level of the dungeon, finding a way to get to level 3 from level 1, doesn't get you all the xp on level 2.  Level 2 is still a threat to others, as well as yourself.  They aren't a piece taken off of or trapped on the chessboard.  If I were to give xp for that, and they find a way to get to level three and fight, you'd be getting double xp if you killed it.  Plus, with the whole xp system below, you're incented to at least explore the place, for valuable stuff, if not fighting

XP for gold = every 5 gp = 1 xp.  (You'll remember that in the old days it was 1 xp per gp.  This doesn't make the focus so much on the gold)

XP for magic items:  10% of the sale price listed in the PF book. There will be no "what if i sell it, do i then get the gp value for xp purposes?" as in AD&D, because magic is so rare in this game, that no one in their right mind sells it.  Likewise, the "selling of scrolls to goodly mages" by Burne and Rufus.  Advertising you have a magic item for sale basically means you have a target on your back for every thief and scumbag in Mos Eisley to take you out.

Individual XP awards:

XP for figuring something big out as a player, or coming up with such a cool idea or plan that you impress the shit outta the DM. The amount of the award for the idea is up to the coolness of said idea.

XP for excellent roleplaying:  This is going to require you all to come up with like one page of writing about your character.  Seen by me only.  (You can share it in game later if you want).  Half the page must detail your character background, explain a bit about how and where he grew up, and what happened to him or affected him.  The second half must describe your character's personality and motivations in light of the background paragraph above.

In addition, I will give group xp from time to time based on overall bigger mission objectives met.  Like clearing the moathouse, clearing the nodes, finding out the spies (if any) in Hommlet, etc.

All this is subject to change if it turns out the math is all fucked and you guys aren't leveling fast enough, or are leveling too fast for the modules we're doing.

I'm doing this to encourage all types of gaming.  For example, Pete, if you say three words in character in three years, I'll fall over.  But you always have good ideas.  So you will get xp for the ideas, but maybe less overall for roleplaying.  Also, it makes the not 100% combat oriented, because no one wants to constantly fight everything you see just to get the xp, because that's the only way to get xp.

Lastly, as to gold, gems, loot, etc, the only way you get the xp for that stuff is if you get it out to a safe place, like back to Hommlet.  It's one thing to get 6 suits of leather, one suit of chain, 5 spears, 4 longswords, 3 shields, etc. in that first fight. They are all worth a lot.  Getting it back to Hommlet to get the xp for it is the other half of the issue.

In response to a player who says gold for xp sucks ass because it affects how a character is played I responded:

Take my xp system away, and a character whose background has to do with the socialist redistribution of wealth from rich to poor, who doesn't necessarily like fighting every damn thing in sight, like a robin hood rogue, would have no way to get xp if it weren't for killing everything he sees.  I am trying to incorporate all elements of the game into the xp equation equally, so that people can do what they do best in character and still get xp for it, like roleplay, figuring shit out/mysteries, good ideas/tactics, acquisition of wealth/magic, and fighting.  Otherwise the xp system only favors your character who likes to fight. With my system other characters can do shit that fits their role/background/character motivations and and not have to feel like they are gypping the others in the group, because they still get xp for themselves and the group.

In response to "I'm not saying that people should get exp for treasure, if that is what they seek, but it shouldn't be quantified.  Just arbitrarily award them for accomplishing their goals, whatever they are."  I responded:

True.  But how do you calculate the reward for the accomplishment against other accomplishments of similar nature  if not thru some quantification method?  Achieving bigger goals should give bigger rewards.  If the goal is money to give from the rich to the poor, then the more you get and give, the more xp you ought to get.  And xp for gp does give some logical way to quantify it.  Note how i knocked it down to 20% of what it used to be though, to keep it on par with the other methods of attaining xp.

If it still seems that the most productive/efficient way to get xp is gold and magic, to the extent that people do things for that reason rather than doing what their character would do, or what would be most fun for the player, then I will scale that way back a bit more, so that it doesn't incent one method of play over any other.  That way there is no detriment to a player's fun who wants to do some other type of play more often but won't because they don't think it will be worth the group's time in terms of xp per session played.  The goal of this xp system is so that no matter what sort of fun you like to have in D&D, no matter what your characters motivations for doing things are, and their objectives they want to accomplish, both they and the rest of the group will get xp off of it in a fair and balanced way.

The fair and balancing comes from fine tuning as we go.  For now though, at my best guess, this is a fair way to do it.  I'll change it as needed to encourage fun and fairness and play styles and character goals.  To award xp arbitrarily no matter what the characters do if no fun at all.  You may as well not have an xp system, I'll just give you a level whenever i feel like it and base it on some bullshit magic formula that I tell you I have, but which doesn't exist.  At least here you know part of the formula, and can extrapolate other parts from it.  Players should have some idea of what certain actions will yield in terms of xp, when there is a logical method of quantification available.

Make sense?  Am I missing anything?