Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some Stuff About XP

The First FLAILSNAILS level-up...

So Joethelawyer's delusional one-hit-point dwarf Thrangor is, I believe, the first 1st-level PC to level up since Constantcon began and therefore is a test case for the FLAILSNAILS rules allowing PCs to carry their levels from one game to the next.

The basics of the case:

-So he showed up as a 1-hit point wizard in a one-shot I ran. Finishing this adventure gets 4 first level PCs 500 xp give-or-take. Casualties run high in this one-shot: first group survived intact, second group lost everybody by the end and finished with their back-up PCs, third group escaped with an unconscious (0-hp PC) or two, fourth group (Joe's) lost one PC immediately, did ok in general, but didn't finish--I gave them 400 xp. Which, to me, seems like a lot, but he had one hit point and kept not getting killed anyway 5-6 HD monsters and he and Trollsmyth figured out more about the dungeon than anyone else who played it did. He earned it.

-So Joe, Thrangor, and his 400 xp show--in the company of my useless, shiftless, still-first-level thief Blixa and his vicious hunting poodle, Gleichman--to play a game run by Zzarchov. For complex reasons involving an evil monkey's paw, I get no xp for this adventure. Trangor, however, gets like 800-some xp. Again, seems like a lot, but, honestly, he survived 3 combats that could've instakilled him, and there were only three of us, one of whom (not Blixa) was effectively dead by the end.

-Now in the system Zzarchov's running, Thrangor has enough xp to level up--over 1000--and a fearsome wand--5d6 damage--that he'd avoided getting killed by.

-So Thrangor's 200-odd points into level 2 now. Now since he's in Zzarchov's fairly idiosyncratic system he not only rolls new hit points, he also gets some "luck points" (re-rolls) and a wand.

-The next GM he plays under will give Thrangor:

A-Whatever number of spells per day are appropriate for a 2nd-level wizard.

B-The same number of hit points unless that number is impossible for a PC with his profile (attributes, etc) in that system, in which case the GM can ask Joe to re-roll.

C-A wand that Thrangor hopes will still be able to shoot rainbows (don't ask) (or ask Zzarchov) that do 5d6 damage but which the next GM will be able to adjudicate as s/he chooses due to local magical conditions.

D-Some luck points--maybe. Joe and the new GM will have to talk about whether Joe gets them straight-up, loses them altogether, or whether they get translated into something more familiar to the new system.

So there you go.
An XP System For When There's No Treasure Involved

All this business has got me thinking about xp. Usually I just do xp for treasure and monsters, however not all adventures are set up that way.

Like: Jeff ran Halfling Stew which is mostly all about escaping the dungeon alive. He gave everybody 500 xp for surviving. If it was down to treasure or monsters, that adventure would've been worth jack. We killed a grasshopper, I think... But considering how deadly it was, 500 seemed plausible.

So here's an alternate xp system you might use if you're running this kinda thing (though I wouldn't use it for most adventures)...

-Add 1 every time a player genuinely impresses you

-Add 1 every time a PC makes you think "Whoa, you almost died there, buddy" due to something other than the player's own stupidity

-Add 2 every time a PC does die

Take the total at the end of the adventure and mutiply it by 25 or 50 or 100 or a 1000 until it looks like about the amount of xp PCs of the level in a question should be getting for an adventure. Then give everybody that. Does that mean everybody benefits if one PC is impressive? Yeah.

Of course if the players know you're using this system, they might backstab each other at the very end for those 2 extra points, so if they're like that, don't tell them.


  1. A wand that shoots deadly rainbows? That is sweet as heck.

  2. I would give 100xp for the Neubauten shout out.

  3. It was a great game in which Joe consumed many magic mushrooms obtained a Scorptailleg and a dog snout along with a huge ass full of poison. If Joe's dwarf was a girl Sir Mix-a-Lot would have had a happy anaconda. Congrats again on leveling and helping to further define the rules regarding this crazy revolution of Zaks.

    I do want to mention that Gleichman turned rainbow colored and killed a teddy bear with a critical and that when one makes this wish

    "I wish for eternal happiness!" the DM can diabolically add the words "or else" at the end.

    Great stuff and alot of fun.

  4. Why do people give XP for treasure? Yes it's in the rules but I was just wondering what the thinking is behind it. Never did it myself.

    "I found a magic sword on the ground! That teaches me to look at the ground after I've killed stuff."

    "You've learned well and are now more experienced. You go up a level."

    The item is often going to let you kill stuff more better in the future so aren't you getting a bit of a bonus for something that's going to give you bonuses?

    Just always struck me as odd.

  5. "Thrangor is, I believe, the first 1st-level PC to level up since Constantcon began"

    Not that it really matters, but Brother Hoyle the Cleric, my character in Ian's Vats of Mazarin game, reached 2nd level after our first session on August 9. He reached 3rd level after last night's game.

  6. @Barking Alien

    The goal of the game was to relieve dungeons of wealth while staying alive. More wealth = more standing in society. Get the wealth without killing the monster, it's all good. You are now x amount better at getting wealth from dungeons.

    Plus, as it's a game, it's an objective way to score points. If points don't count then it's amateur theater hour.

    That's the rationale, anyway.

  7. @Barking Alien

    James Raggi offered a very reasonable defense of XP for gold here.

  8. @Barking

    "Why are we going into the dungeon? we'll get killed."
    "There's gold, your character likes gold"
    "But I like my character and don't want him to die"
    "If he gets gold, the character gets xp"
    "Oh, well then let's roll"

  9. It also wonderfully simulates how jackasses from Conan-esque stories and horror comics get themselves killed while sweatily hustling for loot.

  10. @Zak, Sir Allen -

    Hmmm. Flimsy but effective.

    @Laowai -

    I read through the post linked. Zak's explanation makes more sense.

  11. @barking

    "Flimsy but effective" is D&D's middle name.

    And here I bet you thought it was "&".

  12. @Barking alien

    I like any mechanic which retains the 'game' aspect. I also support metagaming. Metagaming is still gaming (not my original quote but a good one.)

    Although as I type this I am thinking about my current weekly game which is at this point Gamma World, where the reward is ammunition and not dying; both very 'in game' rewards. So I see your point.