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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

High School Retrospective - How Not to Award Experience Points in AD&D

I remember back in my High School years, my friend Andrew B. was THE D&D expert among my friends. He had the original White Box and has been playing for years. Well, longer than me in any case.

Andrew's words of wisdom was that experience points were a pain to tally for the DM and a pain to keep track of for the players. When he DM'ed, he awarded a level at the end of the module. Everyone was on the same page. It sounded great in theory. The reality is it ramped the Monte Haulism to Eleven. Sadly, it took me over a year to figure out it's shortcomings, and I even infected my summertime group in the Poconos with the mis-thought simplification of experience awards.

That being said, I don't think I've ever awarded experience strictly "by the book" in the years since. Even in my current AD&D / OSRIC game, I don't award expo for magic found, but I do give a bonus when the party finishes a dungeon level or a story arc. Much of my expo awards for the party are "by feel" - awesome play and a fun time had by all earns everyone a tad extra.

Because in the end, the best reward for a great session of D&D is the actual session that was played - but a little extra XP doesn't hurt either (and is a bit more tangible a reward).

Do you stray from "by the book" XP awards, and if so in what ways?

18 comments:

  1. I usually give more XP then the book would say. And then we have MVP awards and the Panda, which is a reward for being awful, getting crapped on, basically a hilarious opposite of MVP. Everyone really wants to get the Panda

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  2. In T&T, the classic 5th edition experience structure suits me well, as it puts derring-do and exploration at the center of advancement. I find that AP for Saving Rolls and Dungeon Levels explored far outstrips AP for defeating monsters.

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  3. I probably short change my players sometimes. But other times I give them a huge pile by mistake, so I guess it evens out. I usually follow the module and throw in a little extra if they did something cool and out of the box.

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  4. Never by the book. Only by my book. And that book gets edited a lot.

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  5. I must admit I am a lazy DM. To me calculating XP by the book IS a pain, so I just try and come up with a number that seems plausible based on their character levels, the particulars of the adventure, AND how quickly or slowly I want the party to level up (which is based solely on what the level requirements for the next module we will play are :P). I've been guesstimating XP this way for over 30 years and probably too old for reformation at this point. This might be a regional/era thing tho, almost all the people I grew up playing D&D/AD&D with did it this way too.

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  6. I've switched to XP for Treasure and discovery only, I'm pretty generous with treasure though.

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  7. Just posted today on Awarding XP over at The Iron Tavern. In my previous Pathfinder game and my DCC RPG game I don't award XP at all. I just announce level-ups when I feel it is time.

    http://irontavern.com/2013/04/09/awarding-xp/

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  8. by the book (DCC) + Treasure (1 xp / 500gp) seems to work okay, even though I give too much treasure...

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  9. by the book (DCC) + Treasure (1 xp / 500gp) seems to work okay, even though I give too much treasure...

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  10. Dragonquest did not award for treasure or even killing things, but for time played and completion of adventures. Early on I added exp for killing monsters and later added appropriate use of skills.

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  11. Oh dear. I have had a DM award XP in many ways. I've played in the campaign where you gain a level upon completion and I've also played where the DM divided the XP based on who hit what creature. So in that practice a mage could magic missile a dragon, sit down and watch the warriors do battle and receive the same amount of experience - by the same token, if you were having a horrible rolling session, you could get smacked around by a monster and receive nothing since you didn't actually do any damage... had to love that reasoning... Lol.

    Oh and don't get me started on XP for gold!!!

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  12. Current 1E AD&D game is strictly by the book. But I've probably awarded it every way imaginable ...

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  13. BFRPG is strictly XP for monsters but I liked the old school XP for treasure and items so I've added it in my house rules and am working on a supplement to the rules for those who want to do it as well..

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  14. I play 1e AD&D and dropped BtB a long, long time ago. To paraphrase Erik the real reward is the game not writing down numbers on a piece of paper.

    In 35+ years of DMing I have found that high level games become the hardest to run and are the least enjoyable for all concerned. The suspension of disbelief and the revealed game mechanics eventually robs the game of its magic and it becomes something else than the game of magic and adventure it began as. I have found that a low level game is the most rewarding with a great deal of challenge and danger and a small amount of 'reward' (treasure, xp, etc...) is the best. A mid level game with players who have made the journey through a very tough low level campaign can be the culmination of a truly memorable experience.

    I don't give xp for 'treasure' or the acquisition of physical items. They are their own reward and curse. I give experience for the characters actions. I give experience for a player's involvement in the game through his character. I give experience if a player does more than role his dice. But I give experience by the well-earned cup-full and not by the bucket.

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  15. I dole out levels whenever I feel like the PCs have earned them, usually after 2 or 3 meaningful sessions. Sometimes I'll toss 'em a bone just because I'm interested in seeing what new opportunities another level will open up at the game table. Generally it doesn't matter very much; average lifespan of PCs is only 3.681 sessions.

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  16. I've been doing it strictly by the book, though I adjust rate of x.p. gain by simply changing how much treasure the PCs find.

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  17. I do XP by the book, pretty strictly. Full gold pieces of treasure = 1 XP / GP. Monsters follow the chart in the game I'm running (usually Holmes or S&W). I can multiply by five and ten percent pretty easily to give what would be bonuses as well.

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  18. Almost never by the book anymore. In our early games, it wound up being a 'math race' to see who could accumulate the most treasure and/or kills. I began awarding a group experience based upon overall session performance, modified by how quickly I want the party to advance, and I have been throwing out bonus XP ("Hey, that's a great Idea take an extra xx XP") since about the third session I ever ran.

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