Thursday, September 4, 2014

Are You Experienced? Methods of Awarding Expo in the OSR

+Vincent Florio and I were bouncing some observations of awarding experience points back and forth throughout the day today. Although there are definite rules that cover awarding expo in the various editions of D&D and it's clones, it seems to be one of the things that is most often houseruled.

Some folks keep the gold recovered for expo - some don't, or they tweak the way it's awarded.

Some award expo for cool acts, or doing something in character, or great roleplay, or achieving goals and the like.

Some go the 2e way, and award expo for actions that are class related.

Yes to expo for magic items found and kept or no?

Tweaks depending on the frequency of the group gaming - more often, smaller rewards, less often, greater rewards.

How do you award expo? Do you go by the book or do you have your own houserules? If you go by the book, which edition or clone's rules do you follow? Is it the same as the edition you are actually running?

Inquiring minds want to know ;)


  1. I found D&D after it had been out for about 2 years. I remember my first acquisition was the blue wash cover with the dragon on its hoard for Basic, then Keep on the Borderlands for Christmas that year. And looking back over the years, I don't think we ever awarded experience as described in the rulebook. Even though I was a kid and first teaching myself and friends how to play, earning XP just for finding treasure never made sense. The gold was a tool for us to acquire better gear and supplies so we could survive longer between trips to town. For us, the primary source of XP was from defeating monsters in combat.
    Initially, we included XP for magic items found, but again, it seemed like we were double dipping. So we eventually only awarded the XP if we had to struggle to determine how the magic worked ( for example - learning the trigger effect that transformed the ring of water breathing into a ring of water elemental command). Creating our own magic items from scratch also counted for XP. Later, as the years passed, we then embraced the concept of awarding experience for successfully using class abilities in situations that reflected a new application that benefited the character and/or the party. Again, not for mundane uses, but those that reflected learning a new way to use them.
    You'll notice a pattern here... learning how to improve our skills and apply them in the world is what gave us our XP.... we had come to the realization that money wasn't an accurate measure of life experience-- you can't buy experience, you have to live it.
    I think the best way to describe my issues with XP for gold can be illustrated as follows:
    I do not get smarter and better at my job in direct correspondence to the amount of money I collect in my paycheck each week. In fact, it is the reverse -- I have to demonstrate that I have learned new skills or improved upon existing ones before I get to collect more money.

  2. Primarily treasure, with only 10-20% or so of the total due to defeating monsters--the basic approach of the original game. In addition, the treasure must be spent (with no other thing received in return). Exceptions might arise in giving rewards for completing certain tasks--rescuing the princess, etc.--but since such rewards can almost always be expressed in terms of money (the King will bestow upon you 20,000 GP gift if you succeed) they are not really exceptions.

  3. When I was younger, we tried pretty much every method under the sun (except for the "gold standard", which I wasn't even aware of until a few years ago. Weird how I missed that). Not due to any dissatisfaction, but because different ones would seem more appropriate at certain times and we were always experimenting

    I'm not running a campaign at the moment, but I think my next one will mostly use XP for treasure (I'm undecided on whether magic items count). Each class will have their own opportunities for bonus experience, as well — fighting-men, for instance, would benefit from combat, while magic-users might be rewarded for original spell research. I also love the idea that gold has to be spent before you get experience points; it's a great means of organically generating further adventures, and I think I'll require it be spent on things which do just that

  4. Last time I did this (and I'm running GURPS nowadays, so it's been awhile) for AD&D/Basic D&D, I didn't even think of awarding XP for magic items found since I didn't read that part of the rules, but I *still* wouldn't dream of it. Magic items are a tool for getting XP, and finding them shouldn't get XP in of itself. I did do gold for XP.

  5. Used GP as XP as well.
    We also gave good clerics 1 XP per 1 HP healed.

  6. I used to house rule it. These days I'm trying to do XP awards and leveling up by the book in my current AD&D game.

    The goal of the game is to get the treasure with a minimum of risk. Fight if you have to, but outwitting the dungeon itself is more satisfying. Thus 1 XP/GP recovered. XP for magic items. Nothing awarded until back in a safe house. And only one level per adventure with anything over that "lost". Training expenses, living expenses, etc. mean that the gold is still always in short supply.

    I've toyed with 1 XP/silver piece...but at 20 sp/gp that created too much XP too quickly in my playtests.

  7. XP only for deeds performed and roleplaying, none for treasure or killing. Treasure is its own reward. No XP bonuses for having better stats; if anything the guy with worse stats should get a bonus for working harder.

  8. Primarily play Castles & Crusades. I give out 100xp as a thanks for showing up. I have the group vote for best role player of the game with 250xp for the winner. For natural 20s and good use of class skills I'll give out some to. Magic items and monster defeat earn xp. Magic items are fixed xp based on the rulebook and only the PC who chooses (steals, connives, etc) the item gets it. I don't reveal magic items without identify spells so it could be an item worth 50 or 2500xp. They won't the xp until it is identified. Monster xp is divided among the party. 10 goblins for say a 100xp defeated by 5 party members would be 20xp each. There is xp for gold but only when they spend it.

  9. I do it by the book (1e).

    I think the problem some people have with conceptualizing the experience system is that Gary called it "experience" when he really meant something like "fame" or "renown" or "divine favor". Had he used one of those terms, it would be easier to see why slaying foul monsters and bringing home wondrous treasures increases it.

  10. I use a couple methods. No xp for gold or magic items gained. Five times what is listed for killing monsters and then the total of monster xp again for completing goals (only for those monsters directly involved in the goal). Monsters that were avoided skillfully to complete the goal, as well as non monster challenges, increase the goal xp as well. Xp (at a low rate) for employment, and they can pay to train for xp as well. If the characters don't meet their required living expenses though (I only let them rough it but so long) they take xp penalties. Oh and I'm glad you mentioned it, I'll be adding xp for spell and magic item research. Finally, bonuses for excellent role play and extrodinary deeds.


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