Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Experience points - I allways forgot to give them

For some time I have had a major problem as a Gamemaster. I forget to give experience points during and after a session. It's just that I get sucked in by the story and forget this important mechanism.

Experience points are naturally essential to make characters more powerful during the game. They do deeds and learn, get better to do even more challenging deeds. But also I think that experience points are a reward for player. By giving experience for character I also notice player. "Wow, that was witty to resolve that problem. Here, take a reward." Experience points are good way to also show players that they did well. Good ideas, good roleplaying, completing challenges and stories are a reward for both player character and player himself.

But I just forget it. And my current player for some reason never reminds me. Well, rarely she does. Sometimes when we start playing or during the course of session she says: "um can I have some experience points for last five sessions?" And I feel bad that I forgot them!

Then I try to fix it. Rewind all these sessions experience was not given and try to calculate how much player character would get them. It works that way but somehow giving experience late feels a bit artificial. I mean it is not direct response for player for doing good, or his/her character performing well. So it feels a bit silly not to give some experience when it is deserved but to give it as a pile. It feels a bit random and not as a direct response for player's actions.

I started a topic about this problem of my GMing in roolipelit.net forum and got some responses. Best idea I developed is that I have markers which represent experience points. It's easier just to take one marker automatically when I feel player acts well, comes up with a great solution or character performs great. No need to think, just take a marker.
After a session I just calculate the markers and say how many experience points character gets.

This method is good for example White Wolf games where there are not that many experience points give. One or two points at a time. Well, you should give experience after an adventure but I like rewarding them during the game. This makes character advancement slightly faster and is direct reward for player after a successful act.

For games like D&D where experience points are determined in rules how much they are given (after a combat or encounter) it's easier to remember giving them as encounters and opponents have certain number of experience points to give. But for games where conditions giving experience points are like: "performed well, character learned something new, adventure or scene completed" etc. it's harder to remember.

But experience point counters help me to visualize experience points and help me to reward them when they should be rewarded.

Now I need to find some special experience points counters. Maybe some small nice decorative stones or something.
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