Friday, September 10, 2010

[D&D] How will I award experience points

Even though the story and adventure are important in game not to forget the actual fact, that roleplaying games are one way to socialize and have fun with friends, you cannot forget that players need awards from the play. As rpgs are set in imaginary world with imaginary characters doing imaginary quests, also awards should be imaginary. Of course characters can find better equipment but also get better doing stuff.

That is where experience points come along. You perform tasks, and get better to perform more difficult tasks. You kill small monsters enough to get to kill those bigger ones.

So, what are my plans and to come ways to give experience points?

Killing monsters and antagonists

I think this is the most obvious way to gain experience. I will use experience chart provided in DMG to handle this. One thing I noticed, that when you are at certain level, you cannot "grind" experience anymore from lower level monster. This is great rule in two ways.
First, no grinding. Players are gently forced to find adventures and challenges suitable to their character's skills and capability, not to stuck in game to perform same trick again and again.
Secondly it makes perfect sense. When you have killed those low level monsters enough, you actually cannot learn new tricks from then anymore. Or in game terms gain experience and level up.

One thing I was thinking if there is bigger level difference in a party, how would be experience be shared. I don't know what rules say, because haven't read those that well yet. But I figured out that if there are monsters worth of 400 experience points total and there is a party of four, the amount of experience is equally shared for those who participate in that partiular encounter. If higher level characters aren't legible for that experience, it is then wasted in their part. So, lower level gets 100 xp, others none.

But what if one is lower level and others are higher level encountering higher level monster(s)? Higher level characters get their share of experience normally and if lower level character participates in battle somehow, I could award him 25 bonus experience points. For surviving the encounter and for learning something extra watching how higher level characters did perform. Also this will give a bit extra to fold the level gap.


Yes, there are rules how much you get experience points from traps, so traps must be really common in D&D. Not sure how that rule works yet, but traps got their challenge rating or something I suppose. Reading DMG will help alot in this topic.

Completing a quest or an adventure

Character(s) might have a mission to retrieve some ring from somewhere. Ofcourse they get experience points from killing what ever has that ring, but when they return it and complete the quest I can give them bonus of 25 experience points. If quest was really challenging or long, I could give 50 on top of that.


I don't like to favour those extrovert players who speak in their character's voice or swing their pen when their character attacks. It is great if players do involve in character acting, but it is unfair. In my experience there was in our group one guy who was shyer than others. He did play well, but was a bit more quiet. It was his personality. So it would be unfair to not to give that kind of player experience, if he is not as loud or doesn't stick out from the group.
But when I give bonus experience (25 propably) is when character acts really well. Individual experience for doing something, other's didn't. I cannot judge player's personality on game table and reward or not to reward him experience points.

Experience points worth more than one level in a single giving

This is a bit troubling issue. You might get so much experience points that you could gain several levels at once. Well, if I recall right, rules probhit this but leave you hanging like 1 experience points from next level you could have otherwise gained.
I always imagine it like this: You have killed a dragon, and get experience enough to rise two levels and some extra on top of that. But you can only rise one level and are hanging just one experience points from that second level you could have gained. So why not kill a pigeon to get that other level?
I was thinking, that even if you are just 10 experience points from leveling up and kill what ever what would give you two levels, you only level up once having just enough experience points for that.
So, basically if every level would be worth of 100 experience points. You have now 0. You get 250 experience points, you rise one level and are at 100 exp now. Those 150 are wasted. You don't get to 199 experience points just below next level up.
It might be stupid to gain only that 10 experience points from saving the world, but you gained a new level, and your character has to get used to what he has learned now. And you must play that next level of experience collecting as normal. It would be cheating skipping the levels otherwise.

But what if you kill a monster, gain a level and get extra on top of that but not enough to level up again? Well, level up, and that's it. After leveling what is left from experience points is wasted.
Let's use same example of level after every 100 experience points. You are at 90, kill monster worth of 50. You get total of 100 and gain a new level and those 40 what would get you to 140 are wasted. So you get a level, and start collecting experience points from 100 to next level. From the beginning of your current new level.

Final thoughts

I honestly don't know how this works really in game. I know something about experience points, but those are my thoughts how I will handle them. I don't know did I just re-write DMG experience rules, or are those totally something different. If they are same or similar, good for me as I am playing by the rules. If they are totally different, screw it, it's called a house rule.


Anonymous said...

It's been a while since I've looked at 3rd Edition, but I think it's kind of similar to 4th Edition when it comes to experience points. I wouldn't worry too much about the possibility of grind or getting a crazy amount of XP at one time - you're the DM, and it's your job to present reasonable challenges, not super-easy or impossibly-hard encounters. The amount of XP gained in an encounter will be some reasonable number.

Since you only have one player, something else you might consider is throwing out XP entirely and having the character level up when it makes sense in the story. In 4th Edition, it's expected that characters will level up after 8 encounters or so. When you get to the point that your player has mastered her character at a certain level and is clearly "more experienced" you can just say that she levels up at the end of the session.

I've never tried this approach, but I'll admit that it has some appeal for me.

Unknown said...

Actually in D20 variety True20 (well, Blue Rose atleast) uses method of Gamemaster telling when character levels. I suppose it was every 1 to 2 adventures. So character should be lvl 20 in 20 to 40 adventures.

I personally like to give experience points. It is a reward for player he can see him/herself. If I just gave level randomly, it would feel like there is no response for player's actions as a character. Roll well, be imaginative and creative. Get xp. Profit.