View Full Version : Extra Ally XP [3.5]

2009-10-20, 12:52 PM
3.5 loves giving you ways to get another creatures involved in your battles. And when designing antagonists, I pay very close attention to how they acquire and control their minions. The most direct and temporary is summoning, but there are many others...

-Purchased animals or expensive mounts
-Leadership cohorts and followers
-Long-term conjuration effects such as planar ally
-Animal companions, familiars, and special mounts
-Constructs purchased or crafted
-Undead controlled by virtue of an evil cleric's rebuking ability
-Undead created or controlled by spell effect

Now here is the situation. Summons are explicitly stated as not giving XP, since producing that creature took a resource and action not otherwise used to fight directly. This is fine and sensible. The other cases, I am more conflicted about.

When it is a druid's animal companion, it seems sensible to not award any more XP, since that is a important class feature which makes that class worth its CR. Lvl1 warrior followers and riding horses are irrelevant challenges for mid-level parties, but when they are a threat, they were still consuming feats and cash for their master.

Constructs, Cohorts, magical beast mounts, and hired outsiders remain much more relevant XP and cost-wise. Evil spellcasters can keep large numbers of minions commanded or dominated, with very little daily investment. Should these servants be delivering XP, or do they still fall under class features and purchases?

tl;dr Should you give XP for any type of servitor enemy brought against the party by an opponent who invests resources in getting them beyond DM-fiat?

Sinfire Titan
2009-10-20, 01:03 PM
It depends. If it is a mount for a Knight, and not a class feature or Wild Cohort or Leadership-esque feat, and if the other creature's entire concept relies on that creature, then yes, consider it a part of that encounter and award XP for both it and the rider (special: Only do so if the mount itself could pose a reasonable threat to the party too).

If it's just a few hirelings the BBEG is paying to act as meat shields, only award XP if they actually manage to pose a threat to the party. Low level Warrior Mooks against an ECL 10 party? No XP for killing the Mooks (maybe XP for sparing them and converting them to a religious order or similar feats). A group of CR 4 Mooks and an EL 9 BBEG against an ECL 7 party? Certainly.


If the enemy spent some of the treasure that would normally have gone to the party on these mooks, XP should not be used as compensation. Compensate them with actual cash, or a favor, but the XP should not be awarded for minions who's paycheck came out of the treasure you would have awarded the party.

The reason behind this is that it converts GP to XP, and odds are that the rate of exchange is going to be poorly balanced one way or the other. If the BBEG paid 50gp for 8 mooks, and you award the party 25xp/mook, they end up benefiting, but will fall behind on the WBL (albeit very slowly at that rate). If the PCs get a ton of XP from the encounter, but most of the treasure was spent on the BBEG buying mooks, then it is very easy for them to be under-equipped for their level. Even if it's only once every 4 levels, the PCs will end up 4 levels behind the 20th level WBL, which can kill some party members (Monks, other item-reliant classes).

2009-10-20, 01:07 PM
Hate to be the first to point it out, but Having the Resources, stats, or ability to summon, create or control.. along with the villain's level and every other detail of the villain/character is up to DM fiat.

However in answer to your question, if the being or resource is a challenge to the party, it gives xp. If it's not it doesn't. Weither this is due to the mastermind having spent feats on leadership and craft construct, or the DM just saying he has them/found them/got them some other way doesn't much matter.

If the evil thief spends money on a trap and the walls start closing in on the pc's, if it's dangerous and potentially life threatening (in a non laughable manner) it should give xp. He summons monsters that are level appropriate, it gives xp. If the being or resource isn't a viable threat (in any case) it gives no xp.. pretty simple.

2009-10-20, 01:07 PM
Really, this should only be a question if they fight such and such a thing at the same time as the enemy. If I face Steve the Druid's bear companion and Steve isn't around, it's an encounter with a dangerous wild animal and should give me XP as such. Animal companion's a bad example as druid is OP in that regard but hey.

Basically, anything that wasn't bought with an actual in-combat round that could have been spent laying down a save-or-die on the party should give XP in its own right, because it's a permanent creature in its own right rather than the equivalent of casting Magic Peashooter. The thing is, the Summon Monster line tends not to produce monsters that are a big threat to enemies of the caster's level unless you then buff them, IIRC; the best SMIX can do by RAW is a CR 13 Fiendish Colossal Monstrous Spider, for example.

2009-10-20, 02:16 PM
Evil spellcasters can keep large numbers of minions commanded or dominated, with very little daily investment.
This however is a very risky proposition. Dispelling can remove domination, and magic circle against evil can suppress both command and domination effects.

Personally I think NPCs should never get minions from GP ... everything has it's own CR, if he has minions they come for free but count towards EL.

For PCs I think everyone should get roughly upto 3xHD of unintelligent creatures in combat they can have absolute command over (unless they are all unintelligent undead, in which case they can have whatever their class features/items/etc. allow them). Anything over that as well as Intelligent creatures under absolute command count as allies and soak up XP (cohorts don't get a free pass from me, leadership is not "just a feat" and thrallherd does not give up enough power to justify having 2 extra PCs in a party).

Temporary command doesn't count, it comes with a built in risk ... if the PCs abuse it for too long show them the risk.

2009-10-20, 02:48 PM
It's a good question. If the an enemy spent money on a couple of golems instead of that shiny +5 sword, then you could argue that the extra golems are nothing more than alternative equipment.

Really it's entirely up to the GM and how they want to handle the situation.

2009-10-20, 03:04 PM
In essence it's just one big single use item from the player's point of view (they can't get control of the golem once the NPC is dead). You can have a 5th level NPC try and use a scroll of implosion too ... also not recommended.

It's always up to the DM, but that doesn't mean there aren't better and worse ways of handling it. Using NPC treasure to buy golems screws your players twice, once on treasure and once on overpowering the encounter.