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Deth Muncher
2009-12-10, 06:01 AM
So, I've never really understood the XP system. Not that I don't understand how to use it - I've played enough JRPGs to know how it's used. In D&D though, I don't really get how you calculate XP off of an encounter without some sort of calculator that just does it for you. I know (or think I know) that the XP needed to gain a level is exponential as you get to higher levels. But my question is, just how much is given from doing what?

kamikasei
2009-12-10, 06:04 AM
Without a calculator? Consulting tables.

The way it's supposed to work is that if you face 13.3333... challenges of EL equal to your CR, you gain enough experience to advance one level. That's the closest thing to an underlying principle. After that it's details of XP per level and how higher or lower ELs relate to one another.

Actually, no, I lie. XP follows a clear pattern, unlike WBL. At level X, you need X * 1000xp to get to level X+1. So that's another underlying principle.

Now I'll go try to reverse-engineer the d20 encounter calculator (http://www.penpaperpixel.org/tools/d20encountercalculator.htm).

Okay, based on a quick survey of one party level, it looks like you calculate it like this:
- you're level X, so you need X * 1000xp (call this Y) to reach the next level, and a single EL X encounter will give you Y/13.333... xp. Take this as your baseline, Z.
- for EL X-2, halve Z. For EL X+2, double Z. Repeat as needed (so EL X-4 is a quarter Z, EL X+4 quadruple, etc.)
- for EL X-1, take 2/3rds Z. For EL X+1, take 3/2s Z. For EL X-3, halve X-1; for X+3, double X+1; and so on.
- ELs eight higher or lower than your party level are too hard to too easy, respectively, and give no XP.
- This assumes a party of four characters all of level X.

bosssmiley
2009-12-10, 06:16 AM
So, I've never really understood the XP system. Not that I don't understand how to use it - I've played enough JRPGs to know how it's used. In D&D though, I don't really get how you calculate XP off of an encounter without some sort of calculator that just does it for you. I know (or think I know) that the XP needed to gain a level is exponential as you get to higher levels. But my question is, just how much is given from doing what?

What's not to understand?

3E experience system: 13.3 level appropriate encounters = new level. This is modified by the relative hardness of the encounter (pushovers count as 1/4 or 1/2, tough fights count as 2-4 encounters, horribly overclocked "run or be TPKed" meatgrinders as 5 or more).

It all gets a little odd when you decide to treat traps or role playing challenges as encounters though. At this point many DMs just give the whole thing up as a bad lot and advance the PCs as the plot requires.

4E dropped this to 10 encounters = level, and made the mathematics of XP a little more transparent.

WOTC D&D only has quasi-exponential growth in XP requirements/level, as Kamikasei has already pointed out. TSR D&D had true exponential experience costs up to about level 10 (1,500, 3,000, 6,000, 12,000, etc...). But then TSR D&D also had the good sense to include *fixed* XP awards for defeating threats and grabbing swag (at least until the 'role-playing' awards of 2E made a mess of things...). If you punched above your weight as players, then your characters leveled more rapidly.

2009-12-10, 06:24 AM
WOTC D&D only has quasi-exponential growth in XP requirements/level: 1,000(n-1) IIRC. TSR D&D had true exponential experience costs up to about level 10 (1,500, 3,000, 6,000, 12,000, etc...). But then TSR D&D also had the good sense to include fixed XP awards for defeating threats and grabbing swag (at least until the 'role-playing' awards of 2E made a mess of things...).

I personally despise fixed XP rates. Obviously, no group will do something as silly as mine for fish to get a level, and it is slightly easier on the DM. However, with the numerous online resources, that becomes moot. Checking CR versus a book compared to a free calculator? I'd rather have the calculator.

The variable XP system does wonders to insure that, if someone gets behind for someone reason, they'll be able to recoup that experience after a few sessions.

This may come from the fact that, for a few years, I was playing under a "lax" DM who, in addition to using the variant fixed XP rates, also offered no means to make up XP from missed sessions, which occurred due to work on my part. He also had the nasty habit of always insisting that incoming characters entered the game several levels lower than the rest of the group.

RagnaroksChosen
2009-12-10, 09:31 AM
I personally despise fixed XP rates. Obviously, no group will do something as silly as mine for fish to get a level, and it is slightly easier on the DM. However, with the numerous online resources, that becomes moot. Checking CR versus a book compared to a free calculator? I'd rather have the calculator.

The variable XP system does wonders to insure that, if someone gets behind for someone reason, they'll be able to recoup that experience after a few sessions.

This may come from the fact that, for a few years, I was playing under a "lax" DM who, in addition to using the variant fixed XP rates, also offered no means to make up XP from missed sessions, which occurred due to work on my part. He also had the nasty habit of always insisting that incoming characters entered the game several levels lower than the rest of the group.

I remember before i started playing MMo's and pc RPG's. we used to joke around about finding goblin warrens and slaughtering them all to get higher levels... we used to calculate howmany goblins it would take to get to 5th or 6th or what ever... it was highly amusing. Once it spilled into game our joking... Well specificaly an npc caster made a comment to our cocky wizard about killing orcs and not realy learning power... it was amusing when our wizard lighting bolted him in the face...

any way... I can understand the fixed exp thing it does make life easyer... I ususualy free ball it so to say and just kinda give exp depending on what happend. i also give between 1-200 bonus exp at the end of a session.

The exp system does help players that miss sessions to partaly catch up. though i think the old system did it as well just in a different way.

Although 2e/1e you could have a mixed level party with less of a problem then you can now.

I don't know how much of a **** your old gm was but do you understand why he may of wanted people to come in at a lower level... I know i as a player hate it when a player joins and there the same level as me... its as if they didn't have to work for it... now I don't necessarily want them to come in at level 1 or any thing but definitely not the same level...

Cyrion
2009-12-10, 10:22 AM
I much preferred the fixed XP system because it made mixed monster groups so much easier to figure awards for.

Rhiannon87
2009-12-10, 10:32 AM
I don't know how much of a **** your old gm was but do you understand why he may of wanted people to come in at a lower level... I know i as a player hate it when a player joins and there the same level as me... its as if they didn't have to work for it... now I don't necessarily want them to come in at level 1 or any thing but definitely not the same level...

See, I actually have the opposite opinion. I'd hate for a player to come in at a lower level than the rest of us, because then they can't pull their weight as much as the rest of us. They're behind in spells, BAB, hit points, etc... they're more fragile, so they tend to die more, so we have to expend more party resources to keep them alive, etc etc. A new player joining at the level of the party is so much better for all involved. The players who've been there for a while don't have to worry about dragging their pal along, and the player who's just joining doesn't feel like a burden. For a DM, it lessens whining all around, in my experience.

Then again, my group tends towards the "eh, screw XP, you level up at plot-appropriate times" approach. One of the guys in our group is planning on starting a game where he claims that XP will be used as written (which is why I'm playing a crafter for the first time), so we'll see how that goes.

Deth Muncher
2009-12-10, 10:43 AM
Then again, my group tends towards the "eh, screw XP, you level up at plot-appropriate times" approach. One of the guys in our group is planning on starting a game where he claims that XP will be used as written (which is why I'm playing a crafter for the first time), so we'll see how that goes.

See, that's what I've been exposed to the whole time I've been playing. And ultimately, this is what will happen anyway. It'd just be nice to know if that Orc Clan the party just killed was actually worth the level, or if it's actually worth two, or if perhaps it was only worth half. (Mind you, this is a hypothetical situation, no orcs were harmed in the posting of this...post.)

RagnaroksChosen
2009-12-10, 11:00 AM
See, I actually have the opposite opinion. I'd hate for a player to come in at a lower level than the rest of us, because then they can't pull their weight as much as the rest of us. They're behind in spells, BAB, hit points, etc... they're more fragile, so they tend to die more, so we have to expend more party resources to keep them alive, etc etc. A new player joining at the level of the party is so much better for all involved. The players who've been there for a while don't have to worry about dragging their pal along, and the player who's just joining doesn't feel like a burden. For a DM, it lessens whining all around, in my experience.

Then again, my group tends towards the "eh, screw XP, you level up at plot-appropriate times" approach. One of the guys in our group is planning on starting a game where he claims that XP will be used as written (which is why I'm playing a crafter for the first time), so we'll see how that goes.

AA i see... ya we have to many math people in our group... we like doing the calculations. I've given my players exp with decimals on it before... heh.
I can understand then... if that's how you play.
we generaly have huge power fluxuations between group members any way as i have a pritty even split between powergamers and players who don't optimise.

but in groups i play i enjoy protecting the weak. and "taking" care of the younger PC.

Edit: I also started in 2nd ed so im sure i picked up the mentality from then.

dsmiles
2009-12-10, 11:51 AM
I can't help myself.....Anyone play DoW?

"Orks, orks, orks, orks. Orks, orks, orks, orks."

Bagelz
2009-12-10, 12:31 PM
1, its not that hard. why do you need a specialized calculator.

monsters have set xp values (by cr) in the books.
every time you double the number of creatures, you increase ecl by 1
ie if you have 4 cr 4 creatures, thats a cr 6 encounter, 16 cr4 creatures is a cr 8 encounter.

2, though most campaigns i've played in, the DMs have just given out levels at milestones or "every 3 sessions" or "every 2 sessions you do something important" and ignore xp all together.

2009-12-10, 12:43 PM
any way... I can understand the fixed exp thing it does make life easyer... I ususualy free ball it so to say and just kinda give exp depending on what happend. i also give between 1-200 bonus exp at the end of a session.

See, I would have actually preferred a free form "Eh, okay, you all level" than what he used, but, that's neither here nor there.

I don't know how much of a **** your old gm was but do you understand why he may of wanted people to come in at a lower level... I know i as a player hate it when a player joins and there the same level as me... its as if they didn't have to work for it... now I don't necessarily want them to come in at level 1 or any thing but definitely not the same level...

See, I actually have the opposite opinion. I'd hate for a player to come in at a lower level than the rest of us, because then they can't pull their weight as much as the rest of us. They're behind in spells, BAB, hit points, etc... they're more fragile, so they tend to die more, so we have to expend more party resources to keep them alive, etc etc. A new player joining at the level of the party is so much better for all involved. The players who've been there for a while don't have to worry about dragging their pal along, and the player who's just joining doesn't feel like a burden. For a DM, it lessens whining all around, in my experience.

Then again, my group tends towards the "eh, screw XP, you level up at plot-appropriate times" approach. One of the guys in our group is planning on starting a game where he claims that XP will be used as written (which is why I'm playing a crafter for the first time), so we'll see how that goes.

I'm with Rhiannon on this one. Unless someone in the group has gotten special awesome GM favor due to plot (Well, good plot, at least), devotion and/or dedication to the game, I would just have the new guy join in at our level. Even then, that would just mean that it's still just the one or two guys ahead for going the extra mile, rather than everyone else being behind. To be fair, that is kind of splitting hairs.

At any rate, this becomes annoyingly apparent when the basic roles are covered and the new player wants to play a similar (if not the same) class as another player. He won't hit any better, have higher save DCs, better spells, or do anything better than the rest of the group, all else equal (and barring shenanigans like Leadership to get a Kensai to donate BAB to you and Loredrake White-dragonspawn Draconic Right of Passage Dragonwrought Kobolds' trickery). It's not even a matter of being the player that's behind anymore: having to deal with it even once is a pain, and seeing the new guy struggle through it can be just as bad.

ericgrau
2009-12-10, 02:05 PM
So, I've never really understood the XP system. Not that I don't understand how to use it - I've played enough JRPGs to know how it's used. In D&D though, I don't really get how you calculate XP off of an encounter without some sort of calculator that just does it for you. I know (or think I know) that the XP needed to gain a level is exponential as you get to higher levels. But my question is, just how much is given from doing what?

http://www.penpaperpixel.org/tools/d20encountercalculator.htm

For non-monster encounters, assign a CR and give out xp accordingly. CR = party level (assuming 4 man party) is a standard challenge: not much risk of death, but it burns through your spells and what not. CR = party level + 4 is a life or death challenge likely involving 1 or probably more PC deaths.

sofawall
2009-12-10, 02:09 PM
http://www.penpaperpixel.org/tools/d20encountercalculator.htm

For non-monster encounters, assign a CR and give out xp accordingly. CR = party level (assuming 4 man party) is a standard challenge: not much risk of death, but it burns through your spells and what not. CR = party level + 4 is a life or death challenge likely involving 1 or probably more PC deaths.

CR+4 is a likely TPK. +1 is hard, +2 might result in death, +3 should result in one or more deaths, +4 is a guarantee of death, likely multiple deaths.

Or at least that is what WotC aimed for.

Anonymouswizard
2009-12-10, 02:26 PM
every time you double the number of creatures, you increase ecl by 1
ie if you have 4 cr 4 creatures, thats a cr 6 encounter, 16 cr4 creatures is a cr 8 encounter.

Except that with the laws of you can't hit me a 10th level human fighter should be able to slaughter 10,872 orcs (or whatever the card is). He also needs a sneaky barstard sword, helm of courage, and the other cards from the monsters.

Now, any reasonable DM won't let 15th level characters gain levels from killing 1,000,000 orcs. except if they were higher than 1st level warriors.

sofawall
2009-12-10, 02:43 PM
every time you double the number of creatures, you increase ecl by 1
ie if you have 4 cr 4 creatures, thats a cr 6 encounter, 16 cr4 creatures is a cr 8 encounter.

Doubling creatures increases CR by 2. 2 CR 4 creatures is CR 6, 4 CR 4 creaturs is a CR 8.

Cyrion
2009-12-10, 04:14 PM
http://www.penpaperpixel.org/tools/d20encountercalculator.htm

For non-monster encounters, assign a CR and give out xp accordingly. CR = party level (assuming 4 man party) is a standard challenge: not much risk of death, but it burns through your spells and what not. CR = party level + 4 is a life or death challenge likely involving 1 or probably more PC deaths.

How are you calculating party level? I've had trouble with all of the logical methods- total party level gets you CRs that crush them, average character level gets you ludicrously low challenges by mid-level, and using the CR by numbers chart in the DMG is somewhere in the middle, though not terribly effective. My parties have always been able to blow most CR+4 away. I've always done best eyeballing it and saying "THIS should challenge them!" and worrying about CR only to give XP.

sofawall
2009-12-10, 04:27 PM
How are you calculating party level? I've had trouble with all of the logical methods- total party level gets you CRs that crush them, average character level gets you ludicrously low challenges by mid-level, and using the CR by numbers chart in the DMG is somewhere in the middle, though not terribly effective. My parties have always been able to blow most CR+4 away. I've always done best eyeballing it and saying "THIS should challenge them!" and worrying about CR only to give XP.

Explain. "Party level" is the average level of the party members. If they are all the same level, it would be the level of one of the members.

Also, remember, CR=Party level is meant to drain about 20% of the party's resources, not be something that is likely to kill one of them.

awa
2009-12-10, 04:27 PM
personally i feel that penalizing new players for being new or having their charecter die is stupid. Theirs no real reason to do so if your more then a level behind you cant really contribute and it will take you a very long time to catch up it also encourages that new player to not have any attachment to his new charecter becuase the odds of him dieing in a level appropriate encounter are vastly higher and bringing him back to life will just make the problem that much worse.

awa
2009-12-10, 04:32 PM
by total party level are you saying 4 level 5 characters are fighting something cr 20? That's not how it's supposed to work. If i recall correctly the dmg tells you that cr is somewhat variable a cleric makes an encounter with undead easier then having a rouge, a rouge is more use when it comes to traps then a fighter is, and so on.

A second factor is not all creatures and party of the same cr/level are equal so you do need to vary encounters to match the party the cr is just a rough guide line.

also spells are party resources not just hp

Ravens_cry
2009-12-10, 04:35 PM
Eh, we always levelled up when we needed it. That is to say, the DM would look at a certain point in the story, look at the likely challenges ahead, and say unto us 'Yeah, time to level up.'
And there was much rejoicing.
Simple, for player and DM.
Probably wouldn't work so great for sandbox games, but for modules, it works fine for us.

sofawall
2009-12-10, 04:38 PM
by total party level are you saying 4 level 5 characters are fighting something cr 20? That's not how it's supposed to work. If i recall correctly the dmg tells you that cr is somewhat variable a cleric makes an encounter with undead easier then having a rouge, a rouge is more use when it comes to traps then a fighter is, and so on.

A second factor is not all creatures and party of the same cr/level are equal so you do need to vary encounters to match the party the cr is just a rough guide line.

also spells are party resources not just hp

Why would a rouge be more use? I mean, I could see maybe using it to see an invisible object, but at least the fighter can activate pressure-plates, set off magic traps designed to sense life, has some actual HP to soak up a hit.

Tyndmyr
2009-12-10, 04:50 PM
Eh, we always levelled up when we needed it. That is to say, the DM would look at a certain point in the story, look at the likely challenges ahead, and say unto us 'Yeah, time to level up.'
And there was much rejoicing.
Simple, for player and DM.
Probably wouldn't work so great for sandbox games, but for modules, it works fine for us.

It doesn't mesh well with anything that uses xp, that's the main problem. Crafters, certain spells, etc.

Other than that, it works just fine. If you have, say, an all melee party, you may as well use it to save work. If you have members with an interest in the above options, stick with the usual xp rules.

barteem
2009-12-10, 05:15 PM
All of the games I have run over the last 20 years have been "DM discretionary leveling system" Like has been mentioned over the course of the discussion.
Yes, any XP related mechanics in the game like crafting get completely broken, but we house rules the crap out of it and what we did looks very similar to Pathfinder, which is what I'm running now.
Once again, sans XP.

Lycanthromancer
2009-12-10, 05:21 PM
Why would a rouge be more use? I mean, I could see maybe using it to see an invisible object, but at least the fighter can activate pressure-plates, set off magic traps designed to sense life, has some actual HP to soak up a hit.I guess you could use the rouge to mark where the traps are after the fighter blunders into it and gets dominated or crushed under 3 tons of rocks (though I'd imagine the latter would be self-evident).

sofawall
2009-12-10, 05:28 PM
I guess you could use the rouge to mark where the traps are after the fighter blunders into it and gets dominated or crushed under 3 tons of rocks (though I'd imagine the latter would be self-evident).

I think Chalk would work better, although really, it is the fighter finding the traps, right? The rouge is nothing without the fighter :P

Ravens_cry
2009-12-10, 05:31 PM
It doesn't mesh well with anything that uses xp, that's the main problem. Crafters, certain spells, etc.

Other than that, it works just fine. If you have, say, an all melee party, you may as well use it to save work. If you have members with an interest in the above options, stick with the usual xp rules.
Well, we, as a group, rarely craft, and we are rarely at a high enough level to do the real game breaking XP using spells. But basically, it's a pact. We don't try to abuse the trust, and we use a simpler, less housekeeping, system. And if we do use over a fair amount of what would be XP expenditure, we simply don't level when the rest of the party does. Pen and Paper role play is about trust, you trust the DM won't simply say 'rock falls and everybody dies' and they trust that you won't go and try to abuse the system.

Cyrion
2009-12-10, 08:27 PM
Explain. "Party level" is the average level of the party members. If they are all the same level, it would be the level of one of the members.

Also, remember, CR=Party level is meant to drain about 20% of the party's resources, not be something that is likely to kill one of them.

Referring to my earlier comment about matching CR to average party level getting you ludicrously low challenges.

Take, for example, the CR 8 random monster table from the DMG. If you look at single creatures from it you've got things like a behir, an efreet, stone giant, ogre mage, etc. Most of the single monsters on the list are going to get creamed in two rounds tops by a well-prepared, cooperating 8th level party. Granted, some of the monsters on the list are going to be a challenge- ogre magi aren't push-overs, for example- but the action economy of multiple players is going to overwhelm a single creature. Things get a little better if you're running a group of monsters, but again, how many 8th level parties are going to have any trouble at all tearing apart 2-4 mummies, trolls, giant beetles, etc.? This gets especially bad if you have more than 4 characters in the party. You might use a couple of spells or consumables like potions or wand charges, but nothing close to 20% of resources.

TheEmerged
2009-12-10, 09:01 PM
Why would a rouge be more use? I mean, I could see maybe using it to see an invisible object, but at least the fighter can activate pressure-plates, set off magic traps designed to sense life, has some actual HP to soak up a hit.

I guess you could use the rouge to mark where the traps are after the fighter blunders into it and gets dominated or crushed under 3 tons of rocks (though I'd imagine the latter would be self-evident).

I think Chalk would work better, although really, it is the fighter finding the traps, right? The rouge is nothing without the fighter :P

I was going to make another bad spelling joke, but I see someone beat me to it.

Actually on topic... this is why I don't use XP at all. The players level when I freaking tell them they level. Now this isn't going to work for all players or all DM's. Some players need that constant carrot-on-stick approach. My group is an older one (get off our battle mats and all that).