View Full Version : Lunchtime D&D Gaming Format

2011-09-13, 11:12 PM
I recently had the idea to start playing D&D during our lunch period at school.* As we really don't have time for real in-depth storytelling (by the time we set up we have about 45 minutes), we're planning on just handing out the character sheets, drawing up a room, and fighting whatever monster(s) or other enemies the DM (me) chooses to throw at them.

The players (there are currently three, but that number could grow) seem to be fine with this lack of depth, and are happy just killing things on their lunch hour.

What I need help with is the format for these sessions, mainly how experience and rewards will be handled.

Due to the fact that these are just fights, and not full adventures, I'm want to put a lot of thought into the rewards process to make sure there is character balance. Thus, I have three ideas for handling this, please tell me which you think would work best:

1. Equal Shares
At the end of the fight, the XP and gold are divided equally among all players regardless of their status (alive or dead). This will be the most balanced approach, and will ensure all characters are equal, at least in terms of level. My concern is perhaps some players becoming upset if another player, who either died early or was generally ineffective, receives an equal share as their character who worked hard for the victory.

2. My Kill, My XP
Basically what it says on the tin. Characters will receive gold and XP only for monsters they personally kill, and split rewards for team efforts. I can see this working in fights against a lot of weak enemies, and will encourage bolder play styles. However, it could also lead to one or two players greatly overshadowing the rest of the party.

3. Survivalist
Now, part of the fun for me in these games will be trying to kill as many players as I can, without causing a TPK. Using this style of rewards management, players will receive a share of the spoils only for monsters killed before they themselves die, if they do. This will encourage much more thoughtful, cautious play, and the players will really try to work as a unit to keep everyone alive. However, there is the possibility of players trying to sacrifice others to increase their own share.

One more thing: If players die, and none of them are capable of casting a resurrection, should I force them to pay for such a spell? If so, should the cost be at a discount?

Thanks in advance!

*or more accurately, the alternative school down the street that my band's bassist attends. All the cool people are there.

Gabe the Bard
2011-09-14, 02:41 AM
The equal shares method is the simplest and easiest way to handle XP. If a character dies before the end of the battle, they get no XP. That doesn't mean the other players get more XP, but the XP of the dead PC is just lost. So, there's an incentive keep everyone alive, avoid crazy suicide attacks, and not kill each other for XP.

Giving XP based on kills just means more work for you, since you have to calculate how much each monster is worth, what counts as a team kill or a solo kill, etc. More importantly, if there's a cleric who's healing everyone else or a wizard who focuses on buffing, how will they get XP based on kills?

I would have some sort of basic storyline that doesn't require a lot of exposition, so that PCs who survive a fight can feel a sense of continuity. For instance:

1. The PCs are gladiators in an arena where they have to fight monster after monster.

2. The PCs are survivors of a zombie apocalypse traveling from point A to point B.

3. The PCs are a team of street-fighters in an international competition, challenging other teams to all-out death matches.

The easiest way to deal with player death is to replace them. At early levels, this is the only options, since the PCs won't have enough money to pay for a raise dead or resurrection. Just make sure they don't loot the dead PCs if their replacements are bringing their own gear. (In an arena setting, you could say that all everyone draws from the same pool of equipment, so new replacements start out with nothing except maybe one or two essentials, e.g. spellbook, holy symbol). At higher levels, you could let them raise their dead comrades, but you don't need to give them a discount as long as they're getting a decent amount of loot.

2011-09-18, 03:09 PM
me and my playgroup do something similar, and the best way we've found is exactly how Gabe said to; shared XP for everything that was killed before you died or left.

2011-09-18, 05:26 PM
Realise that whatever style you choose will favour certain play styles over others.

My Kill, My XP, is by far the worst. You are effectively penalised for helping your team-mates. If you allow a fellow fighter to die, that means there's less competition.

Survivalist has a similar, if more convoluted, situation.

Even if a dead character becomes an XP sink (that is to say, their potential XP doesn't get added to your own), there is still incentive to hoard resource instead of extending yourself to save an ally (particularly near the end of a fight), because their survival doesn't reward you, but your death hurts a lot.

As such, my vote for the given options is the simple split. Just because a character dies doesn't mean they didn't contribute. Heck, they might have died because they spent their resources on aiding allies rather than staying alive themselves.

However, i might consider a slight alternative to keep things more interesting. If your players are capable of solid teamwork, give them the loot and xp as a lump sum, and let them choose the allocation themselves.
This means players are encouraged to have an effective character, in order to secure their share of the spoils, but their effectiveness is measured by their use in general not a couple of raw skills.
Note: This really does rely on a set of players who can maturely (and quickly, being conscious of time-scales) come to an accepted decision. It would be easy for one player to be ganged up on and left out.

Also note: I am aware that i'm assuming all payers are selfish cut-throats when weighing up alternative methods, and strategic team-players when suggesting my method.
This is called bias.

2011-09-18, 05:48 PM

I do like your suggestion, and I feel that it could work, but perhaps in a slightly more, 'open' system. What I mean is, a player has no way (short of looking in the MM) of knowing what the AC or HP of a monster are other than through extensive trial and error. This means that a character that relies on more subtle ways of helping their party (Bardic music and buff spells are some examples) might not be recognized for their efforts, even though they've turned a few misses into hits, or added just enough damage to an attack to kill a creature a round sooner.

I intend on experimenting with the system, regardless. My players, despite how silly their character concepts and role-playing might be, are still capable of mature and logical behavior. (I do occaisionally have to put their characters in life-or-death scenarios to bring this side of them out, but still). If we don't have enough time, or I feel characters are being left out/unappreciated, I'll revert to the straight split.