Hi Red. I missed our conversations. :)
Well, from a mechanical viewpoint there is a rule, it's in the Expert 3.5 book. I don't know if it's free content so I'll not go into specifics, but it allows to gain somewhere around 600-800 xp / year of work, at low levels. Up to 2200 / year for high level skills and producing lots of masterworks.
There's also another module ( Test of Skills ) that allow gaining xp reading books. More or less 5 xp / day, twice for full time studying.
About our conversation.
Mechanically, there's no difference.Tell me, mechanically, the difference between these two scenarios:
My Fighter swings a sword at a dummy for six hours straight.
My Fighter engages in bareknuckle brawling, resulting in torn ligaments and shattered bones, for six hours straight, after which he receives healing that fills him back to top shape.
If we talk instead of pseudo-verisimilitude - which was my original idea, I would say that the first fighter is just doing cardio, mabye he's also polishing his stance a bit.
The second is exercising:
- pain threshold
- coordination and dodging
- aggressivity and combat instinct
- psychological stress endurance
- adaptation and improvisation in fight
- quick recovery after being stunned
- breath control in real fight
- perception and anticipation
That's why full contact sparring is so vital in real fighting sports.
So let's take it a step further - what if you remove the healing component, or force the PC to pay for it out of pocket? Okay, let's ask Pam the difference again:
My Fighter engages in bareknuckle brawling, resulting in torn ligaments and shattered bones, for six hours straight.
My Fighter stabs himself with a knife, over and over, for six hours straight.
Your verdict, Pam? Exactly the same, you say?
Well, yeah. Because you're just subjecting your PC to random punishment. Again, there's no risk of failure - there's no fear that you'll mess up the trap and get killed, or that the non-lethal spell will accidentally overload and melt your skull. You might as well be stabbing yourself, setting yourself on fire, or hitting yourself with a rock, for all the difference it makes. Randomly abusing your own PC, with no real risk, is not a basis to award XP.
Training isn't simply self harm. Actually, the objective is learning to avoid as much damage as possible while traps or opponents are doing their best to chew you. Is about learning to dodge, to duck, to jump, to parry, to harden muscles and absorb blows, to anicipate movement. And all the while you learn to counterattack.