A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default XP for not adventuring (D&D 3.5)

    I had a weird thought about an alternative way of handling XP rewards in D&D that would in some sense allow the players more responsibility for determining their rate of advancement, and would explicitly avoid the "1-20 in a month" thing that can happen.

    The idea is: you never gain XP for adventuring, overcoming challenges, etc. You only gain XP for extended periods of downtime spent practicing, studying, etc. There is one additional requirement, which is that you must maintain a sufficient lifestyle (mages need to buy books to read, fighters need to maintain their gear and pay for lessons, etc). This parameter determines to what degree money is going to motivate the campaign - it can be set high to be a wealth sink and to motivate adventuring, or it can be set low for a campaign that has more of a time-limited nature. It might be something like 100gp times your level^2 per interval, for example (it probably shouldn't be flat or linear due to WBL scaling in normal 3.5 D&D, but if you're running a low magic/low wealth campaign it could be).

    The DM picks a time-scale appropriate to the campaign and a range of levels that the game will cover, and divides that time-scale by the number of levels in the range. The resultant number is the base amount of downtime needed to gain a level. This number should then be adjusted down by about 20-30% to account for downtimes spent on other things than training, periods where money and training won't be available, etc - the point is to give the PCs some freedom to choose the schedule of their advancement, after all.

    So, now we have a time interval T - lets say for example that this is 3 months. Lets say we have a Lv10 character; he needs 10000xp to level up, so he gets that xp continuously over the course of the time interval, so he gets 10000/90 xp per day. An 11th level character would get 11000/90 xp per day, and so on.

    Okay, so what's the point? This interacts with a non-status-quo world in an interesting fashion, in that the PCs can basically determine the difficulty of the game for themselves by taking more or less table time at a given level. If the PCs want to, they could sit down and level up 6 times before the next session, but then they'd be 6 levels down on WBL and out a few years of in-character time. Similarly, they could basically stay at a given level and amass excess wealth for that level if they felt the need. In a system like this, aging could actually matter depending on the timescale you pick.

    There's also an interesting correction this makes from the point of view of magic item creation. Normally in D&D 3.5 if you have people selling magic items, you kind of have to handwave away where they're getting the xp (or you basically make some assumption like this one, that shopkeepers and item-crafting mages and the like get xp slowly over time for doing their job).

    Furthermore, if you think about intentionally going out to get XP, in the normal system its far easier for a Lv5 wizard to make a magic item than for a Lv20 wizard to make the same item, in the sense that the Lv5 wizard has to go out and kill a troll or something, whereas the Lv20 wizard has to go out and kill some pit fiends. To them individually the challenge might be the same, but to an external observer its weird. With this system, the Lv20 wizard actually has an easier time of it than the Lv5 wizard (more xp per interval), which makes some sense. Of course you could also use fixed xp per interval, so Lv3 to Lv4 takes less time than Lv19 to Lv20.

    It would be important though for the campaign to either be wealth-limited or time-limited, so that there is still some causal connection between going out and doing stuff and improving (in the wealth-limited case, its fuel for the leveling engine; in the time-limited case, you can't just sit and level up because the BBEG will win or something).

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: XP for not adventuring (D&D 3.5)

    I'm reminded of a (video-game related) idea I read on the 300 mechanics site (it's on squidi.net, and is a fun read.)

    Basically, the idea is that you get constant XP growth, but certain actions let you accrue experience faster, so, for example, solving an adventure speeds up your experience growth for a bit.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: XP for not adventuring (D&D 3.5)

    That's pretty much what the "I need a week to craft my adamantine sword, it's something I need to do for myself." fighter moment.

    Otherwise, do whatever makes all your players happy, a better approach is to not allow players to actually levelup until they have downtime, but the XP should be pretty cut and dry if you are revealing it in the firstplace.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: XP for not adventuring (D&D 3.5)

    Strangely enough, this feels to me like a bit of a throwback to the olden times when gold was used to determine the XP gain you got.
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    I was going to PM you about it because I wanted to know, but then you posted it later. Elegant solution. Watch out for Necropolitans.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: XP for not adventuring (D&D 3.5)

    Or when GP was THE unit of weight measurement >.>

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: XP for not adventuring (D&D 3.5)

    The added complexity compared to the gp=xp model though is that the players are now deciding what they want their WBL to be. You could put all your gold into levels, but then you'd have very little gear, or all your gold into gear but be a lower level. The other complicating factor is that this is in some sense a party-wide decision, since people unwilling to spend to advance are likely going to be unwilling to take the large amount of downtime for the one guy who is willing to spend to advance.

    I do think its more interesting in the time-limited campaigns than the wealth-limited campaigns though. If you're vaguely aware of certain time limits before you need to deal with particular threats, it becomes an interesting question whether to use the time you have to train, gather gear, or investigate the threats. But it'd take a very particular kind of plot to draw the most out of this idea - one where there's a prophecy or something that is specific about the dates of various turning points and events, and the PCs can make a somewhat informed decision about how to spend their time.

    For instance, lets say the prophecy (measured in 'intervals' from the beginning of the campaign) is something like:

    2: Goblins will sack the city of Sallowhearth and will begin establishing an empire there.
    5: The goblin empire will conquer the country of Hemardia (PC's home country)
    7: The dragon Whitefire will come to the land, and will threaten the countryside (whether it is ruled by goblins or not)
    9: A mysterious enchanter will gain control over the dragon.
    12: Whitefire's first brood will hatch, and a new dragon army will threaten the land.
    14: The demon Alphilex will be awoken by a cult of his followers.
    18: Alphilex will find and destroy the tablet that embodies the compact between good and evil to leave mankind alone, bringing on Armageddon.
    19: The Tarrasque wakes up from its 500 year sleep.

    Even better if the prophecy adjusts for the PCs actions as things change. Anyhow, bit of a sidetrack here.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: XP for not adventuring (D&D 3.5)

    So someone who inherits wealth can become a level 20 fighter without ever seeing real combat? Or a level 20 wizard without ever doing something difficult (i.e. with a chance of real failure)? Seems difficult.

    Training requirements in addition to XP are a very good idea. Allowing noncombat classes (for NPCs) that can get XP from noncombat adventures is a good idea. But what you suggest goes too far.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: XP for not adventuring (D&D 3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Yitzi View Post
    So someone who inherits wealth can become a level 20 fighter without ever seeing real combat? Or a level 20 wizard without ever doing something difficult (i.e. with a chance of real failure)? Seems difficult.

    Training requirements in addition to XP are a very good idea. Allowing noncombat classes (for NPCs) that can get XP from noncombat adventures is a good idea. But what you suggest goes too far.
    Well, why not though? Why does 'real' conflict necessarily teach one more than dedicated practice in controlled conditions? I imagine that in a 'real' fight you can't risk trying out new things since its your life on the line, whereas in a controlled fight you can experiment since failure isn't such a big deal.

    The kind of training I'm thinking of wouldn't be 'without a chance of failure', it'd be 'without real consequence for failure'. A wizard who was training on their own might be experimenting with unstable magic, attempting to squeeze in 'just one more spell level' into their mind every day, casting themselves into exhaustion, whatever.

    I don't personally see anything wrong with the idea that someone who locked themselves up in a library for 40 years might be a Lv16 wizard without ever having fought a battle. I guess thats a matter of taste though.

    Anyhow, choosing the interval and wealth requirements is important to the kind of equilibrium you want to obtain - you can get very odd results if these aren't picked right for your campaign. If the interval is a week and the wealth requirement is 100gp/level, you'll have a bunch of Lv20 characters around. Of course, there's nothing to say that the interval is the same for everyone in the world - some people might be naturally talented (PCs) and advance more quickly than others.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: XP for not adventuring (D&D 3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Well, why not though? Why does 'real' conflict necessarily teach one more than dedicated practice in controlled conditions? I imagine that in a 'real' fight you can't risk trying out new things since its your life on the line, whereas in a controlled fight you can experiment since failure isn't such a big deal.
    And training is important for that reason, but I'm pretty sure it's generally accepted that training is no substitute for actual experience in uncontrolled situations. (Although a nondeadly spar that's more than just normal drilling probably would count; in such case, call it an encounter and give XP that way.)

    The kind of training I'm thinking of wouldn't be 'without a chance of failure', it'd be 'without real consequence for failure'.
    That might be ok, as long as they're pushing themselves to their limits...it's not an adventurer's lifestyle, but as long as they're pushing themselves to their limits it should count.

    I don't personally see anything wrong with the idea that someone who locked themselves up in a library for 40 years might be a Lv16 wizard without ever having fought a battle.
    Indeed they can be (though they probably shouldn't have hit die or BAB progression). But someone who merely reviewed the spells they already know and never tried anything they didn't already know they could do...such a person probably shouldn't be advancing noticably.

    Anyhow, choosing the interval and wealth requirements is important to the kind of equilibrium you want to obtain - you can get very odd results if these aren't picked right for your campaign.
    Definitely.

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