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Level advancement 
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Skobbit

Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2013 2:14 pm
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Post Level advancement
Hi,

We've finished our fourth 3 hour-sessions and some of my players have complained about the rate of character advancement. Indeed. In four sessions, only one out of four characters has leveled up. One should level next session for sure, while the two others probably won't. Take in account that I use all options given in the Player's Handbook for doling out XP.

While the first session didn't feature any combat and loot, the three others were full of actions.

I was wondering if you guys see this as a normal character progression. If such a problem happened in yout campaign, did you find alternate ways to give out XP?

I'm thinking about using AD&D XP for deafeating monsters.


Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:38 pm
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Lore Drake
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Post Re: Level advancement
Bumped. Was in Keeper Advice, but seems like it could benefit from community responses.

For my part, your progression seems about right. It takes about 3-4 sessions for a level. If that seems slow to you, speed it up. Add 10% on the top of what you already award, adjust to taste.

It also depends on what level the characters are. Higher levels naturally take much longer, and it is not a linear progression.

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Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:45 pm
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: Level advancement
The rate of advancement is about right for C&C. Depending on the monster, AD&D XP can be about the same. The rate of advancement for my last AD&D game was about the same as you just experienced with C&C.

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Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:49 pm
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Mogrl

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Post Re: Level advancement
Rules are just suggestions. If you don't like how its working change it to what you do like. One of my CK's changed his XP charts to be more in line with how 3E works. If you want to check his charts out they are in his Castle White Rock thread in the online gaming forum here. Should be one of the top 4 or 5 games currently, so easy to spot. I think its about the 4th or 5th post down in his thread.

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Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:10 am
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: Level advancement
Sounds like a good rate of progression to me, but sounds like not to your players. Depends also on what level they are, are they multiclassed, what is their class, etc. Maybe your adventure doesn't have enough treasure in it? Remember that magic weapons yield XP if they get meaningfully used.

There are some kinds of adventures where finding coin and fencing treasures aren't the main goal or aren't possible. In these cases, reward the goals that are there instead.

If you use random encounters, make sure you are rolling them frequently enough, and if in the wilderness make sure occasionally the encounters are in lairs, which is where the good money is.

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Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:18 am
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Battle Stag
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Post Re: Level advancement
One of the suggestions is the M&T is to give XP for story awards. This is often overlooked by many CKs. In addition, C&C assumes that XP is awarded for every bit of treasure collected and dispersed among the party members. Even magic items are supposed to be awarded to PCs who use magic items.

Personally, I don't do most of that. I just up XP awards.

~O

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Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:24 am
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Mogrl

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Post Re: Level advancement
Personally I would tell them to focus on the fun of the encounters, etc.. and to quit worrying about XP and leveling. I think if that is what your gaming for, your playing the wrong kind of game, but that's just my gaming philosophy... I don't even do XP anymore, I just have them level when I am done running the adventures I want to do that are appropriate for their level.

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Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

Grand Knight Commander of the Society.


Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:26 am
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Clang lives!
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Post Re: Level advancement
I know Tree has been advancing our levels to fit with the current module we are in and for my current game (which is a test run of my house rules), I just advance the PCs to the level they need to be to run the adventure. Both the standard way and this way have merits, but I think if you players are more focused on xp awards than the adventure, something is not right.

R-

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Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:24 am
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Red Cap
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Post Re: Level advancement
One of the most interesting approaches I've seen is with Goodman Games' DCC-RPG. I'm not really sure how I would work that system in C&C and have not had the time to really think it though.

But the idea of advancement occurring during the adventure and having much lower numbers making up the experience charts seems interesting.

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Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:51 pm
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Post Re: Level advancement
Here is a really simple alternative: Decide how often you want to play per year. Assume you will play for X years... Do you want these PC's to hit level 20 in that time? You can simply level up at the rate to get there. Or after enough games where players have "learned" their skills and level capabilities and are looking forward to the next level for "something new".. then maybe its time. Figure out how long that takes.. for us we decided that every 6 games or 6 months in our case is the right rate (on average) knowing we play only once a month for 4-6 hours. The PCs with "easy experience" level up in 5 sessions, moderate in 6 sessions, higher in 7 sessions and multi class and class and a half I still got to work out that math.
So for me and the players we don't have to calc and hand out or track and worry about anything experience point related, just number of sessions played. To us its a game we want to evolve and spend very little time book keeping, its just not that much fun to us bunch of engineers.

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Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:57 pm
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Maukling
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Post Re: Level advancement
I often point people towards the 2nd Edition AD&D DMG, where it talks about individual experience and the CKG offers good advice as well. If they use their class abilities well, give them XP for it. You might to be careful, though, because you don't want players doing things (picking pockets, sneaking around, disguising themselves, etc) just for the sake of trying to get more XP. Good use of abilities, as well roleplaying should be rewarded, in my opinion.

But, if you feel like you're doing that already then you need to consider what is a good rate of advancement. In the end, it's about everyone having fun - if they players are feeling slighted by the XP rewarded, talk to them. Show them how they got what they did. Be mindful not to hurt anyone's feelings ("Bob, sorry, you only got 50 XP because your roleplaying sucked!") but break it down and show them. Also talk to them about potential to gain more for clever play, roleplaying, and story progression.

Now assuming you're doing all these things and they're still unhappy, then it comes down to whether you're willing to give more XP or not. Some GM's like to just give out levels at intervals. I don't particularly care for that model of GM style, but others do. To me, the above reasons are why PC's gain XP, and thus levels - handing out levels might put the players in the mindset that they're entitled to their levels. But again, if that's the way you want to play, go for it. I've softened in my years of GM'ing but I'm not that soft - I still hand out XP, do it based on the PC contribution, and award (or deduct) XP based on individual performance and contribution.

Ultimately, if you're happy with the XP distribution, then explain that to the players, but be open to compromise. Don't get me wrong, in spite of all the above, I like to see my players progress in levels. I like to see them grown into heroes. While I enjoy reading posts, blogs, and stories of those groups that have played the same campaign for 20-25 years (or more) and they're players are only now hitting 9th level, I'm a little saddened by that, too, in the same way I read various stories, posts, and blogs about how the GM is never giving out a ring of wishes or an artifact. To me, those things (high levels and awesome magic items) were written in the game to be experienced, and to not ever utilize them in a game - to never see or experience them - is a sort of an injustice.

That's just my two cents, though. :)

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Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:29 pm
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Battle Stag
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Post Re: Level advancement
Good advice LD.

One topic that I particularly agree with briefly mentioned by LD is just advancing the characters to the next level of experience points after X number of sessions. Some CKs don't give out XP, they just let the character's advance to the next level of experience at the end of an adventure, or when the time is right. I do not agree with this method for C&C. As an example, the Rogue in C&C requires so little amount of experience point to advance a level when compared to fighters, clerics, wizards, paladins, etc. that it is assumed the rogue must be of higher level in order to balance out the class compared to others. Under that assumption I find it necessary to award XP at the end, or even sometimes during the middle of a session. The potential for level disparity is not a flaw of the system, but a requirement. Should assassins and rogues be of higher level than other classes, in my strong opinion, yes.

The other reason to award XP instead of just letting PCs advance a level "when the time is right" is to show progress. Most players love to see the progress of their characters and one of the best ways of measuring that is for the CK to award XP. In a game like C&C where there are not too many "dials" (bells & whistles) to change up abilities, skills, etc. as the PCs advance, a good way to show the players progress is to award XP regularly. Many CKs award XP at the end of ever session. The bells and whistles of other games are another way for players to feel progress and advancement in mechanical terms of there characters. C&C forgoes many of these regular (every level) bells and whistles for a more streamlined approach to advancement. That being the case, it is critical for the CK to award XP on a regular basis. Players want to be reminded how they are doing mechanically with their characters, and XP is the best way to show that IMO.

~O

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Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:49 pm
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Post Re: Level advancement
Omote wrote:
The other reason to award XP instead of just letting PCs advance a level "when the time is right" is to show progress. Most players love to see the progress of their characters and one of the best ways of measuring that is for the CK to award XP. In a game like C&C where there are not too many "dials" (bells & whistles) to change up abilities, skills, etc. as the PCs advance, a good way to show the players progress is to award XP regularly. Many CKs award XP at the end of ever session. The bells and whistles of other games are another way for players to feel progress and advancement in mechanical terms of there characters. C&C forgoes many of these regular (every level) bells and whistles for a more streamlined approach to advancement. That being the case, it is critical for the CK to award XP on a regular basis. Players want to be reminded how they are doing mechanically with their characters, and XP is the best way to show that IMO.
~O


Yeah, I don't grant levels, I just hand out XP, because I want to preserve the relative advancement rates of the different classes, especially for multiclassed characters.

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Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:47 pm
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Maukling
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Post Re: Level advancement
Omote wrote:
Good advice LD.

One topic that I particularly agree with briefly mentioned by LD is just advancing the characters to the next level of experience points after X number of sessions. Some CKs don't give out XP, they just let the character's advance to the next level of experience at the end of an adventure, or when the time is right. I do not agree with this method for C&C. As an example, the Rogue in C&C requires so little amount of experience point to advance a level when compared to fighters, clerics, wizards, paladins, etc. that it is assumed the rogue must be of higher level in order to balance out the class compared to others. Under that assumption I find it necessary to award XP at the end, or even sometimes during the middle of a session. The potential for level disparity is not a flaw of the system, but a requirement. Should assassins and rogues be of higher level than other classes, in my strong opinion, yes.

The other reason to award XP instead of just letting PCs advance a level "when the time is right" is to show progress. Most players love to see the progress of their characters and one of the best ways of measuring that is for the CK to award XP. In a game like C&C where there are not too many "dials" (bells & whistles) to change up abilities, skills, etc. as the PCs advance, a good way to show the players progress is to award XP regularly. Many CKs award XP at the end of ever session. The bells and whistles of other games are another way for players to feel progress and advancement in mechanical terms of there characters. C&C forgoes many of these regular (every level) bells and whistles for a more streamlined approach to advancement. That being the case, it is critical for the CK to award XP on a regular basis. Players want to be reminded how they are doing mechanically with their characters, and XP is the best way to show that IMO.

~O


Yes sir. The part you mention about differing levels of XP required is something I meant to touch on, but forgot to. I love the fact that C&C went the route of different XP tables for different classes. Is it perfect? No, there could be a little bit more tweaking involved. But it's pretty close in my opinion, and a helluva lot better than the standard XP tables introduced with D20. But I agree, some classes should level up before others. Now, of course, a CK could hand the rogue his level a session or two before the other classes get theirs, but your second point is what I touched on - showing progress. And, this may sound weird, but it lets the players know what they're "doing right" if you award XP for story progression, RP, clever play, sticking to alignment, and more standards you could grade for.

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Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:51 pm
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Post Re: Level advancement
One thing I just thought of that might be fun is to divide the classes into slow, medium, and fast leveling, and do a die roll at the end of each session. Slow gets d8, medium gets d6, fast gets d4. Or something, depends on how often you want to do it. Or just a straight percentile. If you roll a 1, you level.

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Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:01 pm
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Lore Drake
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Post Re: Level advancement
Even early on, playing rpg's I was always dissatisfied with tying XP to gold and slaying monsters only. Through time I did two things. I made separate XP lists for individual characters and kept a main list for the group. If something important was done by an individual or by a partial group, only they would receive XP. Anything that was a full group effort, the XP was split amongst the group.

The next thing was awarding XP for achieving important tasks/things other than finding loot or killing creatures. Because I give a mind to my creatures/NPC's it is just as possible that they could try to escape an encounter rather than fighting to the death. I usually dole out XP in parts depending on the situation. Something like, if it was a random encounter, if the creature gets away full XP is awarded. If it is a main creature/NPC then only a portion of XP is given as there is a likelihood that they will meet again.

Giving XP for things like, convincing a guard to let them pass, was also likely. There was no battle. No one was hurt or killed by the objective was achieved just the same. Full XP was given. (The same XP if they would have killed the guard.}

The more you adjudicate what should and shouldn't be XP the easier it becomes to decide when XP should be doled out and to whom and how much.

The end result of this message of giving XP is it encourages players to think of alternatives to just wading in and doing battle. An ingenious plan to lure a dragon away, from it's treasure, deserves some kind of XP award on top of whatever treasure they end up stealing.

It also encourages the players to more fully interact with your fantasy world, rather than view it as a series of events to "level-up" and become more powerful.

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Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:14 pm
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Post Re: Level advancement
Additionally, I tend to give 50%-100% of the XP for encounters that are avoided. If the PCs do the do-diligence to see what the encounter may be, the type of creatures, or the level of toughness prior to diving headlong into it, I give them the XP anyway. Running away may not always be considered heroic in this type of RPG, but it should be considered. And, this could limit the amount of KILL-LOOT encounters in your games. If the PCs attempt to avoid the encounter, the CK can always spice it up with a chase scene, or a little cat-and-mouse avoidance theme.

~O

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Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:36 pm
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Post Re: Level advancement
Aergraith wrote:
Yeah, I don't grant levels, I just hand out XP, because I want to preserve the relative advancement rates of the different classes, especially for multiclassed characters.


Same here. It is a rip off for some classes to have them advance slower than they should. It is unbalancing and a bad flaw that 3.x introduced into the game.

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Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:41 pm
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Post Re: Level advancement
FXR1979 wrote:
Hi,

We've finished our fourth 3 hour-sessions and some of my players have complained about the rate of character advancement. Indeed.
Those are very short sessions. Tell them, "Stop whining."
FXR1979 wrote:
In four sessions, only one out of four characters has leveled up. One should level next session for sure, while the two others probably won't. Take in account that I use all options given in the Player's Handbook for doling out XP.

While the first session didn't feature any combat and loot, the three others were full of actions.

I was wondering if you guys see this as a normal character progression.
Sounds reasonable for progression beginning at 1st level.
FXR1979 wrote:
If such a problem happened in yout campaign, did you find alternate ways to give out XP?
I've never had players complain about the advancement rate in my games. My players have been quite pleased / proud for gaining levels in my "tough but fair" campaigns.
FXR1979 wrote:
I'm thinking about using AD&D XP for deafeating monsters.
Its your game to modify as you will but I'd be cautious about giving in to impatient and whiny behavior from players.

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Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:02 am
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Post Re: Level advancement
Ancalagon wrote:
Its your game to modify as you will but I'd be cautious about giving in to impatient and whiny behavior from players.


I second this. It is a game and all are there for fun, but players wanting to level up all the time is a recipe for disaster.

If the main concern is they want to play high level characters, then perhaps roll up new characters or use the current ones and start them at 8th level instead of 1st. I've known a few players that really enjoy the high level game with all the high powered fights. They don't want to fight orcs and such with plain long swords, they want +3 or better weapons and fireballs going in all directions while the battle demons and liches. If this is what they want, don't wait for them to get there, start them there. The chances are they will grow board and quit gaming if you don't. My experience with this gamer is after a year or so, they want to start over with new PCs and this time they want to start them from the ground up.

If, on the other hand, your players are used to rapid level advancement from computer RPGs, they will be always dissatisfied since leveling in C&C does not grant all the high power options. You most likely will have to explain level advancement in these old school games are moments for celebration and not the equivalent of a paycheck for working x amount of hours. Death often claims low-level PCs and many don't rise in levels.

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Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:46 am
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Mogrl

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Post Re: Level advancement
Just to be clear, if I had a single classed Thief in my game, I would advance them earlier than the rest of the party, but since even the Thief is multi classed with Wizard, they still level at roughly the same time even if I was using actually XP. As it is I do advance the single classed characters a few sessions ahead of the two classed characters. I just don't do it by tracking XP awards, I do it by looking at total XP required and leveling those with lower XP requirements sooner than those with the higher requirements. Usually 2 to 3 sessions sooner, depending on how fast things get accomplished. If we have late starts or spend more time socializing than we do gaming, or spend forever making plans and little time acting, then it might stretch out to 4 or more sessions between them.

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Sun Apr 27, 2014 1:04 am
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Lore Drake
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Post Re: Level advancement
Just a brief comment - I seem to remember at one point there was a rule or suggestion that XP for defeating a monster didn't mean you had to kill it. You had to overcome it.

This doesn't mean you get full monster XP for hiding in a shrub while a hill giant passes by, but if you execute a plan to sneak past it, steal something from his cave, and then sneak back out, you should get full XP for that.

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Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:20 pm
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Post Re: Level advancement
Fiffergrund wrote:
Just a brief comment - I seem to remember at one point there was a rule or suggestion that XP for defeating a monster didn't mean you had to kill it. You had to overcome it.


I don't know about C&C but that is an old rule out of 1st Ed AD&D. A good rule too.

I run Goal oriented XP. If the objective is to obtain the magic crown guarded by the Giant. I don't care how they get the crown. I give them full XP (including for "defeating" the giant). If the goal is to stop the trolls that live under the bridge from harassing the villagers and the party ONLY steals the Trolls treasure, they get XP only for the treasure. If they got the trolls to agree to be nice to the villagers (and it works) they might get double XP! Much harder than just killing them.

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Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:25 pm
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Post Re: Level advancement
Agreed. I do not remember it in AD&D but in 3e it was about getting around the trap or removing it. It was about killing the troll or slipping past it. I think that is a constant. You get experience for overcoming.

In C&C I think it was left unwritten. It may well be in the CKG.


Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:35 pm
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Post Re: Level advancement
I've never liked the way D&D's experience and leveling system worked. I've replaced it with my own house ruled system...

MrGrim's Experience and Leveling House Rules

Players need 5 Experience Points to gain each level. In a standard game players get ONE experience point in the following ways...

1. Completing a major objective in the game (the equivalent of a standard module)

2. Players who made the session particularly fun for everyone, get a bonus Experience Point for the session
(Assume everyone but players you don't want to keep anyway get this one. )

3. When players do something colorful and particularly awesome, where they create a great moment for everyone around the table, they get an Experience Point. I limit this to no more than 1 per session. (When this happens, other players almost always nominate the player in question, "HE SHOULD GET AN EXPERIENCE POINT FOR THAT!"...this should be awarded for player creativity though, NOT because someone just made a lucky roll at just the right moment.)

4. Since thieves/rogues are to level more quickly, they "steal a point" and level with only 4 experience points (which makes them track pretty closely with what is intended for them on the leveling table compared to other classes)

5. As the GM, I can also award an EXP point for any reason I see fit.

Since 5 points levels characters (excepting the 4 points for rogues as noted above), awarding an experience point is a big deal. Once players get how this works and see how the fun they contribute to the session directly relates to their advancement, the effects can be quite positive upon your gaming group.

This approach is also much simpler on the GM. I like to avoid every distraction (logging data for tallying experience is one of them) when I am running a game so I am focused on keeping the narrative going, alive and colorful. I've found this system is a nigh perfect fit for the style of game I run.

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Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:02 pm
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Post Re: Level advancement
Fiffergrund wrote:
Just a brief comment - I seem to remember at one point there was a rule or suggestion that XP for defeating a monster didn't mean you had to kill it. You had to overcome it.

This doesn't mean you get full monster XP for hiding in a shrub while a hill giant passes by, but if you execute a plan to sneak past it, steal something from his cave, and then sneak back out, you should get full XP for that.


In games that have Morale, this is important too, you might defeat some of the group, you don't necessarily have to inflict 100% casualties and scorch the earth.

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Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:07 pm
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Lore Drake
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Post Re: Level advancement
Yeah, I wonder how closely Steve or Gary Gygax, Arneson; ever watched or counted experience. I think if it feels like you have to stretch and there is a goal and you are gaining level, then it's all good. The 5 point system seems sound though.


Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:17 pm
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Post Re: Level advancement
If one simply assumes 10 good nights of play (call it 5 hours each) the base level advancement for the average character (Call that the fighter or Druid at 2001 exp for 2nd lvl), then the Ranger and Knight would take 11 nights to advance (2251 exp), thief in just 6, assassins and monks in 8 or 9 nights, barbarian in 10 or 11, wizards/Illusionists in 13 nights, Clerics in 11, and the paladin in 13 or 14, and finally the Bard in 7 or 8 sessions.

This would mean, once a month gaming would get all PCs a level each year with a few being early or late.

Factor this for fast or slower advancement.

Its just math. So each night they get a point. Do great stuff, get a half or quarter point for great "whatever (roll playing, saving the day, etc.). Tell the PC in advance to keep track of their points and how many they need to advance.

Multi-class is just a bit more math as would be class and a half, call it the "2000 ex pt" system.

I never like giving out exp pts for treasure or magic items unless you learn something from them somehow. And in my past, anything past level 8 to 10 has been less fun for some reason.

But I eagerly away to see how things go for our groups.

Unless classes start to change their rates in exp pts as they progress then it could continue, if not, just need to keep doing the math as they move on.

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Sun May 04, 2014 12:57 am
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: Level advancement
We've been playing our online game since the beginning of 2011, every other Sunday, about 3 to 3.5 hours a night, quite a few missed sessions, so anywhere from 50-75 sessions, and it's been enough to get my fighter to 7th level including recovering from a lost level. That has felt like pretty good progress for me. Not sure about the multiclassed players, or the ones on slower scales, but it seems like a decent rate. We're playing a module where we can fight as much stuff as we want, really (ToEE); some modules can go longer stretches without fighting or treasure. Contrast with our 3.5 game, it took us about 7-8 years to get 20 levels playing from Sunless Citadel to Bastion of Broken Souls, with lots more missed sessions and side games between. That game got so unmanageable after about 12th level that I felt my investment in Hero Lab was non-optional, so I don't mind playing low-mid level games for as long as they go.

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Sun May 04, 2014 5:24 am
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Post Re: Level advancement
When I run a campaign, the "Master Plan" typically includes retirement somewhere along level 10 or so. If players are impatient and want to advance faster, it just means that this particular campaign will end a lot faster and we move on to a new one with new characters.

I like to start characters off at "hero" level or so (maybe 3rd or 4th) and then not advance them for a while. They get to do cool stuff but not too cool, and I tell them that they are "earning" their starting level first, and can advance higher later. But I usually don't bother to count XP and do it by character achievement and in-campaign goals instead of following a set XP number.

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Sun May 04, 2014 10:50 am
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