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Alternate XP/Advancement System 
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Skobbit

Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 11
Post Alternate XP/Advancement System
My first post and thread on the TLG fora. Be gentle with me ...

As a GM, the standard xp and advancement system in C&C doesn't suit me well at all. Mainly because I find the precise accounting and dividing of xp gained for each character over a dozen or so encounters per session to be nothing but tedious. The ever rising sums involved don't help, as even by mid-level play tens of thousands of xp require ever-longer post game sessions to sift through like an accounts receivable file. But also I feel that it encourages mood-breaking character behavior, such as running down fleeing foes just to keep all that juicy xp from getting away, and otherwise going out of the way to kill things when other courses of action are available, sometimes even preferable in terms of role-playing. Heroes who outfox a slavering beast rather than bludgeoning it into a pulp are at least as common in fantasy literature as the latter, so it irks me that the official system blatantly states that characters will receive reduced rewards for doing so.

Because of all that, I've been looking to modify the reward system of C&C thoroughly. Following is what I have so far. For those who want to know, my approach has been heavily influenced by both the "Keys" system from The Shadow of Yesterday and, amusingly, a short system for calculating training time needed before achieving a new level in the 1st ed. AD&D DMG (on page 86, specifically). These ideas have, as of this writing, not been playtested yet.

First, I'm doing away with the extended xp/level charts. The amount of XP needed to reach 2nd level is what it takes to reach every level (so a Fighter who has reached 5th level will have earned a total of 8,004 xp ... or maybe just 8,000, I'm very tempted to drop that stray "1" from each class's chart).

Second, I'm completely divorcing xp rewards from successful slaughter and magic items found. All xp comes mainly from character behavior. How I think I'll handle this is by having a fixed set of "survey" criteria that I'll apply to each character at session's end, and a graded series of responses with fixed xp rewards. Something like the following:

*Behavior as per class. (Fighters charging into a fray, Clerics taking time to honor their faith, thieves taking a risk for a bag of gems, etc.)

*Behavior as per race. (dwarves commenting on good stonework, elves calling to wild birds, etc.)

*Behavior as per alignment. (what it says)

*Did the character face a challenge commensurate with her level? (A mid-level Paladin riding forth to slay the great red dragon terrorizing the land, yes. The same Paladin cleaning out a nest of rats, no.)

*How did the character support the party? (no petty backstabbing or out-of-character squabbling)

*How did the player support the gaming group? (no cell phones at the table, sharing snacks, etc.)

There are some other things I'd like to somehow account for, such as doing "cool stuff" in general, but I haven't quite figured out how to codify that. I'll probably just leave room for an inspecific "CK determined bonus". Regardless, I see each criteria being judged along the following scale, with something like the given xp reward per step on the scale:

*Execrable: 0 xp. (wasted my time and every one elses' in the game)

*Fair: 50 xp (the bare minimum, little more than lip service to that aspect of the character)

*Good: 100 xp (active and interested)

*Great: 200 xp (driven and dynamic)

*Heroic: 500 xp (blow-your-socks-off gaming, everyone and their cousin is impressed)

I think "Average" player-character performance, the kind I'd expect from a player at least nominally interested in the game and their character would be considered Good, thus at the end of a session an average player should receive (assuming I stick with 6 criteria) about 600 xp. Thus a Fighter should level up a little less often than every three sessions, which is about the rate that I like. The slowest advancer in the game, the Paladin, will advance a level once every fourth or fifth session. The fastest, the Rogue, will advance once every two sessions. For faster or slower advancement, I can just change the xp amounts given.

Looking this over, I've just noticed that I could easily turn these criteria-and-rewards into a survey card printout, that I can fill out at session's end with a few quick pencil strokes and keep as a record of the player's performance. What a nice bonus.

Now, there are some complications I'm concerned about. Mainly, the Class XP/Level charts aren't completely linear. As far as I can tell, the amounts are bumped up a little if some new class-power comes into play at a particular level. Disregarding that won't have a big effect as far as I can tell, but I could be wrong. Also, I seem to recall from my BD&D days that certain classes were designed to advance quickly at low levels, but slow down higher up, or vice versa. As far as I can tell that's not so much an issue with the C&C charts, but again I could be wrong and I don't see how my new system could account for it without a host of special cases and modifiers, which I'd rather avoid. And of course, there's always the possibility that my players rather like the idea of their notional "XP bar" dinging up with every goblin slain, and the visceral appeal of super-sized pinball-like bonuses flinging about, so all this may end up being for naught anyway.

Consider and discuss.


Sun Jul 23, 2006 8:40 pm
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Mogrl

Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:00 am
Posts: 13825
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You're right on the "bumps" in XP, as I've discussed briefly in my "class deconstruction" file, and flattening the charts doesn't have a terrible impact on the game, per se, assuming all classes are so affected. The design of the charts factors in the power of the abilities, and gives each a "cost," without really considering what other classes get, though, they are compared in a way so that a d12 HD for example is "worth more" than 1d4. There is a relative pattern, however, in that all XP needs are doubled, until a "bump" occurs, that being an amount based on the new stuff given at the level, and the continuing to double, with a flat amount for each level after 12 (since, at the moment, without the CKG, there aren't any official rules for what characters get after 12). But... with all that said, any XP system you want to use will work, really. For myself, I ignore it entirely. I find it tedious and unneccessary.


Sun Jul 23, 2006 11:11 pm
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Skobbit

Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 11
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Quote:
serleran wrote:
But... with all that said, any XP system you want to use will work, really. For myself, I ignore it entirely. I find it tedious and unneccessary.



I considered doing that myself, just deeming that every character levels up at an adventure's end as per Blue Rose / True 20. But C&C characters aren't balanced nearly as obsessively as BR ones, and I wanted a more finely graded form of reinforcement for the players than just "you level / you don't level". A couple hundred xp here and there suits my sensibilities just fine.


Mon Jul 24, 2006 12:54 am
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Unkbartig
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Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 850
Post Re: Alternate XP/Advancement System
Quote:
E.T.Smith wrote:
*Execrable: 0 xp. (wasted my time and every one elses' in the game)

*Fair: 50 xp (the bare minimum, little more than lip service to that aspect of the character)

*Good: 100 xp (active and interested)

*Great: 200 xp (driven and dynamic)

*Heroic: 500 xp (blow-your-socks-off gaming, everyone and their cousin is impressed)

...Now, there are some complications I'm concerned about. Mainly, the Class XP/Level charts aren't completely linear.



My suggestion is this:

*Fair: 5 (x next level) xp

*Good: 25 (x next level) xp

*Great: 50 (x next level) xp

*Heroic: 125 (x next level) xp

This way your rewards remain a constant percentage/ratio to the character regardless of the upcoming level. If your d20 game has linear progression, I'd make the multiplier the current level. (Just a cool trick I learned from the d20 SG-1 game. The same game rewards XP on goals accomplished, not monster killing.)

Quote:
E.T.Smith wrote:
But also I feel that it encourages mood-breaking character behavior, such as running down fleeing foes just to keep all that juicy xp from getting away, and otherwise going out of the way to kill things when other courses of action are available, sometimes even preferable in terms of role-playing.



Where does it say players get reduced XP for non-combat solutons to a challenge?

Page 122, Player's Guide:


Monsters

The Ck adds the value of all monsters defeated or overcome ...

Page 5 of the M&T pretty much says the same thing.

To quote The American Heritage Dictionary

To defeat (another) in competition or conflict; conquer. See Synonyms at defeat.

To prevail over; surmount: tried to overcome the obstacles of poverty.

To overpower, as with emotion; affect deeply.

i.e. If the PC find another way to successfully remove a challenge through diplomacy or trickery, they still get full XP. Heck, if the enemy is fleeing, they get full XP.

And even if it does say reduced rewards, then go back to the well and steal from 3.0/3.5, which says that full XP is rewarded for overcoming, not just defeating a challenge.

Quote:
E.T.Smith wrote:
The ever rising sums involved don't help, as even by mid-level play tens of thousands of xp require ever-longer post game sessions to sift through like an accounts receivable file. ...

Looking this over, I've just noticed that I could easily turn these criteria-and-rewards into a survey card printout.



So you prefer one form of paperwork to another?


Mon Jul 24, 2006 3:31 am
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Skobbit

Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 11
Post Re: Alternate XP/Advancement System
Quote:
anglefish wrote:
Where does it say players get reduced XP for non-combat solutons to a challenge?



Castle Zagyg, vol.1, er, somewhere in the appendixes. I'll admit, that's not a core book, but the idea is there.

Quote:
Quote:
To quote The American Heritage Dictionary...



Step one to annoy me in any discussion: quote the dictionary. Especially online discussions, where it's just a matter of cut and paste. Entirely a personal quirk, and completely off topic, but just saying.

Quote:
Quote:
So you prefer one form of paperwork to another?



Six quick checkmarks on an index-card sized chart, that takes mere seconds per each character at the end of each session, as opposed to adding up the total xp for each monster defeated in each combat, averaging it among the participants, plus xp for each magic item found (and, for some GM's, all treasure found)? Definitely.


Mon Jul 24, 2006 3:56 am
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Mogrl

Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 20660
Location: Arizona and St Louis
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Angelfish tend to be kind of antagonistic at times. But they sure have pretty colors!

_________________
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.


Mon Jul 24, 2006 6:25 pm
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Unkbartig
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Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 850
Post Re: Alternate XP/Advancement System
The hiccup I've seen with fixed XP costs is that they will diminish over time as levels advance.

I had one GM who loved to say "Take 10 XP for that great idea" or "Minus 10 XP for that poor roleplaying" We scribbled down ever point at 1st level. By 5th, we didn't even bother. By 8th, some players were insulted.
But I share your worry about the whole "just give out levels instead of XP." That seems an easier option if everyone is sharing the same XP chart.

Quote:
E.T.Smith wrote:
Castle Zagyg, vol.1, er, somewhere in the appendixes. I'll admit, that's not a core book, but the idea is there.



Ah. the enthusiasm of your first post convinced me that I must of missed something in the core books. I may be wrong, but from what I understand, Zagyg is completely optional. Though since the CKG isn't out yet I can see the temptation to use it as a substitute in the meanwhile.

As I said earlier, even if it was core mechanic and it's not your style, my suggestion is to drop it.

Quote:
Quote:
So you prefer one form of paperwork to another?

Six quick checkmarks on an index-card sized chart, that takes mere seconds per each character at the end of each session, as opposed to adding up the total xp for each monster defeated in each combat, averaging it among the participants, plus xp for each magic item found (and, for some GM's, all treasure found)? Definitely.



Depends on the talent and commitment to prepardness of the GM.

Quickly:

*Scribble out the questions and go to Kinkos

*Be a math whiz and do the XP in his head

Slower:

* Crank up MS Publisher and make the squares line up right on the form and pick just the right fonts

*Write all the monster XP tallies on a list and do the math a whole day before the game starts. (After 3rd level does "give or take a goblin" really matter.)


Tue Jul 25, 2006 1:43 am
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Hlobane Orc

Joined: Sat Jul 15, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 187
Post Re: Alternate XP/Advancement System
Quote:
E.T.Smith wrote:
Castle Zagyg, vol.1, er, somewhere in the appendixes. I'll admit, that's not a core book, but the idea is there.



Step one to annoy me in any discussion: quote the dictionary. Especially online discussions, where it's just a matter of cut and paste. Entirely a personal quirk, and completely off topic, but just saying.



Six quick checkmarks on an index-card sized chart, that takes mere seconds per each character at the end of each session, as opposed to adding up the total xp for each monster defeated in each combat, averaging it among the participants, plus xp for each magic item found (and, for some GM's, all treasure found)? Definitely.



Step one to REALLY annoy me is to try to say a fact WITHOUT a valid reference. Even a dictionary is better than accepting someone's word. Give me a research paper where you don't define a necessary item follows this equation.

No reference = F.

or better

No reference = NOT PUBLISHED.

Of course you don't seem quite the college type with your referencing (and of course we are talking an RPG NOT paperwork, research, or even anything that would ever cross my desk as an editor which of course in my english usage applies to my job...casually I can use as bad English as the next guy).

Now that you've annoyed me slightly (in this instance because of rejecting reference materials and being rather snobbish about it more than not actually leaving good references yourself) ...the actual REFERENCE that you are referring to so you don't leave everyone in the dark as to the idea...is

Castle Zygag by Gary Gygax, pg 247 Appendix H, Awarding Experience Points section 3.

Quote:
Quote:
3. One-half normal xps for each adversarial creature (monster) duped, captured, or driven away.



The quotation doesn't break any laws I don't believe in the quotation of it, however if it is against the forum rules...mods feel free to rearrange the post.

The above IS a rule introduced in Castle Zygag as far as I know and NOT in the PHB or M&T.

In using that rule you should also note the FIRST rule of granting 20 to 50 xps PER HOUR which actually (dependant on how you play) could amount to MORE than what you earn in combat...especially at lower levels and in CZ.

However the great thing about C&C is that you can basically adapt it how you desire. If you even want to use the XP system from 3e with the standard XP table all around the board, you can even do that! On that note your system looks fine from my viewpoint.


Tue Jul 25, 2006 6:40 am
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