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Awarding XP
I was just reading James Maliszewski's post on alternate XP systems. I know the usual Grognard stance is to go by the book, where XP is awarded only for monsters killed and treasure found. I've tried to do this, but my problem is that I've had some very enjoyable sessions that involved neither the discovery of treasure nor the killing of monsters. And I absolutely hate the idea of not giving XP for a session like that. Not only does it just seem unfair, but I'd worry that it would discourage the types of actions that lead to such sessions.

I also hate 'good roleplay' rewards. I don't want to base XP on how well I perceive a player to be playing their character. I know GMing comes with a lot of intrinsic power, but really, who am I to judge how well another person plays the game? As long as everyone's having fun, isn't it just mean-spirited to give one player more XP than another because they're a better actor, more talkative, or just have a more dominant personality?

OK, what do I like to use? Well, I've posted before about goal based XP. I really do love the idea of the players ultimately controlling what kind of actions will bring them XP. If they want to kill monsters and find treasure, great we'll do that. If later they want to uncover the plot to overthrow the king, we can do that too. It's adaptable and player driven. The only problem with it is finding players who will actually put in the effort to make it work. Sigh.

OK, here's what I did for my recent Warhammer game. I gave 75 XP per session, plus a bonus of 10-50 XP based on how much the players controlled the session vs. how much I controlled the session (more XP for them controlling the session). Why? Well, first off, I have to give XP for something, and if it's not monsters or treasure or plot, it might as well be just for showing up. Second, if I'm going to encourage any kind of behavior, it's the kind that makes the game more fun for me and takes some of the strain off my end.

Really though, the whole XP as a reward to encourage behavior X I'm starting to think is a load of bunk. The players will do what the feel like doing, and will rarely if ever associate actions from a previous session with the amount of XP they got, even if it's completely obvious, like 1 xp per gp found. Maybe I've had good luck in picking players, but I just don't think they really care so much about XP that they're going to change the way they play just to maximize that reward.

Ultimately, I think my Warhammer system seemd pretty arbitrary to the players. I don't think that was necessarily a bad thing, and at least it was reasonably easy to tally. I'll keep trying different systems, but I don't think at this point that I'll ever find one single right way to do it. I think every group of players and every game is different, and you've just got to find what works for your game and stick to it.
October 19th, 2009 - 08:10 am | Comments (2) | PERMALINK

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