Monday, March 19, 2012

Expierence Points Drive the Game - XP For Exploring the Dungeon?

I won't rehash what we all already know - how you give out XP defines a lot of what happens at the table. It works in the corporate world the same way - you work what you measure - and rewards drive behavior.

If I was being fidely and forgey - well I would overall the whole system potentially. There are a lot of really good games that do a good job with this, Burning Wheel comes to mind as well as the keys from the Shadow over yesterday. But then that would Azemol a bit more complicated than what I am looking for, and also it would hamper being to move from campaign to campaign - or least it would impact the fungibility of players from different backgrounds being able to play (probably another post all together on one of the things that makes old school DnD is while every table is different they are relatively fungible from a rule set - but probably not always from a style).

Instead I go back to the good old standby's plus a bit more. I want Flaming Canyons to be like when I played the B/X originally - a lot of exploration - what's around the next corner - what's on Level 2. But I also really like in my game of the impacts as characters grow and you get into the "end-game".

Like many I use the Dave Arneson rule: you only get the xp if you spend the gold you get out of the dungeon. Meaning that just getting isn't enough. What you spend on doesn't matter, except you don't get any XP from buying equipment or making magic weapons. All else you spend on does give you XP. If wine, women, and song is your thing, then by all means. But you could also get paying a ton of bribes to gain an audience with the Baron Throckmorton or in building up your Overlord Lair or whatever. What you spend it on shows some of how you see your character.

Jeff has a similar system for his carousing. I don't limit to carousing, but I do like some of his ideas about how big of a city you can spend it on. In the past I haven't done this, I just assumed somehow - usually 'off camera' the character spent the money. Make something up, scratch the gold off your sheet, and we talk about it (briefly) and maybe I add a twist or two to what you said, usually some sort of complication, a 'I always knew he was that type of guy' or just jot something down to add for future adventure fodder.

I will have think on it a bit more if I want anything more fiddely than that. One thing I do want to do is encourage characters to take some additional risk though. Exploration is a big thing, espically those old so tasty weird Enochian Ruins like the Burnished Tower of the Spellthrone. So in addition to the rule on gold, and monsters, I will add one on exploration.

So my XP system looks like:
  • 1XP for every 1GP a character spends on non-equipment/magic item creation 
  • Standard Monster XP per B/X
  • +25 XP times the Level of the Dungeon for each room you explore in a dungeon. 
  • +50 XP for trying something weird in the dungeon (what happens if I pull this lever; sure I'll drink from that rainbow hue liquid squirting out of the fountain that we found in this 1000 year weird fortress buried in the side of the mountain about 200' underground!) 
  • +100 XP if someone dies in that room of the Dungeon from the Dungeon (i.e. killed by a monster or trap or something weird). Those that survive learn from these events. 
  • +100 XP for going down the stairs to the next level
  • +200 XP for going down a level by means other than stairs caused by the dungeon (that teleporter you weren't expecting will also learn you some - at least if you make it out. 
  • Need to work it out but something similar for Hex Crawling and clearing Hexes. 
Or something similar. I would probably get some tokens or markers or something and just hand them out for each event. When you get back to town you can cash them in for XP for exploring new stuff and coming back out alive to talk about it.

Interested in feedback on this - especially the level of the awards and how others would see to implement XP for exploring the dungeon.


1 comment:

  1. I don't think you need to explain XP rewards as a type of learning. Just reward the actions you would like the game to focus on. I've played in a game where XP was awarded per dungeon room or area explored and it worked well. I'm not sure how well it would scale over a long campaign though. You might see something along the lines of people opening every closet door for the XP rather than because they were interested in the environment. I don't like the idea of rewarding survivors for a PC death though. That means it is in your interest for your friends to fail.

    You might also want to check out this post about exploration XP:

    This approach has the advantage of not requiring as much calculation, and also gives the players an incentive to engage with your setting. The regions the players seek out will also tell you what part of your setting they find interesting.