Classless & Leveless experience gain idea


Homebrew and House Rules


Noting the many, many threads on the arcane/martial imbalance, rogues are useless, the ideas behind the MCA archetypes and the hybrid classes in the ACG. I've been wondering whether an alternate system might be to do away with all the classes and levelling up and instead have individual skills, feats, class abilities, to hit scores etc instead worth an XP amount.

E.g. a skill point might be worth 100XP, a feat 500XP, the ability to cast a spell once a day, 1000XP per level etc.

As characters gain experience they can choose to spend them and get cheap but minor incremental improvements or save them for a more significant ability. In some ways this goes back to the 1e idea that weaker classes level faster than more powerful classes but provides flexibility for the player to choose and customise their character to be exactly who they want.

Rather than starting from scratch has anybody else thought of anything similar?

Dark Archive

I remember that Sean K Reynolds once posted his step XP system, which my group uses because it just gets rid of the minutae of XP numbers altogether. Other than that, you're kinda getting into World of Darkness or Exalted territory in a few ways.


Mutants and Masterminds uses a similar system, though the numbers are much smaller. Characters begin play with Power Level maximums for each type of ability (for example +6 Attack Bonus maximum at PL 6). Buy ups use the same expenditure as character creation, but you only get a really small number of points per session.

I've done a mash-up of PF/M&M with limited success.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Hugo Rune wrote:

Noting the many, many threads on the arcane/martial imbalance, rogues are useless, the ideas behind the MCA archetypes and the hybrid classes in the ACG. I've been wondering whether an alternate system might be to do away with all the classes and levelling up and instead have individual skills, feats, class abilities, to hit scores etc instead worth an XP amount.

E.g. a skill point might be worth 100XP, a feat 500XP, the ability to cast a spell once a day, 1000XP per level etc.

As characters gain experience they can choose to spend them and get cheap but minor incremental improvements or save them for a more significant ability. In some ways this goes back to the 1e idea that weaker classes level faster than more powerful classes but provides flexibility for the player to choose and customise their character to be exactly who they want.

Rather than starting from scratch has anybody else thought of anything similar?

Yes, there is a published 3rd party that does just that. 'Everything' has an XP cost. I think it goes a bit far, but could start you off.

'Complete Control' by Dream Scarred Press. 'Complete Gear' I have found more useful, allowing players to level up their items as their characters gain experience.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

I've been tempted by the flexibility implied by a system like this. And then I've been turned off by thinking about just how much harder it makes it for a designer to set up challenges for an arbitrary party.

Designing challenges for your party, when you have access to their character sheets, isn't really any more of a problem. But designing challenges for an arbitrary party, the way someone looking to publish an adventure would, gets harder as you give players more flexibility.

The problem is that the more flexibility you give the players, the more they're going to deviate from whatever you think the norms are. And especially if there's something they think they can get away with neglecting entirely. For example, I've got a wizard right now, and due to terrible Strength and mediocre Dexterity, I simply avoid any spell that would involve me making attack rolls. (Lots of melee in the party and no desire to invest in Precise Shot contributes as well.) On this character, I might never, ever invest in increased to-hit, instead saving all that XP for caster level or feats. It wouldn't meaningfully lower any stat I have (my CMB & CMD are already utterly laughable), but it would increase something I do care about further.

Basically, the more opportunity & ability you give players to min/max, the more they're going to. You'll get a wide mix of total one-trick ponies and very well rounded characters, and it will be impossible for anyone outside the table to figure out what to expect.

It's a concept I look at periodically, but just can't get behind.


Thanks for the pointers and feedback so far. I like the idea of mixing my idea with a variant of SKR's step system and setting limits on how far a character can advance anyone attribute per overall level (as in the standard rules).

SKR's step system is adapted so that different types of thing are placed into different buckets and a character has to periodically buy from each bucket, possibly each bucket has a minimum spend per overall level that is equivalent to the weakest class for that attribute.

E.g. a character who under the default rules has amassed enough XP to be level 6 could at best have a BAB and HD equivalent to a level 8 martial character. To have got to a level 6 equivalent they would have had to bought some improved saves, skills and some from the 'other' category as well. Likewise a caster couldn't focus entirely on getting spells at the cost to everything else

This should avoid completely min-maxing a character. Definitely still in the theory crafting stage though.


You might want to look at the fantasy flight games systems as several of their more recent RPGs have systems that don't really use classes past character creation.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

I've read SKR's system, and that I'm just fine with. The idea there is just to allow more upgrades withot actually causing level inflation. Basically, instead of leveling up every 4 sessions (hypothetically), you would gain the BAB, saves, skills, or class features associated with that level up after each session. Or something very similar. The end result is the same, except that instead of jumping from 1 to 2, you're going 1 to 1.25 to 1.5 to 1.75 to 2... essentially.

The end result is the same, it's just giving you partial levels incrementally.

And that is a solid potential approach to giving the players more frequent upgrades. It might be especially valuable in a low-loot game, because it helps give the players a sense of advancement.

The systems I really have a problem with are the ones that let you buy up anything, possibly charging more for each successive level in a given attribute. I've played a couple, and they've gotten frustrating fast, especially as several of the attempts to encourage a well-rounded character instead end up with people saving up points to buy up the thing they really care about.


That's a fine idea if you can balance it all out. With such a major overhaul you'd have to break down all of pathfinder though. If that's what you're looking for I'd say it would be better to just use another system that's already based around the purchasing concept.


There was a 3.5 3rd party "system" called Buy The Numbers by Spencer "The Sigil" Cooley (self-published I think), that basically "used experience points to provide a class-less, level-less fantasy role-playing system".

CJ

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