Roleplaying XP, and why I avoid it.


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Rewarding XP to a player for getting the GM a drink is an abuse of GM power.

Many years ago I helped my then GM move his belongings into a new house and he offered me XP and a magic item as trade. I turned it down, but was really taken back by that. A beer and pizza would have been fine.

XP or no XP, as long as players are role playing and adding to the collective story I'm happy.

-MD


1. We have had no problems with XP for years. I think it is purely case by case basis. Some just don't like it and what ever works for them.
2. Last game we got levelx100 as extra xp including MVP award. This time around there isn't levelx100 but people are getting MVP award. It seems the players are mature enough to not beg for XP by over playing their characters.


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i try to keep the characters at the same XP level and try to include loot from everyones wish list in some manner, such as having them quest and get the item crafted as a reward. so i generally abandon XP and for RPing a players character accurate to their current personality and developments, i give bennies instead. essentially poke chips that can be used to reroll a d20 after the results are revealed and take the highest of the rolls, auto confirm a critical threat, gain an extra full turn, or gain a specific feat or ability for 1 scene (such as a combat or social encounter) and give everybody 3 free bennies per session. getting bennies requires a page or so worth of character traits i can use as fodder to reward you for. for example, a mute character gains bonus Bennies for not speaking and instead writing on their cell phone or similar item.

for example, for spending a bennie at the beginning of combat. you can double your crit range with all your weapons for that combat or temporarily have at will use of any spell of a level you can cast as a spell like ability from any spell list

for example, have 5th level spells? you can spend a benny to gain heal as an at will spell like ability cribbed from the adept list for 1 fight scene

1st level spells, you can crib standard action lesser restoration from the paladin list without being a paladin


Individual RP XP is an iffy concept, and never turns out well in my experience. As was stated, you start rewarding being a spotlight hogger. So, if you do use XP and want to reward roleplaying, you need another path there.

First, decide how much of the total XP you want to come from XP for roleplaying. 20%, 50%, more? Basically, then, put in a corresponding amount of encounters. Say you want 20% RP XP, then for each four combat encounters you put in an encounter designed to roleplay for a solution. See, roleplaying can be seen as just another way to solve problems. If a trio of dwarves are upset about losing something and are about to trash an inn, judicious use of previous dwarven contacts, Knowledge checks, social skills, promises, threats and suggestions can get the dwarves to calm down enough to organize a search. Certainly, you COULD fight the dwarves, but in a RP encounter, this is a worse result and should provide less XP - so the intended RP award should be correspondingly higher. Second, if you kill the dwarves, you can then loot them, and roleplaying a solution won't provide that, so you need to provide something else to compensate. For a RP encounter, RP rewards are more appropriate than loot, meaning friendships, story hooks, promises, contacts, information and so on. Free beds at the inn, perhaps?

You could also give some thought to the old cliché of a hero having a troubled past that will eventually need solving. Let the players decide what needs to be done in the campaign, say, three things, then when confronted with this, let them have an individual XP award for it. Admittedly, this is more story awards, but still.


My group stopped awarding roleplay XP when it became apparent that the spotlight hogs would always get the most. The final straw was when the GM had us spy a possible encounter when we were hidden, and made it fairly clear that even with the benefit of an ambush, we were way out of our league. Most of the party decided that discretion was the better part of valor, except for one player, who was captured pretty fast. The GM then proceeded to describe the crap the captured character was going through in extensive detail, and pretty much forgot about the rest of the group. While an opportunity for escape was given out by the end of the session, so was a pile of roleplay XP for it, while the rest of us who had actually made the smart decision got absolutely nothing. I told the GM after the session that he wasn't so much rewarding good roleplay as punishing smart decisions.


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Hmm... At the risk of proving someone right, I've dropped xp. Most published material has the 'expected level' right in there. The stuff I make up, I know what level I'm planning on the PC's having reached. So every so often when a bunch of stuff has occurred or at a convenient break point, "Everyone is now level 7."

However, the groups other GM does still use XP for his campaigns. He calls it RP XP. But really it is XP for anything 'special' that came up during the session that really was in-character for the PC. J's lore warden came up with a really kool tactic. D's cleric managed to convert the heathen rather than kill them. M's sorcerer bluffed the dragon into backing down. Etc... It is usually pretty minor amounts of XP, but some people do like it as an acknowledgement of something unique or memorable that they have done.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Give out hero points instead.


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Scythia wrote:


I do give XP for puzzle and problem solving, but it's awarded party wide.

Pretty much this. If/when I award any kind of bonus xp, it's party-wide. This removes the competitiveness over points and helps keep everyone at the same power level. Quiet/shy types don't feel left out, and everyone benefits from getting more involved.

Also, as a DM, it's just less bookeeping when everyone is the same level/XP. Encounters are much smoother to design. Adventures are much easier to plot out.


RP XP sucks when you are a mute IRL because there is no way you can get it, and well, i have to bring my boyfriend or find a way to type things if i want to game because i am a small framed mute female.


Scythia wrote:
I do give XP for puzzle and problem solving, but it's awarded party wide.

Party XP for solving problems is a standard part of the game.

Bonus XP for PCs who do things that are in character, realistic, entertaining, and completely unnecessary - that's role-playing XP.


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XP is a wonderful tool to either encourage or discourage certain things at the table. BUT be careful how you use it or it can unbalance the party.

The first thing I did was throw away the XP for killing stuff that is the default system; all that does is encourage murder-hobos. I wanted a system very similar to the way the "no XP" people do it but without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. So the biggest batches of XP you will get are quest or goal related. That keeps people on task during the game if they want levels. And it keeps people hitting those targets of this level by this point in the adventure.

BUT I like the encouragement XP can provide for playing in good ways rather than bad ways. And lets face it I am sure many of you have encountered that player, you know the one, always plays loners with dreams of being serial killers, doesn't play well with others, always expects everything to be handed to him on a silver platter. That guy CAN'T stand falling behind the group even by a little. SO awarding a sensible XP amount for role playing is a GREAT way to trick him into learning a better way to interact with others. He starts out thinking he is getting ahead by playing up his character's personality during play or by contributing to the group's teamwork (also something I give XP for) but in reality he is being taught new skills. Skills that he can use in ANY game to become a valuable team member and memorable character whether they give XP for it or not. In every case I have been able to try it out for a decent length of time I find it turns these "that player" people into much better players. And saves them from being the guy always picked last for a group or worse always rejected.

To this end you CAN'T make the role playing award something the loner at your table can't reach. So giving it to the guy who played his character best or who through sheer force of running off at the mouth dominated the table is actually counter productive. I have people choose personality traits for their character at the start of the game, those traits can be nearly anything so long as YOU can play them out at the table. AND you get the XP award if you can stay true to those traits throughout the session, regardless of how well anyone else did. Sure this is a low bar, but that low bar is exactly where a role play award needs to be, you can't expect everyone at your table to be thespians unless your players are all part of a theater troupe.

I just love that look of excitement on a new players face when they realize that they can open up, step out of their shell, and play someone completely different. And most importantly NOT be ridiculed for doing so, but rather encouraged instead.


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XP is not worth the headache. I suggest using hero points for the purposes of rewarding players. Does the same thing with far less work.


again, pretty hard to get RP XP when you are mute due to the fact that the DMs i have seen offer it, give it to the talkative spotlight hog and usually turn the Diplomancer into a god.


Our MVP or Most Valuable Player award is put to a vote at the end of the night. The GM doesn't just decide, the group decides who put the most effort in that evening or who made the game most interesting. The MVP is sometimes split amongst several players. Since it is voted, sometimes you don't expect to get the award.


Auren "Rin" Cloudstrider wrote:
again, pretty hard to get RP XP when you are mute

Pretty much every aspect of the game is going to be difficult if you're mute. Most play in a normal RPG consists of describing what your character is doing.

Grand Lodge

I give XP for RP, but I run 2nd edition AD&D, so characters of differing levels is not a big deal... I also give individual XP class awards as well; like giving a fighter (or other warrior classes) 10 extra XP per level, per hit die of the creature(s) defeated (e.g. a 1st level fighter would get an extra 10 XP for defeating a 1 HD creature).

While individual XP of any kind is clearly labeled as an optional rule in 2nd edition, there are actually several examples given for times to hand out XP for RP...

2nd edition DMG wrote:

Common Individual Awards

Player has a clever idea: 50-100

Player has an idea that saves the party: 100-500

Player role-plays his character well: 100-200

Player encourages others to participate: 100-200

Defeating a creature in a single combat: XP value/creature

Something else that I give XP for is treasure (1 XP/GP), but that XP is usually split among the entire group...

And while (all) of this added extra little bit of XP may be enough to push a character over the number of points needed for their next level, it is never enough all by itself to actually raise a character's level.

Sovereign Court

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Oh man, Digitalelf just gave me a headache thinking about his XP system.


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It is the system from 2nd edition. Wasn't much fun back then either. 1 GP = 1 XP is from 1st edition, and that was even worse.

Grand Lodge

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Pan wrote:
Oh man, Digitalelf just gave me a headache thinking about his XP system.

It's not "my" XP system. It's laid out in the 2nd edition DMG.

For example:

2nd Edition DMG wrote:

Table 34:

Individual Class Awards Award

Warrior

Per Hit Die of creature defeated: 10 XP/level

Priest

Per successful use of a granted power: 100 XP

Spells cast to further ethos: 100 XP/spell level

Making potion or scroll: XP value

Making permanent magical item: XP value

Wizard

Spells cast to overcome foes or problems: 50 XP/spell level

Spells successfully researched: 500 XP/spell level

Making potion or scroll: XP value

Making permanent magical item: XP value

Rogue

Per successful use of a special ability: 200 XP

Per gold piece value of treasure obtained: 2 XP

Per Hit Die of creatures defeated (bard only): 5 XP

Grand Lodge

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Sissyl wrote:
It is the system from 2nd edition. Wasn't much fun back then either. 1 GP = 1 XP is from 1st edition, and that was even worse.

Too YOU and YOUR purely anecdotal experience perhaps. But to MY over 30 years of purely anecdotal experience, this has never been the case... :-)

And XP for gold is in 2nd edition as well...

It's "hidden" on page 69 of the (1995/2014 re-release) DMG:

2nd Edition DMG wrote:
As an option, the DM can award XP for the cash value of non-magical treasures. One XP can be given per gold piece found. However, overuse of this option can increase the dependency to give out too much treasure in the campaign.

Sovereign Court

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Whatever, you can keep it.


Matthew Downie wrote:
Auren "Rin" Cloudstrider wrote:
again, pretty hard to get RP XP when you are mute
Pretty much every aspect of the game is going to be difficult if you're mute. Most play in a normal RPG consists of describing what your character is doing.

for the other stuff, i at least have my whiteboard and my boyfriend. but it never seems to work for RP XP.

Shadow Lodge

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Pan wrote:
Whatever, you can keep it.

This.


Auren "Rin" Cloudstrider wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Auren "Rin" Cloudstrider wrote:
again, pretty hard to get RP XP when you are mute
Pretty much every aspect of the game is going to be difficult if you're mute. Most play in a normal RPG consists of describing what your character is doing.
for the other stuff, i at least have my whiteboard and my boyfriend. but it never seems to work for RP XP.

It should work for RP XP. Unless your GM is being unfair by awarding speech but not text?


Aranna wrote:
Auren "Rin" Cloudstrider wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Auren "Rin" Cloudstrider wrote:
again, pretty hard to get RP XP when you are mute
Pretty much every aspect of the game is going to be difficult if you're mute. Most play in a normal RPG consists of describing what your character is doing.
for the other stuff, i at least have my whiteboard and my boyfriend. but it never seems to work for RP XP.

It should work for RP XP. Unless your GM is being unfair by awarding speech but not text?

my boyfriend reads the Text aloud for me, because everybody just ignores the Text otherwise because nobody else seems to want to read a small girl's whiteboard. they are afraid i be writing bad Twilight Fanfics when my boyfriend knows i hate Twilight and explains it is perfectly safe.

Grand Lodge

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Pan wrote:
Whatever, you can keep it.
TOZ wrote:
Pan wrote:
Whatever, you can keep it.
This.

Thank you (I think)?? I'm glad I have your permission to have fun... :-P

Not that you two would ever say, let alone imply that my way of having fun is "badwrongfun" (at least not on a forum that dissuades and/or frowns upon such talk anyway), now would you? @@

Shadow Lodge

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Digitalelf wrote:
Thank you (I think)?? I'm glad I have your permission to have fun...

That wasn't permission, any more than a hazmat suit is permission to keep a plague to yourself.


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Digitalelf wrote:
Pan wrote:
Whatever, you can keep it.
TOZ wrote:
Pan wrote:
Whatever, you can keep it.
This.

Thank you (I think)?? I'm glad I have your permission to have fun...

Not that you two would ever say, let alone imply that my way of having fun is "badwrongfun" (at least not on a forum that dissuades and/or frowns upon such talk anyway), now would you? :-P

Oh no, but I'm letting you know it's rather tremendously unfun for me and my crew.

Hence the idea behind "You can keep it." I think, as in "If it's great for you, that's great; it sounds unpleasant to me." not that "Your fun is bad fun." but "Your fun is not my kind of fun."

Different tastes.

(This is one reason why the built-in versatility of Pathfinder is amazing.)

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Tacticslion wrote:
(This is one reason why the built-in versatility of Pathfinder is amazing.)

Yep, d20 has always had that strength. You can cut XP out completely, or port over 1/2E's system instead, whatever you like.

Grand Lodge

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TOZ wrote:
Digitalelf wrote:
Thank you (I think)?? I'm glad I have your permission to have fun...
That wasn't permission, any more than a hazmat suit is permission to keep a plague to yourself.

If you say so...

But comparing my way of having fun to a plague (even in the very "beat around the bush" way in which you did) is just dripping with condemnation, which in turn, IS saying that my way of having fun is somehow bad.

I don't care if my way of having fun is not to your liking, but please, could you at least turn the other way before you look down your nose at mine?

Sovereign Court

Digitalelf wrote:
Pan wrote:
Whatever, you can keep it.
TOZ wrote:
Pan wrote:
Whatever, you can keep it.
This.

Thank you (I think)?? I'm glad I have your permission to have fun... :-P

Not that you two would ever say, let alone imply that my way of having fun is "badwrongfun" (at least not on a forum that dissuades and/or frowns upon such talk anyway), now would you? @@

You're welcome. Surely you would flag if you felt it was necessary.

Grand Lodge

Pan wrote:
Surely you would flag if you felt it was necessary.

Trust me, if I had felt it necessary... I would have.

Grand Lodge

Tacticslion wrote:

Different tastes.

(This is one reason why the built-in versatility of Pathfinder is amazing.)

I agree... Though, I don't play Pathfinder anymore after having switched back to 2nd Edition AD&D.

Shadow Lodge

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Digitalelf wrote:
But comparing my way of having fun to a plague (even in the very "beat around the bush" way in which you did) is just dripping with condensation, which in turn, IS saying that my way of having fun is somehow bad.

I said what I said. Anything you read into it is your own perspective, not mine.

But I will apologize if my earlier post offended you. When I said 'XP is for chumps' it was in jest. I still play in some games that use XP, I just don't run games with it.

Grand Lodge

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I thank you for that. :-D

I actually did not take offence at the "chump" comment; it was the "plague" analogy that rubbed me the wrong way...

So again, I thank you for the apology.

Sovereign Court

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I too apologize digitalelf if my post was offensive. I was only saying, "no thanks, but knock yourself out."

Grand Lodge

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Pan wrote:
I too apologize digitalelf if my post was offensive. I was only saying, "no thanks, but knock yourself out."

I thank you as well. I really do appreciate it. :-D


I agree with the few people who talked about the Hero point mecanic (or the beanies variant). That is what I use as a GM to reward players who care enough about their unique character to not want to let him/her die. If there is a game session with heavy RP (Trials of Lazarod, We Be Goblins) I give one hero point to players who did not acted like my usual friends but as their characters.

With each point, they can either make sure that their character do not die if they would have, or they can add a d20 to their roll.

That way, people still level at the same time. The roleplayer increases the odds of his character surviving combat while rollplayers can just play their stats, not feeling the pressure to roleplay. If their character die due to bad rolls or bad strategy, they can just reroll a new character...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Digitalelf wrote:

I actually did not take offence at the "chump" comment; it was the "plague" analogy that rubbed me the wrong way...

So again, I thank you for the apology.

Yeah, it was just the first thing to come to mind. (Actually the first was radiation poisoning but hazmat suits don't protect against that.) I'll have to figure out a better analogy.


XP is central to my play style. If you can determine when you should level up due to a "plot" or "story", I don't want to be in that game.


I'm okay with this, but I'm curious if you can expand upon your distaste? Is it because it sounds too "rails"-y? Because, though again, I understand the idea, it's not always a case if that, at least in my own games.


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I like games that are player-driven almost exclusively and I also like "old-school" games where the game is about adventurers seeking fortune and glory, rather than heroes on a quest. Also, in my games advancement is not a given, rather it is a result of successful play.


Dungeon Master Zack wrote:
XP is central to my play style. If you can determine when you should level up due to a "plot" or "story", I don't want to be in that game.

To each his own. I'd much rather have the Plot or story determine levels since we've been caught in two different situations due to the XP system. Either we've leveled too fast and are going through the encounters like a breeze, or we're almost dying because we didn't level fast enough. Going by "plot" or "story" can ensure that the PCs are the right level to make the play challenging but not too challenging.

But, like I said, to each his own. There are enough people out there who like XP systems and enough that don't to make both types of players' preferences happy. :)


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Liranys wrote:
To each his own. I'd much rather have the Plot or story determine levels since we've been caught in two different situations due to the XP system. Either we've leveled too fast and are going through the encounters like a breeze, or we're almost dying because we didn't level fast enough. Going by "plot" or "story" can ensure that the PCs are the right level to make the play challenging but not too challenging.

That's not true, in my games at least, because if you're playing in a player driven game, the PCs decide which challenges to undertake in the first place. If what they are facing is too hard or to easy for that matter it's their own fault. Unless they happen to encounter a monster that is an outlier for the area, but getting into whether the PCs should always face "appropriate" challenges is a whole other can of worms.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Dungeon Master Zack wrote:
That's not true, in my games at least, because if you're playing in a player driven game, the PCs decide which challenges to undertake in the first place. If what they are facing is too hard or to easy for that matter it's their own fault.

I find it to be a shared burden. Sure, that's what the PCs chose to face, but the GM chose to place those challenges in the way. Nothing stops the GM from designing everything at +4 CR, save his own sense of fairness.

Personally, I find that ruins the 'my character earns his experience' idea, as the GM is constantly letting the players win by designing his encounters to be winnable.


Dungeon Master Zack wrote:


That's not true, in my games at least, because if you're playing in a player driven game, the PCs decide which challenges to undertake in the first place. If what they are facing is too hard or to easy for that matter it's their own fault.

In your games, perhaps. In AP's? Not so much depending on how XP is given out. And how do your players decide what challenges to undertake? Do you give them a list of things they can do and how hard those things would be? How do they know if the challenge they want to do is too hard?

I just prefer to hit milestones and level them up rather than trying to math out the XP. Also, I hate math and have problems with numbers like a dyslexic has with letters, so I try to avoid XP for multiple reasons in games I run and I let others keep track of the XP in games I play in that has it.

Shadow Lodge

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Liranys wrote:
And how do your players decide what challenges to undertake? Do you give them a list of things they can do and how hard those things would be? How do they know if the challenge they want to do is too hard?

I dunno, maybe by roleplaying their characters learning of them and using their knowledge to figure out what they can handle?


TOZ wrote:
Liranys wrote:
And how do your players decide what challenges to undertake? Do you give them a list of things they can do and how hard those things would be? How do they know if the challenge they want to do is too hard?
I dunno, maybe by roleplaying their characters learning of them and using their knowledge to figure out what they can handle?

Different play styles is all I can say. And it depends on the DM too. How much does your DM (or how do you) like to screw with the players and how often do your players make bad rolls? Our group has some of the WORST luck with rolls and using knowledge to figure out if we can handle something... not so much.

but again, my biggest issue with XP as a DM is having to do the math. As a player, it's having to keep track of the points, which takes some joy away from the game for me. I'd rather RP and have the DM think, Okay, they just completed that part of the scenario and for the next bit they'll need to be this level. So everyone level up!

But that's just me. I have no problem with people playing in different types of games or using XP or even giving XP out for RP. It's just not how I prefer to do things.

Dark Archive

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dungeon Master Zack wrote:
That's not true, in my games at least, because if you're playing in a player driven game, the PCs decide which challenges to undertake in the first place. If what they are facing is too hard or to easy for that matter it's their own fault.

I find it to be a shared burden. Sure, that's what the PCs chose to face, but the GM chose to place those challenges in the way. Nothing stops the GM from designing everything at +4 CR, save his own sense of fairness.

Personally, I find that ruins the 'my character earns his experience' idea, as the GM is constantly letting the players win by designing his encounters to be winnable.

It isn't a case of: A + B + C + D series of encounters, which all designed to be level appropriate/winnable, thus why bother even giving xp.

In some cases a few of those encounters are designed way above the PCs head, beyond their ability or even foreshadowing encounters - you can still give them some xp for running away/avoiding it. At least till they get higher level/x item to come back and trounce it.

I agree, the GM does decides the challenges the party will face, the party decides how (and if, or when) they will face them. Xp based systems work for different groups as a way to track progress and since encounter success is not guaranteed by design that also means that xp is not guaranteed.

----

As far as xp for RP I don't give out very much. If someone pulls off some very good RP they will get some points but I also assign points at the end of sessions in sort of "round table" discussion with the players.

- Coming up with good ideas/good guess/addressing the plot
- Heroic acts
- Incredible tactics/meta play calls (big ones, not regular play decisions)

So I will go around the table after assigning mission/encounter xp and then recap the last session and asking - "Did anyone do anything special last time?" The players then throw out their ideas and thoughts.

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