Roleplaying XP, and why I avoid it.


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First thread on these forums. Huzzah I guess.

Anyway, I recently started and successfully launched my first Pathfinder game that has lasted more than 1 session, and have recently been reflecting on the times I have spent as a player and GM and came to a decision.

I will not reward Roleplaying with XP. I have had many DMs who reward things with XP, and I seek to actively avoid that.

There are reasons I want to do so, but the first reason is that if you start chucking XP at roleplaying, it starts becoming yet one more mechanic. Moreover, it feels like a good method of a person to have another person "dance for their amusement". In some cases, literally.

I had a DM who rewarded roleplaying with XP, but he did so rarely, and I admit the one time I remember getting roleplay XP it was because he was damned impressed with what I said at one point.

But aside from that, he also gave XP for stuff out of game. In fact he would ask people to get him a drink by saying "Who wants 50 XP?" and people hopped to it!

At one point he contrived it so that we would get bonus XP for singing. Not our characters, us, and the "better the performance the more XP".

My character ended up caught in this situation through some quite insane contrivance.

Anyway I did it. It was humiliating but I put effort into it.

Now I am sure some of you are saying "But didn't you have fun?"

NO. I DID NOT. IT WAS NOT FUN. I did it for character XP. That was it. It was humiliating, aggravating, and I found myself doing a bunch of crap in order to try to beg XP out of the guy, and most importantly, IT WAS OUT OF CHARACTER. My character would never have done anything of the sort, and neither would I for that matter, if he hadn't shoehorned it in and basically said either my character pay gold pieces out of pocket or sing (Paid for repairs, long story).

Fact is, some players don't want to necessarily roleplay as much, and some are naturally "into" it and others are shy or simply don't WANT to.

I don't like the idea of people telling other people how to have fun, and this is a way of saying "Have fun my way or get behind on XP."

That is not to say I don't reward roleplaying. To quote a (different) DM I once asked about roleplaying rewards, he said the reward was "more roleplaying."

This makes sense. How do you reward a good roleplayer? His character undergoes more interesting events, or meets new people. How do you reward a character showing real affection towards an NPC? A lifelong friend who is an adventure hook, or a love interest who he ends up marrying. Maybe a trinket or in game reward might do as well, but make it make sense in game.

XP is a completely meta concept. XP is there for surviving dangers or finishing plots, not for making the GM happy.

I don't want to be begged. I don't want to manipulate players. I want to manipulate characters, but even then I want to keep that to a minimum.

XP is used to manipulate players. Gold/roleplaying rewards is used to manipulate characters.

And I don't like manipulating real people.


WoW!

Really mate , the game is about having fun , if you were having trouble with this kind of thing you should have just told the GM , personally i would feel just like you about doing these things , the difference is that i would probably leave the table instead of doing them.


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Brace for people coming in to tell you about how they abandoned XP entirely. :P

I agree that assigning XP for what amounts to chores and servant behaviour is bad form. I do however like to reward good role-playing. I tend to do so in game though, by rewarding the character. If a player gives a good effort, they might find their character is better regarded by authority figures, or develops a positive reputation in the setting. Maybe a mage crafter will give them a discount. Stuff like that.

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

Sovereign Court

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Hi, Welcome.

XP, just say no.


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Scythia wrote:
Brace for people coming in to tell you about how they abandoned XP entirely. :P

You rang?

The biggest problem I have with 'RP XP' is that it always becomes 'most talkative player gets more XP', even though I may stay 'my character is quiet and only speaks when he has something important to say', meaning that my not talking means I am, in fact, roleplaying my character.

It has to go both ways. If you give RP XP, it has to be for RPing the character as he's supposed to be played. If you give Xp for good ideas only, you're hosing over the guy who said his character is impulsive and headstrong who dives in without thinking first, even though he is, in fact, roleplaying his character.

Giving XP for stuff like fetching sodas, however, is pure bullcrap.


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Scythia wrote:

Brace for people coming in to tell you about how they abandoned XP entirely. :P

I agree that assigning XP for what amounts to chores and servant behaviour is bad form. I do however like to reward good role-playing. I tend to do so in game though, by rewarding the character. If a player gives a good effort, they might find their character is better regarded by authority figures, or develops a positive reputation in the setting. Maybe a mage crafter will give them a discount. Stuff like that.

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

Like me!

I moved onto milestone XP quite early. While good RP probably won't net the party a level-up early, it'll make things easier in the long run for getting through the quests/missions/scenarios, which in turn counts towards a level-up.

And yeah, your GM was being a control freak using his powers to get favours.

The Exchange

The most I give xp for is how much work you put into your character. Did you come up with a cool backstory? Type it up and I'll give you 50XP and a unique starting item (usually just a masterwork weapon, or armor, or some potion), Are you an artist and drew your character? 50XP and a bit of extra starting gold. Do you keep a journal of your character's thoughts? 50 xp if you type it up or chronicle it. And that's about it. I keep the rewards extremely small so that its not something the players HAVE to do. And good roleplaying? That's rewarded by things like not needing to ROLL that diplomacy check, getting a +10 on that really awesome acrobatics stunt you wanna pull, finding a higher level magic item than you normally would.

It's an okay process to reward these things, but don't make them a NECESSARY way to play, and find ways to reward all playstyles. Do you have a player who is a tactics and combat guy, but hardly speaks? Give him leadership as a bonus feat and let him command a custom squad in some side stories about holding a tower the rest of the party is staying in while they are wounded. Then let him find a small armory of +1 stuff for that squad.

that's my 2cp anyway.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I don't use XP at all.

If you do use XP, I don't have a problem in principle with rewarding good roleplaying, clever ideas, etc with XP. Yes, it is primarily a way to motivate players, but having everyone be interested and active in the game is important, and if XP as a motivator to help do that works for a group, good for them. I do think though that their are challenges in making sure that it is fair.

I also don't think that XP for 'roleplaying a character as he is supposed to be played' is the right standard. Some of that sometime, but if you are giving a bonus to players it should be for things that enhance, not detract from the groups enjoyment. For example, if a player says 'my character is a jerk' I would probably rarely give XP points for being a jerk, and especially not for being a jerk to other player characters, but when he was a jerk in such a way that gave the entire table a good laugh and promoted the fun of the evening I might.

In general I have found that a lot of 'that is what my character would do' is really just an excuse for the player to act the way they want. For example, while their is nothing wrong with a quiet stoic character, many players who say that do so just because they only want to roll the dice and fight, and not get involved with social encounters etc. That is fine to an extent, but at the core roleplaying is a social game and interacting with the other players is a big part of it. And the fact of it is, that due to the medium how we portray our characters is mostly verbal, so if you want to be a silent type, you should really find some way to portray how your character responds to things anyway, which should be more active roleplaying (either verbally as you describe the arched eyebrow or physically demonstrating the characters attitude in some way).

I agree that XP for serving the GM a soda is bad form, but bringing sodas or snacks for the group to share and stuff like that is legitimate in my opinion. Once again, making sure that everyone has something that they can do and feel comfortable doing is important to keep everything fair.


I reward XP not for roleplaying but for out combat situations which may involved roleplaying or a minimum figuring out what skill to use when and succeeding the DC. The key is to know what skill to use when. Is intimidate the skill that needs to used, if so you can roleplay it but you still get the same XP as if you didn't.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If you are going to use xp, perhaps consider using only group xp. You don't get bonus xp for killing a monster with a single crit, or well-chosen spell. Players shouldn't get individual xp rewards for roleplay. But if the group has a shared xp pool: then players who want to roleplay are doing it to improve the group rather than individual glory and players who are more shy needn't feel like they lose out because they aren't extroverted.

But I think the key thing is that as a GM don't be like the GM you had a bad experience with.

I also prefer not to use xp :-P


Nox Aeterna wrote:

WoW!

Really mate , the game is about having fun , if you were having trouble with this kind of thing you should have just told the GM , personally i would feel just like you about doing these things , the difference is that i would probably leave the table instead of doing them.

Realizing that particular game wasn't fun for me was one of the worst experiences of my gaming life.

Basically I had been in the group for a while, and the number of sessions I had fun in or enjoyed at all could be counted on one hand. I continued playing based on 2 things: Obligation, and Promise.

Basically if I left, the group would end up screwed over without me there, and the DM kept hinting towards a future event in which my character would be SURE to have a pivotal role (he was a rogue/wizard skillmonkey and it was a giant prison break).

In the end though, even that event was so above my characters head that basically, he wasn't a player, he was just a witness. All the characters were.

But it's hard to leave a group, especially when you are invested and it's the only group you are in, and your friends are counting on you.


Scythia wrote:

Brace for people coming in to tell you about how they abandoned XP entirely. :P

I agree that assigning XP for what amounts to chores and servant behaviour is bad form. I do however like to reward good role-playing. I tend to do so in game though, by rewarding the character. If a player gives a good effort, they might find their character is better regarded by authority figures, or develops a positive reputation in the setting. Maybe a mage crafter will give them a discount. Stuff like that.

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

I agree, rewarding roleplay is a good idea, it helps people get involved. I just don't think XP is the way to do it, or otherwise making it so blatant. Good roleplaying is responded too with more roleplaying, as I said, as did you, in the form of NPCs getting more involved with the character. This can take many forms obviously.

And yes I noticed the apparent hate for XP. Not entirely sure why. I assume people instead just cap each adventure with a "level up!"

I suppose in the end XP isn't actually necessary with a static group, but I hold to the traditional idea of XP in case the campaign takes root and the idea of the "character stable" comes into play. I used to play in a D&D campaign where we would swap different characters in and out based on who would be interested and what character we wanted to play at the time. As such, arbitrary level ups wouldn't work in that situation.


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when you don't use XP at all, one. no one goes all murder hobo to kill everything, two. non-combat solutions get easier to manage and can actually be more mechanically rewarding now.


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We have also switched to fiat leveling at given mileposts. It works a lot better with busy adults, who may have very good real life reasons for skipping a game.

Mind you,when I was younger, we did have a lot of fun with somewhat silly roleplaying rewards.

Know your table, do what is best for all....and most fun.

Even I, the grognard of grognards, have switched over.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Scythia wrote:
Brace for people coming in to tell you about how they abandoned XP entirely. :P

Yo!

I quit using XP years ago and haven't looked back (other than to make sure it's not trying to sneak up on me).

-Skeld


StealthMarmot wrote:
Scythia wrote:

Brace for people coming in to tell you about how they abandoned XP entirely. :P

I agree that assigning XP for what amounts to chores and servant behaviour is bad form. I do however like to reward good role-playing. I tend to do so in game though, by rewarding the character. If a player gives a good effort, they might find their character is better regarded by authority figures, or develops a positive reputation in the setting. Maybe a mage crafter will give them a discount. Stuff like that.

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

I agree, rewarding roleplay is a good idea, it helps people get involved. I just don't think XP is the way to do it, or otherwise making it so blatant. Good roleplaying is responded too with more roleplaying, as I said, as did you, in the form of NPCs getting more involved with the character. This can take many forms obviously.

And yes I noticed the apparent hate for XP. Not entirely sure why. I assume people instead just cap each adventure with a "level up!"

I suppose in the end XP isn't actually necessary with a static group, but I hold to the traditional idea of XP in case the campaign takes root and the idea of the "character stable" comes into play. I used to play in a D&D campaign where we would swap different characters in and out based on who would be interested and what character we wanted to play at the time. As such, arbitrary level ups wouldn't work in that situation.

oh in pathfinder everyone should always be the same level, if not the game gets crazy or the GM has to make encounters within encounters, so that the lvl 15 is facing a lvl 15 threat and the 3 level 12s are facing their own threat, and keeping the encounters from mixing is hard, also why is there always one big guy in every encounter, what happens if level 15 guy dies or goes down? s%@@ hits the fan then.

Shadow Lodge

XP is for chumps.


I've stuck with the XP system because it's what my players and I are used to. My group is a pretty relaxed group. Our session are about 60 percent gaming, 40 percent using gaming as an excuse to socialize and crack jokes. So we're kind of informal. I award XP as normal for overcoming challenges. I do give RP awards, but the awards are less often "here's your RP award" and more often "Here's a reward for overcoming a challenge through RP."

I give other bonus XP for a few things:

* Creative use of Plot Twist Cards
* Players who are particularly creative in overcoming an obstacle or challenge.
* Dealing with misfortune with grace and humor.
* The pity xp. This award is usually between 1 and 5 XP, and it usually goes to a player who did something particularly boneheaded that leaves the rest of the group going "whaaaa??"
* Out-of-game items that contribute to the game. Not for GM servant tasks, but for (for example) designing a coat of arms for the players' kingdom or helping with map work.


My group and I always use XP, but we don't give XP explicitly for roleplaying. And definitely not for bribes.

XP is for overcoming obstacles; this doesn't just mean fights or traps, though. You can have social obstacles, chases, etc. Nearly anything can give you XP, and a GM who utilizes this will make the best use of XP available.

If you overcome a social obstacle through Roleplaying, rather than a skill check, the XP gained is a reward for that.

That being said, there ARE times when we reward stuff that goes "above-and-beyond" in terms of roleplaying or strategy - but that's always a rarity, and it's because the instance was so exemplary it really did merit a reward.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
pennywit wrote:
I've stuck with the XP system because it's what my players and I are used to.

First, not judging... just something to think about.

[Note: No monkeys were harmed during this analogy]

First, get a cage large enough to hold five monkeys and a step ladder. You will also need some bananas and a high pressure water hose.

Place the step ladder in the middle of the cage and hang a banana from the top of the cage.

Now put the five monkeys in the cage. They will, of course, go for the banana. One will win out. Turn the hose on the ones who failed to retrieve the banana [see note above].

Continue this process until the monkeys learn they cannot have the banana.

Now, put away the hose. You do not need it anymore.

Remove one monkey and replace it with a new monkey. This monkey has never been exposed to the hose. He does not know he cannot have the banana. When he goes for the banana the others will stop him, probably violently.

Continue to replace monkeys until you have five new monkeys that have never been exposed to the hose. In fact, the hose does not even exist anymore.

They will not go for the banana. They do not know why. It has just always been that way.

Moral of the story... doing something just because its the way it has always been done is not necessarily a good approach.


Tempestorm wrote:

First, get a cage large enough to hold five monkeys and a step ladder. You will also need some bananas and a high pressure water hose.

Place the step ladder in the middle of the cage and hang a banana from the top of the cage.

Now put the five monkeys in the cage. They will, of course, go for the banana. One will win out.

Actually, nearly all primates, especially monkeys, work cooperatively. Typically the ones that don't are shunned, so not only wouldn't they fight, if all but one got the hose that would just create more of an incentive for them to work together.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

First, a correction. I stated that no monkeys were harmed in this analogy when this is, in fact, more of an allegorical story.

Second. How about badgers? Do they get along? Or better yet, humans. We know they ALWAYS work well together. ;)


Dropped XP forever ago. Never looked back. Not even once.

May as well be a drug that isn't addicting, nor fun, nor cool

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I too stopped using experience all together a very long time ago.


chbgraphicarts wrote:
Tempestorm wrote:

First, get a cage large enough to hold five monkeys and a step ladder. You will also need some bananas and a high pressure water hose.

Place the step ladder in the middle of the cage and hang a banana from the top of the cage.

Now put the five monkeys in the cage. They will, of course, go for the banana. One will win out.

Actually, nearly all primates, especially monkeys, work cooperatively. Typically the ones that don't are shunned, so not only wouldn't they fight, if all but one got the hose that would just create more of an incentive for them to work together.

Nearly all primates are social creatures. Doesn't mean they are cooperative. I'm reminded of a story about primates where the group was always very aggressive towards each other (mostly just the males). A disease struck the pack, and killed off most of them. Those who were left were mostly females and kids. When the biologist examined the pack neary a decade later, he found that all the males were no longer hyper aggressive. It turned out that the way this species always worked was that when a new males showed up to the pack (juveniles would leave their pack and join another upon adulthood), the other males would beat them to a bloody pulp to show dominance. Without the older males to continue this tradition, when new males showed up to this primarily female group, they learned to be cooperative and the aggression stopped - for just this one pack.

I heard it on radio lab, but I can't remember which episode it was.

Edit: found the episode. It's New Baboon. I'm not sure you can listen on mobile without the app. But on a computer you can listen for free on the web.


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StealthMarmot wrote:


And yes I noticed the apparent hate for XP. Not entirely sure why. I assume people instead just cap each adventure with a "level up!"

I suppose in the end XP isn't actually necessary with a static group, but I hold to the traditional idea of XP in case the campaign takes root and the idea of the "character stable" comes into play. I used to play in a D&D campaign where we would swap different characters in and out based on who would be interested and what character we wanted to play at the time. As such, arbitrary level ups wouldn't work in that situation.

XP serves no useful purpose; it's only a pacing mechanism. Gaining XP, inherently, does nothing. Starting character gets 500XP? Yay ... nothing changes. It also eliminates the 'must kill things' mindset, or at least dampens it.

And arbitrary level-ups would work just fine in that situation; level up the whole lot of them at once. Dealing with PCs of disparate levels is nothing but an unnecessary pain in the butt.


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1. XP is fun for some folks.
2. Roleplaying XP can certainly work.
3. Getting the GM a beer is not roleplaying in the sense this game was intended to facilitate.
4. If you award roleplaying XP, award it to the party, not the player. That removes most of the sore points--the less immersed or less theatrically talented players may even root for the drama queen players rather than sulk in the corner. Besides, roleplaying is a cooperative effort, not something done in isolation. Everybody contributes simply by virtue of helping set up the situation.
5. If you're a player, don't feel entitled to get roleplaying XP. This is where I generally see this slip up, especially in games where RPXP is awarded--a player feels that she did well but the GM disagrees--or worse, doesn't even notice. Roleplaying is it's own reward. After all, it's why we're at the table, right?


XP WAS much more of a major concern in 3.5, when spells and crafting actually COST XP.

Now, it's just there as a meter to show progression, and how close you are to gaining a new level. It's also another way to reward players without having to give out M4D L0075!!1!

XP is your friend - you just need to handle it properly.


While I am trying to stimulate my group to role-play more, the reward is never XP (they get party wide rp for the scenarios and that is is.) That being said good rp should be rewarded, and at my table the reward is, some roll bonuses, getting more room to make an encounter epic. And if one does particularly well there will be some more loot.

Like many have said before XP is just a way to track the development of player, and killing a goblin shouldn't really have an impact on development...


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Be careful of the Overjustification Effect. When people get a reward for something, they start to value the thing itself less.

If you start paying a child money for painting pictures, they will tend to lose interest in painting for its own sake, and become interested only in doing it for money.

If you give players role-playing XP, they may start to think of role playing as something you do in order to get XP, rather than something that's fun.


I reward good roleplaying (or at least the attempt to do it) with XP. That doesn't mean that someone gets XP for simply being verbose. It means that I reward people who avoid having their character make decisions based on things they wouldn't know, that have the character do things according to it's concept (rather than what is most useful in any given situation), etc. In other words, I reward people for trying to play the character as conceived, even if that leads to some less-than-optimal results. I also give XP for coming up with a unique, clever, or interesting solution to a problem.

I also give XP for killing monsters and all that good stuff. I like for there to be multiple routes to XP, so players and characters with different strengths all have a shot at gaining some.


TOZ wrote:
XP is for chumps.

I don't know that I'd have put it so... succinctly but there you go. That being said, I get the OP's position on RP and rewarding it. There's an article here that I refer my players to, especially the shy ones. In particular I cite #1 and 11 to my gamers in that I say: "be present."

To me that's all RP is. You don't have to be a great thespian. I do have an expectation that, even in the "talky" scenes you will try to get involved and do SOMETHING. Even the player who says "I sit in the bar" while other action is happening is doing something.

To this point I make an effort to take turns, even out of combat. I go around the table and ask folks what they're doing. If the ranger is scouting ahead, what are you doing in the hallway? If the sorcerer is at the bar chatting up a contact, what are you doing in town? By engaging everyone hopefully they will participate in some way.

I don't reward roleplaying; at least, not with anything tangible like XP or gold. Instead I reward with opportunity. You go sit in the bar? Ok, a guy/girl hits on you; what do you do? Maybe that turns out to be the BBEG or maybe they're just an NPC - either way this connection will provide more in the narrative we've created. I do tell my players however that their level of engagement in the gameworld will determine certain boons, favors and other intangibles given back to them by said world. If the player runs his PC like a close-mouthed loner who camps in the wilderness and doesn't even talk to the animals (no RP) then, not surprisingly, the gameworld ignores them.


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Having different pc levels in one party is bad. How you prevent that is up to you. Ditching xp is not the only way.


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Ido think ex, especially bonus roleplaying ex, is a valuable tool for younger and newer players. It rewards good behavior, including showing up!

Like I said before, we have dropped it, but we're all mature experienced players.

Use what is best for YOUR table.


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My philosophy has always been that you get more out of a game you're actively role playing in. You shouldn't talk in character and think in character to get more numbers, you should do it because that is the point of the game and you want to create a vibrant experience for yourself and the others at the table. Overcoming the challenges mechanically is the way to increase your numbers; playing a character while doing it is how you differentiate that from playing a war game. I've come to the point that I've just realized that if you don't enjoy role playing you'll probably be less likely to enjoy playing with me or in my game, so I just take that into account when forming groups.

I'd never give points for role playing because doing it is the baseline expectation. Doling them out for bringing me food is entirely out of the question.


Our DM is running us through the Anniversary Ed of RotR and he said he wont be giving xp. He said he will tell us when to level up. So far it's working out nicely!


I've never used XP. It's better to just level them up when it feels like the time is right... or when it says so in the AP.


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yep, got rid of xp entirely
I want my players to have fun and play their characters the way they feel they should, not feel like they have to do something in order to level


While in most games I run, now, I've gotten rid of XP (since, in PF, it can only ever go up - unlike older editions, it's just a number indicating you're getting higher rather than a tangible part of the universe at large), in some games I play in, I still receive XP.

Very recently, I received some XP for role playing.

I felt awesome.

I wasn't fishing for RP-XP. I didn't want it, and wasn't rooting for it. I didn't even know it was a thing.

What I did know is: this is how my character would act, what they would do, and why.

I had the opportunity for the character to be free for a few moments - totally, entirely free - and let them dictate exactly how they would respond.

The fact that the GM liked it and rewarded it with XP was... well, it felt great.

I, personally, felt encouraged to continue to RP at the same level - kind of challenged to out-do myself (without crashing the game - no XP for dominating the game until others can't play!) and make each post, if not better (though some hopefully), than certainly worthy of that moment.

That's a case of RP-XP doing what it's supposed to do, I think.

I'm still not going back to an XP system... but that's one of those little touches and little moments that I'll miss in the future (unlike many other elements of XP).


The only problem I have with XP, and this includes RP XP, is that it is typically not awarded to the party, but the person. This can lead to unbalanced groups, which frankly is annoying.

As has been said, RP XP is typically awarded to the most outspoken individual. That's really not fair to players with social inadequacies. You end up with a failed drama major two levels ahead of the guy who just came to play a tactical game and doesn't give two craps about playing pretend. Without RP XP he can sit there, shut up, and wait for the part he cares about without disturbing anyone who does enjoy the story and the RP, but with XP involved he is either forced to participate in an aspect of the game he would otherwise ignore or to be left behind.

Unfortunately the mindset on the boards seems to overall be RPers are somehow better than people who don't care for RP and thus deserve more.

It happens with all xp, though. When the rogue (or whoever) disarms a trap, does he get the xp for it, or the party? If he does, and you have a trap heavy campaign, you again end up unabalanced.


My group is so used to Roleplaying XP I don't think they would play a game without it. We roleplay everything. Of course we also play from around 2PM Saturday to 7am sunday we have the time to waste roleplaying little things that immerse us into the world. Though right now we are playing a Hunter the Vigil game.
my group is really not for the gamer that only comes to kill monsters and take their stuff, in my last long term D&D game back in 2010 we went 3 sessions without rolling a single die and the final boss (Shar) was talked down from destroying the Weave no battle ensued which annoyed two of my other players (who no longer play with us) who just wanted to kill her and take her divinity. The characters in that game made it to 54th level and we had been playing that campaign off and on since 2005.


I find role playing XP alienates players. Some players are just not that outgoing. I mean I've had games with thespians that get really into character and they are great fun in a game. I don't think I should reward them for doing something they find fun nor do they expect it. That's just the way they are how they play the game. It wouldn't be fair to reward them because of who they are.

Now at the same time you do reward those who are tactically oriented that make the battle easier. They get XP for monsters. Personally I think getting XP for killing monsters is stupid. You should get XP for completing goals.

That's why when I play a AP I set the XP to be enough to level up when book say so which is based on the goals. I don't tell my players that though. I give them XP but they might not get exactly what the book says for killing monsters. They might be short and bump it up or they could be over and scale it back.


In PF all xp, no matter from what source, is shared between all players

I do give out xp and reward it for lots of stuff...


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I quit using XP back in the early 80's during my AD&D campaigns.

IMO, tracking and assigning XP is busy work for the DM when they should be concentrating on orchestrating the game experience. I found that taking XP out of the equation had no adverse effects on players who wanted or didn't want to roleplay. Zero impact on motivation.

I decided when the players leveled up after a suitable amount of crawling and milestone achievement that prepared them for the next big adventure. It was more like a graduation process with a lot of anticipation on the players part. The only thing I really had to be mindful of was how the multi-class players advanced with the single class players. MC's generally lagged 2-3 levels behind the specialists and our balance was pretty good.

I find other ways to reward players who bring the 'awesome' to the table... I give out special poker chips during the campaign for notable events and actions. At the end of a particular epic campaign, the player(s) with the most chips might win a set of dice, a miniature that represents their character really well or some other tchotchke.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I use XP.

I hand out roleplaying XP. The thing is, I use the rules for doing so (slightly more codified than they're written in the book).

PRD wrote:
Pure roleplaying encounters generally have a CR equal to the average level of the party (although particularly easy or difficult roleplaying encounters might be one higher or lower).

My added bits define a "pure roleplaying encounter" as one in which only passive dice rolls happen. Passive dice rolls are defined to be rolls where the result is independent of the other party: knowledge checks are the big one, but essentially any check that is not opposed, or which doesn't affect anyone outside the PC group, counts.

Works well for my group, because it's just a normal award, shared out as normal.

Edit: I've tried abandoning XP, and I learned that I'm really bad at judging when a suitable time to level up is. I either let it happen too fast and I'm constantly having to adjust for player power, or too slow and my players get frustrated by not seeing their progression. So I went back to XP to give me one less thing to think about when prepping and running my games.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

[deeply offended voice]What!?! No XP for PIZZA??!?[/deeply offended voice]

Seriously, I've seen it all, from carefully mathematically calculated xp from monster xp catalogs, to xp for gold pieces, to no xp, to xp for pizza and worse. I'm sure most folks here can say the same.

I'm tempted to go "no xp" completely, but you know, as long as the DM keeps in mind where the goalposts are, you can use xp as fractional level advancement.

Example: last night we played from 7pm to 2am, and had the equivalent of 3 or 4 gaming sessions, alternating social theatre, combat and investigation. After each major goal was reached, like after combat or problem resolution) I made a show of looking at a few pages, dividing by four and handing out xp. But what I was really calculating was how to adjust xp so that they went from zero to 2000 by the end of the night. So they got 650, then 100, then 200, then 1200 for the climactic end scene-slash-dramatic rescue. But I was really thinking...
1/3... +5%... +10%... +50% = 100% (plus a little bit) of the way to 2nd level.

Players - or at least my players - love getting xp, and writing down and adding up the amounts on their character sheets. Who can blame them?

So I get the "no xp" schtick, but prefer using xp as fractional level awards several times during a session (as long as the players have time to rest and reflect on their adventure up to that point).

Individually awarded so-called "RP XP" sounds like a fine line between encouraging clever gameplay and the "XP for pizza" phenomenon. Not a good day for DM self-respect.


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I feel ya on only having one group. It's the only reason my fiance and I stayed with the second worst group in my entire 20+ years of gaming for so long (we had other gaming friends from TCGs, but their RPG games seemed to always be closed to us, which has made me start to wonder recently). Fortunately for me, my fiance stopped caring about full-party games and we're now running 1on1, with the occasional quick adventure with a friend over skype (major time difference prevents regular gaming, California us, Sweden him).

That said, in terms of XP, I've moved over from the basic XP system to my own, when running my own games. Depending on the speed of the game I want, exp to level up takes anywhere from 10 to 100. As a general rule of thumb, 1-3 exp for an entire session, 1-2 for difficult encounters that are actually overcome, 2-3 for a big-boss fight, and so on.

On a note about that, I mentioned "difficult encounters", meaning relative to the party strength, not based on CR and perceived 'strength'. If the party steamrolls an encounter, regardless of whether or not it's a final boss battle or not, they're not going to get much, if any at all, XP for it. Experience indicates, to me, overcoming challenges in way that makes one grow, whether with new ideas, increased physical prowess, etc. ragelancepouncing a color sprayed, feebleminded, grappled-for-good-measure boss is not something that would grant experience. Beating a boss after having the wizard fail a save vs feeblemind, the fighter dropped thanks to color spray, and the cleric used up all his buff/heal/support spells for the day, THAT is worth a handful of XP.

With pre-published paths, I can't do that as much, so I stick to milestone levels. Still getting a feel for AP/Module strength & "general level area", since most of my career I've either played, or ran my own stuff.


I actually avoid giving out XP all together. I mark places in my campaign where I want the PC's to level and when they get there, they level. I don't math well, so, it keeps things simple for me.


Milestone levels. That's the word I was looking for.

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