Thursday, 14 June 2012

X is for XP

Ah, the Experience Point - a humble, satisfying way of tracking your character's improvement and advancement. Way back in the mysteries of time, you spent a penny, you got a point - truly, simple days. It encouraged a lot of planning and thoughtful exploration - while you did get experience from defeating monsters, the risk : reward ratio was way too high, and combat too deadly, to make it a viable option for levelling. Instead, you planned ways to get rid of monsters, not defeat them, or avoid them entirely, to get your hands on the cash. And, while you used it to replace weapons, buy equipment, and research spells, you still had a lot left over for whoring and drinking.

Now, you have kids boiling anthills and rampaging through dungeons without a care in the world, hoping to level up to get their hands on the new and exciting class features at the next level, so they can further rampage and gain XP. Cash is used mainly to buy magic weapons, to enhance your killing prowess - those poor whores will be going hungry!

I have to admit, I prefer the older edition way of doing things - you gained XP from adventuring, not fighting. I am thinking, should I ever run an old-school game, to maybe add in some new forms of XP:
Spending money grants you experience, as always.
  • Fighting should still grant a decent amount of experience points - after all, combat and epic battles are the stuff that great adventures are built on. But I like the idea of making it a risky proposition, s not too much XP.
  • I'll maybe add something regarding traps - disabling a trap using Thief skills grants no XP, but is a hell of a lot more reliable. But, if you puzzle out a trap and think of a unique, clever, or entertaining way of getting around it, you gain a little bonus XP. Good to ensure that everyone can get some XP from traps, not just the Thief.
  • Maybe an Exploration Bonus - for every 100ft of dungeon you faithfully map, the party gains 5XP. Not mapping or just sketching will grant nothing. Every Secret Door found will grant a bonus (like Traps), and maybe some set XP rewards for finding certain things (say, the Defiled Altar to St Cuthbert gives 10XP for finding it).
  • Bonus XP for doing interesting things - reconsecrating that Altar might be worth another 10XP, maybe more to a Cleric of St Cuthbert.
It also opens up something I've been wanting to write up - a system like the Warhammer 40k RP games, where Experience is used to buy advances, and you go up in Rank depending on how you choose to spend your XP, not on how much you earn. It allows for a class-based system with so much more variety than the D&D Levels and Feats.

Of course, a lot of games now don't use XP at all, and have a variety of advancement schemes - FATE being one that instantly springs to mind, with its lack of XP, GM-designated advancement periods, and the ability to gain new Aspects through gameplay (where appropriate). But, I find that, as a player, I like having something to work towards - and XP are a great way of tracking that, and always give something to look forward to.

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