Thursday, 6 January 2011

Experience Rules: Monsters

Killing, defeating, or otherwise overcoming monsters and hostile NPCs:
100 xp/ hit die, plus bonuses detailed below. If the party’s defeat of the foe does not permanently remove it as a threat, half experience is gained now, and the other half cannot be gained until the monster is permanently defeated.

·         Bonuses for minor powers: (such as Armor Class less than or equal to 3, non-combat spells, ranged attack): +50 xp

·         Bonuses for major powers (poison, regeneration, breath weapon, Armor Class less than or equal to 0): +100xp

·         Experience is not gained for killing beings that were not hostile, such as livestock or townsfolk. The DM should also withhold experience from attempts to “farm” experience points by seeking out much weaker opponents outside the context of a planned adventure. Such activities are a waste of time in a face-to-face adventure game, where the fun comes from facing novel challenges.

Comes with a 200 xp Stupid Monster Bounty.

Yes, these rules are generous compared to, say, Labyrinth Lord or AD&D. Do they encourage combat? They don't discourage it. The threat of dying should be enough to spur them to find clever ways around combat, and I already have an anti-farming proviso in there. If your players are not scared enough of dying throw tougher monsters and situations at them.

Let's face it, if you are going old school hardcore and saying "The game is about sneaking around a dungeon and getting treasure and avoiding monsters unless you can help it!" and also saying "XP shouldn't come from magic items because they are their own reward!" and finally saying "I will respect the sacred experience tables as if they were graven in undying brass!" then you are committed to doling out 1250-2500 gp (or silver if that's your base unit), per player, just to make first level.

That's plate mail for me and my henchman and my torchbearer, thank you very much. I don't even know what you're supposed to buy at 4th level: Boats? Real estate? Politicians? Sure, you can take it away from them with taxes, fees, or what-not but then it just feels like a treadmill. I feel like Gygax was at that player-hating point in his campaign when he issued the ridiculous training fees in the DMG, whereby a thief could make 1st level entirely through stealing treasure and still not have enough gold to level up, rather than rework the treasure rules or heaven forfend, the experience tables.

My motto is "Players stay hungry" when it comes to treasure. First level characters should go for even a 300gp stash like it was Fort Knox, not a week's allowance from Dad. Also, the flat rather than exponential growth of monster xp in my system should mean that relatively more of it comes from treasure and items at later levels. But at level 1, a hair's breadth away from death, even defeating a bunch of orcs should be a pile of experience.

As always, let me know if any of this seems far fetched or out of sync with your experience.


  1. I gave up on calculating XP two decades ago
    Random dice roles seemed just as fair

    Part of the fun of role playing games is that players can develop or customize their characters throughout the course of adventuring. As they face and overcome challenges, PCs gain experience and knowledge, which allows them to fulfill the role demanded of them. In game terms, this equates to increases in the character’s abilities, skills and level. At the end of each game session, each character receives an experience throw (d6 for PC or d4 for NPC):
    Table 9.1
    Experience Table

    1) +1 Random Skill/ Table 4.1
    2) +1 Ability Score/ Table 4.2
    3) +1 Level iff primary ability score >
    thrice current level; 4) +1 Level if human*
    5) CHOICE (p.21)
    6) GMs choice * *

    * Too bad, no level increase this game session for other races (pp.13-18) unless dwarven fighter, halfing thief, orc drifter, half-elven mage or elven agent/ sorcerer
    * * Either add +1 level or CHOICE; however, the GM may choose to grant NO experience this game session. This may seem harsh, but granting no experience at the end of a game session serves as a check or warning to players who are disruptive, obstinate or rude.

    In our mundane, modern Earth, even criminals, politicians and personal injury lawyers expect their friends to be loyal, honest and dependable.

    Role playing is a cooperative effort that allows friends to gather around a table for play, mirth and shared imagination; this is a unique experience that cannot be duplicated with a computer monitor. Table top gaming should be a pleasant experience for all. This is facilitated by the willing sensation of disbelief and each player adhering to a style of play that is consistent with his character’s class and race; funny voices not required!

  2. Yep, I have considered session based xp too. After I'm done itemizing my number xp rules I'll post up my view of the pros and cons of that approach. Thanks!