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Friday, March 18, 2011

AD&D 2e XP charts

I kind of wish that the 2e xp charts were in more use among the various OSR games. I think it made a lot more sense for a mage to get xp for casting spells instead of killing monsters. Same with the thief using his thief skills and the cleric doing holy stuff to get xp.

Some ideas (based off recollections of 2e):
(XP awards are not given for stuff that doesn't really affect the adventure. No thieves just sneaking around for no reason to get xp).

100 XP per spell level cast.
100 XP for learning a new spell outside the ones acquired due to level gain.
100 XP for creating a potion or scroll.
500 XP for creating a permanent magic item.
1,000 XP for creating a major magic item (DM discretion).

XP as standard for killing monsters.
100-500 XP for participating in jousts or melees.
500 XP for commanding troops in a battle.
500 XP for creating and implementing a battle plan.

100 XP for successfully Turning Undead.
200 XP for converting important NPCs.
100 XP for leading a major religious service in a village, town, or city.
100 XP per spell level cast.
1 XP per gp donated to the Church (up to a max 10% of total wealth gained from an adventure).

100 XP per successful use of a thief skill (that helps in an adventure).
1 XP per gp gained through thiefly activities.
100-500 XP for planning and successfully completing a heist.
XP as standard for monsters killed by backstabbing or poisoning.


Guy Fullerton said...

It's probably fair to say that xp for gp (with a little bit thrown in monsters) is neither realistic nor simulationist. But I think xp for gp results in a better play experience compared to the system you outline.

When a player is interested in advancement, they tend to focus on the activities that yield xp, and they will often perform those activities solely for the sake of gaining the xp. In other words, play becomes about the activities that produce xp. (To be clear, play isn't *always* about that; I'm talking specifically about the times when players are focused on advancement.)

By giving xp for fine-grained actions, play becomes about those fine grained actions. Magic-users and clerics become focused on casting spells, regardless of whether it's really necessary or appropriate or best for the "adventure." Thieves become focused on picking locks or searching for traps just to get better at those things, even though the action might be redundant. Fighters have reason to be disappointed if the "adventure" would be better served by avoiding combat.

For some classes, the xp rewards are even completely unrelated to adventure locale danger, and in extreme cases the reward promotes operation in a too-easy environment: A 5th-level cleric need only turn successfully to get 100 xp, so he will accrue xp faster on the 1st dungeon level faster than he will accrue xp on the 5th dungeon level! (It's easy to turn skeletons. It's hard to turn ghasts.)

And by giving xp for class-specific actions, play becomes about different things for different PCs, which puts more strain on the players/party than their already is. (Not that there's necessarily a lot of strain on any given group; in my experience the effect of different player goals is usually pretty minimal. YMMV.)

In the end, this amounts to play becoming about PCs "practicing". (Again: This is when the players are choosing to focus on advancement.) This is one of the key failings of 2nd edition; its xp recommendations change the focus of play in an unappealing way.

Personally I prefer it when advancement-oriented play is focused on the group delving/searching through dangerous locales for a common reason. You gain xp for "getting there," not for what you do on the way. For that reason, I prefer xp for gp over the 2nd edition method.

And strictly speaking, xp doesn't have to be for gp in order to avoid the problems associated with the 2nd edition xp system; almost any coarse-grained reason unrelated to class is sufficient: xp for rescuing captives, xp for finding special locations, xp for controlling territory, xp for completing quests/stories, etc. (But for a variety of reasons, gp is still my preference.)

Dan said...

I think you missed the part where I noted that practicing skills doesn't give you xp.

Guy Fullerton said...

I didn't miss the part where you said the ability use must affect the adventure. That's why I put "practicing" in quotes, and I tried to structure the examples such that they still were still affecting the adventure ... just in a weak way.

(And besides, sometimes "the adventure" *is* just the players looking for advancement, not some kind of quest or mission where the referee can make a judgement call about whether an action is relevant.)

Basically, the players will be focusing on ways to use their skills in the context of "the adventure." It becomes a bit of a distraction, and disturbs the usual flow.

I'd much rather their focus be simply completing "the adventure" in the safest and most expedient way.

If you haven't had a chance to use the 2e xp system before (or the similar system from Rolemaster / MERP, or the "check mark" system used in various Chaosium games), then it may be hard to understand my point. I suggest you tell your players about it, try it for a dozen sessions, and keep an eye on how they play differently under that system.

kelvingreen said...

the "check mark" system used in various Chaosium games

This one is a persistent fallacy. Nowhere does it state in any version of BRP I've read that characters get their skills ticked by default on a basic use of the skill. It is only in specific and dramatic cases, usually a critical success or failure.

That's not to say that it doesn't happen -- it clearly does or the fallacy wouldn't be a persistent one -- but it's not a fault of the system.

Guy Fullerton said...

I hoped to avoid painting an unfair picture of Chaosium games in general, which is why I said "various". The two that I own *do* use the check mark system: Boxed Stormbringer, and BRP 3rd edition.

(In that copy of BRP, I suppose there's room to argue that an automatic success - no roll necessary - wouldn't garner a check mark, but there's no wording that actually says as much. Any successful skill use gives that skill a chance to improve after the adventure.)

kelvingreen said...

I am very surprised by that. I have various versions of the BRP system at hand, going back to the mid-1980's and none of them grant a tick by default.

Dan said...

They explicitly tell you not to grant a checkmark just for a bs skill use. You need to do something important to get a check.

Guy Fullerton said...

You'll hear no argument from me against the assertion that some Chaosium / BRP-derived rulesets explicitly state that check marks only accrue in exceptional, dangerous, stressful, or important situations. I've seen kelvingreen make that assertion before, and I've also seen first-hand some Chaosium / BRP games that include additional requirements. (And it turns out that I own one such game that I had forgotten about!) But I have proof that not all include such a statement.

I own more versions of Stormbringer than I remembered, and I checked all that I own:

Stormbringer (2nd edition boxed, 1" thick box, 1985):
- Requires an unparried hit with a weapon to gain a chance to improve that weapon skill. (Section, Players Book, page 37)
- Requires "use" of a non-combat skill to gain a chance to improve. Note that the rule does not explicitly require a successful use; it only says "use". However, the example of improvement shows a character successfully using a skill. (Section 4.1.2, Players Book, page 50)
- I looked through the gamemaster sections for additional requirements/prerequisites for gaining of a chance, and I found nothing.

Stormbringer (3rd edition hardback from Games Workshop, 1987):
- As above, except for the locations within the book: Pages 37 and 51, respectively.

Stormbringer (4th edition softcover, 1990):
- As above, except on pages 38 and 51, respectively.

Elric! (1993):
- Requires success *and* gamemaster decision for adding a check mark to a skill as an indication of possible later improvement. (Experience, page 51)
- Offers advice to the gamemaster that a dangerous or stressful situation may be a prerequisite for allowance of a check mark. (Experience Check, page 151)

And then my copy of Basic Role-Playing, which has this cover:

Basic Role-Playing ("Third Edition" on cover, 1981):
- Requires success on a skill for a chance of improvement. (Experience, page 9)
- I found no additional requirements/prerequisites for gaining a chance of improvement elsewhere in the 16 page book.

Now I fully admit that I could have missed a relevant statement in one of the other sections of those books; I did not re-read each book in its entirety. But I stand by my findings. It wouldn't surprise me if there are other Chaosium / BRP games that give improvement check marks just as liberally.