GM Question: EXP Awarding

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Babarock
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GM Question: EXP Awarding

Post Wed Oct 28, 2015 2:38 am

I gotta serious query that I can't find a satisfactory answer for. The forum search here ignores the term 'experience', by design, making it difficult to look up any info on the subject.

I am wondering what the popular consensus is on assigning players experience points for non-violent, role-playing, and 'incomplete' encounters. The last thing I want to do is train players to slay everything, no questions asked, by assigning experience for monsters that are killed only. The rules say experience is handed out for monster 'encounters'.

So, say you have a small party of goblins and they fail their morale check when half their number is slain. My inclination is to award the party for the entire compliment of goblins, half of whom they kill and half are driven away. Or say they run into a duo of trolls and manage, somehow, to role-play their way out of a fight. I would award them for a successful encounter as well (according to the rules under 'trolls' the same as if they were beaten down.

Or what about splitting up the EXP? When a party of 4 adventurers encounter and kill a single goblin sentry, do they really earn 3 EXP apiece? Or would it be considered too generous to award them the 10 EXP to each character who 'encountered' the little booger? What about when the killing is unnecessary or excessive? What if killing that sentry was a mindless thing to do, when its ideal purpose was be captured and interrogated for information?

I'd really like to hear the community sound off on this one. Its a really important element of game-play and covered ever so vaguely in the rules. Help a brother out!
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SmootRK
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Re: GM Question: EXP Awarding

Post Wed Oct 28, 2015 7:05 am

Topic of Experience is perfectly vague for me... perhaps by design (Solo can confirm or deny this). With it vague, as a GM, I am very much in control over how to give out the experience. I can accelerate or reign back experience as I see fit... and I give most experience away by fiat, rather than by strict figures noted in the monster entries... reason being, I can make any encounter difficult whether it by Kobolds or by Dragons by modifying the situation, terrain, traps, ingenuity of creatures, enemies with odd allies that convolute the scenario, etc. Likewise I can make any particular scenario easier when needed for the overall "plot" or direction of the game...
Mind you, I am not talking about cheating in sense of ignoring various dice...
Often most of my experience granted (at least within more grown-up games) comes from achieving goals, interactions, etc. with only a minor amount via direct killing/defeat of monsters.

But specifically to your question. 4 characters vs 1 goblin is indeed around 3 xp each. (sum of xp of creatures) divided by the number of participants... but again, I look at these figures as guidance or suggestions rather than LAW.
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Re: GM Question: EXP Awarding

Post Wed Oct 28, 2015 8:21 am

I think it helps to think about what the party are actually trying to accomplish, and then set quite large experience rewards for that. This is in addition to rewards for monsters and treasure.

In the case of your goblin band, if the PC's agenda is to just to kill them because they happened to meet them in the woods, then I'd just give them straight XP - not much. But if their agenda is to stop them terrorizing a local village - a classic 1st level set-up - then I'd probably award about 400 odd exp each (at 1st level) for achieving this, no matter how it was done. They could just smoke the goblins out if they wanted, or trap them in a cave, and never actually have a fight at all.

Having said that, I also keep track of whether characters are gaining appropriate experience in their core skills. I can't level up a fighter who never fights, a ranger if they have spent no time outdoors, or a thief if they have not actually used most of their skill set. So at some point they have to seek out combat and other kids of action, or, you have to engineer it as a DM. Making balanced scenarios helps.

In the case of the sentry - award the 10 XP for the kill, but the party should know it was a dumb move, and one that may have prevented them for getting far more.

In the case of the trolls - I'd definitely give them full XP for pulling that off.

The only other thing I'd mention is that boss level fights should be worth more. If you pit a party of 1st level characters against some ogres, and they win, you could double the XP. That's about 500 per ogre - enough to hasten things along towards 2nd level.
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Re: GM Question: EXP Awarding

Post Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:28 am

I'm not playing BFRPG with my group right now, but another B/X clone, so I guess I could run BFRPG the same way :

1- I give XP for fleeing monsters.
2- I give XP for gold and treasures found and brought to safety.
3- I give XP for major/minor objectives, generally set when designing/adapting the adventure. Example : when they found the captured merchant in B2, I gave the party 400 XP. When they will find Lareth's plot in my modified T1's moathouse, I will give them 1000 XP. And so on.
4- I give a small XP bonus to the character who does the killing blow. And that's only because my players were keeping track of their number of kills since we started playing together. Don't worry, they're not powergamers, they love a bit of humour and over-the-top epicness.
5- I give some small bonuses (30 or so at level 1) for good roleplaying/good comprehension of what's going on when arguing about what to do. I give 2-5 of those bonuses per session.

It works great so far, and the players seems satisfied.
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Re: GM Question: EXP Awarding

Post Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:22 pm

Ditto. I'm very similar to mTeasdale, though I don't give credit for the killing blow and give a lot more xp for good roleplaying.
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Babarock
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Re: GM Question: EXP Awarding

Post Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:35 am

Thanks guys, for your thoughts. I guess EXP is a lot like skill checks in that they are open ended by design. I just want to know that there is a relative framework for EXP vs. accomplishment so that the player fell a justifiable reward for their accomplishments.

How much is too much? How slow is too slow? I imagine it changes from game to game or from GM to GM. We just talked this out over a Pathfinder campaign recently when there was a difference of opinion about the value of a gold coin. I tallied up a small list of items that had an estimable modern value and came up with a rough average of about 20 modern bucks per GP. That said, it changed the way we threw money on the table when a barmaid served drinks (and so forth).

I really appreciate the way that each one of you has contracted your own system, using the core rules and the foundation. I definitely don't want to over complicate the issue. I just want 'believability', consistency and reliability in my game worlds so that there is a suspension of disbelief and a deeper immersion.
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Guyon
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Re: GM Question: EXP Awarding

Post Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:34 pm

Actually Babarock,

It's your game and your call. Give out Exp if the players do something original. Forget the hard rules, and make what works for you. In the end did the players say, "I have fun." That is what makes a good game.

Use voices when you DM for encounters.
Add plots twists
Voice sound effects when a creaky door opens.
Put them in an environment, not just a dice rolling event.

Best of luck on your campaign
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Babarock
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Re: GM Question: EXP Awarding

Post Fri Oct 30, 2015 2:33 pm

Thanks, Guyon.

Hey, what about when the party gets split up and one PC strikes something down or encounters something on their lonesome? Do you grant 100% EXP to him/her? Or do you still split up the EXP equally?

I suppose the same would go for encounters where one player overwhelmingly takes care of business, either through expert role-playing, superior tactics or sheer dumb luck. What then? Reward the star player a bonus, but still distribute EXP to all for standing on the sidelines?
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Re: GM Question: EXP Awarding

Post Fri Oct 30, 2015 2:38 pm

For simplicity I split XP among those present on the event that gave the XP, if half the party wins an encounter then only them get the XP. Sometimes a PC can't be helpful for one or other situation.
Players will take care of other players that do nothing on the encounter.
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Woe
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Re: GM Question: EXP Awarding

Post Fri Oct 30, 2015 11:54 pm

Babarock wrote: Hey, what about when the party gets split up and one PC strikes something down or encounters something on their lonesome? Do you grant 100% EXP to him/her? Or do you still split up the EXP equally?
I give it to anyone involved in the event. Must be present to win. On the rare scenario where one PC plots and scripts the entire event, and it goes to plan, I give him/her the benefit even if not present. But that's rare.
Babarock wrote: I suppose the same would go for encounters where one player overwhelmingly takes care of business, either through expert role-playing, superior tactics or sheer dumb luck. What then? Reward the star player a bonus, but still distribute EXP to all for standing on the sidelines?
I give credit for superior role-playing and tactics, but not lucky dice rolls. However, I'd break that up into two awards. Everyone present gets the "defeated foe" experience and the causal PC gets an extra bonus. Why? Even though the other PCs weren't the main cause for the win, they experienced it. They're now smarter. It's like in high school athletics -- even benched, you could still learn a decent amount about how to play better if you watched the game in front of you.
Freya HP 24/24 AC 16 (17 two weapons)
Kilian HP 20/20 AC 19 (18 no shield)
Talin HP 29 AC 16
Tiana HP 11 AC 12 SP 8/8
Fido HP 9/9 AC 16
Anna HP 12/12 AC 15 (19 defensively)
Bruce HP 20/20 AC 16 (15 no shield)

Red Oak map
Red Oak loot
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