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Posts : 38
Join date : 2011-04-06

PostSubject: Incentives   Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:03 am

I've been musing over levels, XP, and incentives lately. XP is a wonderful thing because it is a totally OOC resource. Since the Demon-Haunted World is a pretty nasty place, there's really no reason why killing my NPCs to take their stuff instead of doing quests for it wouldn't be an equally viable method of wealth accumulation once you're past a certain point on the power scale. I could come up with some contrived reason why the money is no good or won't be accessible, but that wouldn't be fair, so yeah, if you kill the king to loot his treasury, there will be treasure in the treasury. But that doesn't mean you'll get XP for it.

There is a problem with leveling, though. I'd like to be consistent with the kind of XP rewards I give out, but the first two (or so) levels of D&D are like the Stone Age in Age of Empires. The only objective at that stage of the game is to get out of it as fast as possible. From level three or four on, you can start doing heroic things. At level one? A lucky Kobold bolt could kill half of you in one hit. A very lucky Wizard can kill two Orcs in melee in a single round. The buffer between full health and bleeding out is so small for everyone that it's kind of hard to pile on any kind of tension without dropping players, like how Camlann went down from a pair of bad die rolls, Salzlar nearly went down because he got hit by one bolt (granted, he's a wizard), and Rowan's vignette character went down just from falling into a bunch of pits. This is particularly bothersome since the dice hate Stubbazubba*.

The upshot of all this is that 500 XP was probably a bit excessive for one adventure, but it'll help us get out of the level one reefs faster, so what the heck. Most levels we'll probably spend several missions in between leveling up (i.e. way more than two), in order to give you guys enough time to actually get used to all your shiny new equipment and abilities before replacing them with even shinier ones. Also, I'm going to be giving out little XP rewards (typically not more than 10 or 20) for anything which makes your character more of a character and less of a pile of numbers that stabs monsters in the face. Really good lines is mostly what I'm thinking of, but I don't want to rule out other little RP flourishes. In order to qualify, it has to be both entertaining (to me, at least) and something that makes your character more distinct from the others. One of these two can slide a little if the other is done really well. Also, Rowan's kind of cheating because he's got a mountain (no pun intended) of Dwarf cliches to pull from, but there you go.

Another way to get some side XP: Vignettes. The first one was just a way to give you a preview of what the Kobolds were capable of before they killed any PCs with it, but future ones will be pure-RP scenes intended to shed a bit of light on portions of the story your characters won't personally witness. In an RP-vignette, you get an NPC with a few quick notes on personality and motivation PM'd to you along with an objective in the RP scene (which is usually some kind of debate or council or something). Sometimes these objectives are inherently contradictory, but most of the time it's just really hard to accomplish everything with the resources available. All actions that would be handled mechanically are handled by DM fiat in an RP vignette, to keep things moving quickly (and because I don't alway have stats on hand for these NPCs if you won't be meeting them for a while/ever with your PCs), so if you start a fight, I'll just decide who wins. Vignettes last thirty minutes. If we hit the time limit, the vignette ends immediately and if no one had any kind of upper hand in the discussion, then I'll just decide which course of action they ultimately went with.

*No, really. One of the first P&P RPGs we played together was Star Wars d20. We were each playing multiple characters because our group then consisted of literally just me and him, and we were young and stupid and thought it wasn't an RPG until you had at least four characters in the party. Also because we were young and stupid, our characters began with conflicting motivations and we had absolutely no plans to resolve them. Plus, one of us was technically the GM. Shut up, we were, like, twelve. Regardless, one of my two characters took one of his hostage, and his other two characters staged a rescue. There were a total of three of his and two of mine, and one of his was a ridiculously hardcore combat droid. He had a plan all worked out where the droid would come in first to shield his other guy, and etc. etc. What actually happened was his droid missed twice, one of my guys scored a critical on it and took it out of commission, the other one shot his hostage, and then they brought down the last of Stubba's characters by virtue of there being two of them. I don't think my guys took a single point of damage in the whole combat. The dice just hate him. The stats Camlann's got right now are his mulligan, and I was shocked he got such good ones, because his first roll had (if memory serves) a total of negative two modifiers, the highest stat being about twelve or thirteen.
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PostSubject: Re: Incentives   Thu Apr 28, 2011 6:13 am

Something that I will certainly be taking from your campaign is the use of the vignettes. It's an excellent idea, and I have no idea why I've never seen it done before.

P.S. I've been playing dwarves for a decade. If that's not cheating, then I don't know what is.
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PostSubject: Re: Incentives   Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:42 am

Ah, good times.

Yeah, that experience did put a damper on my relationship with Star Wars d20 for a while. I think until the next movie came out or something.
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PostSubject: Re: Incentives   Thu Jul 14, 2011 1:04 pm

Alright. XP rewards are now standardized as follows. Also, for calculating actual XP amounts, just take the percentage, hack off the percent sign, multiply by 10, then multiply by level. For example, 1% is 10 XP at level one, 20 XP at level two, 30 XP at level three, 200 XP at level twenty.

Completing Major Mission (all objectives): 50%
Completing Major Mission (primary objective only): 30%
Completing Main Mission (all objectives): 30%
Completing Main Mission (primary objective only): 15%
Completing Minor Mission: 10%
Completing Personal Objectives: +10%*
Successful Vignette (very hard objective): 5%
Successful Vignette (hard objective): 3%
Showing Up On Time (you lazy little blighters): 2.5%
Successful Vignette (moderate objective): 2%
Successful Vignette (trivial objective): 1%
Roleplay XP: 1-3%

*Note: This means in situations where you have a strong RP objective that is totally independent of the group's objectives in the area. If you're hunting down Count Rugen because he killed your father Domingo Montoya, you get the XP for the mission itself (this being the climax of the entire campaign, it'd qualify as a major mission) plus an extra ten percent. So would Wesley for retrieving Buttercup. Really, Fezzik is the one who gets shafted for XP in this situation.

Note: There is almost certainly going to be some kind of XP multiplier base upgrade in the completed dungeon creation system, which is why I'm standardizing XP gains in the first place.
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