YARC: Experience & Leveling Up

I think it’s to talk a little about XP and Leveling Up. I’ve used lots of different methods over the years. Some worked. Some didn’t.

Players always want their characters to level up. It means new cool tricks, more HP, and more of whatever that character does. Leveling up too fast means a lot of times the campaign comes to end sooner. It’s sort of like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Here’s the Big Bad in Season 1. Now for Season 2 we need even Bigger Bad. And Season 3 an even BIGGER BAD. And so on. Level up too slow and some players will almost look at like a punishment. Like many things in life it’s all about hitting that happy medium. As for what neat tricks that characters get when they do level up, that goes hand in hand with class design.

Here’s the meat of this post. Awarding XP and what scale to use. Yes, I’ve done the good old gold pieces for XP plus whatever XP that the monster provides. We’ll call this the traditional way. Here’s my opinion on this one. First, it just takes too much time that could be better spent actually playing. And the number (IMHO) are much bigger than they need to be.

I’ve done the current darling of the “milestone” method. Sure there’s no actual accounting and it really doesn’t take into account attendance, participation, cool and interesting plans by the PC’s. I’ve also used the Level Up after so many sessions. And that pretty much has the same side effects as the milestone method.

What I was looking for was something akin to the traditional method but without all the bookkeeping. And look no further than Dungeon Crawl Classics. It’s a quick and easy system. Here it is in a nutshell. Each encounter (and it doesn’t have to be a combat encounter) is worth 1 to 3 XP based on the actual difficulty and general coolness of the encounter. It’s a big judgement call by the GM but then a GM has to make judgement calls all the time. It’s part of the job. The numbers awarded are much lower and much easier math. For example in normal DCC with a 0 Level Funnel, it takes 10 XP to reach 1st Level. 50 XP for 2nd Level. But since I haven’t decided if I want to do a funnel or not. Characters can start at 1st level and just shift the XP needed. So 10 XP to make 2nd.

Oh and in case you’re wondering. My house rule for character death? New PC has 1/2 XP. If a character dies in the middle of the battle, I give them the option to play the monsters and offer some bonus XP if they kill any of the other PC’s. I know it’s a little mean.

And that’s my little rant on leveling and XP. This whole little project is coming together in my addled little brain.

2 thoughts on “YARC: Experience & Leveling Up”

  1. As a player I favor slow but regular advancement in levels. I’ve never much cared for the traditional D&D experience points charts that double in cost every level (even if more powerful PCs tackle more powerful monsters that yield more XP). Advancement to about 4th level feels too fast and after that it seems to take forever. By 7th level it scarcely seems worth while to keep track of the numbers.

    So maybe something like DCC (which is reminiscent of the old Champions system) with a standard cost for each new level would suit me better. If you average 3-5 XP per session (figuring 2-3 encounters) and 50 points a level then a character who is played every week could expect to gain a level every 3 months or so.

    In my old Champions game there was a “session extra point” awarded by a player vote to the character who did the most heroic or outrageous thing during a session–I’ve always liked that.

    Liked by 1 person

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