I’ve re-written this post a bunch of times, and only slowly came to any conclusions.
This came about after many sessions and the realisation that this party are not “grave robbers”. They will literally pass up treasure when it belongs to someone… Even worse was when the players planned an important rescue which worked smoothly, and got no real XP at the end. So I needed to find some other ways of giving them XP.
The default way of getting experience in most OSR-y games is XP for gold. It’s explicitly the main source of XP in OSE. A trickle of XP is also given for “overcoming enemies”, but it can almost be ignored it is so little. Normally this gives a great way of promoting a certain play style – avoid or outwit the defender, steal the loot and get out with a minimum of fighting. That is – heists, dungeon crawling, and other endeavours.
This breaks down once your players decide they don’t want to do that. Like mine. Even though only one of them is lawful, they have gone hard for the “respect the dead” and “respect other’s property”, and have gone so far as to put away treasure that was lying around… Instead they have been travelling to new places, helping out people, and sampling local foods, and haven’t shown much interest in exploring dangerous places for loot…
Needless to say, they have not been levelling very fast. So this got me thinking about what “level” and “experience” really were in D&D
To me, given the abstraction of HP and other things, Experience and “Character Level” feel a lot like confidence. The character is more sure about their own ability because it has been tested in the past and they know they are capable. Of course hearing other people tell stories about will build that confidence – even if the stories are rumours passed around in an Inn or court. “Did you hear about the assassination? The guards cant even work out how the assassin got into the King’s bedroom!” Well, the assassin knows, and is secretly proud that no one can figure it out.
So this is how I am doing “Experience” in this Vastlands series
“XP for Gold” (Jeff Reints & Luminescent Lich inspired)
Spend coin, get that amount of XP, make a save to avoid repercussions.
1d6 x 100 coin (max) in villages
1d8 x 150 coin (max) in towns
1d10 x 200 coin (max) in cities
* Save vs Spells.
* Giving money to those who need it – but not all charities are equal. Might get involved in corruption, or people who don’t like those disadvantaged people and so don’t like you now, or those who consider this “ill gotten gains”.
* Save vs Poison.
* Drinking and partying, telling stories and bragging. The wrong people might hear about what you did, or some local toughs might want to test if you really are that great. Or you might accidently burn down someone’s house.
* Save vs paralysis.
* spending time preparing for future challenges. Training in a gymnasium, reading scrolls, hiring experts for tips. You might get injured, make a bad impression on important people, or gain rivals.
“XP for challenges” (defeated monster xp OSE)
This is your basic table of XP for various hit dice enemies. More XP for harder enemies.
A slightly generous approximation is (HD^2 x 10)xp
“XP for quests” (Wolves of God “Glories” inspired)
This is making promises and going through with them. Your party vows to do something for someone. Once you have done it you tell the person all about it – make a reaction roll, on a 9+ they find the event memorable enough to tell their friends – and a story develops about the characters. Everyone who participated gains 1000xp .
This roll is modified by dangers encountered, and how useful the result was for the person.
I’m not 100% sure how this will turn out, but its at least another way of getting xp!