Saturday, June 10, 2017

Free Form XP

S'mon had a nice post on "Is XP an Illusion?"  that reminded me of a handy free-form method that I used for my old Frilond campaign to calculate experience awards. The system was derived from the on-line comments of Frank Mentzer.

First, the DM decides how many adventures the characters should complete before gaining their next levels of experience. This number of adventures to increase one level of experience is the Rate of Progress. For the Frilond campaign, we set the Rate of Progress at three adventures per level. This is the fastest advisable rate; if we were playing once a week, we would probably set the rate at something like 5 or even 6 adventures per level.

Next, the DM determines the Level Award (LA). The Level Award represents the total amount of XP that needs to be awarded for each member of the party to advance to the next experience level. In 3e, the LA was easy to calculate: it is equal to the sum of all levels (and equivalent levels) for all characters in the party x 1,000. But as S'mon points out,  there's no reason why this couldn't be a constant,  arbitrary,  and small number like 20.

To determine the amount of XP to award for each adventure, divide the Level Award by the Rate of Progress. This gives the Adventure Award: the total experience to be given for each adventure. This award is the amount given for optimal play: less successful play would not be given the full amount.

Once the Adventure Award is determined, the DM can then use any desired scheme to divvy up the experience. This is the beauty of free form XP: it doesn't matter what type of campaign you run; it gives a specific goal that any DM can then design an adventure around. Like hack-and-slash? Then assign enough monsters so that their XP awards meet the goal. Prefer role playing? Place plenty of interesting NPCs, and pump the role-playing awards up. Want to give experience for treasure? Subtract 1 XP for every gp in the scenario from the Adventure Award. And so on.

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