Thursday, March 15, 2018

Compound XP Bonuses: A Viable Alternative to "The Worthless 10"?

I noted in two previous posts that a 10% bonus to earned XP doesn't give you anything.
     See post 1 here.
     See post 2 here.

A follow-up thought I had was to try a compound XP bonus. This would simply be a matter of applying the XP bonus to your XP total each time XP are awarded, rather than only to the just-earned XP.

So it would work like this:

  • Session 1: You earn 400 XP. Your XP total is 400. Apply your 10%. That gives you 440 XP.
  • Session 2: You earn another 400 XP. Your new XP total is 840. Only now apply your 10% to that number (instead of to the 400 XP you just earned). That gives you 924 XP (instead of the 880 you would have had if you were applying the bonus only to the XP just earned).
  • Sessions 3 and beyond: Just keep applying the 10% XP bonus to your total XP each time more XP are awarded.

Again, using the OD&D Fighter XP progression as a baseline, and assuming an increase of one level every five sessions for a character with no bonus, we'd get the chart below. I've included the numbers for "no bonus," the traditional "10% to earned xp" covered previously, and the "10% compound bonus" for comparison. The yellow cells are where a fighter would level up depending on the bonus applied. The word "lap" indicates that the character jumps a full level ahead of a no-bonus character.

What you get is the fighter with the compound bonus advances at an accelerated (perhaps too accelerated) pace relative to one without the bonus. The fighter with the compound bonus "laps" the no-bonus fighter at session 15, hitting level 5 at the same time the no-bonus fighter hits level 4. He then gradually increases his lead as he moves toward lapping the no-bonus fighter a second time at session 35. At the end of that session, the no-bonus fighter rises to level 8, while the compound-bonus fighter hits level 10.

Would the compound bonus work? For a long campaign, I think I would not want to use it. For a short to mid-length campaign, perhaps going to only level 5 or 6 or so, I think it could be an interesting way to handle the XP bonus in a meaningful way. But even then, I don't think it would be a better way than the simple, flat 25-30% bonus to earned XP from my previous posts. I think the higher flat bonus to XP earned might be the cleaner way to achieve the end I'm seeking.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

An Idea for an Open Table Game: Falcon's Gate

I've been thinking of starting an open table game in the future.  My job has been getting more and more demanding of late, so the concept of an open table game – sporadic, spontaneous play sessions, whenever time allows, with potentially different groups of players each session and no serious commitment on anyone's part – has been presenting itself in my mind as an increasingly good option.

My best idea for such at game, at the moment, is this one.



The Ancients and Their Underworld Gates

In an age before men and their kin walked the earth, the world was ruled by the Ancients. Little is known of this elder folk, beyond what is gleaned from the underworld complexes in which they dwelt. The underworld realms of the Ancients open out onto the surface world in structures now known as underworld gates.

Falcon's Gate: An Underworld Entry Near the Town of Tercel.

The Curse of the Grey Coast and the Lost King

For almost a decade the Kingdom of the Grey Coast has suffered from misery and misfortune. Many believe the kingdom cursed. In a dream, a vision came to King Peregrin. The key to the land's salvation lay in the recovery of an artifact, the Iron Crown of the Ancients.

The Iron Crown, seen in King Peregrin's Dream.

Peregrin's vision revealed the crown in a chamber deep in the underworld near the city of Tercel. Three years ago the king led his most trusted retainers on an expedition to recover the crown. The party never returned.

Peregrin, the Lost King.

Tercel and Its Underworld Gate

Tercel is a small port town known as the Hope and the Sadness of the Grey Coast. It lies at the foot of a wooded ridge sloping to the sea. At the top of the ridge is an underworld entry known as Falcon's Gate. It is here that King Peregrin was last seen, and it is here that people believe the Iron Crown can still be found.

Tercel, the Hope and Sadness of the Grey Coast.

Adventurers in Tercel

Adventurers from across the kingdom come to Tercel to plumb the underworld depths beneath Falcon's Gate. Some seek only plunder, some hope to rescue the king, and others seek the crown that will heal the land.


For an open table game, this concept has some advantages:

1. There would be no group-specific long-term plot lines to complicate things and make group (in-)consistency an issue. There are just three overarching "default goals" that any group could select from when entering the underworld gate: find the king (or clues to his fate), find the crown (or clues to its whereabouts), or just go treasure-hunting. This is a feature of open table gaming that makes it appealing for "pick-up and play."

2. There could still be really short mini-hooks (e.g. the gnomes in room X offer to pay the PCs to deal with the bugbears in room Y that have been harassing them, or similar scenarios) easily resolved in a single session, or else easily ignored.

3. Everything a player would ever need to know about the world is in the text above, which weighs in at fewer than 300 words (less than one page). All the context anyone needs in order to start playing can be absorbed in under 90 seconds.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

XP Bonuses Part Deux

A couple readers requested I do the table for 20% and 30% bonuses. So I've done those along with a 50% bonus and a 100% bonus (just to push things to extremes). I did these all with the assumption of a leveling pace of one level every five sessions for an unmodified fighter.

So here's what you get:

At a 20% bonus, the fighter with the bonus levels up consistently one session before the fighter with no bonus.

At a 30% bonus, the fighter with the bonus gets to level 2 one session earlier, then consistently levels up two sessions before the fighter with no bonus. In other words, the fighter with the bonus will be one level ahead of the fighter with no bonus roughly 40% of the time.

At a 50% bonus, the fighter with the bonus gets to level 2 one session earlier, then consistently levels up three sessions before the fighter with no bonus. In other words, the fighter with the bonus will be one level ahead of the fighter with no bonus roughly 60% of the time.

At a 100% bonus, the fighter with the bonus gets to level 2 two sessions earlier, then "laps" the fighter with no bonus on session five, and from that point on remains permanently one level ahead of the fighter with no bonus. Which of course makes sense, since the XP requirements double at each level.

My thought is that to make XP bonuses meaningful, you'd really need to do something like the 30% or 50% bonus, assuming an average progression pace in the ballpark of this model's one level per five sessions.