Topic Index>Adventuring>Experience Points
Standard XP is received for combat participation. It is the experience of fighting an actual life-and-death, pain-and-blood battle that transforms an ordinary trained warrior into an effective, deadly fighting man. The catharsis of battle is what transforms reactions, thought, and instinct from rational gentility to deadly efficiency. But this is not the primary reason why I embrace the damage-based XP system. I embrace it because it is much more reliable for translating appropriate rewards to the participants of a battle. CR is a terribly subjective measure for the difficulty of a monster to best in combat. It does not account for any of the tactics employed by either the PCs or the DM, for a more difficult or easier battle because of setting, time, management, magical items, or anything. The CR system, in my opinion, is broken. Under it, the reward is the same if the PCs never have to worry about taking damage because they lured the beast into a pit and rained rocks down on it from above, or if the self-same beast reduces every party member to negative hit points. That makes no rational sense.
Thus, my preference for a calculatable, predictable system based on damage dealt and received.
Each point of damage dealt is worth 15 XP for the one who dealt it.
Each point of damage received is worth 20 XP for the one who received it, and an additional 15 XP to be split evenly among the party.
If a battle goes easily, there will be relatively little XP gained. However, if the battle goes hard, even if the party loses, there will be much learned, and much XP to be gained.
Further, in order to give the players an option to reward particular members of the group for their contribution to a battle that was perhaps not as tangible as taking a hit for a wounded comrade, I award 1 XP for every GP seized as a result of combat (this is often called loot). This includes equipment and treasure seized as well as pure coin. The XP from loot may be distributed as the party desires, either equally to all members, shares given out depending on seniority, or all to a single participant to raise that participant’s level.
Spells often have a profound effect on battles, and as such, the damage they deal, or assist in dealing are accounted for in XP rewards. Bonuses to hit and to damage accrue XP rewards for the caster as well as the deliverer of the blow. Each successful hit will count as 2 points of damage (30 XP) dealt by the caster, in addition to the reward for the player who dealt the damage. Healing damage (cure spells, etc.) allow your fellows to absorb more damage, and thus garner more XP. Other spell effects may influence XP gain for the caster as well, on a case-by-case basis, to be adjudicated .
The mental state necessary to cast spells is refined by the fire of combat as much as a fighter’s killer instincts. Understanding comes through trial and pain, and the desperation during and clarity of thought that occurs after a battle is as important to casters to innovate in their thaumaturgic abilities as they are to fighters to improve their relationship with their sword.
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