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A New Beginning – Forget About XP

November 8, 2011


With our dwarven campaign completed, it was time to decide what to do next. As the previous campaign was winding down we discussed a number of themes as a group, and settled on a Pirate Campaign. For our next big story arch, we changed a few little things, and one big one.

One thing which I’m sure isn’t unique to the guys of Skyland Games, but may be a bit rare in gaming groups, is that we *all* enjoy DMing. With the dwarves we got together every two weeks, and there was a different DM running a different module for every session. For this campaign we’re going to modify that a bit. Since we are going to be pirates we are going to use islands rather than modules, and have the DM run as many sessions as it takes to get off that island. This will help cut down on marathon game nights, when a particular combat runs long, or there is just one too many skill challenges, and we all start getting too tired to really enjoy the effort the DM has put in to preparing that week’s game. This time, when we are at a good stopping point, we can just call it, and carry on next week until we complete the chapter.

Last campaign felt a little schizophrenic in the beginning. With a different DM each week, and working with a mix of LFR mods and home-brew adventures, it was difficult to construct a true story arch. Once we got close to the end, a few of us put our heads together and came up with a conclusion that tied up a lot of the loose ends, but we didn’t know where we were going until we were about half way there. This time we are providing a rough outline for the whole campaign. Its a bit more relaxed than the 5×5 Method Critical Hits came up with, but I think it will allow for when the party does something unexpected, which of course they will do almost immediately.

What I consider the big leap is this: forget about experience points (XP). Typically your PC gains XP for defeating creatures or completing quests and surmounting obstacles. For this campaign, once the party completes the island, they level. Maybe its the 4e recommended 10 encounters, maybe its a little more or a little less, but once this crew sets sail, they will arrive at their next adventure a little wiser, and a little more powerful.

Have you ever thrown the traditional XP budget to the wind? How do you feel about leveling up when it feels right, as opposed to when the numbers say its right?

There are other questions, as the Epic Llama will point out

Categories: 4e, DnD, RPGs, Tips Tags: , , , ,
  1. November 8, 2011 at 4:24 am

    We use the Savage Worlds system, where there are no monster or quest XP, just XP at the end of the session, the number being at the GM’s discretion. It works a whole lot better than what we previously used, players are less bloodthirsty and more solution orientated. The players level every second adventure or so. I say go with it!

  2. November 9, 2011 at 2:10 am

    I see nothing wrong with ditching XP as you are describing. I haven’t done standard XP calculations in years, instead basing it on ‘story completion’ — not on completing goals, but on completing stories. You can ‘fail’ and still level because the story itself was resolved.

    You can read more about it at http://www.kjd-imc.org/2011/08/28/learning-from-experience/

  1. November 10, 2011 at 10:31 am
  2. November 21, 2011 at 11:55 am
  3. December 1, 2011 at 11:40 am
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