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Old 06-11-2018, 12:42 PM   #11
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Idaho Falls
Default Re: Experience Points

Way, way back, when I was 15 or so, I started introducing an XP reward system in my "other" role playing game

Player's had to list three things that their character wanted, or needed, to do in the next game month - and only if they managed to get their character to meet those goals did I reward them with extra XPs (outside the "kill the monster take it's loot" reward)

When ITL came along, my players and I really got on board with having our characters (yes I always ran a character in the adventure, even as the GM) have Jobs in the game world. I translated this old rule of mine into the new campaign we started. Each player wrote "things to do" for each of their characters (back then the small group I played with were the kinds of players who all wanted to have multiple characters going at the same time) and when a "to do" list item got checked off, bonus XPs were awarded.
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Old 06-11-2018, 02:25 PM   #12
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Experience Points

Originally Posted by Steve Jackson View Post
Problems with attribute bloat will not be solved by changes in the XP award rules, because the game master is the ultimate source of XP. Attribute bloat is a consequence of the way we let points be spent, which is different.
Fundamentally, yes - the only way to represent very-experienced/powerful characters in TFT was with high attributes (and access to strong talents/spells, but those were determined by IQ).

It would technically be possible to stop bloat by making the experience system extremely steep so practically no one would ever become a very-high-point character, but that would change the established range of power levels, and wizards in particular are expected to get up to IQ 20 or more, so other rules would need to change to allow powerful wizards and avoid attribute bloat.

I'd add though that there is also an issue with EP awards in ITL in that they don't scale for difficulty. For example, two starting foes or wolves with ST + DX = 24 each are not very difficult foes for say a 38+ point character, but they are worth as much EP as one opponent with ST + DX = 48, i.e. a 56+ point character... In other words, there should be a very strong effect for relative difficulty, where there is none. We came up with a nice system we liked for accounting for this, but it's somewhat crunchy and can be done with GM discretion too. Guidelines for proper EP awards that can make sense to novice GMs
(if done really well) would seem like the ideal approach, to me.

Originally Posted by Steve Jackson View Post
But there are sources of XP that I think may be unnecessary bookkeeping and/or rewards for die rolls rather than play.

- XP for making any roll on 4 or more dice - Meh. It's not evil, but 30+ years down the pike, I'm not sure what it adds. The successful roll, and its results, are a reward in themselves.
Whether it's bookkeeping or fun depends on the players' tastes, but there's a challenge for when it's appropriate to give the award or not. Did the circumstances justify an EP award or not? And was it actually a really easy roll because the character has high attribute numbers?

Again, the ideal thing might be a really-well considered and well-written set of guidelines on when to award how much EP, or not, taking into account both the circumstances and the relative difficulty.

Originally Posted by Steve Jackson View Post
- XP for good job rolls - I'm pretty sure now that I just want to reward those with money.
Sounds fine. We gravitated towards playing out and remarkable event during job downtime, anyway, with whatever outcome playing it out had. That seemed much more satisfying and interesting and avoided issues.

Just as long as it's not giving huge EP to experienced people, it's good.

If you do give EP for job rolls, have someone (several of us could do it) run statistics and let you know how experienced (or likely to be dead at what age) people doing nothing but working would be using the table. I'd be happy enough with "the average 40-year-old farmer who just farmed all his life will still be a 30-point character for adventuring purposes - no EP from jobs".

Though if someone starts a 32-point fighter or wizard and does a fighting or wizardly job for 20 years, I'd expect them to be more like 36 pointts at the end of an uneventful career... so about +1 attribute per 5-10 years sounds about right, and unlikely to be complained about as an exploit...
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Old 06-11-2018, 07:18 PM   #13
Steve Jackson
President and EIC
Join Date: Jul 2004
Default Re: Experience Points

All right. Apologies for the long post, but this is the result of a lot of back and forth - sort of a new Grand Unified Field Theory of character development. I hope it's fairly clear what is meant as rules and what as side comments to you, the forum.

If this flies, no more computing how much each individual spider was worth in XP, and to whom, ever again.

Experience Points
GMs can reward their players in two ways. The first is in-game rewards – gold, magic items, reputation. The second way is through experience points, which allow characters themselves to improve.
The party as a group should get an XP reward at the end of each play session. Rewards might come during play, as well – for instance:
- For an outstanding example of cooperation.
- For working as a group to solve a puzzle.
- For finding an unexpected solution to an in-game situation.

The GM may also award XP to individuals during play, when a player does something that improves the game. For instance:
- For making everyone in the party gasp, exclaim, or laugh – provided it was by an in-character action.
- For achieving some important part of the objective – striking down the orc leader, convincing the dwarf-lord to show you a map, distracting the dragon for that crucial minute.
- For saving the day (or the party) through some in-character action.

Players keep track of their own XP and spend them as described below.

XP should not be mechanically granted. It’s a GM decision, and it’s first and always for good roleplaying.

A rate of 25 to 100 experience points per player per session will be appropriate for most campaigns, but this is a GM decision. That rate will allow most characters to improve themselves after every session or so at the beginning of the campaign. Later, as the campaign itself becomes an important reward, the character advancement should slow down. Keep in mind that only the GM can prevent “attribute bloat,” in which all the characters get such high scores that nothing is a challenge any longer.

Spending Experience Points
XP are normally spent at the end of the expedition, when the characters are safe at home and at least mostly healed. The GM may allow exceptions as he sees fit.
Experience points can be spent in three ways:
• To improve your basic stats: ST, DX, or IQ. This will improve all talents and saving rolls associated with that stat, but it’s expensive.
• To learn new spells and talents. This is the cheapest way to improve your abilities.
• To improve your staff’s Mana stat, if you are a wizard. This lets you cast more spells.

Improving Basic Stats
You may use experience points to buy a total of 8 additional attribute points. These may all go into one stat, or they can be divided up. After the eighth additional attribute point (which gets humans to a total of 40), attributes may only be increased by magic, such as a Wish.
The cost to improve a basic stat depends on the level you are buying. High levels are expensive. Super-high stats will end up being very costly, making geniuses, Olympic athletes, and Merlin rare. The highest “normal” stat would thus be 24 – the character starts with 16 in the chosen stat and miraculously survives long enough to add all his optional points to that same stat.

New stat XP cost
8 or less – 100 XP
9 – 200
10 – 300
11 – 400
12 – 500
13 – 600
14 – 700
15 – 900
16 – 1,100
17 – 1,500
18 – 2,000
plus a further 500 for each increase.

Learning New Spells and Talents
Each new spell or talent learned costs 100 XP – or 200 for talents marked (2) in the listing, or 300 for those marked (3). It does not matter how many spells or talents you already know.
However, you may not learn a spell or talent unless you meet the minimum IQ requirement, as well as any prerequisites (such as other talents) shown in the listing.
When you add a new spell or talent, you may use it immediately. It is assumed that you were practicing or studying during the time you were earning the experience points.
As when the character was created, spells cost triple for a non-wizard, and talents cost double for a wizard.

Mana and the Wizard’s Staff
(Some of this goes elsewhere, notably under STAFF in the section on wizardry.)
Mana is a stat, not of the wizard, but of the wizard’s staff. When a wizard first creates a staff, it has 0 mana. By spending 100 XP, the wizard may add 1 to the mana of the staff, up to a limit of the wizard’s current IQ score. Each point of mana can be spent like a point of ST to power spells.
Once spent, the mana must be replaced. To “recharge” his staff, the wizard must either spend 5 ST points, or spend a half-day in contemplation, for each ST point replaced. (An exploit is clearly possible here using the Drain ST spell and a whole lot of prisoners. I don’t see it coming up enough in play to be a problem, and it encourages evil rulers to keep their prisoners alive so their evil wizards can farm ST. Maybe good rulers would do it too, at least as part of some punishments.)
If a staff is lost or destroyed, the wizard’s next one will have the same mana stat. The XP was spent, not to enhance a stick of wood, but to improve the wizard’s understanding of the spell.
A wizard may have only one staff at a time. If he loses his staff, the act of making another will disempower the old staff.
No one but the creating wizard himself may draw ST from a staff.
The “Staff of Power” spell doubles the mana that a staff can hold.

There is no longer a need to forget abilities, so all that stuff gets removed. And good riddance.
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Old 06-11-2018, 08:21 PM   #14
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Far northern California
Default Re: Experience Points

I'm actually pretty impressed by that!

However, one thing isn't entirely clear to me: Are the Attribute costs now based on the individual stat location? (That is, if I am at ST 12, DX 10, IQ 8, would I have to pay 600XP to raise ST one (to 13), 400XP to raise DX one (to 11), or 200XP to raise IQ one (to 9)? That's the way I'm reading the table, but it's not explicitly stated...)

And this also begs the question of what creatures other than humans (e.g., Halflings, Goblins, Hobgoblins, etc) do, when their stats are all pretty low to begin with, but I'm guessing that's probably addressed somewhere else.

I really like this, though, it looks like you have indeed combined methods 1 and 2 to make this problem go away. Thank you! (Both for the advanced insight, and for fixing the problem!)
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Old 06-11-2018, 08:24 PM   #15
Dave Crowell
Join Date: Jun 2012
Default Re: Experience Points

Originally Posted by Steve Jackson View Post
Improving Basic Stats
You may use experience points to buy a total of 8 additional attribute points. These may all go into one stat, or they can be divided up. After the eighth additional attribute point (which gets humans to a total of 40), attributes may only be increased by magic, such as a Wish.
I was just coming here to post a suggestion similar to this. Deal with "attribute bloat" by placing a cap on attributes. It seems quite reasonable to me that there should be some limit on improvement. There are physiological limits to human performance after all.
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Old 06-11-2018, 08:32 PM   #16
Steve Jackson
President and EIC
Join Date: Jul 2004
Default Re: Experience Points

Yes; raising the low stat is cheapest. I want to tempt people to un-dump their dump stat!
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Old 06-11-2018, 09:13 PM   #17
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Tyler, Texas
Default Re: Experience Points

I think I like the proposed system. It may even make me go back to using 3d6 instead of the blasphemous d20...

Some questions/comments:

1. Are starting characters created per current TFT rules? I.e., 32 points divided between ST, DX and IQ; talent points equal to IQ (or spell points for Wizards).

2. Would it be better to divide the XP totals by 10, 25, 50 or 100? I generally find that players do better with smaller numbers...

3. Any particular reason you chose 40 points as the limit? Do you see this as depending on the type of campaign? Example - a normal low fantasy setting might have the limit at 40 (or even less), whilst a high powered epic fantasy campaign might have a limit of 42 or 45.

4. What about characters who start with more or less than 32 attribute points? Does a hobbit with 30 starting points top out at 38? What about a lizard man who starts with 38 (as I recall) points? EDIT - I re-read it and it says “8 extra attribute points”, which answers my question (at least with sub-32 point characters). Will the lizard man max out at 46 points, though?

5. Should the XP costs for raising attributes be modified for characters which have starting attributes that aren’t 8? A dwarf starts with ST 10 and DX 6. Should he pay the same EP as a human to raise his ST to 11 (which would be below average for a dwarf but above average for the human)? Or should be pay the same to raise his ST to 11 as a human pays to raise his ST to 9?

6. I like not tying mana to the particular piece of wood. That keeps wizards from getting hosed if they lose their staff. That was my primary issue with earlier versions of this idea.

7. Are you revising the resting time required for wizards to regain ST? If the rule is generally applicable, this implies something like 1 hour per point of ST recovered. Or 2-ish hours, depending on how many hours “half a day” represents.

Last edited by tbeard1999; 06-11-2018 at 09:44 PM.
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Old 06-11-2018, 10:24 PM   #18
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Far northern California
Default Re: Experience Points

Well now, once I read Ty's questions, I realized that the eight point limit would apply to anything (though exceptions would need to exist for things like Dragons, obviously), but the actual thrust of my question was "how much do Halflings, Elves and Dwarves (for example) PAY to advance. Halflings would seem to get a "discount" unless they pay a different price per Attribute point...
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Old 06-11-2018, 11:12 PM   #19
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Coquitlam B.C.
Default Re: Experience Points

Originally Posted by Steve Jackson View Post
Yes; raising the low stat is cheapest. I want to tempt people to un-dump their dump stat!
Hi Steve, everyone.
I quite like the new rules above, actually.

I'm not sure that 'un-dumping the dump stat', is ideal tho. I like it when some characters have low ST and some have high ST. The rules give an experience bonus that encourages all humans to have 13, 13 and 14 divided up between their attributes. This also makes it easier for goblins to get their 8 extra attributes than humans.

I would prefer that of the 8 attributes that you can buy simply cost 100, 200, 300, etc., regardless of if you are increasing the dump stat or your strong one.

However, this is a minor quibble.

The thing that most surprised me is that figures could naturally buy only 8 attributes. Wow! But I think that it is a good design decision.

Since wishes are going to be VERY much in demand now, I think it would be wise to look at how wishes are made, and the economics of wishes. In particular, I suggest that wish granting demons have variable IQs.

I wrote up an essay on the economics of wishes here...

If you would like to use this in the new TFT, I would be willing to sell you the rights for a few cents a word, as if I had submitted it to SJG as a submission.

Warm regards, Rick.
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Old 06-11-2018, 11:22 PM   #20
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Experience Points

Wow, on first read-through, this all looks really, really good to me!

I'd think other races would probably be "shifted" by their offset from human, so a Dwarf would pay the same for ST 11 that a human would for ST 9. This and the limit have the cool automatic side-effect that suddenly racial starting points are much more significant than they ever were in TFT, where really in practice they were only minimums. This way they're maximums, and if I'm right about the EP costs, they affect those too.

There are also interesting new trade-offs for players to consider in terms of going for really high single attributes eventually, versus several good attributes sooner, and of course I love that there are other things to buy with EP other than always increasing attributes.

And I love saying goodbye to the memory-limit on talents.

I think 40 points is a great point to set a limit, as that's about the point that I think TFT characters stop being like starting characters plus a few points, and more like a breed apart.

Of course there's room for interesting variations by race, and possibly exceptions or other details. It would of course be easy, as Ty suggested, to set a higher cap for more over-the-top campaigns.

Quibbles & details that come to mind:

* Existing materials sometimes have characters over 40 points to look at (Death Test 1 & 2, and Tollenkar's Lair).

* It seems like it probably increases the attractiveness and ability of non-wizards learning spells by a lot.

* You mentioned Drain Strength, but are you considering Aid spells on apprentices as another way to recharge staffs? I don't see that as a particular problem.

* I'm not clear what a wizard can do while contemplating to recharge their staff. Can they march? Are they less observant while doing so? Does it mess them up if they get X level of distraction? Maybe it just means they have to be awake and not casting any other spell for that long to get a point of recharge? If someone had a lucid dreaming talent, could they recharge it while sleeping?

Anyway, I think this seems like a really exciting revision!
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