Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dave Arneson's XP system

I just read Paladin's interesting article on the XP system in Dragons at Dawn. According to the article, Dave Arneson did not award any experience points for killing monsters or taking their treasure. Instead they were awarded for roleplaying only.

In my opinion XPs are a useful tool in encouraging the players to behave in certain ways. I can think of few players who really need encouraging to go out and kill things and take their stuff. Arneson found a way around that. Worth thinking about for any campaign.

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  1. Very interesting concept. The biggest problem is see with that system though is the high level of judgment calls the DM has to make to give out varying XP. I'm not saying that this wouldn't be valuable in addition to traditional XP, but I see many players feeling alienated by this approach when they don't get as much XP as another player.

  2. This is true. One thing Arneson did was to rule that XPs could be gained through spending gold in ways which would further the PCs goals or be in line with his personality. In general, this was tied to his class (Clerics would gain XPs from donating money to their church etc), but the FFC also lists "hobbies" which any PC can choose from.

  3. I'm not sure any judgement calls would be required.

    All the players share equally in the treasure recovered. And the player and referee agree on what the characters hobbies are. If the player wants to spend his gold on building a castle (thus netting him no experience), rather than his chosen hobby (thereby netting him additional experience), that is entirely up to the player.

  4. I understand where Riley is coming from here; many of us DMs who award xp for role-playing do so on a "wow, that was cool" approach. This overly rewards good actors over the rest of the players. Havard and Paladin are correct to assert that Arneson's approach is more balanced and fair.

  5. @Scott: One thing I thought about in a system where individual efforts are rewarded, but you still want to keep the group balanced, is that all individual rewards are put into a pool which is then divided equally among the players at the end. That way the actor type will only contribute to the common good of the party instead of both getting to be in the spotlight and getting his own personal XP reward for it. Just an idea :)


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