Tuesday, August 7, 2012

SWN Session 5, Thoughts on XP

The players finished loot-er, exploring the sky tomb of my own design. Everybody who wasn't already 2nd level made it, and Dan is nearing 3rd. One PC learned the Ushan language, and the party planted an Ushan corpse on a whim and are now contemplating contributing to the revival of the species. (What xp award should that yield, I wonder?)

Other notable events in the game tonight:
-Our sly psychic chick joined the staff of the Rain and Clouds, and in general she has used Telepathy 1 to gain a lot of useful information.

-Our equally sly psychic dude has made some valuable contacts in security and hydroponics.

-Our Qotah expert might have found a way to temporarily circumvent training fees...if he can get away with it.

-The PCs found a star map to a mysterious Ushan structure in another system...this will give them a hook for when they tire of the Hard Light module.

On an aside: I have decided that, if the PCs are successful in this course of action, I will allow Ushan as a playable character race in future SWN games that I run.

I find myself torn by what method to use when awarding experience. The SWN book suggest specific "rewards" that seem to be based on cash earned. However, SWN adventures that I have read (written by the author himself) award xp for certain accomplishments.

I am basically doing the whole thing ad-hoc, though that makes me question why I bother with experience points at all. Here's how I'm doing it:
-Any looted alien artifacts sold award xp equal to the credits they get
-They get xp equal to the credits they receive for "missions" or "jobs"
-XP for combat is 100/HD, +25/HD per special ability (poison, AC below 3, multiple attacks, etc.)
-XP for "accomplishments" like learning a big secret or doing something important. (Or at least important to them) Examples so far have been awards for solving an alien holograph trick and completed exploration of an important area. (This usually nets 300-400 per PC, wheres the rest is split among participating party members)

I will have to think about the xp further, but for now I'm okay with my shaky system.

Oh, and the psychic special abilities are proving to be perfectly fine in play...no game disruption yet.

(Nobody has volunteered to try out the new Warrior or Expert abilities, though I'm told that secondary characters may choose them)

Can't wait for next week!


  1. My initial instinct in SWN was to just go with the old-fashioned cash-as-XP model of early D&D. That seemed like it might not work so well for campaigns not revolving around plundering, so I watered it down- but for Other Dust, I used a system that's easier for the GM to handle. It might not be objectively better, but it's easier, and I am highly solicitous of the GM's feelings.

    It works like this:

    Decide how fast you want your PCs to advance- how many sessions it should take for them to go from level 1 to 2, 2 to 3, and so forth. Slice the XP needed into an appropriate number of divisions; if you need 20K xp to go up a level and you decide it should take 4 sessions, each wedge is 5K XP.

    Then, if the PCs actually try to accomplish something commensurate with their abilities in a session, give them the level-appropriate chunk of XP. If they try something very hard and avoid hideous death, then maybe give them a chunk for a higher level, or if they coast, a chunk for a lower level. It doesn't matter if they succeed or fail so long as they're actively engaging with the world and trying to do something appropriate to their abilities.

    If you use this for SWN, use the psychic/warrior XP tables for the baseline. That way the Expert will level slightly faster than the rest, which lets them acquire higher levels of their signature skills sooner than their comrades, even if those skills are also shared with them.

  2. I'm just gearing up for my first SWN campaign and have been wondering about how to handle XP. Traditionally I l go with whatever the game system I play suggests (often XP for killing foes) but also award bonus XP for achieving success and also intelligent ideas, even if they don't work.

    I think though that with the sandbox I intend to run, success is determined by whether the PCs achieve what they set out to do rather than completing some GM assigned activity. I suspect I'll more heavily reward PC determined success, dependent on the difficulty of what they do. And of course, factoring in how rapidly I want them to advance.