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Author Topic: [3.x/4e] Encounter XPs are not a reward, they are a pacing mechanism  (Read 2668 times)
JMendes
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« Reply #15 on: July 04, 2009, 02:33:55 AM »

Hey, guys, Smiley

Jasper, sounds wicked! Smiley

NN, here's the squaring of your circle: while individual rewards are certainly significant when it comes to reinforcing behavior, I could do with group rewards as well. As for your second post, well, ten encounters per level is the scenic route. Wink

Callan, no, I can't seem to wrap my brain around that concept. Structurally, resting as a tool for dealing with challenges is a part of normal gamist play. (As such, limiting those rests is a part of normal gamist challenge framing.) However, resting as an "authorship tool" in a gamist game is perhaps swimming too close to Czege Principle waters.

Cheers,
J.

P.S. For those not familiar with it, the Czege Principle states that when the same person is responsible for authoring the challenge and adressing it, play is not fun.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #16 on: July 04, 2009, 04:10:14 AM »

Well, I've constructed duke nukem 3D levels for myself, and they were fun. The thing was, I built a challenge inside of the aim and shoot in three dimensions challenge that was duke nukem. It was a blend of the game engines challenge plus the challenge I built, rather than addressing only the challenge I had made. That's basically how I've always seen RPG's - what you make, mid play even, blends with the challenge present in the mechanics. Except that yeah, most RPGs present a half arsed challenge, so it's mostly what you make and yeah, Czerge principle in effect (that or they take so much book work that you hardly get to the challenge for all the handling time)

Resting can be used an an authorship tool, in that regard, to design challenge - ie, this much health when we go in, not that much. As much as I could click and drop a health pack in a duke nukem level. Or maybe I saw too much in the whole thing, even if it could be used that way.
Quote
(As such, limiting those rests is a part of normal gamist challenge framing.)

Well I've said this already - it can be the players (playing out an authorship of challenge role) that can limit the rests as part of challenging themselves. It doesn't have to default to always just being the GM challenging everyone. It's not just the narrativists who can distribute GM duties.
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Philosopher Gamer
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JMendes
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« Reply #17 on: July 04, 2009, 08:41:25 AM »

Hi, Smiley

it can be the players (playing out an authorship of challenge role) that can limit the rests as part of challenging themselves. It doesn't have to default to always just being the GM challenging everyone. It's not just the narrativists who can distribute GM duties.

Heh. I never thought of it that way. Smiley Point taken.

I don't know that it's where I'll want to take my game, but at the very least, it's something that can be discussed at the table.

Thanks, cool stuff. Smiley

Cheers,
J.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2009, 01:42:47 AM »

Well, to be honest it could be more explicit - like the conducts in nethack (which you don't have to do, but you can aim for as extra challenge), like vegetarian, used no wishes, no genocides, etc. Here you could have it if you only use X amount of rests it keeps to a certain conduct (and using no rests at all an even better conduct). Makes it a bit more explicit ... okay, I'll stop now Wink
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Christoph Boeckle
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« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2009, 12:06:24 PM »

i]D&D almost by the book, but I wanted to add more weight to XP. So, in addition to gaining XP by overcoming encounters, each player would have about 10% of the total XP necessary to level up which he had to give out in as many chunks as he wanted and in any distribution he deemed fit amongst the other players, for any reason whatsoever. In effect, this was almost always tied to the social rewards. The GM also had to give out a bonus chunk of XP to the party if the adventure was completed with less than a predetermined number of rests. In this way, the party could decide if they wanted to risk dying to get the bonus or just rest some more (we didn't use wandering monsters).
Resurrection was not a big topic: a character could be brought back at the expense of a certain percentage of the XP necessary to level up. Spells would then work as a more convenient way to get characters back fighting, much as in World of Warcraft. Also, resting gave back more HP, so that the priest would not waste too many spells in boring healing to avoid resting three days in a row..
Another important aspect was that the GM had to bring in strategic choices in his adventure design: sometimes the party would be face with mutually exclusive choices, which would be weighed out in terms of risk and profit. Coupled with the bonus XP for finishing the adventure "rapidly", this was supposed to give some interesting risk management.
This last point worked out okay-ish, but the others worked rather well.

Would this be an interesting use of XP as reward mechanic (in addition to the pacing mechanic it anyway is as you have shown) or do you see problematic points we hadn't had the chance to stumble upon during the five or six sessions we played (characters went from level 1 to level 4: we had agreed on fast leveling)?

D&D[/i] almost by the book, but I wanted to add more weight to XP. So, in addition to gaining XP by overcoming encounters, each player would have about 10% of the total XP necessary to level up which he had to give out in as many chunks as he wanted and in any distribution he deemed fit amongst the other players, for any reason whatsoever. In effect, this was almost always tied to the social rewards. The GM also had to give out a bonus chunk of XP to the party if the adventure was completed with less than a predetermined number of rests. In this way, the party could decide if they wanted to risk dying to get the bonus or just rest some more (we didn't use wandering monsters).
Resurrection was not a big topic: a character could be brought back at the expense of a certain percentage of the XP necessary to level up. Spells would then work as a more convenient way to get characters back fighting, much as in World of Warcraft. Also, resting gave back more HP, so that the priest would not waste too many spells in boring healing to avoid resting three days in a row..
Another important aspect was that the GM had to bring in strategic choices in his adventure design: sometimes the party would be face with mutually exclusive choices, which would be weighed out in terms of risk and profit. Coupled with the bonus XP for finishing the adventure "rapidly", this was supposed to give some interesting risk management.
This last point worked out okay-ish, but the others worked rather well.

Would this be an interesting use of XP as reward mechanic (in addition to the pacing mechanic it anyway is as you have shown) or do you see problematic points we hadn't had the chance to stumble upon during the five or six sessions we played (characters went from level 1 to level 4: we had agreed on fast leveling)?

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Regards,
Christoph
JMendes
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« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2009, 02:48:23 AM »

Ahey, Smiley

Yeah, that sounds solid for 3.0. Would work even better for 4E, as characters simply recover all their hit points and healing surges after resting.

Spells would then work as a more convenient way to get characters back fighting

I don't understand what that bit means.

Also:

Another important aspect was that the GM had to bring in strategic choices in his adventure design: sometimes the party would be face with mutually exclusive choices, which would be weighed out in terms of risk and profit.

How did this work, exactly, meaning, how much information were the players given regarding the potiential risks and potential profit for each of the options?

Cheers,
J.
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Christoph Boeckle
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« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2009, 02:29:47 PM »

i]D&D 4.0 (and ) then!

Yeah, what I was saying regarding the spells, was that in other incarnations of D&D, the priest would spend whole days just healing people... with this tweak, healing was rather used for gaining an edge in combat (and D&D 4.0 seems to go farther still, which is cool in my opinion).

An example of a strategic choice given by adventure design! Two paths: one dangerous because of monsters (combat!), the other because of the bad conditions of the path itself (find a good idea to pass the chasm!) The party has to assess it's strength and weaknesses before going ahead. Kind of. In practice, it wasn't that revolutionary: in the end, it all came down to HP anyway. It was very basic, but interesting nonetheless. It doubles the prep though, so to speak.
Most dungeons I had used before would go along the lines of "go in, visit all the rooms, clean them out and don't leave a single thing behind." This design brings in some strategical dilemma.

But I don't want to derail from the central idea of the thread! I'm really interested to read more about your experiences on this topic, to better understand to which extent XPs are a pacing mechanism and/or a reward mechanism.
D&D 4.0[/i] (and ) then!

Yeah, what I was saying regarding the spells, was that in other incarnations of D&D, the priest would spend whole days just healing people... with this tweak, healing was rather used for gaining an edge in combat (and D&D 4.0 seems to go farther still, which is cool in my opinion).

An example of a strategic choice given by adventure design! Two paths: one dangerous because of monsters (combat!), the other because of the bad conditions of the path itself (find a good idea to pass the chasm!) The party has to assess it's strength and weaknesses before going ahead. Kind of. In practice, it wasn't that revolutionary: in the end, it all came down to HP anyway. It was very basic, but interesting nonetheless. It doubles the prep though, so to speak.
Most dungeons I had used before would go along the lines of "go in, visit all the rooms, clean them out and don't leave a single thing behind." This design brings in some strategical dilemma.

But I don't want to derail from the central idea of the thread! I'm really interested to read more about your experiences on this topic, to better understand to which extent XPs are a pacing mechanism and/or a reward mechanism.
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Regards,
Christoph
JMendes
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Posts: 379


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« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2009, 03:49:58 PM »

Hoy, Smiley

Two paths: one dangerous because of monsters (combat!), the other because of the bad conditions of the path itself (find a good idea to pass the chasm!)

Hmmmm, interesting. I have a strong feeling that, if I did that in my groups, they would simply go looking for the monsters right off the bat, not because of a strategic decision, but because the game is about Killing Things and Taking Their Stuff... Smiley

I'm really interested to read more about your experiences on this topic, to better understand to which extent XPs are a pacing mechanism and/or a reward mechanism.

Heh! Well, regarding actual play, I've written all I have to write on that particular insight. Smiley You can see where a friend and I are taking the idea here, thuogh.

Cheers,
J.
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AzaLiN
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Posts: 44


« Reply #23 on: July 31, 2009, 02:48:17 AM »

First of all, excellent post.

Quote
The hard route: detach encounter level from character level.

You might find that lower level encounters cannot harm the party at all, and that higher level encounters are either impossible, or extremely tedious for the players and DM: its just how the encounters are scaled, unfortunately.

Level in 4e seems to best describe a slope of effectiveness against a set group of enemies as a gauge of player growth- for example, the players see how the 'hard' group of orcs becomes normal, then easy, and then they can take down some crazy big groups of orcs before moving on to the next monster set.

However, put a lv5 party against lv9 trolls and the fight will just take freaking forever and suck for everyone, just like my when the level 1 party fought the lv4 orcs- it took forever, and the satisfaction of killing them was significantly diluted by the tedium of it.
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AzaLiN
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« Reply #24 on: July 31, 2009, 03:00:35 AM »

I guess I should also add that, in my experience, when the PCs died and I had them remake characters more than 1 level below the rest of the group, they were unusually fragile and ineffective compared with other game systems. They hardly contributed to combat compared to the others and had to go to lengths to avoid dying in simple fights... after a few weeks of this, I made sure the PCs were within a level of each other, since the system became dysfunctional when they split apart. Again, if someone was 3 levels higher, which happened once, they were a relative god compared to the others, and it either became boring for them, or sucky for the others being who seemed unnecessary at times.

Using xp as a reward system may cause problems with the party in this system, since the scaling is so particular.
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