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Archlyte

XP awards are supposed to be explained?

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5 hours ago, Archlyte said:

Any idea how the base XP is calculated?

 

Well usually he gives us 10-15 xp per session, plus another 10-15 if we finished a major plot section. Cool stuff or any schenanagains we pull usually are 5 xp for the relevant characters involved in it.

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7 minutes ago, BadMotivator said:

Well usually he gives us 10-15 xp per session, plus another 10-15 if we finished a major plot section. Cool stuff or any schenanagains we pull usually are 5 xp for the relevant characters involved in it.

Ok cool, so you get it in 5XP increments but its at least 10 points and sometimes 15 or more. Is that accurate?

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I usually go by the following guidelines for awarding XP (based upon a suggestion made by Jay Little during the early days of the system):

5XP as a base (the players showed up and played the game)

Then, +5XP for each hour spent actually playing the game; time spent on out-of-game conversations (such as what's being ordered for dinner) doesn't count towards playing the game.  This usually works out to about 3 hours on average for my more regular groups.

Next, I award a +5XP bonus or the character doing a really good job of playing to their Motivation and/or their Obligation/Duty/Morality.

Lastly, I award ad hoc XP bonuses for major accomplishments made during the course of the story arc, usually around 5XP per accomplishment.

This tends to average around 20 to 25XP per session, upwards of 30 or more for end-of-adventure awards.  Which is fine, as it allows the players to always have enough XP to purchase some new thing.. provided the player remembers to spend their XP; I've had a couple players forget to spend their XP in between sessions.

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I usually give 10 to 15 xp without giving them much of a reason mostly for time sake. They do a different amount of stuff and they know that when I give them 15 or even the occasional 20 it is because they did a lot that week and progressed the story a lot. Even more so when it progresses their characters a lot, but I typically do not bother with the other because I am just trying to get through the story and to the next part and not worrying to much about XP gains.

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9 minutes ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

I usually go by the following guidelines for awarding XP (based upon a suggestion made by Jay Little during the early days of the system):

5XP as a base (the players showed up and played the game)

Then, +5XP for each hour spent actually playing the game; time spent on out-of-game conversations (such as what's being ordered for dinner) doesn't count towards playing the game.  This usually works out to about 3 hours on average for my more regular groups.

Next, I award a +5XP bonus or the character doing a really good job of playing to their Motivation and/or their Obligation/Duty/Morality.

Lastly, I award ad hoc XP bonuses for major accomplishments made during the course of the story arc, usually around 5XP per accomplishment.

This tends to average around 20 to 25XP per session, upwards of 30 or more for end-of-adventure awards.  Which is fine, as it allows the players to always have enough XP to purchase some new thing.. provided the player remembers to spend their XP; I've had a couple players forget to spend their XP in between sessions.

Thanks Donovan, I was wondering if you might know why he wanted to award XP for time in play? I realize you may not have an answer for that but that's troubling to me because I feel like a participation award is divorced form the actual events of the game. Unless I have it wrong which I admit I may not be understanding accurately. 

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20 minutes ago, tunewalker said:

I usually give 10 to 15 xp without giving them much of a reason mostly for time sake. They do a different amount of stuff and they know that when I give them 15 or even the occasional 20 it is because they did a lot that week and progressed the story a lot. Even more so when it progresses their characters a lot, but I typically do not bother with the other because I am just trying to get through the story and to the next part and not worrying to much about XP gains.

Makes sense, and that is the way I have seen it done most often. And I think to many people progression is really a non-issue. Nothing worth really thinking about.

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8 hours ago, Archlyte said:

Makes sense. If you are looking to keep a constant rate of progression you would have to increase it. 

We'll see. I think it's okay now. They can purchase new specs with these 15-25 xp / session where they start levelling all over again with new skills and talents. But I'm constantly watching them so I can adjust if needed.

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On 2/15/2019 at 8:53 PM, Archlyte said:

I realize you may not have an answer for that but that's troubling to me because I feel like a participation award is divorced form the actual events of the game.

I don't really like the FFG module approach of assigning XP for deeds done.  Failure is just as important as success to learning, and to me it's more about what the players put into, and get out of, the game.  But either way I totally lie.  Internally I'm granting ~5-10XP per hour (on average, depending on how frequently we can get together, and how fast I want the PCs to advance).  Externally I sum up their experiences at the end of the session, rather than predefining them beforehand.  That way I can react to whatever changes the players inflict on my well-laid plans, and give credit where credit is due.  I then try to paint their accomplishments (or failures!) in dramatic terms so the XP sounds justified, eg:  "That was a heck of a firefight, and you had to run away, but you didn't leave anybody behind, so...10XP for that."  There are also times where not much gets done and if the players agree I just bank it for the next session.  My players at least seem to prefer a big lump sum than dribs and drabs.

Ultimately, grant XP based on how *you* want the story to progress, not based on someone else's arbitrary or formulaic approach.  The purpose of XP is character improvement and it fulfills the basic SW/fantasy trope of growing into your destiny and taking on more and more formidable challenges.  Assuming you buy into this trope, you need to pace their advancement according to how you want to scale the challenges.  5XP per hour if you meet every month and play for 2 hours of actual game time doesn't get the PCs very far, so if you're planning a nemesis showdown they might be ready in a couple years...and even then it won't be a very capable nemesis, certainly not something like an Inquisitor.  So adjust accordingly.

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6 minutes ago, whafrog said:

I don't really like the FFG module approach of assigning XP for deeds done.  Failure is just as important as success to learning, and to me it's more about what the players put into, and get out of, the game.  But either way I totally lie.  Internally I'm granting ~5-10XP per hour (on average, depending on how frequently we can get together, and how fast I want the PCs to advance).  Externally I sum up their experiences at the end of the session, rather than predefining them beforehand.  That way I can react to whatever changes the players inflict on my well-laid plans, and give credit where credit is due.  I then try to paint their accomplishments (or failures!) in dramatic terms so the XP sounds justified, eg:  "That was a heck of a firefight, and you had to run away, but you didn't leave anybody behind, so...10XP for that."  There are also times where not much gets done and if the players agree I just bank it for the next session.  My players at least seem to prefer a big lump sum than dribs and drabs.

Ultimately, grant XP based on how *you* want the story to progress, not based on someone else's arbitrary or formulaic approach.  The purpose of XP is character improvement and it fulfills the basic SW/fantasy trope of growing into your destiny and taking on more and more formidable challenges.  Assuming you buy into this trope, you need to pace their advancement according to how you want to scale the challenges.  5XP per hour if you meet every month and play for 2 hours of actual game time doesn't get the PCs very far, so if you're planning a nemesis showdown they might be ready in a couple years...and even then it won't be a very capable nemesis, certainly not something like an Inquisitor.  So adjust accordingly.

Ah yes I do really agree with this. When I assign XP for things it's never really predicated on success but on getting past the encounter at all. If they didn't engage with it at all that is one thing, but if they resolved it in a manner that may be viewed as failure (such as getting captured, or thrown off a cliff) then they're still getting xp. In fact I want to encourage failure because this is a narrative system and failure is usually when the most interesting narratives occur and often leads into further interesting scenarios where there's chance for even more xp gain!

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While I'm a relative newbie at GM for this system, I have extensive experience with level based systems like D&D/Pathfinder as well as systems like GURPS which do incremental exp like this one does, so here's my take on things.

In a similar vein to what SanguineAngel, Donovan, and Frog have said, I award exp based on both tangible and intangible factors. Tangible factors come down to "did they attempt (success or failure) to do X, Y, and/or Z?" Intangible things are harder to define but usually come down to roleplaying. For example of that in a session just this last weekend I had a group of F&D characters get into a combat encounter with some beasties that had been twisted by a dark side vergence. Instead of hacking and slashing (or the lightsaber equivalent thereof) their way through the encounter, the group made an effort to attempt to "heal" the dark side corruption, taking a few nasty wounds in the process. As a result, I awarded bonus xp to them for taking the harder path and playing to their characters ideals. 

The last thing I consider when giving out exp is, as the previously mentioned three (and others) have said, is how frequently we are meeting and how much progression I want them to see. Right now, we're meeting rather infrequently but I want people to feel character growth. They are also relatively new characters, as opposed to 1000+ xp already, so I adjusted total exp that way. In the end, it boils down to, "award experience as you want to see the group progress as befits the story you want to tell" I suppose. Wish I could be more concrete than that.

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For the games that I play in and run with my group, we decided to go with a base xp award of about 5xp per hour of session time. We add xp for completing milestones or personal achievements.

We also began awarding a player 1 xp for each triumph they roll, which nets about 3 to 5 xp per player per session.

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On 2/15/2019 at 9:53 PM, Archlyte said:

Thanks Donovan, I was wondering if you might know why he wanted to award XP for time in play? I realize you may not have an answer for that but that's troubling to me because I feel like a participation award is divorced form the actual events of the game. Unless I have it wrong which I admit I may not be understanding accurately. 

If I had to guess, it's probably similar to what whafrog posted, in that rather than the traditional method of handing out experience solely for achieving specific goals, he'd prefer to reward the players for coming together and telling an engaging story and being "in character" for that story.

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2 hours ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

If I had to guess, it's probably similar to what whafrog posted, in that rather than the traditional method of handing out experience solely for achieving specific goals, he'd prefer to reward the players for coming together and telling an engaging story and being "in character" for that story.

Isn't getting together to have that story reward in itself though?

XP translates into more Game-Mechanical Ability to be more easily successful at the previous challenge level. So if a certain stat block is challenging for the PCs it may not be once they graduate above that due to XP being delivered. If you are increasing character power solely because of play time of the characters then you may not be actually representing what the characters are doing in their lives when you arbitrarily give them more power just because the run-time is longer. 

Usually the characters will be engaging in firefights and other challenges, and if so then it makes sense to me that they would gain XP based on the experience of being in these extraordinary circumstances. But if their actual exploits don't really line up with this then the XP for nothing thing kind of bugs me. I just don't really see the value in using XP as the cookie for players to show up for games unless they are kids. Are they showing up more for the XP than they are for the game itself? 

I think this is a bit of an endemic problem with RPGs in general. Somehow the primary feature of role-playing games is popularly understood to be a progression mechanic. Something is considered to be more RPG-like if it has progression, even first person shooters have some progression mechanic usually. I contend that this is not the best thing about RPGs though, and is a sort of a skinner box that is designed to make you want to keep playing on the promise of a coming reward rather than on what you are actually doing. I believe FFG/Jay took the video-game version of what was originally inspired by D&D and used it in this game: namely they gave the players these Trees that basically make you want to play to get those new abilities. If giving XP is the reward, why not just be the best GM ever and give them 200 XP in a session? Isn't a completed table the place where the fun is? 

The answer to that is that the endgame comes, and there is a place where after having been playing for progression you are faced with a static character as either everyone's sensibilities are overwhelmed by the power level, or the game itself mechanically breaks down because the challenges cannot keep up with the mechanical progression of the PCs (but in my experience it is usually the former as one person, often the GM, in the group will hit the power saturation point before everyone else and will be done).  So in reality it is the journey not the destination that is the goal. But I notice that many people seem to be in a hurry to get to that destination none-the-less. 

Edited by Archlyte

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5 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

Isn't getting together to have that story reward in itself though?......snip

Yes, and anyone who disagrees just ask this question of yourself. 

Do your players reminisce and say "Man, you remember when we got that 25 xp and you bought Dedication?! Good times!".......I bet they don't, and what they do talk about is probably not xp related, and more often than not is probably the result of a failure and not a success.

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In the older Star Wars RPG days they showed characters from books and movies that were titled "Era of Play." So was it Luke from episode 4 or 6. Or Han from episode 4 or post episode 6. I first picked up role playing games around that time and always found it odd that role playing games didn't have the option for me to make my own character at its own Era of Play version. Meaning level 1 was never the vision I had for my smuggler, but then again, neither way level 14. I just wanted my smuggler to be level 6-8 and just stay there. I had fun there and it properly envisioned how I thought my smuggler should act and be power-wise. I did grow to enjoy the learning process of leveling up or gaining xp but still it never has sat right with me.

That being said, I really agree with @Archlyte on this in that the progression of xp has itched me as awkward for telling stories from day one. I have always wanted to tell my play group to make their characters as capable as they realistically think they should be at those things within reason, according to their character, screw starting xp, and understand that advancement would either never occur or only occur for narrative purposes rarely. That's where I want to start my game and I will customize the challenges according to the players. Advancement could even be handled as optional in between GM set "Movies." Did you want your character to become better at things between episode 2 and 3? You're comfortable? Great! Oh you want to move things with your mind now? Sure! You found a cool weapon and want to be as good as your average movie hero with it? Sounds fun!

Now I know this has potential for abuse, and gets immensely more complicated with the force, makes itself less of a game, blah blah, but I can fantasize about my perfect game with perfect players can't I? 😜

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3 minutes ago, Drig said:

In the older Star Wars RPG days they showed characters from books and movies that were titled "Era of Play." So was it Luke from episode 4 or 6. Or Han from episode 4 or post episode 6. I first picked up role playing games around that time and always found it odd that role playing games didn't have the option for me to make my own character at its own Era of Play version. Meaning level 1 was never the vision I had for my smuggler, but then again, neither way level 14. I just wanted my smuggler to be level 6-8 and just stay there. I had fun there and it properly envisioned how I thought my smuggler should act and be power-wise. I did grow to enjoy the learning process of leveling up or gaining xp but still it never has sat right with me.

That being said, I really agree with @Archlyte on this in that the progression of xp has itched me as awkward for telling stories from day one. I have always wanted to tell my play group to make their characters as capable as they realistically think they should be at those things within reason, according to their character, screw starting xp, and understand that advancement would either never occur or only occur for narrative purposes rarely. That's where I want to start my game and I will customize the challenges according to the players. Advancement could even be handled as optional in between GM set "Movies." Did you want your character to become better at things between episode 2 and 3? You're comfortable? Great! Oh you want to move things with your mind now? Sure! You found a cool weapon and want to be as good as your average movie hero with it? Sounds fun!

Now I know this has potential for abuse, and gets immensely more complicated with the force, makes itself less of a game, blah blah, but I can fantasize about my perfect game with perfect players can't I? 😜

Yes. I know Era-appropriate XP flies in the face or normal play, but I too find it to be valid, and I've used it. I think that progression-based play is fine and I enjoy it myself sometimes, but I also think that it's not really the defining aspect of RPGs. To me the infinite Interface is more impressive, or the ability to be immersed and play the role. A lot of things for me outweigh the progression aspect and I feel it is considered inevitable and is overvalued. It's fine, I just don't think it's everything. 

I made up a system of rules for this game to allow players to choose a power level and just hang there for a bit to be able to do the type of game that you are talking about. It could be abused by power gamers trying to work themselves out of a job, so it's not a system I use with players I don't know and I always do a lot of oversight when I am using it. 

I like to also use RAW XP and Progression, but I feel like it makes the most sense to me when it represents the character's growth from the things they experience. If you are starting as Neophyte characters then the growth of the abilities is a part of the story the game is trying to achieve. Also some other permutation is certainly possible, like doing starting XP and regular progression to a certain threshold and then slowing it down until another epoch of advancement that makes sense for the character itself. 

I have had players hold on to their XP and when I asked them why they were sitting on so much XP they said that they didn't wan't their character to change that much. Didn't feel to them like the character they envisioned.  

 

 

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1 hour ago, Archlyte said:

Isn't getting together to have that story reward in itself though?

Depends on the nature of the people in the group.  Jay from what I can tell in my admittedly limited interactions with the man is much more of a Role player and Storyteller, so he's more keen in having his groups spend their time playing the game and their characters than wasting precious gaming time jabbering on about this new movie or that cool story they heard or this recipe that's so easy yet so good or any of a hundred different tangents.

Of course, if you've got a gaming group like the ones that SithArlssa has, who just sit around making crude jokes and passing gas with the occasional rolling of dice as a reminder of "oh yeah, we're here to play a game," then Jay's method of awarding XP doesn't work.

Me personally, I've found that Jay's approach helps keep a group on task, as the groups I game with are there to play an RPG, telling a fun/interesting story with memorable characters doing cool things.  Most of us can gather away from the table at most any time to talk about non-gaming stuff, but getting everyone together for game night is much harder (pitfalls of being responsible adults), and we'd prefer not to waste what little time we have for gaming on stuff not relevant to the game at hand.  Doesn't mean there's not the occasional out-of-the-cuff out-of-character remark or two, but Jay's method helps keep the off-topic chatter to a minimum, especially if you've only got a limited window for gaming.

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22 minutes ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

Depends on the nature of the people in the group.  Jay from what I can tell in my admittedly limited interactions with the man is much more of a Role player and Storyteller, so he's more keen in having his groups spend their time playing the game and their characters than wasting precious gaming time jabbering on about this new movie or that cool story they heard or this recipe that's so easy yet so good or any of a hundred different tangents.

Of course, if you've got a gaming group like the ones that SithArlssa has, who just sit around making crude jokes and passing gas with the occasional rolling of dice as a reminder of "oh yeah, we're here to play a game," then Jay's method of awarding XP doesn't work.

Me personally, I've found that Jay's approach helps keep a group on task, as the groups I game with are there to play an RPG, telling a fun/interesting story with memorable characters doing cool things.  Most of us can gather away from the table at most any time to talk about non-gaming stuff, but getting everyone together for game night is much harder (pitfalls of being responsible adults), and we'd prefer not to waste what little time we have for gaming on stuff not relevant to the game at hand.  Doesn't mean there's not the occasional out-of-the-cuff out-of-character remark or two, but Jay's method helps keep the off-topic chatter to a minimum, especially if you've only got a limited window for gaming.

Thanks so much for this Donovan, I think this is a situation where I understand all of the methods to be good. I started off the thread just wanting to get an idea for how people do their XP disbursements, but I think I got a bit sidetracked by the XP for time spent aspect. I think you are right and it entirely depends on your group and your game. 

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15 hours ago, Archlyte said:

If giving XP is the reward, why not just be the best GM ever and give them 200 XP in a session?

XP isn't the reward.  To repeat:  "the purpose of XP is character improvement and it fulfills the basic SW/fantasy trope of growing into your destiny and taking on more and more formidable challenges."  You don't have to buy into that trope at all.  You could easily run a game where no XP was granted, or where XP is granted in a lump between multi-session "episodes" that are years apart in game time, eg:  E4 to E5.

Not to mention, it's more work for you the more XP you grant, because all your challenges have to be rescaled, unless it's part of your story arc that things get easier and easier for them.

Most players seem to expect regular XP drops, so you'd have to explain it to them if you didn't want to do it that way.  I have one player who has flat out stated that what he likes most about RPGs is that progression element.  But it shouldn't be a big deal.  I've run plenty of one-off games where progression wasn't a thing.

In the end it depends on the story you and the players want to tell.  If you're rebel Padawans growing to Knighthood so they can take on a Sith Lord, that requires a different approach than a group of badasses who are just looking to score credits and equipment.  The former requires XP drops sufficient to the eventual challenge; the latter don't have to change much, if at all.

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