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I've searched and read a few old topics on this. I hear a lot of x per session, but my issues is... what's a session?

We play weekly, 3 hrs each.  Some "sessions" are talk and rpg, some are exploration and discovery.  Some are combat.  Are these are considered xp sessions?  My players don't rush, they can easily blow 15 minutes deciding what to do, and carefully planning how to breach a door.  I don't mind this, I'd prefer it over a rushed game.

My players found a derelict space craft, spent one session connecting to it, getting across and scanning the local area.  They spent time walk mapping a section of the ship, finding a computer terminal and getting access to the logs and holo maps.  They spent time getting engineering online, the ship powered up and environment restored.  That's when something woke up.

So this is how we play, and I'm really struggling to understand how I award xp.

Helpful advice??

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1 minute ago, Grungyape said:

I've searched and read a few old topics on this. I hear a lot of x per session, but my issues is... what's a session?

We play weekly, 3 hrs each.  Some "sessions" are talk and rpg, some are exploration and discovery.  Some are combat.  Are these are considered xp sessions?  My players don't rush, they can easily blow 15 minutes deciding what to do, and carefully planning how to breach a door.  I don't mind this, I'd prefer it over a rushed game.

My players found a derelict space craft, spent one session connecting to it, getting across and scanning the local area.  They spent time walk mapping a section of the ship, finding a computer terminal and getting access to the logs and holo maps.  They spent time getting engineering online, the ship powered up and environment restored.  That's when something woke up.

So this is how we play, and I'm really struggling to understand how I award xp.

Helpful advice??

Are they actively playing? if yes that counts. it does not matter if  they are doing combat or talking to a guy in a Cantina. The advice that Jay little gives is 5 xp per hour of active game play. talking to a cantina guy for an hour 5 xp. quoting Monty Python for 15 minutes. that 15 min does not count towards earning XP

 

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A gaming session would be the three hours you play the game. In my opinion, as long as they aren't off topic, it counts to the session.

Here's how I structure my sessions:

1 session, 1 mission (barring time constraints, in which case a single "session" might be split up over two or more "session"). Mission doesn't mean arc, and there might be some exceptions, but this is a general rule for me.
I award XP for the mission, so by extension it is the XP for the session.
In most sessions, they have "active time" and "downtime." Active time is planning, structured time, narrative time, roleplaying, etc. Downtime is shopping, roleplaying r&r, etc.
If I were awarding XP based on time, I'd give them XP based on the "active time" and not on the "downtime."

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If no one minds me asking this in addition.  I will admit, I come from d20, so leveling has a whole different meaning.

if I am handing out 10-15xp per week, my players will not become super human compared to my adversaries too quickly?  If I feel they do have a bit of weight to them, can I add a few minions to balance things out?

Like looking at some of the Nemesis (esp the classics) I wonder, how many xp did it take to get to that point?

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1 minute ago, Grungyape said:

If no one minds me asking this in addition.  I will admit, I come from d20, so leveling has a whole different meaning.

if I am handing out 10-15xp per week, my players will not become super human compared to my adversaries too quickly?  If I feel they do have a bit of weight to them, can I add a few minions to balance things out?

Like looking at some of the Nemesis (esp the classics) I wonder, how many xp did it take to get to that point?

No. there are some tricks to doing adversaries. The NPC deli episode of the Order 66 podcast discusses some of this. @KRKappel did an adventure with over 1000xp jedi council members and had no trouble.

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2 minutes ago, Grungyape said:

If no one minds me asking this in addition.  I will admit, I come from d20, so leveling has a whole different meaning.

if I am handing out 10-15xp per week, my players will not become super human compared to my adversaries too quickly?  If I feel they do have a bit of weight to them, can I add a few minions to balance things out?

Like looking at some of the Nemesis (esp the classics) I wonder, how many xp did it take to get to that point?

You absolutely can add more minions to a minion group. That’s the beautiful thing about minions: send as many or as few as necessary to be as challenging as you want them to be. The scaling is built in to the design of minion groups.

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Posted (edited)

I wouldn't assign XP on a per hour rate since so many different things could happen (have you ever had your players "go to town" and shop for an hour?). 5xp for a short adventure, 10xp for a bigger one, 15xp for a grand adventure. The last two could easily take up more then one "session".

The players roll up PCs as quaint halflings during a marathon intro-day for a new campaign. They receive their grand quest, trek through the countryside learning the basics such as Survival checks for food, using Stealth to avoid a high level baddie, get eaten by a tree, then RP with some hippie forest guy and his hot babe learning some lore. After players grumble about poor loot, they suddenly find some treasure in some barrows they stumble upon, then end with social encounter checks meeting their NPC contact at an inn. 10xp big session.

The next time the players meet, there are some more checks during travel (they mumble about the new NPC godlike ranger getting to make all of the dice rolls), have a brief battle with undead atop a broken tower (again the NPC has most of the fun), hand-wave the rest of the travel until it's revealed the PC of the player that was doing the most grumbling is suddenly deathly ill. 5xp briefer session.

Due to player grumbling, the Ranger gets assigned to one of the players as a second PC, and other players each roll up a 2nd "tougher" PC including an archer, human warrior, and dwarven warrior. Then, the referee tells them an actual demi-god is added to the party as an NPC! They set off with brief encounters along the way with the referee telling them about a huge dungeon he has prepared. They are able to enter the dungeon with the help of the new NPC while fighting off a swamp thing. They delve into the new dungeon, but it's late and play stops right before the first big battle. 5xp for part 1. They return next week for the large battle, flee through the dungeon, and end with a final battle with more orcs and a huge demon. The new NPC saves the day of course. 🤬. The referee concedes after a near riot from his players and kills off the new NPC....with a slight smirk on his face. Part 2 ends with 10xp (15xp for the total dungeon quest).

Edited by Sturn

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1 hour ago, Sturn said:

I wouldn't assign XP on a per hour rate since so many different things could happen (have you ever had your players "go to town" and shop for an hour?). 5xp for a short adventure, 10xp for a bigger one, 15xp for a grand adventure. The last two could easily take up more then one "session".

I agree. I generally set it to 15-20 XP per session (manipulated for how intensive the mission is), but that's my preference for XP advancement, and your mileage may vary.

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7 hours ago, Grungyape said:

So this is how we play, and I'm really struggling to understand how I award xp.

This might be more helpful once you have more experience with the system, but it really depends how you want to scale the PC's vs their environment, and more importantly, how the PCs are being built.  D&D is pretty linear, and the intended goal (not always achieved...ahem, Ranger vs Wizard, ahem) is that each class's XP level is on roughly the same power level.  Since this game allows for a lot more variability in how the PCs are constructed, their "power levels" can differ wildly.

If your players are somewhat monolithic with their PC builds (high scores in key attributes, and they spend all their XP developing primary and secondary abilities with little attention to anything else) then yes, if you award too much XP you can easily "overshoot" such that the PCs can become about as good as they will ever get in short order.  The rules seem to imply and encourage this kind of play, so the guideline of 15-20XP per session (or 5XP per hour plus a bonus for whatever reason) works well and the PC development arc can last a longer time.

You can also encourage a broader approach so that the players find value in tertiary or even quaternary abilities while still remaining the very good in their chosen areas of expertise.  This spreads things out and you can easily have PCs with many hundreds of XP (I think the max we had before the campaign ended was around 1300), while still having PCs that are concerned about stormtroopers, have serious weaknesses, etc.

Personally I prefer the latter, and I kind of turn on the firehose (roughly double the above numbers, assuming something important or difficult has been accomplished or attempted), and waive all kinds of surcharges like buying new talent trees, etc.  But doing that requires all the players to buy into that pattern.  If you have one monolithic PC and a bunch of jack-of-many-trades, it doesn't work very well.

6 hours ago, Grungyape said:

If I feel they do have a bit of weight to them, can I add a few minions to balance things out?

Yes, for sure.  And give them better guns, armour, etc.  You can even split up minion groups into single individuals...they get no dice upgrades and they go down quick, but their number of attacks increases significantly.  Rough guide to a combat encounter structure:

  • Easy:  1 or 2 fewer attack groups than the PCs can bring to bear.  Either:
    • Attack dice pools 1 less than the PC group's average, ie:  if the PCs are shooting with 3 dice, the opponents should be shooting with 2, or at least fewer yellows.  Poor tactics (mindless thugs maybe don't take cover, aim, crit, etc)...or...
    • Attack damage output 1-2 less than the PCs, and or opponent soak 1-2 less than the PCs
  • Average:  1 fewer attack group than the PCs.  Attack dice pools roughly equivalent, but with fewer upgrades, ie:  if the PCs are shooting with YYG, the opponents should be shooting with YGG.  Equivalent damage on a hit.  Decent tactics (cover, aim, etc).  Equivalent soak, or 1 less.
  • Deadly-but-survivable:  equal attacks, dice pools and upgrades, damage output, soak, good tactics, etc.  These are the most mercurial encounters because the way the dice work you can easily end up with TPV (total party victory) or TPC (total party capture).  But PCs often have other tactical tricks (quick draw, true aim, etc) that can tip the odds (barely) in their favour.
  • Overwhelmed:  more of everything.  The players should get the hint pretty quickly and bail...or fight to a glorious end.

All these variables interact and affect each other so it takes experience to get a handle on it.  But probably the most important variable for straight up combat is the number of attacks, followed by dice pools and damage output.  You can't do damage if you can't hit, but the more chances you get, the more you will hit.  If you hit, the bigger weapon wins.  If your PCs are budding smugglers with heavy clothing and blaster pistols, a squad of stormtroopers with heavy blaster rifles are going to quickly take them down, because even 1 stormtrooper is rolling 3 dice (the yellow upgrades don't add significantly to the chances of success, just increase the odds of good narrative effects).

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9 hours ago, Grungyape said:

If no one minds me asking this in addition.  I will admit, I come from d20, so leveling has a whole different meaning.

if I am handing out 10-15xp per week, my players will not become super human compared to my adversaries too quickly?  If I feel they do have a bit of weight to them, can I add a few minions to balance things out?

Like looking at some of the Nemesis (esp the classics) I wonder, how many xp did it take to get to that point?

The thing with SW FFG is that (unlike d20 systems) things like hit points (Wound/Strain Threshold) and to-hit difficulty do not generally scale with leveling.  In d20, you level up and add 1d10+Con to hit points and around 8th-10th level, you are up near 100hps.  In SW FFG, you WT and ST are always going to be 12-14-16-etc...  You're only going to get "so" high.  Whereas a 100hp PC in d20 can take 5-10 average longsword or weapon hits, in FFG a blaster rifle will take out a PC in 2-3 hits, sometimes 4 or more with a high soak. 

Difficulty?  Melee is always 2-purple. Short range, 1-purple. Doesn't matter how much XP you ever get or how much XP your opponents have. In d20 games, your AC, hit points, and to-hit keep scaling and scaling as you level-up and get better stuff.  Sure, sure, you can "technically" improve your defenses and such in FFG, but it's not on the same scale. 

A lot of the Nemesis characters, yeah, might need a few thousand xp to get what they have (attribute increases with Dedication, and all).  It isn't at all like building NPC's in d20 (where NPCs are built like PCs).  You want the NPC to have a 5 Brawn, 4 Int, 4 Presence?  Just give it to them. :)

XP-wise....you buy things in 5xp increments. Some people like to add in the 1's and 2's here and there for role-play, mission completion, getting engines online, etc... (breaking down every part) in order to add up to their xp per session.  IMO, why have the bookkeeping?  We generally give out 5xp per hour of table play.  If it is 3 hours of table time, but an hour of fluff and out-of-game chatter, then 10 xp. Achieve a momentous thing? Then add in an extra 5xp (20 total) for that three hours. IMO, it is not worth being legalistic over what xp/hr is "correct".  I say, give what you are comfortable with.  It all comes out the same in the wash, as they say.  Whether you rationalize it out like "5+1+2+1+4+2=15 xp", or "you get 15xp for our 3-hr session tonight," it makes little difference how you do it.   

To be sure, showing up and even during a talk / role-play evening with very little combat...… showing up deserves some xp.  To me, 5xp for 3 or 4 hours of my time feels like I wasted my time.  Might as well of shot up some guards to get that up to 10 or 15!!!  To each their own!  We generally give out 10-15-20 per session. Once I got experienced in the game along with the players, we get "a lot done" in the campaign and I give out 20-25-30xp for good sessions where I felt like we accomplished a lot. 

 

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I generally don't like the xp/hour approach, rather the xp/scene. Mostly no difference, as a scene is roughly around an hour, but I tend to count extended roleplaying as a scene (like when the marauder dug up the smugglers hidden cache of drugs or the clawdite changed to be the twin of the falleen trader and went out on girls night) or if they do something extraordinary or heroic (finishing a major character arc, or the marauder jumping on a thermal detonator).

Usually they get 15-25 xp for a 4-6 hours session and we play roughly once per month. 

Also I keep reminding myself to challenge them in various ways, especially in their weak stats, so they feel pressured to be more balanced in their builds. That gives me plenty of room to play. They are around 600 XP and can easily make them sweat without using Nemesis level NPCs

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I'm the laziest. I generally award XP at the end of each adventure. Sometimes the adventure can straddle sessions.

In the end I just give them whatever feels right. I'm generous so it is usually around 20xp - 25xp with the chance for some bonus xp for between session adventure logs or write-ups.

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After reading through these, it looks like I'm stingy with XP compared to others. I think it comes from worry about getting to a "high level" campaign and the problems that brings with creating challenges.

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1 hour ago, Sturn said:

After reading through these, it looks like I'm stingy with XP compared to others. I think it comes from worry about getting to a "high level" campaign and the problems that brings with creating challenges.

Hit em in the dump stat? Dont be afraid of dividing the party?

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I think it comes from worry about getting to a "high level" campaign and the problems that brings with creating challenges.

As the Characters of your players progress, so will the players and so will you. You should not be afraid of possible challanges but embrace them.

And being held down with character building by the GM due to lack of XP over a considerable long time frame can be very discouraging.

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I give out some XP plus sometimes relevant skills or talents per adventure bc I prefer it from an immersion point of view. (Eg if the players spend several days in the jungles of cholganna, I'd award them a rank in survival on top of the XP). I also award XP for playing the motivation and for failing stuff. (you learn from your mistakes logic). 

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9 hours ago, MaxXIII said:

I also award XP for playing the motivation and for failing stuff. (you learn from your mistakes logic). 

There's a whole bunch of games that award XP on a missed roll (in addition to other ways).

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I know in FFG special events it is 5xp an hour.  However that to me is allot if you spend 3 hours at the bar BSing lol.

 

consider 5xp for achieving a goal and 10xp for major objectives

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4 hours ago, NicoJMont said:

I know in FFG special events it is 5xp an hour.  However that to me is allot if you spend 3 hours at the bar BSing lol.

 

consider 5xp for achieving a goal and 10xp for major objectives

That is why Jay Little says 5 per hour active playing.

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I stay with the 5XP/hour rule generally. How strict you want to be with what constitutes "play" is up to you. I tend to be more liberal. It's more fun with developed and powerful players, for the GM and the players.

I ran a campaign for about 15 months, totalling 42 sessions (on average 4 hours). We ended at around 1000 earned XP, there was some variation between the players, and I cannot recall the specifics. But this worked well for us. The game scales well in my experience.

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