that 5% or 10% XP bonus is pretty irrelevant

Old editions give you a 5% or 10% XP bonus for having a high Primary Attribute. You can argue that it’s realistic – naturally talented people progress faster. You can also argue that it’s overkill – most editions already give you gameplay bonuses for having high primary abilities. In fact, though, it doesn’t make much of a difference.

In the versions of the game with XP bonuses, the XP per level generally doubled or almost doubled, at least until high levels (8 or 9). That meant that the 10% bonus was irrelevant most of the time. 9 out of 10 game sessions, the guy with the 10% bonus was the same level as the clod with 10 in his primary attribute.

Is it worth the math busywork of multiplying every single XP bonus by 1.05% or 1.1% in order to level up a session early every 3 months? Maybe. Levelling is pretty awesome.

In my houserules XP system (every level requires 10 XP, every encounter provides 1 XP) the effects of the 10% XP bonus can be duplicated very easily: characters with 16+ in their primary attribute (or whatever) start the game with 1 XP. Everyone else starts with 0 XP. That 1 bonus XP at character creation will have exactly the same effects as the 10% Primary Attribute bonus – the character is always 10% of a level ahead. Except no multiplication.

5 Responses to “that 5% or 10% XP bonus is pretty irrelevant”

  1. LS says:

    I love that house rule XP system. I’ve always hated how D&D traditionally dispenses XP. Not only does it seem to require excessive note taking on the part of the GM (using up valuable attention which could be directed towards more useful elements of gameplay) but it marginalizes non-combat XP in the extreme. Offering players 200 XP for a good role playing encounter seems as dickish as leaving your waitress a nickle as a tip. Giving them nothing would be less insulting.

    Up to now I’ve basically just faked my players out. I tell them when they go up a level, and when they don’t, completely arbitrarily. I let them think I’ve got some system going on behind the GM screen, but really I just let them level when I think they deserve it.

    I may steal & adapt your house rule XP system. =D

  2. mbeacom says:

    I do something similar where I level them about every 3-4 sessions. However, it’s not arbitrary and it’s not when I think they deserve it. I increase their levels based on the material I have prepared. For example, one of my groups was level 7 for a long time because it took them longer to get finished with the stuff I had prepared. Once they got done with that, and I knew I had more challenging stuff coming, I told them they leveled up. This saved me the work of having to scale the encounters down a bit. Plus I was able to reward them with a level-up right after a major quest finished so it made it even sweeter. I used to have an old schooler who wanted to counter every XP and asked me to calculated it at the end of each session. I just started dividing the total they need to level by 4 and then rounding up or down depending on if the night felt busy or lite for material. That way we still leveled about every 4 sessions.

  3. paul paul says:

    Go ahead! I’ll go into a little more detail in my next post – not that there’s a lot more to say :-)

  4. Thorynn says:

    Sounds awesome. What about impromptu encounters, or wandering monsters. Are they worth the same as a “Boss” fight? Wouldn’t that encourage PCs to get into fights with everybody for the XP? Oh wait…. thats normal.

  5. Josh W says:

    I love how simple that is, although I don’t think it actually matches the maths; if players get 10% extra xp with every encounter, but always have encounters levelled for a group without this bonus, then every time they’ll be 1 encounter ahead + a kind of fraction left over from earlier levels.

    This is because the last encounter of every level is not necessary to reach that level, so it counts towards the leveling up extra early on the next level, and even despite the way that levels get further apart, these things build up more than you’d think:
    By 4th level the real xp gains have already diverged from this system, so they are levelling up on the groups 8th encounter rather than their 9th, and by 20th level the guy with 10% extra xp has lapped everyone and has a whole level on them!

    On the other hand, I wonder whether this is a way to do a tamer equivalent of effective levels, so someone can get extra stuff in return for getting no xp for the first 1-5 encounters or something, so that he seesaws between being more and less powerful than the rest of the party throughout the remainder of the game. Those xp could be banked so that if at later levels it stops being significant, he gets them back and goes back into the normal flow.

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