Friday, September 18, 2020

XP For Gold Is Stinky

I don't like XP for gold because I like making randomly generated dungeons, and having a system where people gain in experience by how much treasure they acquire makes randomly generating treasure a lot more complicated and quite frankly I'm bad at math. 

XP for gold has the following upsides:
  • Provides a mechanical reason for players to want to acquire treasure
  • Encourages exploration and critical thinking over combat
It also has the following downsides:
  • Doesn't make sense from an in-universe standpoint (though leveling systems barely do anyway)
  • Doesn't make sense for certain kinds of characters (what does a hermit monk need all that gold for?)
  • Gives the player characters way too much money to play around with, which is only a good thing if you're trying to do some domain play
I propose this instead; for every 10 obstacles a character overcomes (obstacle being defined by the referee, for example a very easy fight with 2 giant rats might not be considered an obstacle, but successfully navigating through a storm in a Moon-beast ship would be), the character gains a level. This is summarized by the table below.

Level    Obstacles Overcome
1            0
2            10
3            20
4            30
5            40

Alternatively, if you want an exponential leveling system like that of traditional old school D&D, use the table below.

Level    Obstacles Overcome
1            0
2            10
3            30
4            70
5            150

Once I finish tinkering with the dungeon generation tables I've been fiddling with, I'm going to try to put these methods into practice in a home game, particularly the more linear system of character advancement.


  1. Do wandering monsters count as obstacles over come? Because if so then you're back to wandering monsters not being a penalty and certain old school mechanisms (the need to conserve time) break.

    I'm stealing straight up xp for # of rooms explored (cumilative) from Neoclassical Greek Revival.

  2. Take a look at how Dungeon Crawl Classics handles XP, it's along the same reasoning. They give XP based on every encounter survived, from one to four points, and an encounter being loosely defined but generally something with risk to the party. The risk may be physical, but it could also be some kind of social risk at the GM's discretion. So if a party encounters a band of orcs they could defeat them, sneak past them, parley with them, or trick them, and receive the same XP. It keeps the wealth down to something closer to normal and still encourages the players to get out there and do cool things.