Challenge Ratings and XP concerns


CR in LW is done so differently, that I just found one strong loophole in d20 that kinda urks me. It strikes me that if all games are to use the same XP Chart for Character Levels, then all games should use the same XP Awards mechanic. Allow me to explain my quandary...

the D20 mechanics are all based on the same XP Chart for Character Level (1000 for lv 2, 3000 for lv 3, 6000 for lv 4, 10000 for lv 5, and so on and so forth). 3.5 mechanics base XP awards on individual character levels, thus making a pretty fair estimate of worth IMO.

LW presented a much simpler mechanic however, that at first glance I said "simple. I like it!" After my weekly Sunday 3.5 game, and awarding XP for it, I noticed something that made me flinch.

Was it intentional to scale the XP such where a party of characters would advance very quickly to high levels? If so, then there's no issue here, but since I am about to begin playing/running in two seperate LW games, it begs the question from both sides of the table.

Allow me to illustrate:
A single level one fighter slays the villian of the first couple of sessions, a lone level four barbarian. Now, all XP for this encounter goes to said fighter - that's 1350 XP - he's level two instantly, no big deal and that sits well with me.
Now a level one Kai Lord kills a level two Drakkar warrior (CR 2 plus 2 levels makes the Drakkar a CD4), and the Kai gets 1600 XP (4x[CR4x100]). He also goes up a level and is slightly closer to gaining his next level. Okay, so maybe the Kai learn faster than most mortals or something....

Not much of a difference right now. But look at this...
Same 3.5 fighter is now level ten and defeats a CR10 creature/villian earning 3000 XP, while the Kai Lord gets 4000 for killing something of the same CR??? What makes it worse is a level 10 Kai Lord that kills a level 2 Drakkar, by the books, gets 1600 XP.
A 3.5 character at level 10 that kills/defeats anything at CR4 gets only 375 XP! Even if a LW GM decides to ad hoc some modifiers and only award 3/4 XP for that previous example, the Kai Lord would be earning 1000( :shock: ) versus the 3.5 award of 375, and at 10th level, that's a big difference.

But I don't know, maybe I just try TOO hard to keep my games in check, and I'm a little upset that I am just now noticing this, esp. since my game starts day after tomorrow, and I have to refit all my encounters so that I can better plan for party progression. Of course the best fix would be simply use the XP rules from 3.5, as this issue is cuasing me grief just because I didn't read all the fine print, and I am so used to balancing 3.5 games, not LW.
i for my part as a storyteller or gm, always used the exp table just as a guideline

if i had the feeling the pc should make a level during the adventure they made it

if they simple "didn´t deserve it" they just didn´t make the level

just that easy

or the other way, give your players something special

eg, give your knight of sommerlund a special ability for good roleplaying lets say the level 1 power from the healing power from a kai lord, pack it in nice story and voila

exp are not always the best bonus for players!!!

i hope it is claer what i mean, my english isn´t so well as it should be :)
I understand both points, but my question was more from a game design/play balence issue than a "how to handle it as a GM" thing.

Like I said, I more than likely will run XP just as the 3.5 DMG proclaims. The mechanical deviations within d20 games just threw me loopy~
Personally, I give experience according to challenge. The party can surprise you either way. Please allow me to relate some of my past experiences with D&D.

As a player, we were playing as 8th level characters (I was fortunate enough to have a DM that would allow me to play a D&D version of a Kai Lord, which I found at We went on a few adventures, occasionally getting lucky with combats and winning out over evil and all that. We mowed through many encounters with lucky shots, defeating enemies that should have been much more of a challenge. Accordingly, as the experience was figured through, we gained a level almost every other session, i.e. very quickly.

On the other hand, I was also running a low level game at one point. There was a ranger with a +3 longsword (more powerful than I usually play with, but it was an artifact). He was 4th level. As the party came across a small group of sleeping kobolds, the ranger decided to smite the evil (his hated enemy) and attack the prone kobold. Because a 1 always misses (and becuase it was more amusing this way), he failed to hurt the kobold, who promptly woke up, kicked him in the shin and ran off. The kobold chase and eventual defeat lasted the session, with everyone having a great time. I awarded suitable experience for the battle, and everyone went home happy. Had we divided the experience according to the D&D rules, however, each character would have only gotten a paltry amount, despite the efforts and great time.

Another quick (and slightly amusing) example:
I ran a game at a convention back under 2nd edition D&D rules. The party, generally 4th and 5th level, went to investigate dissapearances in a mountain pass. After a great deal of harassing and trouble, it was discovered that the culprit was a small band of kobolds (I love those guys!) burrowing under the pass and creating sinkholes under unsuspecting travellers, then attacking them when trapped in the small, waist-deep holes. When this was discovered, the mighty group managed to dig up one of the little buggers and kill him. The party split up the judicious reward of 7 experience points for the evening.

My point is this. Use the experience tables and Lone Wolf rules as a guideline, and fake it from there. No system is ideal. Balance is good, but you've also got to reward efforts. No, I don't think a 10th level character should get 1600 exps from defeating a Drakkar, if it was an easy defeat. If this one Drakkar gave the character a world of $#!+, then he might be worth more.


Thanks for letting me ramble.

The XP system was intended to be both simple and scale effectively to the books themselves (where Lone Wolf rarely fought anything more powerful than himself except for the 'main villain'). Since Lone Wolf bacisally gained a level every book, that was the inspiration for the 'fast advancement' system.

Remember that there is also the suggestion thatr characters simply be allowed to advance one level each "story", i.e. each basic set of encounters making up a complete adventure. In such an instance, EXP values are somewhat irrelevant.

In the end, it's all a matter of style.

Nerethel said:
Use the experience tables and Lone Wolf rules as a guideline, and fake it from there. No system is ideal...
Like faking to roll dice? I know I did it a few times already as GM, hidden behind my screen. A perceptive player caught me :oops: and since then he prefers when I don't use a screen...

P.S.: I know you meant "take it from there", but I just couldn't resist.

Nerethel said:
Thanks for letting me ramble.
Your welcome. Pretty interesting stuff, by the way. :)
Mongoose August said:
The XP system was intended to be both simple and scale effectively to the books themselves. Since Lone Wolf bacisally gained a level every book, that was the inspiration for the 'fast advancement' system.
This outlook just happens to fit my style. :) I'm a very "loose" GM (not lousy or loutish, mind you), really more a storyteller, really. All that to say I'm delighted by that design decision, as it aims to recreate the feel of the adventure books, and also simplify the book keeping.

Mongoose August said:
characters simply be allowed to advance one level each "story"
That's the way I'll use...
I do not mind the XPing, LW is suppose to be heroic and thus a faster pogression. I admit the level 10 vs CR 4 still gives a reward that is way too good. But I also read that you should only run battles that are a threat. If the CR 4 enemy is not a threat then it shouldn't have been there as a real fight. I remember in the books how many times it merely wrote "and you progress through the three pirates without breaking a sweat, you eloqantly dispatch the foes before you."

I admit some anal player might go "but why don't we fight it, I want the XP reward" you can always point out the fight is no challenge and there is nothing new to be gained or learned from it. So if the guards have to be there, they can be dispathed per a narrative, or if there needs to be battle make it a decent match atleast.

One other thing I can think of is borrowing something from DnD3.5, doubling the challenge increases the CR by 2 (in DnD this effectively doubles the XP reward, but in LW has another effect). Though I only recomand this for enemies who alone are much lower CR then the PC, thus putting two CR10 should give the XP for CR 10 twice and not one CR 12.

However, for low CR enemies vs high level parties, it can give a challenge without giving too much XP. In the previous example, four Drakkar warriors would give the XP of a CR 8, which means 3200 XP, that is only 800 a pop (instead of 1600), and as a whole a worthy challenge for a lv 10 character alone. And if looking at a party of 2+ characters, maybe 8 Drakkar, which will give as much as a CR 10 enemy alone and be just as challenging (instead of CR 4 eight times, which will way too much XP).
Mongoose August said:
In the end, it's all a matter of style.

... and a certain amount of keeping your player's in line :)

With clear cut rules, there is less for them to complain about. Which, in the interrim, allows them to enjoy the game more... (they can, and will complain a lot, esp about rules clarification, and no rule section impacts them more than XP)