survival of the fittest: experience point rules


Conan is known for his strength. In the world he lives in the strongest survive, and around my game table I like to reward the strongest role players with the greatest rewards in experience... because to me they're the ones that help me drag the night along easiest. Plain and simple as that. That's why in Conan; where the system is brazen enough to let GM's do whatever the hell they want with experience I want to see a system in place that rewards those who stay in character.

Much in the theme of Conan; the strong get stronger and the weak do not. Or to be nicer here... the weak go way slower. Write each character's name down and hand out a reward from 5 to 1 (easy numbers to rate and keep track of). Have a multiplier or divider ready for longer or shorter sessions relatively.

thing is... this is where I'd like help... is what kind of benchmarks should seperate levels with so low of a reward? Conan should be really simple. I don't think D&D XP would work.. the sheer scale of D&D wouldn't work on Conan that way. A simpler and lighter system lets you easily judge how the night went.

thoughts, comments, or help would be much appreciated. Thanks.
Well, first off...I believe you may be thinking about this s alittle too hard...(lol).

Each time a player says something that is in character isn't really the issue so much as if they stay in character the most. You can XP reward players immediately, but I find it a bit disruptive to do that.

I dont'really understand what you're driving at with the 5 to 1 multiplier etcetera system. What if you hand out a 1 to a player who turns out to play in character the best? I dont' follow.

All I'd do is dock them. Assume they're going to get 100xp for being in character the whole time, and make tick marks on a sheet of paper when they drop character. 1 for 1. End of the night, reward each player 100 - X in XP for character. This is very tedious though and can tak up too mcuh of you time keeping unnecessary records.

Besides all that, there will be uses in a given session that some character may excel at and where others do not. If you get as slow story for the Thief on session, he may not do much in character playing. Is it fair to them penalize him for that?

What I generally do is reward based on deeds. If a player manage to do something tha I feel was supremely indicative of his character, I give them a bonus. Now this might be the Cimmerian invoking Crom or something simple like that, all the way to a scene stealing moment of brilliance, but I reward accordingly if and only if it propells the story and the character. If nothing changes or moves because o fplaying in character, then it ultimately doesn't matter. Maybe 20-100xp at once, but the moment has to accomplish something for the character of the party - they have to gain something for it.

All XP in Conan is arbitrarily rewarded, but it ought to be based on accomplishments, no matter how it is gained.
There was a thread in this forum not so long ago: CONAN without levels?

Maybe you look there for ideas.
I do a reward system too, during the game if a player does something "special" then I hand out one or more small glass beads. At the end of the night each of them is worth 50XP.

The advantage of this system is that certain behaviour is immediately given a positive reward. The players like getting the beads and it's clear what sort of action lead to it being given. It kind of helps lay out the sort of gaming that will be rewarded which will in turn encourage it.

Works for me anyhow....

How about three different color beads. They do something cool in character and they get to reach into a bag without looking and each bead is worth up to 100XP. In other words, it adds a meta gaming treasure hunt, pilfer the riches and "mad loots" type of gimmick to the game. I can just see players shaping up and getting into character fast once they realize that there could be 100XP in it for them....if they're lucky....
The players like getting the beads and it's clear what sort of action lead to it being given. It kind of helps lay out the sort of gaming that will be rewarded which will in turn encourage it.

yeah that's a good idea, although when I was trying a system similar to what I proposed during my D&D game I preferred to not tell my players what was being given to whom. I didn't want anyone to think I favored a player for whatever reason.

beads or whatever could be good though. I may try that one of these days... or gold star stickers. it would be like kindergarden. something like that.
Sutek, I can see the advantages of lucky dip style bag of beads, it's a bigger feeling of "reward". The downside that I can see is that it might interfere with the game somewhat, as is I can just toss out beads from behind my GM screen with a quick "that was a great moment" type comment and it doesn't break the flow much. Maybe you could just hand the bag to the player and keep on rolling, I'll think about it, it does have an appealing aspect to it.

Baron, yes you do have to be careful that the players don't think you're favouring someone however if you're rewarding "role playing" then that's always going to be a risk. At the end of a night if one person gets more XP than another then there could always be that suspicion. At least if you do the "out in the open" bead thing that the behaviour that lead to the reward is seen by everybody.

Yes it is a touch kindergarten, however it's done to kids for a reason, an immediate reward of good behaviour can induce further good behaviour both in the recipient and in others who see it. Let's face it it's also fun to build up a collection of shiney beads.

In particular I've got two players who are happy to make big contributions out of game. They'll draw up maps or write huge backgrounds for which I used to reward XP. One of my players is very quiet and doesn't do that sort of thing. As is she used to kind of loose out a bit. Now that I'm just using the bead system and trying very hard to notice actions that "help" the mood of the game she's ahead of the others and seems to really like it. The bead system kind of helps make sure that her contributions are properly noted.

Just thought I'd throw in my take on this...

I'm not a big fan of XP awards for good roleplaying. I used to think that they were a great idea, but in the games I've played in, I've found that they don't work as good in practice as in theory. The players not getting awarded are more likely to loose interest in the game then become more motivated to roleplay. Good roleplaying is enough of a reward in itself, in my experience.

Also, I consider roleplaying very much a group experience, and I'll happily give out an award to all the players after a fun session (even if it was mostly one of the players who was responsible for producing the fun).
I also think its commendable for very active players to sometimes step down so that others may shine.

That being said, your bead system sounds kind of fun, and if it works for your group; great! :)
I have chosen not to explain to my players how I give out experience in my campaign. For encounters I still somewhat use the CR chart in the DMG, but most of the time I end up taking away a bit of it, as I expect my players to earn it by such things as advancing the story line, good roleplaying, achieving objectives, etc.

The reason I do not tell them how I allocate experience is that I want them to roleplay their characters as they are. I don't want them to one-up each other in an attempt to garner as much experience as possible by trying to impress me. I just want them to play their characters as they should.
The players not getting awarded are more likely to loose interest in the game then become more motivated to roleplay.

that's what I'm talking about with the spirit of Conan though... the strong get stronger. The weak drown! It's very darwinistic.

I want to try it anyway... lol
***BARON*** said:
The players not getting awarded are more likely to loose interest in the game then become more motivated to roleplay.
that's what I'm talking about with the spirit of Conan though... the strong get stronger. The weak drown! It's very darwinistic.
:lol: Just be careful so you don't end up with nothing but one very, very strong player.
well I'll tell you this; I would only try this system out if I had confidence in my group. We are good roleplayers. The weakest link at our table is often the strongest elswhere around other games. It's an acceptable risk.
I would suggest eliminating experience points all together. It's worked wonders in my group. Level them when it's time to level them! Work out another way to reward good play...a lucky night with a wench...a favor from a noble, a lucky break while trading for a better weapon...
I also find experience point rewards to be undesirable. Don't want characters getting away from each other in power. In general, too likely to produce acrimony as people debate what is worthy of what. Plus, why would you want to get people to spend any time thinking about who deserves what?

I don't know how much other players feel this way, but I love having my characters gain unique abilities, even if they are dumb. Too often, the mechanics that are supposed to differentiate characters in RPGs are unbalanced such that characters tend to pick up the same feats/advantages/schticks/whatever. I got a lot more interested in my Conan character when he got a GM given bonus to handle animal rolls with the party's wardogs even though the dogs didn't last long. It wasn't terribly useful, all it probably did was mean my character could handle them okay when their masters (other PCs) weren't available. But, it was unique. It's like systems that have you take quirks (in addition to such things as advantages or whatever) ... but better since your character is evolving and without just powering up.

Put another way, the odd ability, bonus, or even drawback gained during play is a way to solidify the experiences the character undergoes. Just as the adventures make a character memorable, the unique mechanics aid in remembering those adventures.

For this system, while I would try to keep it under control, if terribly appropriate, I could even see giving characters particular feats. Probably just limit it to the ones that people aren't likely to take because they aren't that good. More commonly, I could see skill bonuses, save bonuses, attack bonuses, and the like for narrow situations.

Could also do something with allegiances, maybe the character doesn't have a new allegiance but some NPC has one to the character (though this probably doesn't require a mechanic to represent). Maybe the character's consistent behavior is worthy of the bonuses of having a code of honor even if there's no apt code.

Don't want to make characters more powerful since that just leads to the same situations as different XP rewards but more "appropriate".

On a tangent, I like the idea of players creating their own feats(/whatever). Sure, this needs to be monitored carefully as some players will come up with broken stuff, but it's not hard to fix something right away or in the future as long as the player isn't the sort to pout over lost power.