High XP vs. Low XP: what freedoms legally exist?

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If a group of regular players is trying to keep their characters at similar tiers, is it possible to complete mods at the greater difficulty setting, yet have some characters claim the lower XP reward?


Or, more openly, is it legally possible for players to somehow opt to recieve less XP through actions such as denying quest rewards, etc?  Are DMs legally allowed to choose to award less XP on player-by-player basis?


If any of these options are legal, can you predict avenues of possible abuse?  If any of these options are legal, would you be upset if you had found out a player at your table had done it?


Ths has been discussed before, the main issue is that, if they take lower tier XP, they must also take the lower tier GP and bundle choices.


No taking 400 XP (low tier) and 175 gold (high tier), sorry, that busts the gold model.

Sorry to bring up discussion again, but thank you for the clarification.


Does anyone remember the title/location of the previous thread?

In addition to the XP/GP issue, it was also pointed out (I believe by one of the global admins) that XP are, in essence, reflecting your experiences.   You can't opt to "learn less" from your experience, as it were.


Sorry, can't remember the name of the thread; I'm pretty sure that it was several months ago, at least.  It was almost undoubtedly on this board.

"Of course [Richard] has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183, and we're barbarians!" - Eleanor of Aquitaine, "The Lion in Winter"

You can't opt to "learn less" from your experience, as it were.


Tell that to every politician in Washington! 


In all seriousness... if they want lower rewards, have them play lo tier.  If they want the greater challenge, throw the high tier monsters at them.  There isn't anythign that says you can't do this.

Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf

You may legally tell your DM, we want to play in low tier, but feel free to up the challenge level. Yes, we understand with the lower xp, we will only receive the lower tier gp/treasure bundles options.  The DM is empowered to raise or lower the level of the challenge as needed for the players to have fun, which could be using the monsters from the high tier of the adventure.  As was stated, mixing the options (low xp, high gp) is a definite no-no.  Also, it is not cricket to tell the DM you want to play in high tier of the adventure, but please lower the challenge level, just keep your xp and gp up there.  Tongue out


Keith


 

Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep

I think the OP is asking something subtly different from what has been discussed before. I think he is asking if, within a single table, some characters can receive the low-tier rewards and others receive the high-tier rewards.


The answer is still the same: no, you can't do that. But I think it bears noting that it is a novel question.

DCI Level 2 Judge WPN Advanced TO RPGA Herald-Level GM

I think the OP is asking something subtly different from what has been discussed before. I think he is asking if, within a single table, some characters can receive the low-tier rewards and others receive the high-tier rewards.

The answer is still the same: no, you can't do that. But I think it bears noting that it is a novel question.



One answer would be that since it's not expressly allowed, it's forbidden, but I'm not sure the instructions found under "Appropriate Character Levels" is necessarily all-encompassing of the options the players have.

As an obvious example, I've run into at least one module (AKAN1-4) which asks at the end whether the PCs played the adventure at low-tier, high-tier or a mix of low- and high-tier, despite that last not being found as an option in the DM information sections.

Of all the various things to be bothered about, a player that plays a high-tier version of an adventure but takes across-the-board low-tier rewards isn't really on my list.  The reverse is obviously a problem, as would someone trying to take a mix of low- and high-rewards, but it's tough to see the harm with someone taking all low rewards.

Or, to put it another way, the fact that a PC is facing high-tier challenges but receiving low-tier rewards isn't the problem, because the table as a whole can always ask for that.  The only problem is that some of the other PCs at the table are facing high-tier challenges and receiving high-tier rewards as normal.  As far as problems go, that's a pretty insignificant one.

-- Brian Gibbons.

What are the rules for handling someone who shows up late or leaves early, skipping one or more encounters entirely? Would their character get less xp, gp, reward(s) for missing stuff, or would everyone get the same access?

Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director

They woudl get xp/gp/bundle access for the portion of the adventure they were there. 

Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
As a devil's advocate: do we really care if the table plays high challenge and some PCs get low rewards (assuming both low xp and gp, and only provide low treasure bundles IF those are found*), especially if the group does so to loose a bit of xp to stay on an equal level with the group? As far as potential things to do to loose xp, this is really minor. After all, the PC could also "sleep" through an encounter, arrive little bit later or die on purpose to achief the exact same effect.

* If you play up, you usually do not find the low-tier treasure bundles and hence cannot claim them.

As a devil's advocate: do we really care if the table plays high challenge and some PCs get low rewards (assuming both low xp and gp, and only provide low treasure bundles IF those are found*), especially if the group does so to loose a bit of xp to stay on an equal level with the group? As far as potential things to do to loose xp, this is really minor. After all, the PC could also "sleep" through an encounter, arrive little bit later or die on purpose to achief the exact same effect. * If you play up, you usually do not find the low-tier treasure bundles and hence cannot claim them.

If staying in the same bracket is the objective, is it possible to get the XP, and not level up when you have enough experience? Say after a mod, your character would go from 4->5 but your buddies are still 4's and you want to play a 1-4 bracket adventure. Could you simply choose not to level up your character?


If staying in the same bracket is the objective, is it possible to get the XP, and not level up when you have enough experience? Say after a mod, your character would go from 4->5 but your buddies are still 4's and you want to play a 1-4 bracket adventure. Could you simply choose not to level up your character?




This, I believe, is *not* an option.  As I've always understood it, once you have your XP, you have to "suffer the effects" of them. Smile


Though, again, we may be entering the area here of "there aren't any RPGA cops".  Within the parameters of a home group, if it's enhancing fun, and not hurting anyone...

"Of course [Richard] has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183, and we're barbarians!" - Eleanor of Aquitaine, "The Lion in Winter"

As a devil's advocate: do we really care if the table plays high challenge and some PCs get low rewards (assuming both low xp and gp, and only provide low treasure bundles IF those are found*), especially if the group does so to loose a bit of xp to stay on an equal level with the group? As far as potential things to do to loose xp, this is really minor. After all, the PC could also "sleep" through an encounter, arrive little bit later or die on purpose to achief the exact same effect. * If you play up, you usually do not find the low-tier treasure bundles and hence cannot claim them.


I really don't have a problem with that. If you want to play high but receive all low rewards so as to advance less quickly, that seems fine.


This is similar to another question: Do we care if the table plays high and the one or more PCs want the "LOW" magic item pick?


Personally, I think the LOW pick should be ammended in the rules to be allowed for the high tier. I have trouble really thinking it is a huge deal (you are usually close enough in level to be able to afford buying the Low item, which is probably preferable), but a number of people wanted this flexibility.


Taking a step back, I wonder if the question of staying at the same XP level is primarily something newer groups experience. I mean, either these people really play at different rates (and thus will end up in different tiers of play no matter whether you play low) or they have a periodic case of missing a mod (in which case getting Low rewards might help, so long as you don't miss many sessions). But, as soon as you miss more than a couple of games, you have to have the rest of the group play Low a lot to catch up.


I wonder if, for most of the players that play frequently, the real answer isn't to change Adventuring Company rules such that you can have more than one PC in the same AdCo, and thus the players in an AdCo can stay together and not worry about playing different PCs. (Because, as soon as you drop down or rise in level a bunch, you can't possibly play with the rest of the AdCo).


I was hoping ADCP1 would bring AdCo issues to the forefront, but instead it seemed everyone just dealt with fictitious AdCos being created/joined so everyone could play.

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I was hoping ADCP1 would bring AdCo issues to the forefront, but instead it seemed everyone just dealt with fictitious AdCos being created/joined so everyone could play.


I agree that we need to revisit the AdCo rules.  Right now I don't believe they are hitting their objective (unless I really misunderstand their purpose).


Mostly, I think it's the "only 1 of your PCs can join a specific AdCo" rule that kills it.  Even in regular gaming groups not everyone advances at exactly the same rate.  In practice, AdCos just aren't used that much, unless it's the "let's create an AdCo on the spur of the moment to play this special ADCO1-1" scenario.


Though personally, I think the whole AdCo scheme should be re-evaluated.  Membership in neat societies?  Nope, doesn't do that.  Ties to the campaign setting?  Nope, doesn't do that either.  Gets people more involved in LFR?  Nope, doesn't do that either since no one uses them.

It could be cool. If you had real AdCos that you could actually be a part of, and you had your group page on the WotC site, and you had a couple of ADCP mods, and you could have a high score posted somewhere...


And really, many like grouping together anyway. We want to create some shared history. You don't need rules for that. The current rules are actually counter to the concept.


"Hey, let's all be part of the Sundered Hall and take care of the East Rift! Oh, darn, I adventured too much and have to not see you all anymore. Sorry."

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The easy way to earn less xp while playing high is to die before the last encounter. They could also play a different character while the player with the low level character catches up.

Okay, so my 1st level character, who completes an adventure on High, can recieve the Low XP/Gold/Bundle rewards while the other party members still recieve their High rewards. The assumption being that as he contributed less, he earned less.
Okay, so my 1st level character, who completes an adventure on High, can recieve the Low XP/Gold/Bundle rewards while the other party members still recieve their High rewards. The assumption being that as he contributed less, he earned less.



You get the high rewards.  You can (maybe) choose to take the low rewards, but the only assumptions are ones you make yourself.  A DM cannot only offer you the low rewards if you played on high - even if you made no meaningful contribution at all, you still earned the full reward.
Yes, also assuming I want the Low Rewards.
Nothing in the rules allows you to take the lower rewards. Items saying Low are only available to Low, items saying High are only available when you play High, etc. The same is true of XP and Gold. You choose your tier when you begin play, then must receive those rewards.

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Nothing in the rules allows you to take the lower rewards. Items saying Low are only available to Low, items saying High are only available when you play High, etc. The same is true of XP and Gold. You choose your tier when you begin play, then must receive those rewards.


Actually, since a DM can change monsters through DME up or down a bit, I would say that strictly speaking the group and DM can decide whether or not to pick low as a reward with the challenge of high. It muddies a bit when one player insists on low, if forced to play high (it is a group decision afterall). I am sure that with a strict interpretation you are correct. I doubt many people would care. Note though that strictly speaking you never found the low-level treasure bundle, and hence you should not get access to it.
Nothing in the rules allows you to take the lower rewards. Items saying Low are only available to Low, items saying High are only available when you play High, etc. The same is true of XP and Gold. You choose your tier when you begin play, then must receive those rewards.


Nothing in the rules allow you to play the game at a mix of low-tier and high-tier, but the fact that such is an option listed in AKAN1-4's adventure questions indicates that the author and global admin who reviewed the module thought it was an option.

I'm not even entirely sure what "a mix of low and high" means.  (Some of the group played low and the others high?  Some encounters were played low and the others high?)  In any event, those responsible for the question thought there was some option other than just choosing your tier when you begin play and everyone sticking with it the entire adventure.

I'm sympathetic to a pure LN argument, but outside of that, I'm not sure I see any harm to someone playing high and taking all low rewards.  (Not a mix of low and high; all low: XP, gold, bundles, everything.)

As far as the rest of the group is concerned, what someone else takes has absolutely no effect on them.  As far as that individual goes, they could legally have played that exact same game as low-tier, with the DM empowering the combats up to the high-tier level.

If the PC next to me taking a +2 magic longsword doesn't affect my ability to take a +2 magic short sword (despite only one magical weapon showing up in the adventure), I'm not sure why that would affect my ability to take the +1 flaming short sword that was available at low tier instead.

On a balance level, the PC is taking something lower in power than they're entitled to, and the entire treasure distribution system is already outside the story continuity level, so I can't say I really see a reason why this shouldn't be allowed.
I want to know the rules so I know what I am permitted to do an what I am supposed to allow. Even if I am going to permit something and bend the rules, I like knowing what they are so I can make an informed decision.

I don't see any rule allowing some weird low-high hybrid, unless what they mean is that the party started at one tier and asked to go to the next. I've seen this when a table is really having trouble in the first encounter. You end up a bit worse off, receiving all low rewards but having done the first combat at high (and probably depleting resources). I don't think it would work well in reverse (starting at low, then going high), since you didn't earn the high rewards in the first encounter.

In LG, any attempt to have leniency seemed to hurt the game. Oh, I did play an intro mod at a convention with 10 players. It was just a big joke, with year 6 PCs we didn't care about, and we all laughed, and it was fine - but if we had taken it seriously it would have been terrible. Act once per combat? No, thank you. Tables of 7 can work, but they really don't most of the time. It is best not to go there. Tables of 3, etc.

I would agree with a rule that lets a table playing high choose from the low bundles. I think that makes sense. But, it isn't what one can do.

What I really don't like is one set of players doing one thing they think is allowed and another table wanting to do that but feeling they can't. It isn't fair to the person that follows the rules and never takes a low item they want if other players are doing so. The rules should be clear. (I felt they were, but perhaps they aren't given the conversation).

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I don't see any rule allowing some weird low-high hybrid, unless what they mean is that the party started at one tier and asked to go to the next. I've seen this when a table is really having trouble in the first encounter. You end up a bit worse off, receiving all low rewards but having done the first combat at high (and probably depleting resources). I don't think it would work well in reverse (starting at low, then going high), since you didn't earn the high rewards in the first encounter.

In this (first) case, would it be alright to reward the High XP rewards (XP, Gold, Items) and then the rest of the adventure only the Low rewards?  It would likely wind up being more than the max Low XP at the end, but far below the max High XP, but much more closely match what the characters experienced.

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It's all stuff that isn't allowed. Going from high to low when players are thinking their PCs will die is something I would be willing to do as an exception, because the alternative is for the players to walk away from the table or really suffer as they scrape by. I played once at high (unwittingly, I never heard the vote and assumed low) for BALD1-2 and we had a table of 4. The closest thing to a defender was our resourceful warlord... he ran out of healing surges in the first combat, at which point we knew this would be ugly. Our DM wasn't the kind to pull punches. So, we slog on, because it is that or end the adventure. We were TPKd in the second combat but, by the DM, brought back by NPCs. We then went on to a TPK in the third encounter. None of it was fun.

But, though a DM might be nice and let a table backpedal from a mistake of playing high, I don't think that dividing up rewards or granting items from the first encounter is wise. It just leads to trouble... "why don't you guys try one more at high... the item in the next room is really good...". Or, "we only need to survive the first encounter at high, because that one is the one with the item I need!"

(I had another near TPK where the two rogues (the players had organized the table) all wanted a certain item from a certain 1-1 adventure, and thus wanted to play high. So, I know this kind of thing can happen).

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I want to know the rules so I know what I am permitted to do an what I am supposed to allow. Even if I am going to permit something and bend the rules, I like knowing what they are so I can make an informed decision.

Ditto. As I understand it a player is not inherently allowed these things... so she couldn't say, automatically assume that after her party played high she could still get a certain coveted low-tier item that she signed up for the session specifically to get.

However, I also get the impression that a DM is not specifically disallowed from making certain reasonable changes (i.e. granting the player that special low-tiered item even though the group played high is not semantically 'breaking a rule').

Is this correct?

As I understand it a player is not inherently allowed these things... so she couldn't say, automatically assume that after her party played high she could still get a certain coveted low-tier item that she signed up for the session specifically to get.

However, I also get the impression that a DM is not specifically disallowed from making certain reasonable changes (i.e. granting the player that special low-tiered item even though the group played high is not semantically 'breaking a rule').

Is this correct?



No.

I mean, you can't just change adventure rewards. From the documentation, the party chooses its tier. End of story. The DM can't add a new bundle, give you more or less gold, let you earn a different tier, etc. If the campaign intends something different then they need to change the written rules.

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you can't just change adventure rewards.

Is that stated anywhere?

you can't just change adventure rewards.

Is that stated anywhere?



The rules can't cover everything. Some things are just logical:
  • Can you switch PCs mid-adventure and apply the XP to each?

  • Can you switch players and have each one receive partial rewards?

  • Can you DM two tables simultaneously and halway through, swap some of the PCs from one table to the other?

  • Can... etc.

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In the LFR adventure boilerplate (near the front) it says:

Each adventure has a low-level version and a high-level version. The low level is meant for a group whose levels, on average, fall in the lower levels of the adventure’s level spread. The high level is meant for a group whose levels, on average, fall in the higher levels of the adventure’s level spread.


            A group may decide to play the high level when their levels are more suited to the low level if everyone in the group agrees to do so; however, some of the rewards may not be available to them. Conversely, a group may decide to play the low level when their levels are more suited to the high level if everyone in the group agrees; however, some of the rewards may be less than what they’d ideally want from the adventure.

Note: the statement that some of the rewards may not be available to them, refers to tagging some bundles as available only in low level version or high level version.  The LFR Writers Guidelines explains that a bit.

In the CCG 1.9, it says about DM


However, the DM cannot change the overall plot of the adventure or its location, and cannot change the rewards


earned by the characters (treasure, XP, and story awards).

So put the two together, and the DM is not empowered at present to make those kinds of swaps.  If we wanted to open that option up, it would be more likely to just remove the tagging of a low level version treasure bundle, which is under some discussion.

Keith

Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep

The rules can't cover everything. Some things are just logical:
  • Can you switch PCs mid-adventure and apply the XP to each?

  • Can you switch players and have each one receive partial rewards?

  • Can you DM two tables simultaneously and halway through, swap some of the PCs from one table to the other?

  • Can... etc.



Um. yes, yes, and yes? I think I can see easy ways to do all three with, for example, Arts and Crafts. Well, I'd like someone else DMing the other table, but that's simply because I don't think I'm capable of DMing two tables simultaneously right now.

There may be some RPGA or LFR rule against it, but that's at a level of rule detail for those organizations that I'm not worried about learning yet since I'm not planning to do any of the above.
The rules can't cover everything. Some things are just logical

Certainly... but if a scenario say, has the PC's picking the best magic items from their patron's trove at the end of an adventure, and one PC asks if there are possibly any lesser valued items than the ones read off, a DM may not feel it was entirely illogical to roll randomly to see if the adventure's low-tier item was also in there.

My contention was that while this is normally not done, the rules do not seem to specifically disallow a DM making a call like this if he felt it was reasonable/logical (indeed, they seem to encourage it). Edit: rule quotes have been provided indicating this is incorrect.

Can you DM two tables simultaneously and halway through, swap some of the PCs from one table to the other?

Interesting concept. Again, while this is abnormal, I couldn't say that such an event is specifically prohibited by the RPGA. Handled right, it could be memorable.

Mind you: I'm merely playing devil's advocate. I personally enjoy firm guidelines (as I feel rules help empower players, since the DM can otherwise do anything he wants), I'm just trying to uncover more.

Edit:
"A group may decide to play the high level when their levels are more suited to the low level if everyone in the group agrees to do so; however, some of the rewards may not be available to them. 

"the DM cannot change the overall plot of the adventure or its location, and cannot change the rewards earned by the characters (treasure, XP, and story awards)."

Excellent quotes Keith. Thanks! My earlier contention is indeed demonstrably incorrect.
And my apologies if my earlier post came off the wrong way with those examples. A lot of people are on low sleep with D&DXP preparations. Good to see Keith's post. Hopefully this now makes sense to everyone.

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I think that a player should always be able to get the (entire) set of low tier rewards if they'd rather have it. No mix and match of part of the high/part of the low, just the ability to either make sure they get the item they're interested in without penalizing the rest of the table (which they COULD force, also by the boilerplate, as I recall), or make the table when you're mustering 'something' for which they only have one in-tier character, but they are trying to catch two storyline conclusions in whose outcome their character is invested, without even MORE convolutions.

Oddly, I think I'm never going to get to play Black Cloaks, because my PCs who COULD can't seem to get tables for it without leveling out of H3.
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