Predictable XP rewards = dull gameplay?

After a D&D encounters session, I heard someone from the second player say they found combat kinda humdrum "Okay, I roll and...yeah, that's it"

Now this player has played alot of AD&D in dungeons, with random treasure rolls. Sometimes like a jackpot, the treasure roll is really high and gains alot of XP.

I suspect that having set amounts of XP just makes combat a kind of grind. Time spent fighting just dilutes the fun of the the fixed XP reward. It could be written as a formula: reward / time required to get reward=fun.

There's no anticipation of a big score around the corner. Just very predictable advancement.

Predictable advancement might actually be fun for alot of people. They want things predictable.

But I suspect here, and I can say for myself as well, it's kind of dull.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

 

Philosopher Gamer

I think you're looking at the wrong thing as the cause of your boredom. In my experience, players don't gain excitement from the XP gain, they get excitement from badass things happening in-game. XP gain is only "exciting" because it grants you new levels, which lets you do more interesting and badass things.

Try creating more varied and interesting encounters. Throw in terrain effects: give them furniture to overturn, let them knock giant bookcases onto their enemies, make them jump from platform to platform and shove their foes into the abyss. Swinging rope bridges, multi-level arenas, that sort of thing. Impress upon them how useful improvised actions can be: flipping a table for cover, smashing someone with a bottle of oil and lighting them on fire, throwing sand in peoples' eyes.

If all your players are doing is rolling to hit, then that's likely the source of the boredom, not static XP rewards. Either you need to start making your combats more interesting, or they need to learn that rolling to hit isn't the only thing they can do.
I think you're treating the rules as an incredibly bare bones framework, upon which it's exclusively up to the end user(s) to add the exciting parts.

Maybe WOTC are gunning for that. If so, I'm disinterested in it - I'd rather just write my own RPG than pay money for a boring framework that I then have to make exciting. May as well buy a movie on DVD that I then have to edit and work on to be an exciting movie.

If WOTC are trying to make a ruleset which is entertaining in itself, to a degree (which is plenty possible), then I think your comment is off in how it tries to handball all the entertainment duties exclusively onto the GM.

You've probably found the players aren't excited from variable XP gain because you're players are from an era of fixed XP rewards per fight. They find the fixed XP dull, so they glom onto 'badass things' as the excitement.

If you were to run an experimental campaign with XP rewards that can sometimes sky rocket per fight, you might find it plays out differently.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

 

Philosopher Gamer

You always have the most... um... interesting complaints. You're complaining about "fixed XP rewards" but I'm not really sure what the alternative would look like. Instead of killing a kobold and getting 10 xp, maybe you'd get 2d10 XP? Something more random is what you're looking for?

Or perhaps dump the monster XP rewards entirely and give out story/roleplay-based XP?

Or dump XP and just let players level up when it feels right?
If you were to run an experimental campaign with XP rewards that can sometimes sky rocket per fight, you might find it plays out differently.



This is true. My players get excited by the amount of xp, rather than the amount of enemies, the area they fight or the obstacles in combat.

And sure - the adrenaline of not knowing if they're gonna win a difficult battle is exciting as well, but if the xp isn't what they expect after such conflict, they all let out a collective sigh.

For example: my party decided to attack the orc encampment in the Blingdenstone adventure. With 21 orcs remaining, the 2 more stealthy characters attempted to cut down at least 1 of the 2 orcs guarding one orc sentry area. They failed, and the orcs sounded the alarm.
Long story short: wave after wave after wave of gritty and close to dying combat, the party prevailed, and received a hefty 245xp each. That xp put them from being 180-ish short, to level 3. Tough fight, well worth it. Not a single complaint and happy faces all around.

A little while later they were feeling good and moving around in dangerous caves, and were attacked by 7 striges. Pretty much everyone sighed in disappointment in advance. Boring combat, 17xp per face. Even I knew that I could have put 20 striges there and it would still not have been a worthwhile fight because the xp reward would have been meaningless, even though a 1:5 odds would probably have been pretty damn challenging for the party.

The problem is a faulty Encounter building system(the reccommended one) and adventures that include level advancement. Unless it's a area-to-area journey where from level 1-2 you are in town A and have low level encounters, in town B you go from level 2-5 and have appropriate enemies, the difficulty curve will be like a hyperbola. Slow climbing at first, but once you get to the max level, all that was before will be like cutting through butter with a hot knife.

Noon, I think you should blatantly change all the assigned encounters, or just plain out make your own. As for a new player, I must agree with the assessment that DnD Next is encouraging creative effort, rather than sticking to the vanilla. But then again it's not done yet and what do I know.

"I am the original gangsta"

-Warlock lvl 5 at the start of the session, dead by the end.

 If so, I'm disinterested in it - I'd rather just write my own RPG than pay money for a boring framework that I then have to make exciting.



Ah, a fresh start to reading ridiculous things on the internet today.

D&D is about making your own excitement. You'd better go find a video game if you want it all spoonfed to you. 

If you have to fix it, it's broken.

 If so, I'm disinterested in it - I'd rather just write my own RPG than pay money for a boring framework that I then have to make exciting.



D&D is about making your own excitement.


Then out and say it - you want to pay money for books which have rules which are boring to use, which for some reason you have to buy before you're then able to provide all the excitement yourself.

I think you'll avoid saying that, but that's the sole point you're adding - 'D&D is about making your own excitement - nothing else adds any excitement, ONLY you'

You're going to have real trouble both trying to say you want rules that add something to play (ie, excitement), but the rules also don't add something and it's all about making your own.

You just think it's wonderful that you make your own excitement and you've not considered why you'd need to buy any books at all if you're doing ALL the work yourself.


Veggie-sama,
You always have the most... um... interesting complaints.


Do we solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them?

Solutions will always come in from left field - because otherwise the solution would have been obvious already.

Of course this is a solution for a particular direction. As I said above, some people like very, very predictable advancement - maybe WOTC are trying to cater to them (okay, but I find that boring).

You're complaining about "fixed XP rewards" but I'm not really sure what the alternative would look like. Instead of killing a kobold and getting 10 xp, maybe you'd get 2d10 XP? Something more random is what you're looking for?


Have you played using random treasure charts in AD&D? Where gold=xp?

If a kobold is 10xp, more like a 10% chance of it being worth 100xp (a simple example - I'm not going to write up a chart here). A chance of having a dramatic impact, instead of small, incremental impacts.

Or perhaps dump the monster XP rewards entirely and give out story/roleplay-based XP?

Or dump XP and just let players level up when it feels right?


No, those are really different subjects - I'm not sure why they seemed related?


BloodMoon666,
Did you're players have an idea of how much XP they'd want for the orc fight - and at the end they actually got more XP than they expected they would?

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

 

Philosopher Gamer

Yes, they had fought orcs before, and knew the approximate xp gain(doubt they memorized it but I'm sure if I asked them now they'd guess very close). And still were very pleased with the gain. Plus the combat became very tactical very fast when one member of the party fell unconcious and the others had to fall back to a narrow corridor to not get swarmed. So that was a big bonus, too.
Basically a hair-on-end fight with player pleasing rewards.

On the matter of random xp - I'd have to say it's not a very good solution because if 2 kobolds are just as strong and then give massively different (10vs100)xp values, then that would upset the balance of xp gain a lot. A weak kobold to give more xp than a dangerous orc. My table would certainly not like this since most of them believe in hard-earned leveling system. They like the challenge.

Maybe this would be a better system during later character levels, since the xp required for next levels becomes pretty big, but personally I'm pretty sure I'd stick with the original xp system none the less.

I think the dullness comes from boring pre-generated random encounters where the hostile creatures have no actual chance. Boring fight, with low xp gain can very well seem like dull grinding and I get that, I really do. Cause even I, as a DM, don't like to set up these encounters where it's basically a group of toddlers with toy swords running into a wood grinder.

"I am the original gangsta"

-Warlock lvl 5 at the start of the session, dead by the end.

I think you're treating the rules as an incredibly bare bones framework, upon which it's exclusively up to the end user(s) to add the exciting parts.

Maybe WOTC are gunning for that. If so, I'm disinterested in it - I'd rather just write my own RPG than pay money for a boring framework that I then have to make exciting. May as well buy a movie on DVD that I then have to edit and work on to be an exciting movie.



D&D has always been about the story and storytelling and imagining. It merely lays down a set of rules for random events and creating an outcome to mimick RL.

Nothing more nothing less.


XP with loot made levelling way too easy imao. I'm an old schoool Basic red box set through companion rules/AD&D 2e player, and you could kill a dragon and literally gain a level through the XP gained from the loot tables, it was way too easy at times following the actual rules.


I've been playtesting D&D Next for a few weeks now on and off, the XP gain is fine, it is a bit of a grind and makes you look forward to actually levelling up finally and gaining those new abilities. It should also promote imaginitive/thinking gameplay as the DM should also offer XP for good gameplay/roleplaying etc      

Your playing the wrong game entirely by the sounds of things      

Travalyon - Level 8 Paladin - Sacred Oath: Devotion - Fighting style: Defence - Feats: Tough - (Flametongue Sword / Spellguard Shield / Ring of Acid Resistance / Platemail) - Lawful Good - Amaunator

Baldwyn - Level 8 Fighter - Fighting Style: Great Weapon Fighting - Feats: Great Weapon Master, Tough - (+2 Greatsword "Hazirawn" / +1 Platemail / +1 Dagger / Gauntlets of Ogre Power) - Neutral

Audric - Level 8 Cleric - Divine Domain: Life - (+1 Mace "Dragon Thumper" / +1 Shield / Platemail / Boots of Striding & Springing) - Lawful Good - Amaunator 

On the matter of random xp - I'd have to say it's not a very good solution because if 2 kobolds are just as strong and then give massively different (10vs100)xp values, then that would upset the balance of xp gain a lot. A weak kobold to give more xp than a dangerous orc. My table would certainly not like this since most of them believe in hard-earned leveling system. They like the challenge.


Except you gave the example of adding more stirges until it'd be a really hard, but 'not worth it'. Quoting you:

Even I knew that I could have put 20 striges there and it would still not have been a worthwhile fight because the xp reward would have been meaningless, even though a 1:5 odds would probably have been pretty damn challenging for the party.



They don't just like the challenge by itself.

Were your examples from 4e or 5e? I think in 4e player skill matters more - while in 5e, so far, it seems player luck matters more. If your examples were from 4E, when it's a luck based system you can't really do anything to 'hard-earn', except hope for high rolls.

My idea is probably more in line with a luck based game/5e (if 5e is luck based) - I was going to give an example before where the same player I talked about would really get into the tactics at the game table in 4E sessions. It's a different sort of set up.

I think the dullness comes from boring pre-generated random encounters where the hostile creatures have no actual chance. Boring fight, with low xp gain can very well seem like dull grinding and I get that, I really do. Cause even I, as a DM, don't like to set up these encounters where it's basically a group of toddlers with toy swords running into a wood grinder.


Fair enough. In a different game system I GM, I house ruled that you got X amount of XP per turn the combat lasted (unless people deliberately stalled). In that way combat kinda balanced itself - if it's a short battle, you get little, if it's long, you get more.


I think you're treating the rules as an incredibly bare bones framework, upon which it's exclusively up to the end user(s) to add the exciting parts.

Maybe WOTC are gunning for that. If so, I'm disinterested in it - I'd rather just write my own RPG than pay money for a boring framework that I then have to make exciting. May as well buy a movie on DVD that I then have to edit and work on to be an exciting movie.



D&D has always been about the story and storytelling


I think if you'd gamed with Gygax or especially Arneson, you wouldn't be so sure what its 'always' been. Their games might have been quite unenjoyable for you, indeed. Maybe you'd be going on about story, then suddenly you just step in some mould of some kind, fail a save (never mind how early play had no save) and die.

If you just think your prefered play matches up with the founders but you have no evidence of that - well, it's a bit of a tenuous position. And no, I'm not doing the same as you and saying my prefered way(s) of playing are the one true way.

It merely lays down a set of rules for random events and creating an outcome to mimick RL.

Nothing more nothing less.


I thought you'd have trouble explaining why you even have rules - so your answer is you don't even try to explain.

Unless you can explain why you want to 'mimick RL', then your pretty much doing pointless busy work. Which isn't all that credible.

If you can explain, it'll no doubt show the way you get some amount of enjoyment from rules.

Most likely you still wont explain - probably because you don't know why you use the rules in the text - you just find yourself doing so. Pure habit.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

 

Philosopher Gamer

Don't tell them how much they get for each fight. then inform them when they level.  They can assume each fight has lots of Xp. Make short fights seem more dangerous with out changing them.
I've never been a fan of per combat XP. From the moment I founf the 300 xp times character level recommendation (or basically have the PCs level once per three game sessions) I never bothered with trying to figure out how much XP a particular fight is worth. I might add or subtract XP for the session depending on if the PCs do something awesome that session or if it's a slower one--but tracking XP from fight to fight has always fallen under the heading of tedious number crunching--never something folks have gotten excited about. Besides leveling up in the middle of a game just grinds everything to a halt anyway while people stop adventuring and start flipping through books doing paperwork.

Better to just give people a few hundred XP at the end of the session for a particularly fun game and let them do the level-up stuff afterward.
Now with 100% more Vorthos!
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