Experience is a River

81 posts / 0 new
Last post
Experience is a River

CO is about exerting any numerical advantage possible. Often this is expressed by selection of classes, races, feats, skills and weapons among other things. How to maximize PA damage and take more attacks or actions per round. I see plenty of threads that deal with exploits of these mechanics, however I have yet to see one about exploiting raw experience one of the most fundamental and important mechanics of the game, and by the way a set of rules that is easily exploited.

Experience Rules DMG 37
Experience Table DMG 38

All other things being equal a character of lower level gains more experience than a higher level character for any given encounter. The assumtion is that the lower level character is weaker and needs more experience - the encounter was harder for him and he expended a greater number of resources. This lower level character's level will be adjusted over time to help him catch up to the higher level character. I call this Free Experience or the Experience River. Both characters were subjected to the same encounter but the lower level character got extra experience, Free Experience.
Suppose we can craft a character that although lower level is numerically superiour? Then the lower level character really is getting free experience, and the CO Gods smile upon us.

AH - a clear numerical advantage! How do we exploit it?
(NOTE the Experience River is dependent on your DM giving experience based on your actual level, not fixed experience or average party level (as mine does))

But Wait you have to be lower level to get that experience! That can't be worth it! (This is the CO boards... anything is possible. We shall at least consider the idea.) Fear not gentle reader! Read on.

Let us consider a Pc, Mildred the unfortunate, who through her adventuring career (levels 1-19) stays one level behind her companions
(1-20) and collects extra experience. How much extra does she gain over the party average?

For simplicity sake we are going to make the following assumption: all encounters are at the normal party level.

well here is my handy spread sheet
[HTML]
P level P_Exp 1 Factor M_Exp Free_Exp Tot_Exp Running_Exp
1 1000 1 1000 0 1000 1000
2 2000 1 2000 0 1000 2000
3 3000 1 3000 0 1000 3000
4 4000 1.13 4500 500 1500 4500
5 5000 1.07 5333.33 333.33 1333.33 5833.33
6 6000 1.25 7500 1500 2500 8333.33
7 7000 1.29 9000 2000 3000 11333.33
8 8000 1.31 10500 2500 3500 14833.33
9 9000 1.33 12000 3000 4000 18833.33
10 10000 1.35 13500 3500 4500 23333.33
11 11000 1.36 15000 4000 5000 28333.33
12 12000 1.38 16500 4500 5500 33833.33
13 13000 1.38 18000 5000 6000 39833.33
14 14000 1.39 19500 5500 6500 46333.33
15 15000 1.4 21000 6000 7000 53333.33
16 16000 1.41 22500 6500 7500 60833.33
17 17000 1.41 24000 7000 8000 68833.33
18 18000 1.42 25500 7500 8500 77333.33
19 19000 1.42 27000 8000 9000 86333.33
20 20000 1.43 28500 8500 9500 95833.33
Totals 210000 285833.33 75833.33 95833.33
[/HTML]
Exp_Factor is how much more experience mildred earns on the experience gained. The extra experience a character earns for a Cr +1 encounter when her level is one lower than the party average.
M_Exp = P_Exp * Factor
Free_Exp = M_Exp - P_Exp (how much more exp you get than the party)
Tot_Exp = Free_Exp + 1000 (how much you have to spend to stay a whole level behind, note this is useless for levels 1-3 as there is no experience gain, might as well spend 4.5 exp at level 3 to stay there until the party advances to level 5 and you to level 4)
Running Exp = accumulation of Tot_Exp up to this level (like char wealth by level as opposed to expected wealth gain DMG 135 vs. DMG 54)

so by staying behind 1 level Mildred will earn ~ 75 k more experience than her companions. (she also needs to spend 20k to prevent premature leveling)

The Question then becomes: Is spending ~ 95k experience worth a level?
Or: Does spending the free Exp at any level justify the loss of the level?

Well it depends, on what you spend it on!!
Can you make up a caster level, HP, BAB, Saves, Class abilites, For one level with the given exp??
Well, gentle reader I beleive that you can.

As of now i see 2 ways to exploit the experience river - though CO regulars will no doubt find more.

1 Item Creation
2 Pcs with LA

I - Item Creation
[HTML]
P free gp Tot gp Running gp Char Wealth by level
1 0 12500 12500 0
2 0 12500 25000 900
3 0 12500 37500 2700
4 6250 18750 56250 5400
5 4166.67 16666.67 72916.67 9000
6 18750 31250 104166.67 13000
7 25000 37500 141666.67 19000
8 31250 43750 185416.67 27000
9 37500 50000 235416.67 36000
10 43750 56250 291666.67 49000
11 50000 62500 354166.67 66000
12 56250 68750 422916.67 88000
13 62500 75000 497916.67 110000
14 68750 81250 579166.67 150000
15 75000 87500 666666.67 200000
16 81250 93750 760416.67 260000
17 87500 100000 860416.67 340000
18 93750 106250 966666.67 440000
19 100000 112500 1079166.67 580000
20 106250 118750 1197916.67 760000
947916.67 1197916.67
[/HTML]
Basically we are multiplying the table above by 12.5 to find out what the exp is worth
free gp = 12.5 * free
tot gp = 12.5 * tpt
Running gp = 12.5 * run

exp is worth 12.5 gp because you have to pay for materials, except for maybe the last time when you no longer need to seed the pot... but my mind is foggy if you figgure out what i mean and have a way of clearly saying it please feel free. oh, figgured it out basically char wealth by level is worth twice as much because you turn it into magic items, but any extra exp can be sold at 12.5 gp ...
So divide char wealth by level by 12.5 canabalize that much exp to make 2x char wealth by level stuff. then multiply the remaining gp by 12.5 for what you can create(unless you have an alternate $ source)

By level 19 you can gain 95k extra exp to spend. In order to burn all of this exp you can spend up to 2.4M gp and get 4.8 M gp worth of eq!
Of course you won't have 2.4 M to spend, but you can double your character wealth at any level by making magic items. I'll leave it to others to figgure out how far behind you would be if you only double your character wealth.

You can spend experience to make money as follows(depending on supply and demand):
let's say you have 1,200 exp to spend but only 10k gp. in order to spend the whole 1.2k exp you would need 30k gp and would get 60k gp worth of eq.
Turn your exp into cash:
take orders
spend 10k gp and 400 exp to make products
sell for 20000 gp
use 800 exp and 20k gp to make 40k worth of eq!
Perhaphs someone can recomend a money making thread or find a way to exploit hireling/henchmen/followers/nanobots so you don't have to expend exp, though you could do this with a simple craft feat and time(or a shop and employees).

mildred level 19 with 95k exp and 760k gp to spend goes to work and spends 760k on items for sale on the market. she spends 30.4k exp but gets 1.52 M to spend and still has 59.6 k exp to burn. spending the exp and money gets her ~ 1.49 M worth of eq and she has 30k yet to spend roughtly doubling her 20th level Char wealth. if however you can get 2.4M gp that's 4.8 M eq.
Now what about time frame? spending 96k exp at 40/day? 2396 days or 6.56 years of solid work. (great, a little bit closer to venerable!!)


Given: There is a bottle somewhere that stores EXP, so if you die after you are brough back to the same exp total(i think that's how it works)
Question: how many times to you have to kill yourself before you have enough $?
Now that you have unlimited wealth ...


II - Pcs with LA (or catching up)

UA has options to do a level buy out, trade out LA for EXP. Basically you are paying experience for even more free experience and taking some handy bonuses to boot.

Also you may want to catch up on experience and are wondering how long it will take.
The left column is the level at which you start catching up
The top row is over how many levels you catch up.
[HTML]
P 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 1 1 1 0.89 0.83 0.63 0.36 0.16 0.05 0.01
2 1 1 0.89 0.83 0.67 0.41 0.20 0.07 0.02 0
3 1 0.89 0.83 0.67 0.52 0.31 0.14 0.04 0.01 0
4 0.89 0.83 0.67 0.52 0.40 0.23 0.10 0.03 0.01 0
5 0.94 0.75 0.58 0.44 0.33 0.19 0.08 0.02 0 0
6 0.80 0.62 0.47 0.36 0.26 0.14 0.06 0.02 0 0
7 0.78 0.59 0.44 0.33 0.24 0.13 0.05 0.01 0 0
8 0.76 0.57 0.42 0.31 0.23 0.12 0.04 0.01 0 0
9 0.75 0.56 0.41 0.30 0.21 0.11 0.04 0.01 0 0
10 0.74 0.54 0.40 0.29 0.20 0.11 0.04 0.01 0 0
11 0.73 0.53 0.39 0.28 0.20 0.10 0.04 0.01 0 0
12 0.73 0.53 0.38 0.27 0.19 0.10 0.03 0.01 0
13 0.72 0.52 0.37 0.26 0.19 0.09 0.03 0.01
14 0.72 0.51 0.36 0.26 0.18 0.09 0.03
15 0.71 0.51 0.36 0.25 0.18 0.09
16 0.71 0.50 0.36 0.25 0.18
17 0.71 0.50 0.35 0.25
18 0.71 0.50 0.35
19 0.70 0.49
20 0.70
[/HTML]
Say you are 3000 exp behind at level 4, how far behind will you be in 3 levels?
Go down to row 4 (4th level) intersect it with column 3 = .67
3000 * .67 ~ 2000 -- you'll be 2000 exp behind.
What about in 7 levels?
row 4, column 7 = .10 -- 3000 * .1 = about 300 exp behind at 10th level.

how about 3000 exp at level 3 and 6000 exp at level 6 what will things look like at level 10?
(3,7) .14*3000 = 420
(6,4) .36*6000 = 2160
= 2580
as above but level 12?
30 + 840 = 870

Observations on LA:
The more levels you take the closer you get to the party average.
The higher your level the faster you catch up.(which is interesting i think you need it more at lower levels)

CONCLUSION
Experience is a river. Now you have a paddle. Use it wisely! I believe that craft wonderous item is the best feat ever!
Know how long a LA will take you to pay off (great way to get free racial bonuses).

Tell your DM that instead of leveling to level 20 you want to have level to 19 and have infinite wealth. Except you can have infinte wealth before that and catch up to level 20, not that it will matter.

SO .. what can you do with double character wealth? How far behind does it really put you?
How many levels untill you get the +2 LA template for free?

ALSO
Experience MAY NOT BE a river in your campaign(if every one gets the same exp or it's not based on char level)
Showing this to your DM probably won't help. :P
You can sell your exp at market value for 12.5 gp/exp point with item creation feats, max 40 exp/day.
You can make 500 gp a day by spending 500 gp and 40 exp to make 1000 gp item taking out material costs leaves you with 500 gp.
You can by someone else's exp at 25 gp/exp on item creation (12.5 for their raw materials and 12.5 for experience)

Some may consider being more than 1 level behind, i am not going to address that, you have the tools to figgure it out.
If you know how to format tables easily let me know, that's a pain.
If my math is off(it may be in the gp tables or hard to read), but the concept is sound, that's fine with me.
If someone who is a better caretacker of a thread than i want's to take over that's fine with me.

Snow, I am taken so don't even ask. If there are any other brilliant women out there, same goes to you too. lol.

APPOLOGIES
My gramar, punctuation, spelling and even my math may be off.
Let me know and I will fix it at some point.
I may be breaking board rules by being too explicit with my numbers - i'll fix that immediately.
I am tired hope most of this makes sense.
It's my first post to the CO boards, please be gentle.
So many words... and numbers... ack. goodjob!
I don't know if this is relevant for you but... On free experience you may want to see the feat Item Familiar from UA.

If I remember correctly you can imbue xp you get into your Item Familiar, and get 10% extra XP back, (the downside is that if the weapons is lost or broken you loose all XP imbued into the weapon, plus 200xp times level).

That is also another way of "free" XP.
I'd contemplated things similar to this previously, specifically in the case of a character who'd used the LA buyoff rules then crafted, but never put it into words.

In any case, good post. My only criticism is that you might want to try formatting it for readability...
  • Bulleted Lists
  • Large Text
  • Bold Text
  • [INDENT]Indents[/INDENT]
  • Aligned Text


  • and Coloured Text
are all available in the forum interface and can be used to make it more readable. Other bits of BB code useful for readability include
Spoiler Blocks
Done by replacing the round () brackets with square [] ones in the following:

(sblock=Hidden bit)This text is hidden(/sblock)

That gives this:
Hidden bit
This text is hidden
Yes, good post.

The necropoliton is one possible application.
Thanks Lilt! I will format for readability sometime this weekend. It will take a little tweaking as this is my first post.
Ah, the math behind the One Level Gravy Train (as the nickname for your river has been on the CO Boards).
might also be able to use some of the classes that force you to pay xp for special effects (like kensai or psi weapn master).
for the link

:D
*removed - broken link*
I wonder if getting the "Item Familiar" Zomgsobrokkanz!!1!one feat from UA would bring a significant boost to this principle ?

+10% seems to be nothing to sneeze at I guess
You don't automatically level up when you gain enough xp. You can 'hold' your xp, and just rack up a number as high as you want. It was said in an interview by one of the main guys, Skip Williams I believe. Don't hold me to that name though.
Level advancement works the way the DM says it does.

You could level up right after an encounter was won (like an MMORPG)

You could level up after your first good night's sleep (like one DM I had ran it, with dream sequences mixed in for roleplay flavor reflecting the power changes)

You could level up after an adventure arc ends (as how Living Greyhawk does it...all xp is earned between adventures and if you level you MUST advance your char before you play it again)

You could require training before you can level up (as 1st edition worked and as the optional sidebar suggests)


Only in the last case could you easily "save" xp deliberately.

I think though that this is all a false economy. It is impossible to have a character that contributes more at lower level than at higher level. A good optomizer will do more with a L11 char than the same char at level 10.

Using the "extra" XP to gain a permanent advantage requires cash and downtime (items) or permanency spells or things like Wish. I'd rather the players at my table didn't bother with these games and just played a char of the appropriate level.
Level advancement works the way the DM says it does.

You could level up right after an encounter was won (like an MMORPG)

You could level up after your first good night's sleep (like one DM I had ran it, with dream sequences mixed in for roleplay flavor reflecting the power changes)

You could level up after an adventure arc ends (as how Living Greyhawk does it...all xp is earned between adventures and if you level you MUST advance your char before you play it again)

You could require training before you can level up (as 1st edition worked and as the optional sidebar suggests)


Only in the last case could you easily "save" xp deliberately.

I think though that this is all a false economy. It is impossible to have a character that contributes more at lower level than at higher level. A good optomizer will do more with a L11 char than the same char at level 10.

Using the "extra" XP to gain a permanent advantage requires cash and downtime (items) or permanency spells or things like Wish. The crafter approach also burns feats. I'd rather the players at my table didn't bother with these games and just played a char of the appropriate level and crafted only when it wouldn't leave them "behind" for more than one day of adventuring.
Would remaining more than 1 level behind be more worth while? Or does it start scaling poorly?

But this is a facinating idea. I am currently playing an artificer in a friends game, and was always hesintent to fall behind, but now i am thinking otherwise hehe.
Would remaining more than 1 level behind be more worth while? Or does it start scaling poorly?
.

Do you want to be a cohort? Cause that's what you are if you are 2+levels behind.

If you're going to do this at all, don't fall more than one level behind because you'll start to really be a burden to the party, while earning more xp....not a good way to be popular.
Doubling the wealth of the my entire party through crafts as an artificer, i would think would make it worth the while. But you have a very valid point.
I think though that this is all a false economy. It is impossible to have a character that contributes more at lower level than at higher level. A good optomizer will do more with a L11 char than the same char at level 10

I disagree.

L11 Character > L10 Character
True

L11 Character > L10 Character + a lot of extra money or equipment
Not necessarily True.

Best,
David

EDIT: I did have the inequality wrong. Oops -- thanks Neratos.
i think you have your "<" backwards hehe. Also i think it depends on what class you are playing. A wizard losing a level can be significant. But an artificer doesn't gain much in a level.
Crafting becomes a lot more worthwhile once you're at or within one level of the expected campaign/scenario max. Before then, it's an option of variable worth.

Math makes my personality parasite's head hurt.

5E mini- SRD available now in HTML here:  http://dnd.wizards.com/products/tabletop/players-basic-rules

 

We sure as hell appreciate the artificer who happens to be one level behind in our campiagn. It probably has something to do with getting items made at less than half the market price. Just this past level, my psion got an orange ioun stone (30k gp market price) and a ring of [psionic] might (20k gp market price) for around 20k gp.
Shameless flattery, perhaps, but I think this is probably one of the cleverest pieces of D&D optimization I've ever seen.

I've got some free time over the weekend; I'll see about deriving a formula for relating l to L1, L2 and X, where l is the number of levels behind the average party level that your character remains, L1 is the initial average level of the party, L2 is the final average level of the party (thus, L2-L1 is the number of levels over the course of which you remain behind) and X is the amount of XP you profit (XP received by the average party - XP received by you).

Seriously, this is basic math at its best, being used to gain an undeniable advantage. Brilliant. Much props to the OP.

One love,
Theo.
I disagree.

L11 Character > L10 Character
True

L11 Character > L10 Character + a lot of extra money or equipment
Not necessarily True.

.

True, in a vacuum, even if you weight the cost of crafting feats. For a self contained character, it can work out, as long as you don't slip more than one level.

But that's not what we're talking about here. He's talking about equipping the party with extra equipment. That means, everybody else is

L11+extra equipment

and he is

L10 with extra equipment and feats spent on crafting, which don't help when you are being eaten by the T-Rex.

Keep in mind that the crafter is down feats as well as xp. What this will mean is he'll perform about as well as the cohort in actual play. Some people will be ok with that, but it's not an option I'd usually chose for a PC.

My own crafter was either at level or kind of 1-2 sessions behind the rest of the party. She crafted about 80% for everybody else (her xp, their wealth) and 20% for herself. She was ok though, as her crafting feats were wizard bonus feats, and wizards are on the high end of the "class power curve" to begin with. I woudln't have liked to play her 1-2 levels behind though, unless everything I crafted went back into making my own character better, ie never sharing.
You could always charge your teammates 5 gold for every XP you use for them, just like NPC casters. Or use a Talisman of Transference and make them burn their own XP, albeit at a reduced cost if you have the proper feats.
You can. But it isn't going to make you popular, especially combined with the "I'm only 10th level with noncombat feats while all of you are 11th level and giving me extra xp" thing.
True, in a vacuum, even if you weight the cost of crafting feats. For a self contained character, it can work out, as long as you don't slip more than one level.

But that's not what we're talking about here. He's talking about equipping the party with extra equipment.

and
But it isn't going to make you popular, especially combined with the "I'm only 10th level with noncombat feats while all of you are 11th level and giving me extra xp" thing.

Lemme get this straight. You're saying the party would not appreciate a character that is voluntarily outfitting them with superior, possibly otherwise-unobtainable items at cost, a clear numerical advantage for everyone in the party in exchange for being slightly less combat viable, and gaining extra xp?

The universe you describe sounds very bizarre indeed.
People get kind of weird when they see "Dead weight" at the table.

Consider all the "bards are useless" threads which conveniently ignore the massive power boost that haste+inspire courage +3/+3 gives to a mid level party.

Imagine if the bard now charged PHB rates every time he cast a spell (and treated his bardsonds as equivalent level spells).

I'm not saying it can't work out. But saying "my job is to equip the party and that's why I suck in actual play" only works if you don't charge the party and you don't mind sucking in actual play.

Frankly it sounds like a better cohort than actual player. Except that using your cohort as a magic item factory for the party is usually frowned upon, at least by the flavor of the leadership feat.

You're ok IF you can contribute meaningfully at the table, relative to other players, aside from the toys you generate in your downtime.

If you're seen as a dead weight that just provides toys, they'll ask you to stay home and provide toys....

Just be careful. One level behind isn't so bad, as long as you're "iconic effective" for your level in spite of spending feats on crafting stuff. More than one level though, probably won't be much fun.
Okay, I can see where you're coming from, but this thread isn't telling beginner players to follow the golden rule of "Always Stay 1 XP level behind, you'll get more xp in the long run;" I suspect most D&D beginners would blanch at the idea of being behind the level curve.

Someone coming to these boards for optimization advice will not stop at optimizing their xp... I'd wager that that would be one of the last things most people come to the board to optimize. As such, the character itself will probably be optimized. A character optimized above the curve will do fine when faced with encounters suited for the standard party, even if he's one level behind - and if that character is providing magical goodies to the rest of the party, all the moreso. If the rest of the party is optimized as well, sure, the crafter might not be in the limelight as much (or at all), but that's it. How much weight do you have to pull when the other three party members are competing to see who can wipe out the entire encounter without assistance?
fair enough. It's like any other case where you handicap yourself. You need to be able to contribute at a level you'll find fun.

The XP gravy train isn't free. It costs you an entire level (not just a casting level) and at least one feat. That's a significant optomization challenge all by itself to contribute properly. It can be done, as long as you don't shoot yourself in the foot somewhere else.

It's like the difference between a monk and a barbarian. Both can do light infantry, but it is easier for the monk to make himself irrelevant by bad decisions, because his class gives mobility/save type advantages where the other gives raw damage/hp bonuses. The game is more forgiving of an otherwise lousy character that can dish out some damage.

Enough with the devil advocate. The idea is interesting, and if it suits your temperment, it could work well.
Okay, I can see where you're coming from, but this thread isn't telling beginner players to follow the golden rule of "Always Stay 1 XP level behind, you'll get more xp in the long run;"

as an aside, I have seen that advice seriously given to beginning players on the character classes board, often as an example of the "power of wizards".

Although wizards are so hard to screw up, and since they get the feats as bonus feats, it doesn't work as badly for beginning characters as some other appraoches to the idea would.
fair enough. It's like any other case where you handicap yourself. You need to be able to contribute at a level you'll find fun.

The XP gravy train isn't free. It costs you an entire level (not just a casting level) and at least one feat.

A valid point - note, however, that I'd say you should charge the party 1/2 the amount you'd save, and invest the difference in gear you can use to be effective.

Also, this is a great trick for Chameleons (who have some caster level as well), who can use their floating feat, so there is no feat cost.

Best,
David
Excepting that the Chameleon cannot use caster levels to qualify for anything, thus they would need caster levels from another class.
Excepting that the Chameleon cannot use caster levels to qualify for anything, thus they would need caster levels from another class.

Yes, that's why Chameleon 2 (for the floating feat) is the recommended dip for craftmonkeys.
Chamelion is a PRC, and practiced spellcaster gets you to level 5 with just a single level of a class which lets you take the most important crafting feats and craft most items. Although practiced spellcaster costs a feat, it might be useful anyway on a chamelion build.

There are ways to refine the concept past my reflexive objections - it's interesting, but tricky to do really well.
warlock 12/ chamelion 2 makes for an awesome crafter (not an artificer, but hey)
Chamelion is a PRC, and practiced spellcaster gets you to level 5 with just a single level of a class which lets you take the most important crafting feats and craft most items. Although practiced spellcaster costs a feat, it might be useful anyway on a chamelion build.

IIRC, the CL from Practiced Spellcaster doesn't qualify you for feats or options, someone who's at books confirm?
actually...it does. If the feat or PRC says "caster level XXX" not "ability to cast XX level spells".

depends on the feat or ability. IIRC, the PHB crafting feats all use "caster level" wording. Most, but not all, PRC's use "ability to cast XXX level spells" wording.
actually...it does. If the feat or PRC says "caster level XXX" not "ability to cast XX level spells".

depends on the feat or ability. IIRC, the PHB crafting feats all use "caster level" wording. Most, but not all, PRC's use "ability to cast XXX level spells" wording.

That's not the part I'm referring to - I'm referring to the vague memory that Practiced Spellcaster has the "this increased caster level does not qualify you for feats, prestige classes, or other options" boilerplate. Obviously, since I'm AFB, I could be wrong.
That's not the part I'm referring to - I'm referring to the vague memory that Practiced Spellcaster has the "this increased caster level does not qualify you for feats, prestige classes, or other options" boilerplate. Obviously, since I'm AFB, I could be wrong.

There is/was a FAQ entry that said that. It was booed at by the public, as it doesn't have any rules backing it up.
so lets pretend that we can bank xp.
im a fighter who doesnt get anything at 5th level.
so i sit at 4th level until i have enough to jump to 6th...
wash, rinse, repeat.

could arguably do it to skip 3rd, but there is no real advantage because 2nd and 3rd earn the same xp.
and i probably wouldnt skip lv 11 either because of the extra attack.
Sign In to post comments