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More on Experience

Nearly the precise opposite of what I said before

Short one this week, as several Real Life things are going on.

Both Anthony and Deimos commented on last week’s post about Risk vs. Reward, in which I propose a method of using Clutch Situations to determine an Advancement Roll bonus. The system is largely a “YMMV” thing—it’ll work for some, but it makes assumptions about a group’s style of play, which makes it less-than-universal and therefore not-what-was-asked-of-me.

It falls short in the objectivity department—it still makes use of some GM fiat with respect to assigning challenge (and subsequent reward). I accept this as an almost unavoidable by-product of any experience system. Even in D&D, wherein monsters defeated provide a concrete experience value, there is latitude, as it’s the GM who populates the setting with monsters to defeat and provides encounters against them and gifts them with treasure to be plundered. Taken to an extreme, the GM can always throttle experience (or, ultimately, advancement) through careful manipulation of encounters and their subsequent outcome.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity to inject some objectivity in the experience-awarding process. Anthony had a question about Clutch Situations, and in my reply, I suggested that maybe additional Clutch Situations could be a reward in-and-of themselves. Which led me to consider an escalating scale of rewards:

Rewards for Heroic Actions Completed During an Adventure

  1. +1 Clutch Situation
  2. +1 bonus to Advancement Roll
  3. +1 Improvement Point (to be spent regardless of Advancement Roll result)

So put on your GM hat for a moment and pretend you’re running a game session. A PC does something cool or heroic or worthy of note or so funny that the whole group is cracking up. Something that deserves a reward. As a GM, you can dole out one of the above, based on how deserving the thing was.

What Means, “Challenge”?

Let’s say you wanted to figure out “how deserving the thing was” (aka how challenging is a given adventure?). The immediate question: How does one measure challenge?

Is it the number of encounters, the difficulty of encounters, the number of goals you have to meet, or the percent chance of not surviving the adventure? In D&D, this is a bit easier than in Chimera—your characters have a level and your monsters have a level, so as a GM, you create some artificial (read: workable, but not necessarily equivalent) balance.

Once you decouple experience from killing monsters and taking their stuff, it’s harder to figure out challenge, because you’ve now opened the door for other ways to “win” besides fighting. Put another way, you have to account for non-combat ways to overcome challenges, and that makes it harder to measure. For example, the PCs might confront a defence robot. The fighters in the group can hit it via TN 12, but one guy is an expert hacker: If he can get close enough, he can deactivate the ‘bot with a Tinker roll vs. TN 8. If the GM set this up as a combat encounter, he could say, “The challenge is based on TN 12.” But since there are other ways to defeat the robot, it’s not so easy—what’s moderately challenging for the fighters is rather easy for the hacker.

Attempts at Objectivity

OK, I brought that up to lay down some other stuff. Let’s say—hypothetically—that I decide an adventure’s challenge is the number of encounters, modified by how difficult those encounters are. The first bit is objective; the second part is subjective, based on how the characters respond to and attempt to overcome each encounter. If I were an enterprising GM (and if I knew my players), I could do a little homework first and consider how the PCs might react to a given challenge: “Approach A would be hard, but Approach B would be easier.”

Then I count the number of encounters and call the sum something like “Encounter Base.” (I already don’t like where this is going, but I’m thinking out loud and crave your indulgence.) If the majority of the encounters can be overcome with TNs less than 12, I halve the Encounter Base. If the majority are TN 12 to 16 or so, I leave the Encounter Base as-is. If the majority of the encounters require TNs greater than 16, I double the Encounter Base.

So, great. Now I have a number that represents some level of challenge. But that number has no meaning separate from the party of characters whose Ability ARs are known and whose actions I’ve anticipated. Does this have value? If it’s not entirely objective, is it worth the effort of calculating?

Now, Foolishness

Ignoring such useful questions, consider this bit of lunacy:

What if the Encounter Base (or whatever other term is no doubt more descriptive and better) determined the reward? Let’s go back to my Anthony-inspired Rewards for Heroic Actions Completed During an Adventure, above. Assume the following point values:

  1. Clutch Situation: 1 point
  2. Advancement Roll bonus: 2 points
  3. Improvement Point: 4 points

So (and I’m sure you can see this coming a mile away), let’s say you have an adventure with an Encounter Base of 6. When the PCs finish it, they each get 6 points to spend on some combination of Clutch Situations, Advancement Roll bonus, or actual Improvement Points that add up to 6.

They still get to make an Advancement Roll at the end of the adventure, but now they get some extra goodies, either in the form of more Clutch Situations (equals more chances to get Advancement Roll bonuses, per last week’s post), Advancement Roll bonuses (equals better chance of advancing, per two weeks ago post), or Improvement Points (equals direct improvement regardless of the Advancement Roll’s outcome).

Final Words

OK, this is a significant departure from what I’ve been on about for the last two-and-a-half Earth weeks and my strong suspicion is that I’m lost in the weeds. So I leave it to you to let me wander or lead me out…

  1. March 17th, 2011 at 17:33 | #1

    Seeing how you’re working out these ideas has been helpful in giving me some needed perspective. Last month I posted a short description about how I’m doing experience in my in-development old-school game:

    http://servitorludi.blogspot.com/2011/02/homebrew-82-awarding-experience.html

    Much of the game plays closer to its D&D roots, but for XP I’ve been leaning much more subjective. If nothing else, your posts on this topic have been helping me find the potential holes in this system! :-)

  2. deimos3428
    March 17th, 2011 at 21:55 | #2

    I do believe you are getting somewhere! (I am not at all biased by the striking similarities between this evolving work and what I was mucking about with way-back-when for D.R.A.G.O.N, either… :P)

    You have now established:

    1. a method for determining the base amount of experience “currency” to assign per adventure/session based upon its presumed difficulty, and
    2. a method for determining how that currency may be spent on various character improvements.

    You might now consider adding *bonus* currency for “Heroic Actions Completed During an Adventure”. I do not think this piece of the puzzle can ever be objective, as it is always a matter of opinion if something is run-of-the-mill or extraordinary. However, group consensus might be a suitable replacement for true objectivity:

    “Ok, let’s wrap up. Congratulations, that’s six rewards apiece. Does anyone want to nominate a specific action of another player as exceptional? If not, I’ll determine them. There are seven of you, so that makes 14 points up for grabs…” I calculated the using the (number of players x Encounter Base), divided by three. You might work out a superior equation. that was just off the cuff.

    The great thing about such a system is it gives the players a lot of freedom in building their characters, and GMs a lot of freedom in building their adventures. I would be rather conservative with the Encounter Base, and place heavier emphasis on bonus awards. I suspect Anthony would prefer to place most or all of the weight on Encounter Base instead. It’s win-win. The only real problem I see thus far is terminology; this could definitely use some more word-smithing for clarity.

    That said, it may be time to take a step back and see how this integrates into the existing Chimera system and see what if anything can be simplified.

    What does an Improvement Point buy, again? Are we adding an existing level of complexity that isn’t required, or does it add something? (eg. Rewards –> Improvement Points –> Skills vs. Rewards –> Skills.)

  3. March 18th, 2011 at 13:23 | #3

    @Cygnus : I’m glad this is (somehow) helpful. This bit was really off the cuff and it still has some surfaces to polish (assuming it’s not an exercise in futility).

    Along subjective lines, I like your system–the Participation and Difficulty grades are pretty clear-cut. Though the per-hour addition sounds like a lot of bookkeeping (I know I would forget). How is it working out for you in practice?

  4. March 18th, 2011 at 16:36 | #4

    @deimos3428 : You’re validating that the less structured my thought process, the more likely I’ll make progress. Unheard of. :\

    Here are some thoughts since yesterday’s brain dump (none of this is written in stone, but it is near-insufferably verbose):

    1. Each session has an Encounter Thingie (the actual number of encounters, not a qualitative estimation of those encounters, nor a challenge rating).

    2. The GM doesn’t “predict” difficulty–he just knows the Encounter Thingie and runs the game.

    3. The players play, possibly earning Advancement Roll bonuses with their Clutch Situations (like last week’s post)

    4. At the end of the session, award each PC an Experience Pool equal to the night’s Encounter Thingie; halve the value if the PC took few risks or wasn’t challenged; double the value if the PC repeatedly waded in over his head (no adjustment if the PC just did his bit). This simulates encounter-based/immediate gratification rewards.

    5. The player spends his Experience Pool: 1pt for a Clutch Situation, 2pts for a +1 of Advancement Bonus, 4pts for an on-the-spot Improvement Point.

    6. The players come back next week for another session; rinse and repeat until the adventure is done.

    7. End of adventure: PCs roll to advance, applying any Advancement Bonuses accumulated during each session (yes, they’ll have to keep track of that–better them than the GM, I say). Roll 1d20, add your bonus and subtract your current level; if the result equals or exceeds your Advancement Cost, you get your level in Improvement Points to spend (taken from 5th Printing Draft):

    Level Up: Increase your experience level by one; you may apply either a +1 bonus to one of the following stats: Movement Rate (MR), Wound Limit (WL), Defence (DF), or Initiative Modifier (IM), or you may improve a single class Ability by AR +1; cannot be combined with any other improvement. [IP cost equal to current level]

    Improve a class Ability: Gain Ability bonus of AR +1. [1 IP]

    Acquire a non-class Ability: Gain new Ability at AR +0. [1 IP]

    Improve a non-class Ability: Gain Ability bonus of AR +1; you can improve each of your non-class Abilities only once per experience level. [1 IP]

    Acquire a new Perk: Gain the “basic” version of a Perk. [1 IP]

    Improve an existing Perk: Gain the Improved version of an existing Perk. [2 IP]

    Acquire a new Special Perk: Gain a Special Perk from your race or class; cannot be combined with any other improvement. [IP cost equal to current level]

    Acquire a new power: Gain the power; you must have access to the power’s school (via the Special Perk that allows you to use powers; e.g., Miracles, Spells, et al.). [IP cost equal to ¼ power’s Target Number]

    Acquire Mana: Gain 1d6 Mana points. [1 IP]

    Acquire a new Class: Gain access to the new class’ Abilities and Sperks (Abilities already possessed gain a bonus of AR +1). You must also add the new class’ AdCost to your existing Advancement Cost figure. [IP cost equal to current level]

    Overcome a Flaw: Remove an existing Flaw; at the GM’s discretion (and depending on the Flaw affected), this may require constant effort (q.v., Overcoming Flaws, pg. XX). [2 IP]

    This’ll be how the playtesting goes for a bit.

    (Really eager for Anthony to weigh in…)

  5. deimos3428
    March 19th, 2011 at 00:34 | #5

    Some of that verbosity is due to the get points/spend points cycle having both an inner and outer loop, which perform similarly:

    Inner Loop: Get Experience Pool; spend on [CS, +1AB, IP].
    (Roll for Advancement.)
    Outer Loop: Get Improvement Points; spend on [+Level, +CA, NCA, +NCA, Perk, +Perk, sperk, Power, Man, Class, -Flaw]

    I don’t know if that’s a problem or not, just sayin’. I can’t wait to hear Anthony’s thoughts too, but I promise you’ll get no more weighing in from me for at least a week — I’m off to sunny Florida!

  6. March 21st, 2011 at 21:30 | #6

    @Erin D. Smale
    No playtesting yet, but I think “per hour” will rapidly evolve into “per session” (and multiply by number of hours in session). :-)

  7. March 22nd, 2011 at 21:28 | #7

    “A PC does something cool or heroic or worthy of note or so funny that the whole group is cracking up. Something that deserves a reward.”

    I’ve been contemplating what my response here would look like and I was having trouble until I touched on the above line. As you mentioned play style, I think that is where my brain is banging against a cognitive wall. I’m not talking about rewarding cool, heroic, worthy of note, or funny actions. I’m talking about rewarding character risk. That is, putting our little virtual avatars into harms way and then modeling the growth of that character as a result of his actions.

    Plus, anticipating player responses and the overall content of a night’s session of gaming is a fool’s errand if you run an open-ended (sandbox) game…

    I know, this comment isn’t much help. I will try to think on the subject some more. Maybe this comment will serve to re-focus the discussion, but don’t let me call the shots, this is your blog Erin…

  8. March 23rd, 2011 at 00:16 | #8

    @Anthony : If you read my previous comment, you’ll see that rewards for “cool” things aren’t really required to use this system. I added that bit only as a “trigger” for reward if the GM was intent on basing experience on adventures instead of encounters.

    If you want the latter, you can ignore the “cool” thing and just figure the number of encounters (aka “Encounter Thingie”) and apply the value based on TN used to overcome them (Step #4, above). In this case, all you have to take into account is how a PC deals with a particular encounter, which is entirely TN-based and completely quantitative.

    This is the most objective approach I can think of at the moment. It does allow for unforeseen player responses to a given encounter, even in a sandbox (i.e., just use the TN of whatever Ability he uses to deal with the encounter).

    Outside of that, you may need to consider that some level of subjectivity is required. Or, it’s possible that I’m just not grokking what you’re after. That may be the case, as (IME) I can’t see how experience awards can be entirely devoid of some subjective element.

    Let me know if this makes sense. I’m going to take a little break from this exercise for a week or so (just to give me time to step away for a bit), but I’m eager to find a solution.

  9. March 24th, 2011 at 08:35 | #9

    Quick thoughts:

    First, one issue that sticks out is if the players figure out a good way to deal with a problem that results in a lower TN, they are actually being ‘penalized’ in a way; such as in your example of hacking a robot guard rather than fighting it. It seems almost counter intuitive to reward doing it the harder or stupider way. In a D&D-esque experience system, it pays to ‘outsmart’ the dungeon and grab the loot…

    Second, I think subjectivity can be removed from the experience system. Even considering ‘XP for HD and GP’ is entirely objective. Sure, the DM can stock a dungeon with 2 goblins and 10,000 GP, but that is not a failing of the XP system it is a failing of the DM. Another example of an objective system is used at the Tao of D&D. The guy there awards XP for damage taken, damage dealt, and GP earned.

    The more I think about it, it seems better to resist the urge to over specify experience awards…

  10. March 24th, 2011 at 10:12 | #10

    @Anthony : You’re right about Issue #1, but that speaks to the risk vs. reward problem that kicked off this discussion. If you’re basing risk on objective TNs, then doing things the (numerically) easy way simply wouldn’t have much instructional impact. Ergo, less experience.

    But I certainly see your point, and clearly, a DM who pits the PCs against 2 goblins with 10K GP is a crap DM (but then, if I were a player in that campaign, I’d be pretty upset if the entire mission consisted of overcoming 2 goblins). Point taken, but it’s an extreme example.

    I’ll have to read the Tao of D&D, because that’s a pretty interesting idea (giving XP for damage taken). The more layers I peel off this onion, the more I see that the real subjectivity lies in how a given group (or GM) defines what experience is, and what actions lead to its acquisition.

    I recall a DRAGON article that made a case for giving XP bonuses for low (not high) Prime Requisites. So a Fighter with 18 STR gets a -10% XP penalty, while a Fighter with a 9 STR gets +10% (the argument being that the 9 STR guy works harder than the 18 STR guy).

    For now, I still like the Encounter Thingie plan above–it’s a good foundation. Where it fails is adjusting for “risk.” Maybe the solution is calculating the value in a different way. Instead of adjusting the value according to character response, just make it a static value with risk baked in.

    To be objective, there’d have to be a way to measure an encounter’s challenge against the characters’ chance of success. That’s what I was trying with the TNs, but you’re right–PCs aren’t going to like getting less experience for coming up with clever solutions.

  11. March 24th, 2011 at 14:22 | #11

    I think we are approaching the heart of subjective vs objective. When I say “every Goblin is worth 5 XP. Every GP is worth 1 GP” I am being very objective. True, assigning the Goblin a 5 XP worth is subjective, but you see how that stands as a value regardless of who walks up to him and whacks the goblin over the head.

    When I say “TN 12 is a risk” I am actually being subjective; that robot is TN 12 to fight but TN 8 to hack or any other TN for any other action the PCs can conjure up. I don’t think we should measure risk versus PCs, it should stand on it own. Like you suggested, perhaps a static value with risk baked in.

  12. March 24th, 2011 at 16:27 | #12

    @Anthony Checked out the XP-related posts at the Tao of D&D, and one point stuck out.

    D&D characters earn XP for combat because D&D is, at its core, a combat-oriented game. As fights are won, levels are gained, which makes a character better at fighting (hit points, “to-hit” saves, attacks/round, et al.). Nothing you do outside of fighting should impact your level, because level is measures fighting ability only. IOW, talking your way out of a fight doesn’t make you a better fighter, but fighting your way out of a fight does. The system makes it easy to assign objective XP rewards: goblins are worth 5XP; each GP is worth 1XP, etc.

    In Chimera, character improvements can be assigned to non-combat things, so there needs to be a way to reward non-combat actions. This is the challenge, I think. In D&D, you “unlock” an encounter’s XP by fighting–there’s no other way to get experience from an encounter. In Chimera, you “unlock” an adventure’s experience by surviving it–as I wrote before, the assumption is that you use all your abilities as best you can to survive, and the result is experience that parleys into character improvement.

    So I think I’m back to Square One: give characters an Advancement Roll at the end of the adventure; provide a mechanism to earn Advancement Roll bonuses along the way. The first part is easy–the second part is a real bitch. Since encounter challenge is relative to each character’s approach, how do you assign a static experience value to it? (Which, unfortunately, is kinda the question you asked me to answer…derp!)

  13. March 24th, 2011 at 21:50 | #13

    Crazy thought: What if characters defined their own in-game goals and attendant Advancement Roll bonuses? In response, the GM devises encounters sufficient to warrant the bonus as well as “victory conditions” that indicate goal completion.

    Zendel the Mage wants revenge on a thief who double-crossed him. He knows the thief is fairly dangerous, what with his band of cutthroats, underworld connections, and bad-ass throwing daggers. He also knows that he’ll be hard to track down, but he has a lead on his whereabouts thanks to a locate spell. He figures resolving this business is worth a +3 Advancement Roll bonus.

    The GM informs Zendel’s player that because he already has a lead on the thief’s location, and a party of fellow adventurers to help, the bonus is worth +2, +3 if the thief is cleverly framed and caught by the authorities (so as to remove any connection to Zendel). The bonus is available when the thief is no longer a threat (i.e., dead, reformed, tried and incarcerated, etc.).

    In the meantime, Zendel goes about his regular business: after every adventure, he makes an Advancement Roll normally. When his particular goal is met, he gets to apply the bonus.

    From the perspective of learning via experience, this is not unlike us going about our everyday jobs. We go to work, do our jobs, and now and then get a raise or a promotion. But if we achieve a particular performance goal, we might get that raise or promotion faster. IOW, if we want to improve our chances of advancing, we need to take the initiative.

    Is this more foolishness? Should I flesh it out? Thoughts?

  14. March 28th, 2011 at 12:15 | #14

    @Erin D. Smale
    Regarding “D&D characters earn XP for combat because D&D is, at its core, a combat-oriented game.” I think is is wrong when considering XP systems and have even said so in a previous post and comment on my blog with said author. I replied to that sentiment previously:

    “Not every advantage of leveling up is strictly (and only) combat based. Thieves gain skills, magic users and clerics gain spells, etc. This type of advancement is not simulated if those abilities are employed towards any other end outside of combat and gaining coin. However, for classes like a Fighter, this reasoning doesn’t hold since they only gain direct combat abilities. I can live with that.”

    In your system, it looks like Chimera takes this even further since you can gain perks and traits and so on.

    Intuitively, we know that the mechanics of D&D are heavily combat focused. But do we do nothing at our game tables other than run combats? Ok, maybe that question depends on which edition of the game you grew up on. Either way, I think falling back on D&D = combat, combat = XP argument is lazy logic. The earliest editions of the game were geared more towards exploration and loot with random combat being a detriment. The XP for GP clause kind of just carried through a few editions until it was taken out in 3rd, which kind of coincides with a change in the game’s focus anyhow. Every game table has its own focus on the game’s many different aspects from combat to role playing etc.

    I do agree, however, that if a table’s brand of D&D is just tactical combat (4th edition? I don’t know), than D&D = combat = XP works. I can live with that, but MY purposes for looking at XP is to have an objective reward system for things besides/in addition to combat. And I think you would agree with me there, Erin.

    Ok, so I just realized I spent way too much time arguing about something we agree on: “in Chimera, character improvements can be assigned to non-combat things” and my version that says D&D can be that too. So just humor me :D

    On to PCs setting their own goals. I don’t know, that just feels horribly ‘gamey’ to me. Life just doesn’t work that way at all. Yea, setting goals at work is the metric for compensation, but has nothing to do with skill and actual learning. Why should any life experience be worth more or less because it was identified as a goal ahead of time?

    I agree with you about feeling like being back to square one. Personally, I feel like keeping D&D system untouched because the changes I would want to make would turn D&D into a ‘skill’ based game and require a total overhaul. I think you might be having trouble because you are trying to have both levels and skills/perks. Maybe?

  15. March 30th, 2011 at 08:53 | #15

    Just a passing thought. Many groups tend to abstract parts of the game or reduce them to dice rolls, especially activities that require ‘soft’ skills. By soft I mean social and people skills, such as gathering information, investigating leads, conducting research or espionage, etc. Even the logistical side of the game, for many groups, is abstracted away so they can get back into the dungeon or on to the next encounter.

    I wonder how this ties into the fact that none of the above ‘soft’ activities award experience by the book and only by DM fiat… Food for thought :)

  16. March 30th, 2011 at 10:20 | #16

    @Anthony : I wonder how this ties into the fact that none of the above ‘soft’ activities award experience by the book and only by DM fiat

    Precisely. This goes back to objective risk vs. reward. It’s easy to measure the risk of a 2nd-level character fighting four 1HD goblins–it’s an apples-to-apples comparison of fighting ability. Distilled, it’s a math function with parameters like “to-hit” number, hit points, saves, etc.

    In D&D, fighting is basically what you do to get better at what you do, which is fight. This is what Alexis was getting at, and–if going strictly by the book–I agree. The D&D experience toolbox has only one tool: the Combat hammer, and every encounter is a nail.

    So your passing thought is spot on: How to achieve the same objectivity–how to make a math function–when you want to compare apples to oranges. What happens if I use Diplomacy to get information from four 1HD goblins? The only quantitative parameter I could come up with was Target Number, with the logic that the harder something is, the more a character would learn from it. But for reasons you pointed out, this won’t always work, because it won’t reward clever solutions that make life easier for the PCs.

    So maybe the real question is: how does one measure clever objectively?

  17. deimos3428
    March 30th, 2011 at 10:47 | #17

    I think the whole GM fiat bit comes down to not wanting to award experience for hot dice.

    If the character manages to convince a guard (through role-play) to let the party past, that’s experience-worthy. If they simply roll well on a “convince guard” roll, it’s not.

    Perhaps we need to go the other way ’round, and apply the same principles to combat as well. That is, rather than remove GM fiat for non-combat, add it for combat.

    Did your 8th level fighter really do something experience-worthy when he hacked down 4 goblins with a longsword +3? Well, no.. But if he defeated them via other means, such as intimidation, coercion, or distraction, bribery…that’s more worthy. Maybe some sort of an out-of-your-element requirement for XP?

  18. deimos3428
    March 30th, 2011 at 10:55 | #18

    An addendum to that last post:

    Conversely, of course…we essentially *do* want to award hot dice, but only when its a task that’s hard for the character in question. A fighter that succeeds against all odds in deciphering a magic scroll or picking a lock (not strictly possible in D&D…but the point being it’s a huge challenge) truly deserves some XP.

    I think you want to award XP for succeeding against the odds, not merely for succeeding.

  19. March 30th, 2011 at 12:53 | #19

    @deimos3428 : Maybe some sort of an out-of-your-element requirement for XP?

    What counts for experience can be sliced in seemingly infinite ways, which is the primary reason Chimera awards experience on a per-adventure basis instead of per-encounter. It’s assumed that you will execute routine tasks as well as desperate gambles to get through a mission, so rather than parse each one out, just assume an aggregate at the end of the venture and roll to see if you learned anything.

    @deimos3428 : but only when its a task that’s hard for the character in question.

    This is where I was going with the only-Clutch-Situations-are-eligible-for-the-bonus provision.

    Given that we’re in a somewhat circular pattern here and re-evaluating in an iterative fashion, I’m going to give my original post a re-read and see how much of it (seems to) remain valid.

  20. deimos3428
    March 30th, 2011 at 13:37 | #20

    Yeah, this was a very good idea! In re-reading that post I’m understanding far better what you did there. I don`t think I quite got it the first time round.

    So you’ve already a good system for base XP with your chance at improvement via the advancement roll. What you need are a list of criteria for a particular task to be considered for bonus XP (or bonus-to-advancement-roll worthy, in your case of your aggregate system).

    Tentatively:

    1. Hard. The task must be difficult for the particular character in a particular situation. (Covered off well enough by adjusted TN >=12.)
    2. Successful. You still need hot dice; trying and failing probably shouldn’t earn a bonus most of the time. (You’ve handled this via Normal Success + Critical failure; I’d allow an automatic bonus at TN>=16 as well.)
    3. Meaningful. The task must actually matter within the confines of the game, in some respect. (This serves as a final check against players doing hard-but-silly things to gain bonuses. I could see no real way of objectifying it; you’ve covered this via only allowing CS actions to be bonus-worthy.)

    Finally, instead of a bonus to the advancement roll, we award [additional] advancement points instead that can be spent in a variety of ways. Ok, now I’m all caught up, I think. Whew.

    It`s good…but I still think you might distill it a bit further and get straight to improvement points by the end of each session, instead of accumulating advancement points, etc. Then accounting is simple: each session-end you end up with +x improvement points; each adventure-end you can spend them.

  21. April 1st, 2011 at 10:58 | #21

    Personally, I don’t like to use the word ‘hard’ when it comes to experience. I like the term ‘risk’ much better. Here’s an analogy: Say you are a boxer or MMA fighter. You train and spar and that builds up your skills, muscles, cardio, etc. However, the real measure of an experienced and high performing fighter is his actual bouts in the ring. No amount of training really cuts it alone. Experience is gained in the ring; training only serves to build the body’s endurance and to learn skills. So in this case, even sparring against a ‘hard’ opponent translates into something much less than ‘risking’ your body in a real fight.

    That is also why I get hung up when we try to use difficulty numbers to determine is something is risky or experience worthy.

    @Deimos:
    “If the character manages to convince a guard (through role-play) to let the party past, that’s experience-worthy. If they simply roll well on a “convince guard” roll, it’s not.”

    No, we absolutely have to reward actions that are resolved by dice throwing alone. That is the primary mechanic that we use to resolve all conflicts.

    This ties in with what I am saying above, the dice rolling and the difficulty targets are just resolution mechanics for the game system. Risk, reward, experience, et al should not be strictly tied to dice rolls and target numbers. Not like this makes it any easier to come to a good resolution though…

  22. April 1st, 2011 at 11:10 | #22

    @Anthony : I see the difference between “hard” and “risky” — it’s a good point, as in somedays my job is hard, but I’m not really risking anything why slogging through it. So if we’re talking about risk alone, it’s not just about odds of success–it’s about the consequences of failure.

    Risk, reward, experience, et al should not be strictly tied to dice rolls and target numbers.

    Ah, but this is where I disconnect, because once you decouple dice rolls and target numbers, I think you loose objectivity and perforce fall back to GM fiat.

    I agree–this doesn’t make it easier…just more challenging. This is now the Official Holy Grail of Chimera.

  23. April 13th, 2011 at 15:18 | #23

    @Erin D. Smale
    “because once you decouple dice rolls and target numbers, I think you loose objectivity and perforce fall back to GM fiat.”

    Not at all. D&D experience is completely removed from all dice rolls and “target numbers”…

    I guess I will reiterate, maybe my idea didn’t come across.

    Rolling dice is how we decide how to resolve conflicts. After resolving conflicts, XP is awarded. Hence, XP awards are not tied to dice rolling, just its outcome. The conflict part is the most important part, not the dice mechanic.

    (Sorry for the necro, I’ve been out of the blogging loop for a bit)

  24. April 13th, 2011 at 20:30 | #24

    @Anthony because once you decouple dice rolls and target numbers, I think you loose objectivity and perforce fall back to GM fiat.

    I should have prefaced that: In Chimera, which doesn’t use XP, objectivity is problematic once you eschew dice rolls.

    Your idea did come across (I think), but this is a different model, so I’m trying to figure out how it would work without XP. Still brewing on it, but I think I have the answer…keep tuned for Chimera 5th Printing (which is in its final stages of review before I submit it to my editors…).

    AND…no worries on the necro. I just started a new job myself, so game time has been significantly disrupted… ;)

  25. April 18th, 2011 at 11:43 | #25

    Ah, sorry about the disconnect. It is tough when talking across systems, so to speak. Can you still focus on outcomes, rather than dice rolling mechanics/target numbers, to award ‘XP’ in Chimera?

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