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Experience Points instead of Experience Rolls

posted Dec 30, 2012 19:09:02 by StreetBushido
I have said it before, and I'll say it again: I like RuneQuest 6. However, I do not like the idea of Experience Rolls. I do not think it's a good idea that one player could see a lot higher Skill increases than another, even though they were both rewarded with the same amount of Experience Rolls.

I've handled this by converting Experience Rolls to Experience Points. Say that the average succesful Experience Roll grants an increase of 3 (if using 1D4+1) to a skill. Instead of giving the players Experience rolls I just figure the amount of Experience Rolls that would be reasonable for the situation, multiply that by three, adjust for nicer numbers and give those points to the players to distribute amongst their skills as they see fit, within reason. I've also put in an increase cap: a skill can only be increased by 5 points (5%) each time.

Furthermore, at skill levels above 85% it costs 2 points per point of increase, and at skill levels above 100% it costs 3 points per point of increase.

We've also played around with marking each Critical Success or Fumble rolled for a skill. Each marked skill is then rolled as for a Experience Roll: roll over the current value. If that succeeds the skill is increased by 1%, if not nothing happens. For Combat Styles you need 5 marks before you can roll.

What do you folks think about this? Any huge flaws that could be easily remedied without going back to Rolls?
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19 replies
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PeteNash said Dec 30, 2012 19:39:45
"I have said it before, and I'll say it again: I like RuneQuest 6. However, I do not like the idea of Experience Rolls. I do not think it's a good idea that one player could see a lot higher Skill increases than another, even though they were both rewarded with the same amount of Experience Rolls."

I don't think it matters so much because the law of averages says that after a few sessions, the amount anyone improves by would have balanced out. That said, there's nothing wrong with your suggestion save that it can be abused by players who wish to single-mindedly power-up their combat skills rapidly. At 5% max per time, you might see characters break 100% in no more than 6 sessions. Not that level headed players would, it just opens up the chance. :)
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bluefenix42 said Dec 30, 2012 19:43:41
Seems like it should work fine except for a couple of details. Everything below is simply my thoughts and suggestions - there's no right or wrong here, and no glaring "OMG your players will abuse this".

First, the average value of an experience roll is not 3, because you could fail the roll and only get 1%. If you have a score of 60% in a skill, with INT 10, you have a 50% chance of getting 1% increase, and 50% of 1d4+1 (which is average of 3.5, actually). .5 * 1 + .5 * 3.5 = 2.25. So, the average value of an experience roll for a skill at moderate levels is about 2 to 2 and a half. It's going to vary a lot as well depending on how high the character's skill is. Above 100%+INT, you can only get 1 point per XP roll.

That said, converting at a rate of 3 Points per Roll is fine. It just means you'll get slightly faster than normal skill advancement.

Secondly, Critical Success happens waaaaay more often than Fumble. Just make sure you're aware of that. Then again, making it roll-over instead of automatic +1 will slow down the rate of advancement, so it may even out eventually. Also, clarify if marked skills are rolled for increase immediately, at the end of the scene, at the end of the session, or when the characters return home and rest, or whatever.

Third, this system means INT and CHA no longer have a significant effect on advancement. That's fine, if you don't mind that. However, I find that having INT and CHA be tied to the XP system helps encourage players to invest in what otherwise might be dump stats. You could grant people a bonus 1/5 of their INT score as extra XP if you want, or something like that.

Finally, you should consider how this will interact with the training rules, which are very important for character advancement. As XP will be more abundant than rolls, will players be able to train, spend 1 xp, train again, and so on? This would allow training to happen more quickly, compared to having to spend a full Experience Roll between training sessions. Also, since you're removing the randomness from Experience Rolls, do you also want to remove the randomness from Training?
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StreetBushido said Dec 30, 2012 19:44:06
True, but for the most part my players are good guys. Also, I'd give them a most dissapointed look if they started to power-game like that.

I think what irks me is to include randomness in the way your character is improving. Something that experience (pun not intended) has taught me is that players want control over the stat (and sometimes also the emotional) progression of their character.
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StreetBushido said Dec 30, 2012 19:52:14
When it comes to training, I think I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. I think I'd keep the randomness of training and make it out to be a bit like gambling: you put down your money and hope you get your money's worth.

Regarding INT and CHA, I ignored those bits intentionally. I don't want to penalize characters who have created a (dumb and ugly) fighter by making their character progression slower or more difficult, even if that would make more sense in the game world. The part INT plays in determining Action Points avoids it becoming a dump stat. A lot of my players avoid dumping CHA as well due to pride: they don't want to play an "ugly" character!

A lot of my friends (and players) have joked about how, no matter your buid in general, the best characters in Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas are always genuises (super high Intelligence) because of all the Skill Points you'll get each time you level up.
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thorngumbald said Dec 31, 2012 03:32:51
There are other mechanics in RQ6 which use Experience Rolls. Creating a fetish, for example, requires consuming an experience roll. The rules for increasing stats also draw upon the Experience Roll mechanism. You would need some way of handling those.
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bluefenix42 said Dec 31, 2012 04:09:40
There are other mechanics in RQ6 which use Experience Rolls. Creating a fetish, for example, requires consuming an experience roll. The rules for increasing stats also draw upon the Experience Roll mechanism. You would need some way of handling those.


Simplest solution to this is to use the same ratio of points to rolls as for everything else. Assuming a 3-to-1 ratio as StreetBushido initially suggested, then the 3 Roll cost for learning a new Folk Magic spell or Professional Skill would become a 9 Point cost. Of course, further tweaking of the exact numbers might be desirable, depending on how hard the GM wants it to be to pick up new skills, spells, etc.
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Afon y Bydysawd said Dec 31, 2012 09:11:13
A number of my players just hated the "lottery" of experience rolls - so much so that they burned hero points to re-roll failed attempts. I made a proposal: you can get 5% per XP to add to a skill, but you'll be getting fewer XP. After much thought, they decided to go with the "lottery".

Rule 43a: Given a choice between a sure thing and a gamble, Player Characters go for the gamble
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StreetBushido said Dec 31, 2012 09:21:43
As bluefenix42 puts it, I have planned to just convert Experience Rolls to about 3 Experience Points.

Afon, I'd like to add a modification to that rule.

Rule 43b: Unless the player(s) tend to have rotten luck with the dice. Then they'd rather take the lower but secure alternative than the chance for a higher result, or the risk of a much lower result.
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thorngumbald said Dec 31, 2012 16:02:46
One thing I like about the Experience Roll approach is that it drives players to improve higher skills through training rather than through pure experience gains. That makes sense to me, and also adds the gaming dimension of seeking out skilled trainers.
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Afon y Bydysawd said Jan 01, 2013 07:51:36
Then they'd rather take the lower but secure alternative than the chance for a higher result, or the risk of a much lower result.


But these are Player Characters we're talking about. Secure alternative??? Bah - go for the glory.

Rule 43c. Players who have rotten luck with dice couldn't possibly roll another failure. 5 in a row? Impossible! I mean really. I'll try one more time... Shake Shake... Damn it!.
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JayVerkuilen said Jan 05, 2013 17:08:52
Delurk:

I too have played BRP based games off and on over the years, and some other games where there was a level up experience roll. Even good old D&D had it in the form of rolling for hit points on level up. There are good aspects to it but it can be quite frustrating for some players and can end up with rather weak-kneed characters if there's a chain of unfortunate rolls. Unfortunately the law of large numbers isn't likely to apply in the relatively small sample of a number of game sessions.

What folks are talking about of taking a sure thing vs. gambling is called a "certainty equivalent" in the literature. ;) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_premium Depending on levels of risk aversion or acceptance, some people will go for the sure thing and others will gamble.

It wouldn't be hard figure out the expected value curve for advancement, but at first blush I suppose that the numbers given by the original poster are pretty reasonable.

One way to prevent the single minded focus of a munchkin/power gamer type burning a skill up to max would be to require some number of sessions between putting points in a given skill that goes up as the skill goes up. A failed skill check to put points in a given skill from a fixed pool of points awarded after each session would work reasonably well.

An alternative way to make use of teachers is to allow them to help you allocate your skill points the way you want. Thus teachers don't actually give you any points you wouldn't be entitled to, but they let you allocate the way you want. This use of teachers is also good, too, as it has lots of RP potential.

(In my professional life I have a degree in mathematical statistics, among other things, but am not an ogre about it.)

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Afon y Bydysawd said Jan 06, 2013 09:06:05
So what do you call it when presented with the option, the person chooses to gamble but then whines about it incessantly when they fail and want the sure thing after all ;)
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PeteNash said Jan 06, 2013 09:49:54
I suppose its a question of expectation. I always assume my improvement rolls are going to fail, then feel genuine pleasure if I get the 1d4+1 increase. Then again my local Swedish group think either me or my dice are cursed, since I rarely do well rolling characteristics or skill increases. :)
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JayVerkuilen said Jan 06, 2013 14:26:14
"So what do you call it when presented with the option, the person chooses to gamble but then whines about it incessantly when they fail and want the sure thing after all ;)"

Dynamic inconsistency: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_inconsistency

Assuming of course he chose the gamble over the certainty equivalent and wasn't coerced into the gamble.

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PatHenry said Jan 06, 2013 16:55:24
I think Pete Nash nails it: The expectation among players should be that improvements are hard and that failure is a likely result.

Investigate the cultic associations. If players want goodies for their characters, the cults can often provide them. If they can't get powerful through the game system, allow them power through the game.
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