Wednesday, 4 November 2015
Updated OSR XP Budget
The following is how I'm going to handle the XP Budget for my players in my OSR campaign for now, keep in mind I'll be using a dungeon as a template but it could be any other kind of adventure with the same basic guidelines. Also keep in mind I might repeat some things I have stated before in my previous entries regarding awarding XP to players and/or preparing games, but there IS new stuff.
Taking a page from 'Lamentations of the Flame Princess', that book recommends adding up all the XP required for the players to level up, then dividing the result by three or four, depending on how much XP you want the players to have access to during the dungeon. I intend to divide it only by three, if only because it's possible for players not to find all the treasure, kill all the monsters or even finish the planned dungeon in a single game session, so it's very unlikely even then that they'd level up once every three or four sessions. LotFP also recommends that one stops increasing the XP Budget available once the player with the highest level reaches level 4 or 5. I'll see if I do that once one of my players reaches level 5, so that bit is still in the air for me.
Some other OSR books recommend that one calculates the average player level of the group and then prepare the XP Budget as if all players were Fighters instead of whatever classes they are, probably under the pretext that it balances out the budget more between choosing weaker or stronger classes. Even I thought so when I first read this take, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it didn't change things that much in the end. I guess it could be argued that it might be true if ALL players multi-class (for example) knowing that the XP will be inflated for all of them anyway, but that's not something I mind that much. I think the important aspect of different XP amounts to level up between OSR classes is more there to balance players, and not players with the environment itself. Or at least that's how I choose to see it, because honestly I'd rather go with the easiest route here.
'LotFP' suggests spreading XP across the dungeon, 'Crypts & Things' suggests putting all the hoard together at the end. I'm with 'LotFP' on this one, although I might do the hoard at the end form time to time just to keep players on their toes. It just seems more interesting to put more choices into the hands of players. Should they leave with what they have and come back later, playing it safe, or do they really want to push forward despite their wounds and maybe level up tonight?
As for how to spread the XP over monsters, loot and traps... I'd like to thank Henchman Abuse for doing the research for all of us. It's an excellent post and I encourage you all to go read it if you haven't already, but here's the important part for us here:
In other words, 16 to 17% of the rooms in a dungeon should contain Monster with Treasure, and so forth. Simply replace 'rooms' with '%'. Putting it into percentages makes it easy to calculate how many rooms it would equate to for dungeons that have more or less than 100 rooms. You then add up all the rooms that are relevant to the XP Budget (For example, Empty Rooms wouldn't be included) and divide the XP Budget by that amount of rooms. This gives one a good guideline of the average of XP that could be found in a room that has XP to be won in it.
As a conclusion, I can't emphasize enough when I say 'guideline' and 'average'. The rooms should not all contain the exact same amount of XP through the whole dungeon! It's simply an easy way (The math to prep this is really basic.) to have an overview of what each room should contain overall. From there you can add and remove from other rooms as you see fit. It's entirely viable, for example, to make a room contain a lot of XP but also be much more deadly than the other rooms. Part of the OSR is that not everything should be balanced, and that doesn't need to become false just because you're balancing an XP Budget. :P