View Full Version : Roleplaying Quests and Experience

Serpent Stare
2007-11-06, 06:07 PM
I'm a DM and a role player by nature. My players started out that way too, but I'm not good at rewarding experience without rules to govern it by, as for role playing and other non combat encounters. Now, they're starting to get bored with their capabilities and are getting more violent, mostly, I'm pretty sure, for the experience.

I'd like to provide them opportunities to get experience and treasure without having to fight, to keep the roleplaying spirit of the game alive. So, can anyone offer me a couple of ideas for non combat-oriented quests and what sorts of rewards they could provide? I'm already considering having an ally of the PCs ask them to go and get or else deliver something, but I'm not sure what it would be and what obstacles would get in their way that they could overcome in ways other than combat.

Also: When, and how often, should I award roleplaying experience in a roleplaying-oriented game? How much should they get? Sometimes I'm pretty lost and I'm pretty sure there have been times I should have and just didn't think of it.

2007-11-06, 06:14 PM
We use a system similar to Nature/Demeanor from World of Darkness. You write down your Nature/Demeanor and gain 20% of the xp if you role played either or both for a 40% xp gain if your roleplay well.

2007-11-06, 07:36 PM
It's simple, really. Assign XP values based on the tables for combat encounters to roleplaying encounters.

Sir Iguejo
2007-11-06, 07:46 PM
a couple of nobles disagree on some apparently stupid matter and start threatening each other.
the PCs start investigating, but they do not know who is wrong. as the plot thickens, they bump in some "world domination" plan, but they dont have the power to directly attack the nobleman.
They start gathering evidence to show the king. Minor skirmishes may be built here.
they present the evidence to the king so he may punish the traitors.

the end

this storyline (involving nobility and royalty) is good for bards (bardic knowledge) or anyone that have the apropriate knowledge skill. diplomacy, bluff, intimidate, gather info will be largely used

assign XP per piece of evidence, social skill success, or as they uncover your plot.

Dairun Cates
2007-11-06, 08:17 PM
The answer is to give them what seems appropriate. A diplomatic or role-playing challenge is still a challenge. Furthermore, since you're role-playing it allows for some interesting moments like giving the players new levels at tense points in the campaign.

An example is our Slayers d20 campaign. I was planning on taking the Code feat and my first Shaman level at level 6. Well, plot wise, he ended up getting betrayed got angry at his own incompetance to protect the ones he cared about and started shooting spells around until he ran himself down to 1 hp to blow off steam.

Well, my character was being creative with his spells and used one of his lower spells to replicate the effects of a high level spell. The GM decided it was a good time since it was a climax for us to level and the perfect time for my character to change his job and get the Code feat.

What's the point of that story? Well, that was about 4000 roleplay experience. We had leveled the session before, and we only gained 2000 from the actual battles. Really, there were no CR 10+ roleplaying encounters involved, but it was a good time to gain a level for revenge. The same can apply to low combat campaigns. If a player fails at something and trains to go back and justify those actions, that's a good time to make sure the players level. Award EXP at a steady pace and occassionally give climax or major plot turn bonuses. That should keep them interested.

2007-11-07, 12:51 AM
I like to figure out experience before I ever play the encounters. Then I award XP equal to the average ECL of all the encounters in the adventure at the end of the session. Quite a few times this has been the small amount of Experience needed to gain a level.

I give more for good roleplay, though I almost never give less for "bad" roleplay, because that assumes I know what "bad" roleplay is.

2007-11-07, 01:04 AM
For one of the noncombat portions of the game, my PC's decided that they wanted to own a chain of specialty bars in all the major cities.
Free Beer
Getting to ride the mechanical frog all day. (They're windlings)
Getting to kick random people out of their place.
Small stipends every year from their investments.
Getting to hear about interesting occurrences, so they can better find their enemies that need to be smoted.

Edit: Oh yeah, to unlock the final level of power for the swordmaster's sword, he needs to win a dance competition.

2007-11-07, 05:12 AM
I simply ask the players how fast they would like to level up. Currently we have a 3 sessions=1 level rule.

So (needed xp for highest level pc)/3 is standard xp. that is currently 2300 xp pr. session or something like it. I give bonuses for good roleplaying so those who play well level up faster...

The VP
2007-11-07, 05:58 AM
I simply ask the players how fast they would like to level up. Currently we have a 3 sessions=1 level rule.

Can you get your players to come convince my players that they don't need to level up every session?

2007-11-07, 09:16 AM
I usually give 100 XP * Character Level for general roleplay experience (along with the normal combat and quest related experience), or more if there is heavy roleplaying going on. That way, they always at least get 10% of the experience they need to get to the next level, and it's really easy to calculate.

2007-11-07, 09:27 AM
In my current campaign, I completely did away with the experience system. I don't like it since it's based of CRs and CRs are rarely good indicators of how difficult or easy an encounter will be. In addition, my campaign is largely story based and combat is not very frequent. I simply have the PCs level up when I think it's appropriate. It's usually about once every two or three sessions, and based on roleplay and storylines. While this removes the excitement of getting XP after a good fight, it also removes the temptation to go and fight some things so we can level up.

I generally don't like giving out experience or levels based on how well a player role-plays. Some players are naturally gifted at it and others are not. While being extra good at something gets you rewards in real life, D&D is a game and I want all the players to have fun. Tagging a level behind someone just because you aren't as good a role-player doesn't sound fun to me.

2007-11-07, 08:26 PM
In my experience, it hasn't been so much how well the player roleplays as how hard the player tries that matters. Or that should matter, for that matter. I run online, and I've been known to give a somewhat slow and hesitant typist who's just surpassed himself but not the rest of the players the same kind of reward I give to someone who just pulled out several paragraphs of awesome that caused my jaw to hit the floor.

2007-11-07, 08:37 PM
Can you get your players to come convince my players that they don't need to level up every session?

Oh god, I can only imagine what that would be like with my players.

The week after they gain levels they call me endlessly.

The VP
2007-11-08, 02:54 AM
Oh god, I can only imagine what that would be like with my players.

The week after they gain levels they call me endlessly.

I only have three players, one of whom I live with, the second I talk to via IM most every day, anyway, and the third figures out all his leveling on his own. They're actually going to go three sessions without leveling this time, although they were clamoring for the last 100 xp they need to level last session.

I like the idea of running a campaign without xp, and just giving out levels when you think the party has earned it. For anyone who uses this method (especially for story-based campaigns, like Galathir's): does it still work if you have to wing part of the campaign, or do you find yourself needing to almost railroad the party so they level at the points you want them to?

2007-11-08, 04:30 AM
I've been DM'ing since D&D came in a small box less than inch thick and included everything in that box!! I've yet to run a campaign where I kept track of the exp for every monster that my players have killed. If I think that players should have levelled by a certain point in the game, and they haven't earned it, then they're just hosed. They miss that opportunity. But I've often found that when that's the case, it's simply because they failed to notice (usually through all the sidebars and jokes that always occur) that this a major plot point. Players do have an uncanny ability later though, to turn something I felt would be minor into something major that ultimately puts them back on the right track.

I've never liked the XP system in any of the RPs. Why does a cleric who is spending the entire battle healing the wounded and buffing them up have to actually run in to the melee to kill something? It makes no sense. Though I also tend to have my PCs run in more traditional roles.

I've also found that doing things this way makes the campaigns run faster then having to stop gameplay every 2 minutes in order to annotate how much HD that monster had and who killed it.

2007-11-08, 08:24 AM
My personal rule of thumb for RP XP is fairly simple.

1. If I think/say "Dang, that's good."
2. If have serious trouble breathing because we're laughing so hard.
3. If they successfully deal with a roleplay curveball I threw at them.
4. If they pull off a cool non-combat stunt that didn't result in loot/money.

10% xp to the next level or a toy/item. Xp is easier because I don't have to work it into the story, but sometimes items are better. If you do choose an item make it something different or fun, something that the player wouldn't normally buy. Tan Bags of Tricks, folding boats, wind fans. Players don't usually buy those, so they make good rewards.

2007-11-08, 11:02 AM
I'm afraid I can't help with specific numerical values, since I tend to play it by ear - right now I've got a character in one of my games chasing after someone who accidentally set loose an imp, and I've laid out eight separate leads for him to follow - some are fairly easy to find, such as "The guy who works at the smithy" or "The town's alchemist" or "The son of the Captain of the Guard". Others, like "This gnomish guy who looks like he's been in a few scraps" and "Bannor, the plate-wearing troll who works for the militia" are a little tougher to track down - and frightening, in the case of Bannor. Ugh, I wouldn't ever want to deal with that.

When people do something awesome, however, I tend to give out a little experience. Since I run mostly Play-By-Post, I can't really give experience per "session", but I do give a quick shot in the arm to anyone who does something spectacular - I have one playing running a 6 cha dwarf who amused me by actually playing that out, so I gave him a little shot of 10 XP. Not much, but it's enough to say "Good job, keep it up!". If a player keeps up with good roleplaying through an entire quest, I will usually bump the XP they gain from that quest by 10% or so.

Lord Tataraus
2007-11-08, 11:53 AM
For RP-heavy games I don't use XP at all, the player's level up when I think they've waited long enough, this way they don't really care about fighting and such because its not relevant. As for a suggestion for a non-combat quest how about this:

Noble A wants to trade good X with Noble B, however, the only way to get to Noble B is by going through Noble C's domain who hates both Noble A and B. The players have to smuggle good X through Noble C's domain. The catch is that if Noble C finds out he will capture the PCs and goods, but if the PCs attempt to fight, Noble C will recognize it as an act of war and attack the weaker Noble A. So the PCs need high Bluffs and Diplomacys as well as maybe finding some underground guys to help in the transportation, of course can you trust them? and who knows if they are spies of Noble C? Lots of tense situations and close calls are good.

2007-11-08, 04:19 PM
First off, you could ask what the players are looking for in the game. If it turns out they're just out to vicously slaughter things, try to provide lots of interesting stuff for them to axe.

It can be hard to decide on a challenge rating for something that doesn't require any dice rolling, but that might be a good guideline on what sort of reward to give. For example let's say that a noble is annoying someone, so the rogue throws a pie at him. This makes him run away crying. If you decide that's actually worth something, maybe treat it as if he overcame a CR with a level of his own -4. If this guy was a major villain and now because he's lost the respect of everyone he can no longer enact his plans, that might be a level +4 one. Rather than experience, maybe he dropped a bag of coins, or something embaressing from which they can black mail an encounters worth of gold out of (if they get it before any of the other nobles notice)

Alternatively, freeform things. The players get to wander around and do whatever they feel like.

2007-11-08, 04:43 PM
There's a lovely section in the Dragonlance setting book that gives discriptions of exactly what you're looking for, pg 193-194. Xp based around Noncombat awards and mission goals which includes both group and personal "missions". I can't post it all here because of the rules but if you look it up next time you're in a shop it's a good guide.

It lets people level up their characters for things that make sense, a wizard that researches magic in a sactum, a rogue that pulls con jobs, a cleric that runs a temple and congregation. etc.

basically it's broken into Noncombat awards which are still based on CR and you get an adjustment for how hard or easy they are for one off events, and on achieveing your "goals" you get a fraction of your present Xp, dependant on how arduos and longterm the "goal" was to achieve..

plus combat and roleplaying xp of corse, just caus it wouldn't be DnD without.

Edit: Morden, nice avatar.