Friday, March 27, 2009

Swords & Wizardry Core Rules Question: XP Distribution Schemes

Okay, here I have a question and a thought for you on old school experience points:

(1)  I've read through both s&w core rules and Men & Magic and I can't seem to find any hint about how to distribute experience points across multiple PCs.  In both the sections on gaining experience confine themselves to talking about a single PC.  Also, I don't seem to find much discussion of this topic on the relevant forums, so I suspect I must be missing something obvious.

I do know that ad&d's rigid system isn't for me, but what is "common practice" in XP distribution across the entire party in old school games?  Equal division of the grand total of XP's acquired such as in 3.5?  Or some other scheme?

(2)  I read (somewhere?) that the original Blackmoor campaign ran with the requirement that PCs only received XP's for treasure spent.  I think I like this quite a bit, since it obviously encourages players to be avarious.  But I am still quite confused about how treasure and XP's are related in most people's games.  

For example, if one follows the old Blackmoor rule, does that mean that PCs divide treasure amongst themselves first and then each individual PC only gains experience when s/he spends the coin or finds a buyer for the jewels/gems/items?  Thus it becomes at least theoretically possible that some players gain more experience than others if they fail to find a buyer or fail to spend all their loot.

But if this is so, what to do in the case of XP's for monsters?  Divide equally?  Okay, but then when?  After each encounter?  At some other time?  See, its getting overly complicated fairly quickly, with each PC having to effectively keep track of two different pools of XP's.

I'm still thinking about it...


Jeff Rients said...

My scheme XP scheme:

Monster XP are divided among all participants immediately after the fight. Hecnhmen get half a share. So 4 PCs and a henchman split the monster XP by 4.5 to determine the PCs share. Anyone leveling up in the dungeon gets all the benefits of the new level immediately.

When the players return to civilization all treasure XP (1gp =1xp) is split among everyone who makes it back alive, with hecnh's get half a share of the XP. How the loot is actually split is the party's business.

Finally, I allow a limited "Spend gold to earn XP" system in addition to the rules above. The first draft of which appears here:

The second draft appears in an issue of Fight On! Number 4, maybe?

Ironbeard said...


Thanks for stopping by. We are regular readers of your blog.

I really like the 'Ale & Wenches' rule that you've created. Wenching and carousing are such integral ungredients in pulp fantasy and this seems like an efective way to encourage their inclusion in the game.

post festum said...

Great suggestions, Jeff. I think your scheme encourages a sword&sorcery feel, but doesn't get bogged down in the needless complexity of the version I was considering adopting.

And let me add I greatly enjoyed your alternative rules on counterspells and magical duels in "Fight On!", Issue 1. The duels especially will be making an appearance in my game.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

post festum said...

Hey here's a related question that I don't see addressed at all in the recent od&d and s&w forums:

Should Swords & Wizardry XP system apply the relative level penalty of the LBB and later systems? The Core Rules are no doubt vague on purpose, but how are others who are playing s&w interpreting this? Does a 6th level fighter gain only 1/2 the XP for defeating a 3rd level threat in s&w?