XP: not Just for Leveling Up (VP too)
XP: Not just for Leveling
I've been thinking a lot about experience points lately.
In Lair of Sword & Sorcery Veteran points serve the same purpose.
In most roleplaying games they are collected until you have enough to level up your character and then they level up, easy to grasp.
Other games (like Lair of Sword and Sorcery, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and others) allow you to spend your "xp" on increasing a stat or skill.
Pretty much the same as leveling up but incrementally faster.
But what if you could use XP for other things?
Way back in an early issue of Lair of Sword and Sorcery I promised a forthcoming article for more ways to spend your VP other than just improving your hero.
Well that article is in the works for the next issue.
But that issue is still a little ways off so I thought I'd put these options out there and let them percolate abit in the community and see how it develops.
My main thinking for spending XP (or VP) on things other than leveling up is that xp is the real currency of roleplaying games. Gold pieces may come and go, a +1 sword loses it's shine when you're level 15, henchman and followers swallowed whole by monsters. But the one thing the DM can't take away is your XP. Once you've got it you've got it forever (except for liches and stuff but you get what I mean)
Leveling up is also the only real concrete goal that is universal for all characters in all games. Almost every rpg will include a ladder for characters to climb and getting to the top is the real goal of the game regardless of the current adventure.
So if you give the players some other options for spending their xp, any of these things would be a real sacrifice for the player and character. Trading their main goal to achieve something else in the short run.
So with that thinking as the basis here is a list of things Heros can spend the precious xp (and VP) on.
In all the cases below I would suggest that a character could not spend more xp than would cause them to go down a level. In Lair of Sword & Sorcery unspent VP can be used.
Boost a Die Roll Before Rolling
Before rolling the die the character can spend 100 xp or 1 VP to increase the roll of the die by 1.
If they wish the could increase the die roll more than 1 by spending more xp or vp, 200 xp for +2 etc.
100xp may seem low for this but a single point on a die roll in D&D gets incrementally less important as levels go up.
When you are level 2 or 3 Causing 1 more point of damage to a monster is a big deal, but you don't have a lot of xp to work with. When you are 15th level and fighting a 15hd monster an extra point of damage is nothing but you have a lot more xp to work with.
Boost a die roll after rolling
After the dice is rolled increases are far more expensive.
Increasing the die roll by 1 point costs 1000xp or 10vp.
Boost a stat or skill
Sometimes during an adventure a certain stat or skill is requried to perform a task.
For example, lifting a gate, or breaking a chain. In most cases a die roll is allowed and added to the stat to see if the character is successful. In these cases the heroes could choose to boost the die roll. But in some cases there may be a minimum stat requirement, like a body of 2 in lair of sword and sorcery, or a strength of 12 in d&d. In these cases where there is not die roll required or if a minimum stat is required the character may boost a stat to make them able to complete the task.
To boost a stat 1 point
1000xp or 10vp
If they wish to increase the stat more than 1 they may, for example +2 for 2000xp etc
In the narrative of the adventure this does not mean that the character briefly becomes much stronger. Instead it effectively lowers the requirement for a short period of time. In the case of a gate it would mean that the counterweight suddenly moves much more freely, or some mechanism has corroded so much that it no longer offers as much resistance. The increase last only for a moment, just long enough to perfrom the task.
For another example if a charater is tied up by a rope that woudl normally require a certain strenth to break, by spending the xp the character has found a way to wriggle out, or the knot was not tied correctly, in a way this is very similar to a lucky coincidence which is discussed next.
Create a lucky coincidence
A lucky coincidence is just that. It won't bring a character back to life after they have fallen off a 100ft tower. But, if before their character hits the ground, the player creates a lucky coincidence, a branch or stone parapet may catch them arresting their fall. They may be dangling perilously from the tower but they are still alive.
Or, a lucky coincidence is unable to save a character who has just been killed by an enemy but, before the enemy rolls to hit, the lucky coincidence may cause the character to slip and fall, just in time to avoid the swing of their enemies weapon.
Luck isn't used only to save the characters life, there are many opportunities during an adventure when luck may be used.
What if a character is sneaking through an enemies fortress when guards suddenly turn the corner. A lucky coincidence may cause a piece of masonry to fall in another section of the fortress causing the guards to turn back and invesigate the noise.
Luck is an important part of the success of great heroes in books and movies. Putting luck in the hands of the players gives them the edge every true hero needs.
I would love to hear if any of you have any other ideas for what to spend xp on, feel free to comment with your own suggestions.
Also if you think the cost of any of these options should be higher or lower feel free to chime in.