XP Banks, Never waste XP (or VP) again.
The XP bank
I know it's been forever since an update, but you know, life and whatnot. Still trying to get more room to move here in the spooky room so mostly been typing up some stuff for Brytax but I do have a few things I'm working on for the next issue of LoSS.
One of them is the idea of an XP bank and I thought I'd put some of those notes on here for you to check out, use, or comment on.
So without furhter ramblin let's go to....
The XP Bank
Lets all be really honest for a moment. We can't pretend that the world of Pen and Paper RPG's hasn't been affected by full generations of players who primarily play RPG Computer games.
In these games you can save your game, try something dangerous, and if it doesn't work out, load your game and try again.
For folks like these the idea of playing once a week for years to build a character up to 5th level and then losing them to pit trap doesn't seem so great.
And I get that. Just like the rest of you, I'm getting older and have less and less free time.
Even giving up one day a week for a regular game is extremely difficult.
So yeah, I can see how it would seem a little tiring to put all this time into building a character up just to see them get mowed down in a random encounter and start over again.
But I don't like the alternative much better.
The alternative would be to start giving out alot more experience, and allow people to level up much faster so that it doesn't take as long to build characters up. To me, that kind of thinking doesn't work well either. Why not just hand every player a 20th level character right at the beginning and let them choose any magic items they want? I know, some people do just that, and that's find for them but not for me.
But maybe there is something in the middle of these two extremes.
What I'm suggesting is an xp and character bank.
A player can have a group of characters. Only one can be active at a time in a game but the player may choose between their available characters when starting a new gaming session.
It should be assumed that all these characters know each other and can share equipment, magic items, gold, or living quarters, But only one may be active in the game at one time.
When one of your characters characters gains xp in an adventure it doesn't go directly to a character, it goes to a bank of xp which the player has and all of the players characters can share.
The player can use this xp to level up their active character, or they can use it to level up one of their other characters.
Once the xp is used on a character it leaves the bank.
If one of players characters dies then the character is removed from the players bank of characters, but any xp used to level it up goes back to the bank.
If the player wishes to prevent the death of the character they may spend xp from the bank equal to the xp that has been used to level up the character.
If there is not enough xp in the bank to do this the player may "kill off" other characters they have in the bank to return their xp to the bank. In this way they can sacrifice characters they care less about to save one they do.
If there is no way to save the cahracter with these means (or the simply don't wish too) the xp the dead character used can go back to their bank. All the characters gold and equipment is considered to be "willed" to the remaining characters (as long as the rest of the party is able to bring it back out of the encounter).
The player can use the bank xp at any time to level up any character any amount at any time.
So the players will still have the fun of building up their little bank of characters from level 1 just as we all used to, but if they die all their work won't be lost , they can grab a new character give him some equipment from the bank of gear and pick any magic items that would be useful for the new character out of those in bank..
retiring the band
At some point, just as in all games, the players will all have characters of such high level that there are no more challenges for them. At this point it's time to disband the groups, frame the final characters on the wall, and start anew, with a fresh batch of level 1 characters with nothing in the bank.
I know that these rules may seem a litle odd, or even foolish, to other old die-hards out there. But it's a fact of life that spare time is shrinking for all of us, even for those who used to have so much, like students.
It's a hard world out there and getting harder.
For those of you keeping track, If you choose to continually save your characters lives by burning xp from the bank you will not have xp for leveling up.
So you can save a character but will level up much more slowly.
If what you are interested in is building a single character up and watching them grow then sacrificing a level now and again to stay alive is no different than sacrificing a constitution point for a restoration spell to bring you back from the dead.
If all you are interested in is leveling up as fast as possible then you are more likely to let the character die, get their xp back, and move on.
Either of these mindsets mean that Dungeons can once again be mean, deadly, and spiteful things, with death around every corner. Sure the character may die but the campaign goes on, and deeper and deeper parts of the dungeon call.
So why not give these options a try and see what it does for you and your game. Who knows? You might find a whole new crop of players for the next generation.
Other things I'm thinkering with to add to this idea in thearticle
sheets to track the xp bank and characters
The bank and henchman, how to use the xp bank with them
sharing henchman amongst banked players