Not as tough as 225 orcs

Not as tough as 225 orcs

I’m considering going to a flat 100 experience points per HD for combat. First of all, it’s just plain simple.

Secondly, it makes the first few levels a bit easier to attain, as the goblins and giant rats are suddenly rather rewarding, XP-wise. Taking on a band of goblins is a seriously dangerous thing for a party of 1st levelers to do, yet if four PCs defeat a dozen gobs, they each get a whopping 15 XP.

Finally, fighting monsters in masses, as is often the case with lower-HD types, more accurately compares to the danger of fighting one biggie, where the entire party can concentrate on one target. Sure, a tyrannosaur is tough. But is a party of four PCs going to have more trouble with one tyrannosaur or with twenty orcs? Both have a total of 20 hit dice, but the orcs are almost certain to be a tougher opponent. Using the standard system, the party gets to split 200 XP for the twenty orcs and 2250 for the tyrannosaur. Sure, against mid-level and higher PCs the orcs are going to find it tough to score a lot of hits, even when greatly outnumbering the party, but I don’t think the difference is tenfold (and then some). For the XP equivalent of a tyrannosaur, the PCs would have to fight 225 orcs.

Here’s a breakdown of a few creatures I just listed off the top of my head:

XP Comparison, Labyrinth Lord standard vs. Flat 100 XP/HD

XP Comparison, Labyrinth Lord standard vs. Flat 100 XP/HD

I can see adding a 100 XP kicker for monsters with special abilities or cutting XP in half when the party’s average level is twice the hit dice of the monsters, but even these simple adjustments seem unnecessary in the long run.

Could this lead to high-level parties running around in search or kobolds and goblins to beat up on? I suppose that could be an unintended consequence of this. But as most XP should be coming from treasure to begin with, and goblins and kobolds aren’t going to have much in the way of hoarded wealth, I don’t think this will be too much of a problem, either.

I wrote earlier about the XP for treasure system, and had been planning to institute a 1 gold piece = 5XP rule in my now-abandoned Swords & Wizardry White Box game. I am now thinking about bringing that over to my Labyrinth Lord game.

Yes, you can rack up some big XP at 100 per monster hit die and 5 per gold piece recovered. But, believe me, in my campaign you’re going to have to work for it.

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7 Comments to “100 XP Per Hit Die”

  1. Pre-Supplement I OD&D used 100 XP/HD, modified by the dungeon level on which a creature was encounter. So, for example, a 5 HD creature encountered on the 8th level of a dungeon would only earn 500 XP / 8 = 62.5 XP, since it was too “easy” for the level on which it was encountered.

    • Kilgore says:

      Hmm. I guess I was unfamiliar with that particular approach. I can see how that would work, though I can also see a couple of problems with it.

      1 – It ignores wilderness, assuming dungeon combat.

      2 – What if it’s a “harder” dungeon? This seems to assume that all first levels of all dungeons are equivalent toughness. I do agree that as one descends the toughness should increase, but I don’t think that all start out at the same level of danger.

      3 – As a matter of personal preference, if I’m going to adjust XP rates I’d rather do it to match party strength. Meaning that if a 5 HD creature is sometimes worth less, I’d rather it be measured against the PCs it fights, not against some other arbitrary number like dungeon level. I can see a 5 HD creature being worth 500 XP to a 2nd level part but only worth 250 XP to a 9th level party, for instance, more easily than I can see a 5 HD creature being worth 62 XP to either party just because it’s on the 5th level of the dungeon.

      Thanks for the heads up on the original OD&D method. I’ll have to keep chewing on this idea a little before deciding.

      • The thing is that OD&D abandoned this method pretty quickly, instead going for the method most people know from the Moldvay Basic Rulebook.

        • Kilgore says:

          Right. I am glad to dispense with the “+1 XP per hit point” math from AD&D to use the simple HD + special abilities method. As I’ve been trying to tweak that to my liking, however, I’ve wondered if the bare-bones original OD&D method might not serve just fine. The more I look at it, the more I think it might.

  2. Ripper X says:

    This doesn’t make much sense to me. I mean, it bubbles in the lower hit-dice monsters, and it flattens towards your high level monsters because you just don’t get enough XP that way. In 2nd Edition AD&D, 13HD+ are worth 1,000xp per additional hit dice.

    You may want to look into 2e’s XP system before committing to 1HD=100XP judgment. It was changed to get rid of exactly what you were talking about.

  3. Sham says:

    Actually, although the OD&D rules mention that an 8th level character “operating on the 5th dungeon level” would only receive 5/8ths experience, the guide is merely assuming that most encounters on that level will be with 5 HD monsters.

    This becomes clearer in the examples thereafter.

    The formula is figured by using the character level compared to the monster’s HD. The example uses a HD 7 monster, and states that experience gained would be 7/8ths.

    It also goes on to state that experience points are never awarded above a 1 for 1 basis. Lastly is “recommends” that no single adventure should move a character up by more than one experience level at a time (and gives a fairly salient example of how experience is awarded post adventure, and not mid, as I normally do now).

    I subscribe to the 100xp/HD method. It means less cross referencing and evens out the low level playing field a bit. Dividing the xp amongst 5 PCs and their 10 “half-share” hirelings equates to 10xp/HD so its not like the PCs will be reaching 2nd level after a few encounters. It still takes a long time.

    Gold is the big XP booster anyway.

  4. […] I wrote a little bit about the idea of using the original OD&D rule of a flat 100 experience points per monster hit die. I gave three reasons in favor of this: simplicity, ease of advance at lower levels, and making […]