I didn’t have an opportunity at the time to try anything other than orcs against a tyrannosaur while pondering a flat 100 XP per hit die for monsters.

If your PCs can see this, they're probably in trouble.

If your PCs can see this, they're probably in trouble.

As some in the comments pointed out, low-HD monsters are vulnerable to mass attacks like sleep spells and fireballs, while high-HD monsters like good old tyrannosaur is unaffected or, at least, more resistant. This is an important point.

Also, I wanted to simulate a couple of other fights with creatures of higher HD. So I ran six quick melees between five ogres and a tyrannosaur, both of which would be worth 2000 experience points under the proposed system. The dinosaur won all six fights rather easily, as it almost always hit and nearly always killed one ogre each round. It seemed to me like the ogres rolled really badly on their to-hits, which didn’t help them in a fight where the odds were already stacked against them. None of the six fights were close.

I tried another round of battles, this time between ten gnolls and one tyrannosaur. This was a lot closer, with the tyrannosaur winning three of five battles. In one of the battles, it finished off the last gnoll with only 7 hit points left.

A few commenters have pointed out that the majority of XP should probably come from treasure in most standard campaigns, and I agree. In my current games, probably around 75% or more of XP comes from treasure. I wouldn’t want this to change by very much, if at all. I don’t know that the fact that most experience comes from treasure should affect the awarding of monster XP one way or the other, though.

Current XP calculation methods do not take a monster’s treasure rating into effect, so whether or not a monster is likely to have a lot of treasure does not affect how many XP that monster is worth. If monster XP creeps up a bit, the game master would have to keep an eye on things and keep total XP awards and the combat:treasure ratio where he or she wants it, but that’s something that game masters already have to do.

Finally, I want to be clear that I’m not championing this idea. I don’t even use it currently. However, I do wonder if it might not be an easy way to award XP while maybe doing a better job modeling the danger of groups of weaker monsters. It would probably make advancement out of the first few levels a little bit quicker and advancement into the higher levels a little bit slower, but I don’t see that as a problem at all. I personally think the best adventuring usually happens in levels 4-8 anyway, so if this system extends the period that PCs are in that golden range, so much the better.

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2 Comments to “Tyrannosaur Cleans Up
–100 XP/ HD (pt. 3)”

  1. JB says:

    “Current XP calculation methods do not take a monster’s treasure rating into effect, so whether or not a monster is likely to have a lot of treasure does not affect how many XP that monster is worth. If monster XP creeps up a bit, the game master would have to keep an eye on things and keep total XP awards and the combat:treasure ratio where he or she wants it, but that’s something that game masters already have to do.”

    It appears that you see this as a slight flaw in the game system…to me it’s a perk of old school games. Things are not necessarily balanced with an eye towards “play balance;” if they were, more dangerous creatures would carry more prestigious rewards. And yet some of the most dangerous monster carry the smallest XP (reward) value for PCs because of the way the XP system + treasure type is set-up. Should PCs be drawn to weaker monsters with more treasure, and gain more XP for it? Maybe yes.

    XP is not just “points” for overcoming a challenge. I realize this is how D20 treats them (which is perhaps one reason XP is only given for monsters and trap survival). But originally they were a measure of a character’s “experience” …learning, growing, getting more intelligent about his/her treasure-seeking occupation.

    XP leads to levels which lead to increased survivability (say in terms of hit points and saving throws). Does the dude that throws himself into brutal encounter after brutal encounter increase his survivability? In pro-football, the positions making the most contact have the shortest careers. A kicker or punter, on the other hand, can play into his 40s.

    That discussion aside, though (XPs and HPs), the OS way of awarding XP is skewed more towards “fantasy reality.” A dinosaur doesn’t have a bunch of treasure because dinos don’t care about hoarding gold. Unlike dragons, for example. However, it gives the DM MAXIMUM control over setting the XP rate gain of a party. If the party could use a boost, perhaps the dino has collected a few valuable items because they’re “shiny.” Perhaps the dragon recently had part of his horde stolen by a group of adventurers that had subdued him.

    In games where XP hinges on defeat of a monster (like D20), DMs have less control. Even though they can limit the monsters encountered, this will simply cause ambitious players to seek conflict wherever possible, trying to boost their rate gain. I know I did when I played D20!

    Maybe I’ll take this topic back to my own blog.
    ; )

    • Kilgore says:

      It appears that you see this as a slight flaw in the game system

      Not at all. I do not think that monster XP should be tied to treasure. I don’t think a monster’s treasure type should affect its XP value. I do think that treasure levels is a good way for game masters to regulate progression.

      My main goal is to have a simpler and more straightforward way of calculating monster XP.