Question About Experience Points and Advancement

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JohnK
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Re: Question About Experience Points and Advancement

Postby JohnK » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:08 pm

Hullo, Kuildeous,

Let me start this reply off by saying that I'm not going to discuss the merits, or lack thereof, in games and of games like D&D and/or Pathfinder. I will just say here that, while I'm not defending D&D and games like, it was one of the games (if not *the* game) that established various aspects and elements of roleplaying games that we take for granted today. Some bad, some not so bad. My reply below tends to focus on the elements of Torg Eternity. Now that I've got that out of the way...

Kuildeous wrote:Some sessions will be easier for the PCs while others will be grueling. It all averages out. There's no mystical rule that says that PCs must get 3 XP if they happen to flood the barracks and save themselves from fighting 30 Shocktroopers. No mystical rule that says the PCs must get 9 XP for triggering every single trap in the temple.


Well, some would argue that the tougher the opponents you fight, the more XPs you should get. Same for the length of an Act. Does a 2-scene Act merit 5 XPs, and if so, what does a 6-scene Act merit? :)

Fortunately, I'm not one to argue that. The rules as written work fine for me, I think, though I could easily decide to reduce the XPs per Act (given the attitude I have about this from earlier posts). :)

Kuildeous wrote:It's taken me 30 years, but I'm recognizing that counting other people's XP and getting rewarded for attending when someone else could not fostered a player-vs-player mentality. Even if the PCs didn't attack each other, the system still pitted player against player, and I don't want that in my Torg. I want my players to be happy for each other. I rather enjoy when a player comes back after missing a session and is told that we're now at 35 XP, so he better write that down and go shopping.

That being said, I agree with the philosophy, but I worried that 5 XP might be too fast. I do actually run weekly, but we either have no kids or teenaged kids. I award 2-3 XP per session depending on how short it is. Sure, it averages out in the end, but maybe I'm still old-school enough to want to assign a larger number for a larger act. Mostly, I slowed things down because I didn't want to outpace the release of adventures too badly. Since there are now rules for how to handle beta-level Storm Knights with published materials, I may make it 5 XP at beta. Mostly because I don't want them to save their pennies when they're at beta level. We shall see how I feel.


That *is* an interesting way to put it, in the first paragraph, and I have to say that it does sway me as much as another poster's reply about this stuff did. Part of my own reasons for slowing down XP and Advancement is your reason - so as not to outpace the adventure releases. Another reason, as stated, is because I am still finding Advancement to be very...rapid in the game.

What's been great about this thread is that it's put some of my concerns and thoughts about the subject into perspective, and for that I want to thank you all.
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Re: Question About Experience Points and Advancement

Postby JohnK » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:12 pm

Hullo, fougerec,

fougerec wrote:Thankfully my players are coming around and shedding those habits. They're not stripping the corpses of every opponent, they're not trying to sell that gear to the DC, they're getting better at spending Possibilities rather than hoarding but overall D&D has much to answer for.


My players in the Cyberpapacy were tempted to take the Armor of God and the GodMeeters that a group of Church Police they took down had, but then remembered about technology of the Papacy's militia and other units, and thought better of it. One of the players put it into perspective: "How are we gonna carry all that stuff around?" :)

Also, since I started on Day 1 for each of my groups (Aysle, Cyberpapacy, Living Land), the Storm Knights in each group aren't part of the Delphi Council yet. :D
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Re: Question About Experience Points and Advancement

Postby JohnK » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:29 pm

Hullo, utsukushi,

utsukushi wrote:OK, let me see if I can do as well as some of the other detailed examples we've had on here...

Let's say four players are there at the beginning. They create:
Brent the Beastlord - Living Land
Attributes: Str 10, Dex 8, Mind 6, Spi 8, Cha 8
Skills: Beast Riding 3, Dodge 2, Intimidation 2, Maneuver 2, Melee Weapons 2, Reality 2, Stealth 2, Willpower 1
Perks: Beast Rider, Animal Companion (Saber-Tooth Cat)

Eric the Electric Samurai - Pan-Pacifica
Attributes: Str 9, Dex 10, Mind 9, Spi 6, Cha 6
Skills: Computers 2, Dodge 2, Evidence Analysis 1, Fire Combat 2, Land Vehicles 2, Melee Weapons 3, Reality 1, Stealth 2, Trick 1
Perks: Ion Gusoku, Ion Gusoku (+Lightning Sheath)

Samantha the Sorceress - Aysle, Elf
Attributes: Str 5, Dex 6, Mind 14, Spi 8, Cha, 7
Skills: Alteration 3, Divination 3, Evidence Analysis 2, First Aid 2, Reality 2, Scholar 2, Trick 2
Perks: Spellcasting (Haste, Invisibility, Possibility Shadows), Elven Sorcerer

<snippety, snippety>

...And, um, this is where I've gotten to. Unfortunately I need to take my computer in for some repairs, so I can't just keep this window open.


Umm...WOW!! I knew that when you got around to this one, it would be great, but I had no idea it would be some marvellously detailed the way you've done it here. Thank you, thank you very much! :)

Honestly, though, I think that most of your questions have already been answered. I did try to work in some of the "quirks", like the different ways of spending vs saving and bringing in new characters.

I very much liked the frustration building between those two characters, resulting in the Martyr card being played, and the new character coming in, and I really liked the quirks as well. Nice touch. :)

utsukushi wrote:
JohnK wrote:Okay, this is pretty clear, but... The implication is that Attributes, Skills, and Perks can be purchased during play, assuming the situation is suitable and one with the applicable means of doing so, though I'd argue the increase of Attributes and Skills or learning new Skills should take a little time, surely. More sense to me do that between adventures, not during, but I can see certain cases where it could be done during an adventure.


...Which is that XP are always both awarded and spent between Acts. I don't believe you can be in the middle of a Scene with a 3 XP in your pocket and suddenly say, "OK, I buy Lockpicking 2 and open the door." As it says on p261, "At the end of an Act every Storm Knight in the group gains five XP to spend before the next Act begins, even if the next Act begins immediately after the previous one ended." So there may be situations where the advancement feels a little unnatural, but usually the end of an Act brings a little downtime. But either way, between Acts is when you spend XP, not "during play."


While I understand the rationale and the game rules from page 261 about when they can be spent, I find the "...even if the next Act begins immediately after the previous one ended." to be not workable in my mind. How exactly, for example, is one increasing one's STR by +1 in a, let's say, 10-minute period. How exactly did one's Science skill get better, if one didn't actually use it in the last 2 Acts prior? My point here is that even if I do allow my players (as per the rules) to increase stuff between Acts, there still has to be a *justification* for it of some sort. Just my $0.02. :)

utsukushi wrote:If you would still like me to continue this on to 60 XP, I would be happy to keep going; it has, indeed, been fun to play with! But it may be a week or so before I could get back to it anyway.


I would, indeed, appreciate it you would continue to do this on to 60 XP, simply because it would show how the Advancement stuff works when one gets to Beta Clearance as well. A week or so more is not a problem, since I know that Real Life(tm) can interfere with gaming and all. :) And again, thanks for doing this! :)
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Re: Question About Experience Points and Advancement

Postby ZorValachan » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:40 pm

Hi JohnK,

Just a couple more thoughts. (You is a general "you - anyone", not a specific JohnK "you")

1.
I also have seen (and sadly been part of as a player) the player-vs-player mentality when XP are earned individually. Even if the party -never- came to blows there was a drive to make it to every game, do all the RPing, etc. just to be ahead of everyone, so if the fight did happen, the player felt thier character could "win". In OT this was the Possibility hoarder (who accumulated the hero cards for those 3 extra Possibilities at the end of the adventure). In games like 7th Sea, you made sure you got more drama dice to convert to XP at the end. Just to give you that "edge".
When I did D&D 4th (after reading that everyone gets the same" I saw a dramatic change, I don't think anyone even noticed, of people making characters to be part of the group as a whole. In Earthdawn, when the GM did this, I as a player, was making choices to help our group over my own character, when the previous Earthdawn game was me trying to be the "best". And now in TE, my same players as OT are doing the same. it's a strange phenomenon, and maybe it's us mellowing or maybe the XP thing really promotes this *shrug*

2.
In OT I had a house rule that when a character used a skill/attribute they put a "tick" next to it and could only advance skills that they used in that Adventure. If they raised the skill/attribute (I only allowed it to be raised 1 point) they would erase the "tick" and at the end of an adventure erased all ticks after Possibilities were spent. I did this with most games that used advancement for individual traits instead of whole scale "leveling". I also had a "downtime system" between adventures which stated what item could be bought with money and how many things could be advanced/bought by Possibilities to keep the "shopping" sessions to a minimal and one guy trying to do tons of stuff between adventures, while others were only doing a couple.
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Re: Question About Experience Points and Advancement

Postby Kuildeous » Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:28 pm

JohnK wrote:Well, some would argue that the tougher the opponents you fight, the more XPs you should get.


I used to argue that very fact. But I like to think that I've moved past that. I guess I'm doing a good job. I'm playing a Pathfinder adventure path where we've been 13th level for quite a while. We had to research the genealogy of 5 people, convince them to form a governing body, save one of them from going to jail, clean out a dungeon, make an alliance with a dragon, defeat some slavers, stumble around in a haunted woods, defeat some storm hags, and now enter the demesne of a serial killer and his cult. Not once has any of us sighed and said, "Are we level 14 yet?" It's actually rather liberating, and it lets us get to the meat of the adventure rather than worry about what it takes to level.

This works really well for video games, but video games are a limited medium for role-playing. It doesn't have the open-endedness that we get to enjoy in a tabletop RPG.

So yeah, I can see where someone would say that you should get more XP for more scenes, but there's no rule (not even in oTorg) that you should get 1 XP per scene or something. You get XP for the act, and in some acts you shortcut the adventure and in others you flail about. Unlike D&D, there's no formula for how many XP you get in an encounter, so a nebulous notion of 5 XP for each act (or 2-3 in my case) works just as well as anything else. They could've said 1 XP per act or even 10 XP per act.

The examples utsukushi gave are pretty impressive. I would ask her that if she continues the stories that she includes a player or two losing their characters to show everything(ish).
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Re: Question About Experience Points and Advancement

Postby fougerec » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:29 am

JohnK wrote:
My players in the Cyberpapacy were tempted to take the Armor of God and the GodMeeters that a group of Church Police they took down had, but then remembered about technology of the Papacy's militia and other units, and thought better of it. One of the players put it into perspective: "How are we gonna carry all that stuff around?" :)

Also, since I started on Day 1 for each of my groups (Aysle, Cyberpapacy, Living Land), the Storm Knights in each group aren't part of the Delphi Council yet. :D


One of our characters tends to acquire weapons and things from other cosms (he does the same in other games as well) not to sell but to collect. It's bit him on the ass several times in Torg Eternity when he disconnects on a 1-4...

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Re: Question About Experience Points and Advancement

Postby Atama » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:35 pm

utsukushi wrote: ---Note that because he's starting with 10 XP, he kind of "games the system" by starting with four 3s and two 2s in his Skills, knowing he can buy a couple more up immediately. The GM notices, but it's not that big a deal, and is supported by the rules. She tells him it's a little cheesy, but just makes sure everyone else knows they can do this, too, if they're making new characters later.

Hermione’s player (let’s call him “Hermie”) is not being cheesy. Hermie’s bad at math. Let’s explore why.

Let’s say Hermie’s goal is to have 6 skills at rank 3. You said Hermie picked 4 at 3 and 2 at 2. He gets 10 XP like everyone else. He then spends 6 XP to get those rank 2 skills to 3 (going from 2->3 costs 3 each), leaving him with 4 XP.

Hermie should have picked 5 at 3, and 1 skill at 1. Then to have all 6 at 3, it only costs 5 XP to raise that last skill to 3 (1->2 costs 2, 2->3 costs 3, total cost 5). He’ll have the same skills but with one extra XP left over.

From a min-max perspective character creation is the only time every skill rank costs the same (1 point out of a pool of 16) while afterward it costs per rank the higher you go, so you want as many 3s as possible at the start (which ends up being 5). By the way, Hermie isn’t really taking advantage of being a late starter in this as you imply; it works just as well for someone starting in Act 1 Scene 1 without any extra XP to do this as well because you end up with a handful of things you’re really good at instead of a lot of things you’re mediocre at. It’s what I did with my character in our RL game too.

Anyway just pointing out something that Hermie and the GM don’t seem to understand very well. You might want to pass that on to them. ;)

In other words if you really want to min-max, do the math. (Though I only recommend min-maxing when it leads to a fun concept or fits your character, otherwise you get a powerful but boring character that isn’t very fun.)
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Re: Question About Experience Points and Advancement

Postby JohnK » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:16 pm

Hullo, ZorValachan,

ZorValachan wrote:Hi JohnK,
Just a couple more thoughts. (You is a general "you - anyone", not a specific JohnK "you")

1.
I also have seen (and sadly been part of as a player) the player-vs-player mentality when XP are earned individually. Even if the party -never- came to blows there was a drive to make it to every game, do all the RPing, etc. just to be ahead of everyone, so if the fight did happen, the player felt thier character could "win".


To be honest, one of the things about gaming that I've seen over the years, both with my players and in other gaming groups, is the "us vs. them" mentality. It largely is about the GM being against the players, though that isn't really what the GM's role is about of course. But that attitude of "conflict with the GM" was also something that I saw players get into with each other, almost like a competitive level of things between players. It took at least a decade for one of my players to get over that, and realise the game wasn't a "me vs. them" competition, let alone a player vs. player competition. That gaming group was better off when it was all said and done, but such is the way of things. The group broke up due to players moving and gaming no longer being a priority around 2001 or so.

ZorValachan wrote:In OT this was the Possibility hoarder (who accumulated the hero cards for those 3 extra Possibilities at the end of the adventure).


I don't think the hoarding of Possibilities (or any other form of token equivalents in other games) is all that unusual among players, and I know it was prevalent at times in old TORG because of how the Experience system worked. A nice improvement in the current game, to be honest. :) I think, for me, it was HOLLOW EARTH EXPEDITION that first showed my players that hoarding [Style Points] didn't work; the more you used them, the more you got in return. In cinematic games such as HEX and Torg Eternity, the use of these tokens is what makes the characters' survival chances better, as well as increasing the players' succeeding at various seemingly difficult or impossible tasks. Takes groups a while to learn that lesson about not hoarding, methinks.

Personally, I do have to wonder whether the getting over hoarding behaviour has something to do with mellowing with age. Eh, what do I know? :)

ZorValachan wrote:2.
In OT I had a house rule that when a character used a skill/attribute they put a "tick" next to it and could only advance skills that they used in that Adventure. If they raised the skill/attribute (I only allowed it to be raised 1 point) they would erase the "tick" and at the end of an adventure erased all ticks after Possibilities were spent. I did this with most games that used advancement for individual traits instead of whole scale "leveling". I also had a "downtime system" between adventures which stated what item could be bought with money and how many things could be advanced/bought by Possibilities to keep the "shopping" sessions to a minimal and one guy trying to do tons of stuff between adventures, while others were only doing a couple.


All I will say about this is that while I started with the earliest version of D&D that came out, I began running the DRAGONQUEST fantasy rpg from SPI in late 1979, early 1980. That system used the rule that you could only increase abilities/skills/spells/etc. that you had used during the previous adventure. It also had great rules for learning new abilities, too. Sometimes I still feel that's the best way to allow increases or gains in abilities.

Ah, well... 'nuff said. :)
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Re: Question About Experience Points and Advancement

Postby JohnK » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:22 pm

Hullo, Kuildeous,

Kuildeous wrote:
JohnK wrote:Well, some would argue that the tougher the opponents you fight, the more XPs you should get.


I used to argue that very fact. But I like to think that I've moved past that.

<snip, snip>

The good news is that I was never one of those people who argued that. I've always felt that the XP or whatever that you get from an encounter or series of encounters isn't because you killed the ogre, robbed the bank, or took on the dragon. It's what you *learned* from what you did, call it wisdom about stuff or whatever you like. I have always tried to fit that philosophy to the game mechanics for XPs with every system I've run. Some more successfully than others, I'll admit.

Kuildeous wrote:So yeah, I can see where someone would say that you should get more XP for more scenes, but there's no rule (not even in oTorg) that you should get 1 XP per scene or something. You get XP for the act, and in some acts you shortcut the adventure and in others you flail about. Unlike D&D, there's no formula for how many XP you get in an encounter, so a nebulous notion of 5 XP for each act (or 2-3 in my case) works just as well as anything else. They could've said 1 XP per act or even 10 XP per act.


Indeed. :)

Kuildeous wrote:The examples utsukushi gave are pretty impressive. I would ask her that if she continues the stories that she includes a player or two losing their characters to show everything(ish).


Yep, utsukushi's examples have been very good and very impressive. Hadn't thought about your latter point, but I'd agree that I'd like to see that as part of the examples as well.
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Re: Question About Experience Points and Advancement

Postby bchoinski » Fri Jul 20, 2018 3:47 pm

utsukushi wrote:OK, let me see if I can do as well as some of the other detailed examples we've had on here...

...clipped

During Act 7, Eric, doubtless driven by his frustrated rage at seeing Brent constantly getting the same bonus just for sitting on animals that he had to pay for in buying Speed Demon so long ago, plays a Martyr card. He valiantly overloads is Gusoku's Lightning Sheath and explodes, destroying their enemies and sealing the temple to end the Act. Everyone gets 5 XP. (total =35) Eric will start the next session with his new character, Psimon the Psionic, who will get 35 XP to start.


I looked at this question in. Old post by calculating two extremes and a middle ground. Our house rule is to basically increase the cost for an initial skill after the initial generation of 40 APP + 16 Skill. This results in a closer balance to older characters that were grown "organically".

Just to be clear, the increased costs apply to all existing characters as well as new ones; a new char would be built normally with normal costs as per a 0 XP newbie, then when applying group XP to get up to speed the increased skill costs apply.


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