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Cordo Crowfoot
Here for a while
(3/17/03 3:45 am)
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Shared experience loss idea
A few months back in my game, I instituted a shared experience loss system upon majority player vote. Under this system, experience loss is calculated normally for the character who died, but it is then equally divided between all party members rather than all going to a single person.

In the survey thread I mentioned I am using this system, and Infiniti2000 said:
Quote:
I have to admit though that I am really intrigued by Cordo's method. That idea really promotes teamwork, which is very much needed in this adventure.
...so I thought I would explain how it came about and my thinking on it.

I've always thought the death penalty was harsh, particularly for groups like mine. We meet for two 7-8 hour sessions per month at most. Characters level up once every two months or so. Losing a level and a half right before gaining a level could mean it takes six months just to get back to where you were. Not fun - especially as you can die in 3e through pure bad luck (with critical hits). But I also wanted the players to experience the famous high lethality of RttToEE and didn't want to fudge to keep them alive (any more than absolutely necessary).

So at first I decided to use fixed experience loss (character level x 500xp). But as the campaign went on I started to realize that one reason the character's treasure values might be lagging behind, and that they are starting to far outstrip the target CRs of the areas they were hitting, was because of the reduced death penalty.

Then I had the idea of shared experience loss. It controls general level inflation by still giving large xp hits on death, but since everyone shares them a single player isn't unduly penalized. Our in game justification for this is that the characters swore a vow to one another under the eyes of all their gods that they would see their mission through, and would work togther as one. If this works well, I will probably create a Cleric spell in which players create a true fellowship, with in game benefits, and will probably have the characters marked with a tattoo or all wear an item (probably one that doesn't take up a "slot") to give them even more feeling of belonging to a strong team.

There are other benefits as well. As I2K, points out, it increases teamwork, which was something my group definitely needed. And I think it makes characters behave realistically. Anyone who has read war memoirs (I highly recommend With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge) or watched "Band of Brothers" realizes how horrible it is to see a friend be killed, and how far normal men will go to help wounded friends or even to recover a body.

I've seen way too many games where the other characters are unrealistically mercenary in attitude, not giving a care about the death of another character, even if they are obtensibly of "good" alignment. Again and again in war memoirs, writers mention how the bonds formed in war are stronger than any other friendships they have ever had. Your life is in your buddies' hands and you have responsibility for their lives as well. You spend an inordinate amount of time together. You go through hell together, facing incredible danger and seeing things that most normal people never imagine. Whatever your motivation for originally signing up, your motivation to keep fighting eventually becomes keeping your friends alive. This is a good description of not only infantry in the 20th century, but also the typical D&D adventuring party.

Since I made this change there has been only one death. I realized another advantage of this system at this time. The character who died was the character of a player who wasn't there. With this system I didn't have to worry about him taking a huge xp loss even though it was another player's mistake that got him killed. I've always struggled with this question, as I don't like giving automatic "plot immunity", which some DMs propone.

I can see one drawback in that if a player does something stupid or suicidal and their character dies, everyone is penalized. Also one of my players didn't want to buy in, as he had seen too many dumb actions lead to deaths. If he wasn't leaving the group (he is heading back to the states after next session) I would probably address this by allowing his character to opt out of the fellowship if he so desired, but of course that would mean that he would risk full xp loss if he died.

"They were immediately and absolutely recognizable as adventurers. They were hardy and dangerous, lawless, stripped of allegiance or morality, living off their wits, stealing and killing, hiring themselves out to whoever and whatever came... They were scum who died violent deaths, hanging on to a certain cachet among the impressionable through their undeniable bravery and their occasionally impressive exploits" China Mieville, Perdido Street Station

Cordo Crowfoot
Here for a while
(3/17/03 4:19 am)
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The spell would be something like this...
Fellowship
Transformation
Level: Clr 5
Components: V, S, M, DF
Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Target: One creature/two levels
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)

The cleric forms a magical bond between multiple creatures.

If a member of a Fellowship loses experience due to Raise Dead, Ressurection, Reincarnation, or level drain effects, the lost experience is equally shared between members of the Fellowship. When such a loss occurs, the members are magically aware of what caused the loss (name and reason for the loss).

Joining a Fellowship is a spiritual commitment. Potential members of the Fellowship must truly wish to become part of it to join it. No creature can unwillingly be forced to become part of a Fellowship, even if it is dominated or otherwise coerced into agreeing.

There can be no more than three experience levels of difference between the highest and lowest members of a Fellowship. (1) If at any time more than three levels of experience difference occurs between the members, the Fellowship loses its magical effect until the situation is corrected, possibly through member removal (see below).

No creature can belong to more than one Fellowship. If a creature that is already in an existing Fellowship takes part in the spell, the membership to the previous Fellowship is dissolved.

A creature can remove themself from a Fellowship at any time with a mental command, but removal is permanent. (2)

Upon the agreement and mental command of all the other members of a Fellowship, a member can be forcibly removed. (3).

Upon formation of a Fellowship, a tattoo image unique to the Fellowship (most often a symbol reflecting the name of the group) appears on a previously agreed upon area of each creature's body.

Material component: 200gp of diamond dust/member, and a drop of blood from each Fellowship member

______________________________________________

1) Not sure about what the exact limit should be. I would think something like this would be necessary to prevent abuse such as having your cohorts or random beggars you hire off the streets become part of a Fellowship. Much of this could probably be avoided through DMs saying the creature doesn't truly wish to be part of a Fellowship, but it would avoid player whining "but my two cohorts really love my PC and would form a Fellowship with him, no question!")

2) Not sure if this should have a time limit or not. Being instantaneous raises the risk that a player will "prepare an action to mentally remove myself from the Fellowship if it looks like X is going to die". But otherwise there might be a risk of someone using Wights to permanently level drain a captured member of a Fellowship, and people not being able to remove themselves in time to prevent huge xp loss. Capping the amount of shared experience loss/day/member might address this as well...

3) This is what you can do if one of the members turns into a bad apple, if someone is taken prisoner and you are afraid they will get the energy drain treatment, etc.

Edited by: Cordo Crowfoot at: 3/17/03 4:31:24 am
Ztyx
Looking around
(3/17/03 7:43 am)
Reply
Re: The spell would be something like this...
(1) is good also since the xp losses for a low level character when a high level 'fellow' dies could be enough to place them at negative xp total, then what?

(2) could be exchanged with - a member can try to resist 'sharing the pain of death' by making a successful (will)saving throw when the issue appears, this will break the spell, possibly at the cost of a (temporary) negative level.

(3) could be subsumed into (2), meaning that if you get a bad ally you weren't careful enough in the screening of prospects. Maybe a dying character could try to 'keep his death private' with a save (will or fort) and evict himself, probably without cost.

Also the tattoo should be able to be invisible or astral, for those wanting/needing secrecy.

But else I liked your idea about 'the gods'. Not everything (IMC) needs to be codified, as long as it is clear to all how it works, or what the spirit of the arrangement is.
'Fellowship' could be changed into a ritual of 'blood brotherhood' which has a clear and fixed place in many mythoi, and your rules of shared xp loss could be a (partial) explanation of what makes such an oath so strong.
But the rules would demand a spell (in effect the priest would act as a divine 'witness' or a wiz/sorc would act as a channel to an outsider setting up the bond) but I'm not skilled in adjudicating spells, so I'll leave that part to someone else.

Nice idea there :)

Cordo Crowfoot
Here to stay
(3/21/03 8:02 pm)
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Re: The spell would be something like this...
Quote:
(2) could be exchanged with - a member can try to resist 'sharing the pain of death' by making a successful (will)saving throw when the issue appears, this will break the spell, possibly at the cost of a (temporary) negative level.
I'm not sure it would be good if people were able to easily opt out, I would normally make it so there no chance to opt out to avoid xp loss at all, but want to cover the possibility if a captured member is forcibly energy drained or something of the like.
Quote:
Maybe a dying character could try to 'keep his death private' with a save (will or fort) and evict himself, probably without cost.
This is a very good idea.
Quote:
Also the tattoo should be able to be invisible or astral, for those wanting/needing secrecy.
I was aware of this factor, but thought that would be an interesting drawback to the spell, that you are potentially identifiable to your enemies as a member of a fellowship. Of course the tattoo could be small and on the inner arm or some other inconspicous place. Also if tattoos are not unusual, and mercenary companies and the like get them, then only a detect magic would give it away.

The guy from Belgium
Here for a while
(3/22/03 9:12 am)
Reply
Re: The spell would be something like this...
after some debate, my party is willing to test the new system:

in case of a death, i calculate the xp loss

the dead character takes half the penalty (still a steep price)

the rest of the character (4 of them) each take a quarter of the other half

in this way, teamplay is encouraged (no one is allowed to die anymore)

and the group's average level stays the same, no one lagging too far behind (the monk has already died twice and such in my campaign)

they've all agreed to this, but thought that sharing the entire amount was making a mockery of death, it would take away the penalty and demote teamplay, since everyone lost the same amount of xp anyway

i'll see how this goes and post updates as deaths unfold...

the assassination attempt by victor is coming up... :evil

that's the beauty of this system: freak deaths are not penalised too heavily (random encounter death, assassination, trap, etc...)

like i said: i'll keep ya posted ;)

Threedub
Looking around
(3/22/03 10:48 am)
Reply
Re: The spell would be something like this...
Great idea! I am always looking for ways to encourage "in character" reasons for teamwork. I've made the following changes/additions (but I posted the whole thing again as I've altered it, because I'm essentially lazy).

Fellowship
Transformation
Level: Clr 5
Components: V, S, M, DF
Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Target: One creature/two caster levels (max 10 creatures)
Duration: Permanent
Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)

The cleric forms a magical bond between multiple creatures. Each member of the Fellowship must have an Intelligence and Wisdom of at least 10 or cannot be effected. If members fall below those limits later, they are not automatically removed.

If a member of a Fellowship loses experience due to Raise Dead, Resurrection, Reincarnation, or level drain effects (henceforth referred to as the primary character), half of the lost experience goes to the primary character, while the other half is split equally among the members of the Fellowship. When such a loss occurs, the members are magically aware of what caused the loss (name of primary character and reason for the loss). It is possible that some characters could be hit with multiple level loss if a much higher level member of the Fellowship is the primary character. This loss could result in permanent death if their experience drops below zero. Any member of the Fellowship that is on a different plane as the primary character are not effected by the level loss. If no member of the Fellowship is on the same plane, the total experience loss is applied to the primary character.

Joining a Fellowship is a spiritual commitment. Potential members of the Fellowship must truly wish to become part of it to join it. No creature can unwillingly be forced to become part of a Fellowship, even if it is dominated or otherwise coerced into agreeing.

No creature can belong to more than one Fellowship. A creature that is already in an existing Fellowship that takes part in a new Fellowship spell automatically breaks the new casting and receives a permanent level loss that applies only to that character. The membership to the previous Fellowship remains. A character with Intelligence and Wisdom of at least 3 is always aware if they are a member of a Fellowship.

A living creature can remove themselves from a Fellowship at any time with a mental command. Removal is permanent and that character receives an experience loss equal to ˝ the amount to reach his current level (for example to reach 10th level from 9th requires 9,000 experience, a 10th level character would lose 4,500 experience). The remaining members of the Fellowship instantly know when another member has removed themselves.

A dead character can be effected by the Fellowship loss, if they are returned to life within 48 hours of the previous experience loss. Otherwise a creature must be living to be part of a Fellowship.

Upon the agreement and mental command of all the other members of a Fellowship, a member can be forcibly removed with no experience loss. The complete Fellowship could be disbanded this way with no loss of experience by any members.

Upon formation of a Fellowship, a tattoo image unique to the Fellowship (most often a symbol reflecting the name of the group) appears on a previously agreed upon area of each creature's body. It may also be visible or invisible as chosen at the time of casting. This symbol is magical in nature but does not appear under Detect Magic or similar spells. It is visible with True Seeing or see Invisibility (if Invisible) though it can be covered with clothing or other items as normal to shield from those spells.

Material component: 200gp of diamond dust/member, a drop of blood from each Fellowship member, all mixed with wine valued at at least 100gp/bottle. There must be enough wine for each member to consume a glass full (assume one bottle of wine will serve 8 glasses). Once touched, any member that does not consume the drink or succeeds in resisting (SR and Will saves can be failed automatically if wished) the spell is broken for the entire group.

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