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#1 2009-03-12 14:29:25

Project Lead

XP & Leveling

I've been giving some thought to incorporating an XP/Leveling system that accounts for "time" in some form or another. While no such mechanic exists in table top D&D, a real-time gaming environment is decidedly a different universe.

My thinking is as follows:

1. Survival XP
The system will introduce a minimum XP gain rate (XP floor) for all living characters. This will be a small number - mainly supplemental XP - to account simply for the time a character has been alive (passage of time). It will be based on worst case expectations of how much time it should take a player to reach level 20.

This fits generally with the notion that the longer a character has been alive, the higher level they will/should be. This means that the first set of players are most likely the one's that will earn higher stations/positions, but as they die off (age, assassinations, betrayals, etc), new players will have the chance to assume those stations. It should make for a far more realistic and orderly process.

Furthermore, player's that choose to strictly role-play will still earn experience and can level up even if they do nothing else. Characters that plot and manipulate circumstances around them, like the Tywin Lannisters and Petyr Baelish's of the world, are still doing something worthy of earning experience and thus advancement. There will also be other benefits that can be derived from exceptional role play as well, like bonus XP awarded by DMs as well as station/position in the world. So time spent role playing should be time well spent. And the more you do it, the better you will be at it.

Now an argument against this might be that a player doing nothing shouldn't earn any XP. Well, I'm going to take the Marxist position here and accept that a player would prefer to do something over nothing when presented with the opportunity. So, the argument is a moot one for me. The only reason a player would do nothing in a gaming environment isn't a question of choice but rather of circumstance, generally beyond their control.

2. Activity XP
Characters will earn XP for activities they perform. The most common activity in D&D is combat, but that's not the only thing players can do that's challenging. Anything that takes skill, like crafting, riding, haggling, pick pocketing, and so on will earn the player some XP proportional to the difficulty, if that can be derived.

Consequently, players will not need to resort to combat to earn XP. By employing their skills, they will earn XP. And the longer they do it, the more of it they will earn.

Now this is just a very rough idea, but I think it's a far better general system for XP gain than the combat-centric D&D implementation adopted by Bioware and Obsidian. I don't want to force players into combat. Not only is that unrealistic, and thus immersion breaking, for a lot of the character classes in Westeros, combat is also considerably deadlier in Westeros as well. So if combat is the only path available for advancement, then there will be frequent loss of characters and that will undoubtedly disrupt DM plots and ultimately the server story, neither of which is good.

Any thoughts on this? Anything I'm missing?

Beta Is Coming

#2 2009-03-12 15:44:33


Re: XP & Leveling

Super I say. But I would like to point out that you should carefully balance the combat xp vs. the skill xp. How that should be done is another question. In combat, you may lose everything, crafting is at most risking the materials. I see two ways of balancing:
1) Time. Equal time spent = equal xp. 5 min combat gives the same xp as 5 min crafting.
2) Risk. Battle would earn more, as you risk everything. Crafting would yield less as you risk less.

The second makes more sense to me, but then we would force everyone into combat. I don't know which one I would like to be implemented. Someone, please say you have a diffrent idea.

Also, 10 min crafting is much more boring than 10 min fighting. That's true to most skills vs. combat. Only earning xp through skills will be much more boring than fighting your way through. skills are the same most of the time, battle has diffrent opponents and environments.

That's some of my thoughts.


#3 2009-03-12 16:06:44

Project Lead

Re: XP & Leveling

Good thoughts. I would definitely like to factor in difficulty wherever possible to form the basis for *how much* XP one earns from a given activity. If we assume that difficult tasks generally take longer to complete than easy tasks, that by itself should balance out XP gain.

Beta Is Coming

#4 2009-03-13 17:39:03

AGoT Scripter

Re: XP & Leveling

Experience is a way to set the mood of PW. If you only get XP from killing creatures, you can't expect your players to do anything else !

Both Cipher and Ethna have good points.

Players should get XP when they do something challenging. The system I used for Quests can be used for XP. I have listed five different types of activities Players can engaged in on a PW.

Lore – You need some specific knowledge (Maester, Godsworn, Artisan)
Social – You need to charm, to persuade or to intimidate (Noble, Godsworn, Artisan)
Combat – You need to fight (Man at arms, Raider)
Survival – You need to know how to survive outdoors (Hunter, Raider)
Stealth – You need to move silently, pick locks or set traps (Knave, Hunter)

Each challenging action should give XP to a Player. But the amount of XP should depend not only of the difficulty of the action but also if the Player is doing something he excels or sucks at.

For example, a Man at arms will get XP from combat but not as many as a Maester which has just managed to kill a brigand. On the other hand, the Maester will get a few XP points for decrypting a secret message while the Man at arms will get a lot of XP from the same task because his chances of success were very low.

Concerning the "fun factor" of different activities, I have already written about it. The interface of NWN2 can be altered easily. A lot of activities not related to combat should be made into mini games. Like Ethna, I'm don't like craft system where you put everything in a box before clicking on it. The game then makes a craft skill check and tells you if you have succeed.

But let's says you're making a sword. Your sword has three parts. You have different parts to mix. You then should hammer the different parts, then decide to put your sword in the fire to make it hot or put in the cold water to cool it down. Too much hammer strikes and you will break a part, let your sword become too hot and it will melt, let it get too hot and it will bend. You can strike hard or soft ...

See my point ? You turn craft into an art, not a science. Each sword you will make will take a few minutes of your play time and each will be unique. You will remember how many swords you have broken before making the right one. You will have to try and test different methods to make your masterpiece.

Another example, a Maester needs to send a message with a raven. The Maester climb to the rookery, click on a raven and the game just make a handle animal skill check before telling you what happens. No fun here. Now, the Maester has different ravens to choose from, each one with different strenghts and weaknesses. Once the raven is chosen, the Maester is "polymorphed" into the raven and send to an "SOZ map area" where he has to fly his raven to the tower where the message must be delivered. He must avoid predators, hunters, weather hazards, ... This simple basic task becomes a little bit more fun.

Concerning your idea Cipher, just being alive doesn't make you more experience. You must engage in difficult tasks to progress. Routine tasks doesn't make you any better. Challenge is the way to progress.

Just my two cents.

"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."
Westley - Princess Bride

#5 2009-03-13 18:52:26

Project Lead

Re: XP & Leveling

I love your thoughts on crafting, Diwall. Now that's something I hope we can get in-game. big_smile

Regarding challenge as the basis for XP, that's the classic D&D definition of it. My problem with it is that by itself, it doesn't reward anything intangible. Take Petyr Baelish, for example. The master manipulator. He mastered the art of lying, deceiving, plotting, and scheming over many years, but if someone were to play that role in NWN2 - in the classic D&D world - they would never get past level 1. It's too abstract a concept.

Furthermore, many of the high born characters in Westeros have levels in Noble. What challenges are suitable for advancement in that class? Learning etiquette? Proper protocols and decorum? Such behaviors are taught and learned, all of which happens over time.

The truth is, we all learn from doing things, whether they are challenging or not or whether we succeed or not. The best translation I can make for this is that the passage of time should earn a player some basic amount of XP. They won't become super heroes or villains over night, but they will over time...if they live long enough.

In fact, skills like ride, craft, perform, etc should arguably be independent of level so that those improve at their own rate (as a player uses his skills, a la oblivion), but I don't necessarily want to invent an entirely new system here. Just enhance the one we've got.

Anyway, JMHO. Thanks for the feedback.

p.s. And just to reiterate, taking the emphasis away from "having to do stuff to level" reinforces the core focus on role-playing.

Beta Is Coming

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