Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Are You Experienced?

On aspect of D&D as it was in the late 70s through to the late 80s that still causes people to hmm and hrrrrr is that of experience, or rather, how experience points are gained.  In Basic and Advanced (1E) D&D, most of a character's experience points come from treasure.  Not from slaying beasties, not from rescuing Princesses (or Princes if you want to be more modern), not from being all heroic, not from saving this world, or that world, or recovering the Chalice of Xgyzzzy, no.  Common thievery.  Getting rich.  Grabbing loot and legging it. Smashing an Orc got you about 15xp, 20 Orcs got you 300, robbing their chest containing 2000gp got you 2000xp!

The emphasis of RPGs has changed significantly.  In 1980 it was primarily a case of hire cannon fodder, follow cannon fodder into dungeon, cannon fodder (and several party members) get slaughtered by overwhelming numbers of foul things, run, divide loot between surviving party members, then repeat...  By 1985 Tracy Hickman had happened.  Dragonlance was taking over the world, and now adventures were all about following a storyline.  Characters had destinies to fulfill and were meant to survive to achieve that greatness.  And for the most part it was a good and/or holy destiny, backed up by benevolent deities, ridding the world of all that is horrid.  Thievery still existed as there was still loot to harvest, but it was always in the name of a good cause.

Thus it was no surprise that when D&D was cleansed to appease the dribbling pond life that were burning entire libraries of their children's cherished gaming books, experience for loot was punted into history.  Unless you were a Rogue PC, but that was an optional rule. And thus it has been so ever since.  From 1989 onwards, PCs got their experience points from slaying beasties and being heroic, and generally doing good stuff to further the plot.

It's all good, right?  Because getting 'experience' for gold pieces was stupid and illogical right?


The assumption when one hears the term 'experience points' is that adventurers get better at their craft through the process of adventuring, and when they reach a certain point they just get that bit more Conan/Hercules/Merlin-like in their prowess.

That's illogical.  Well done, you've killed 500 Orcs, now you can learn one more spell!

'Experience Points' is a term that has lasted in RPGs, most seem to have them of some variety, and their purpose is usually pretty much the same.  But in AD&D 1E, it was not a good choice of words.

In 1E you got better through training, and money paid for that training. The purpose of adventuring was to get rich, to pay for training, to enable you to get richer.  Slaying monsters only made you slightly better, getting the money made you much better - because you spent it getting someone better than you to show you a piece of their knowledge.  They should have been called 'training points'.

Now that's logical.

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