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[OSR] How vital is gold-as-xp to the OSR "feel?"

Octiron

Pariah
Validated User
I had a bit of an eye-opener conversation with a friend during a playtest of one of my games the other day. He said it was clever but it wasn't OSR, and the reason he gave is that it doesn't use gold as experience. I respect his opinion and he might be right, and I'm perfectly fine with my game not being OSR, and it isn't in that category on drivethru. But... in the back of my head... it is to me. :(

I'm just curious if there are others out there who see gold-as-xp as being so central to capturing the feeling. I know why it appeals, how it changes the goals of play, and to be honest have enjoyed those types of games. So I'm not against it in any way, I just want some opinions on whether it is a defining quality.

Some guidance for this thread:
  • I can google just fine, and have. Please don't toss out some link that came up when you googled it too. I have already read plenty of rando opinions on this, I just want some more.
  • I'm not shilling my game/toolkit here (OUB Core), so if you want to chime in to sneer and call it a heartbreaker, just keep it to yourself and enjoy feeling superior.
  • I am pretty ancient and did a lot of OSR gaming before it was OSR, and had plenty of gold-as-xp adventures and loved it.
 

Kurotowa

Weird Science Nut
Validated User
I reasons I most often see given is that gold-as-XP heavily shapes your play incentives. Combat is deadly but kill-xp is less important than gold-xp, so players are encouraged to avoid combat whenever possible and focus on attaining loot. It also has knock on effects by making all the loot you don't get home a meaningful loss. Paying hirelings and bribing monsters is important for success but has a substantial cost you want to be sure you recoup. All those big encumbering art pieces in the dungeon are a major XP gain if you can overcome the logistical hurdles of carrying them out.

So with all that, I can see why some people would take the attitude that not having gold-xp completely alters the play experience.
 

Octiron

Pariah
Validated User
Yeah I can see that as being pretty much true.

Let's say for arguments sake though; you take dungeon world or 5th edition and mod in gold as experience.

OSR now? ;)
 

Geoff Watson

Registered User
Validated User
It's a reason to aim for treasure.
If loot didn't give XP, and you couldn't buy magic items with it (like most OSR games), it is mostly pointless for adventuring.
Sure, your character may want loot to buy luxuries or retire, but they aren't interesting for the player,
 

Shining Dragon

Tough Tiger Fist
Validated User
I wager many games would lose their OSR label if this was a requirement.

I think The Black Hack does not even have XP.
 

Redbeard67

Registered User
Validated User
One of the alternatives to gold for xp is xp from combat.

If you give experience for combat (or at least enough to warrant the risk), some of the assumptions of dungeon exploring get turned on their head.

Dungeons are supposed to have a ticking clock. While your supplies are limited and that is one ticking clock, the bigger ticking clock is supposed to be the encounter check. A wandering monster should be an unwanted result, a punishment. If xp is given for combat, then the wandering monster is xp on the hoof and welcomed.

And then there is less incentive to be smart about your dungeon exploring, to scout, to map, to gather information from creatures within and rumors from without, to tip toe carefully in the darkness where you don't belong lest you wake the dangers within. You want to make every exploration turn count while you look for your goal in your expedition.
 

Kurotowa

Weird Science Nut
Validated User
I wager many games would lose their OSR label if this was a requirement.
Yeah. I'd say it isn't an absolute pillar, but it is a pillar and removing it should only be done deliberately and with consideration. It's the core element for a playstyle that a lot of OSR fans seem to be specifically seeking out.
 

SuperG

Active member
Validated User
I mean, OSR is whatever people want it to be, there's no police waiting to break down your door and drag you away for making false OSR games.

I think you could remove it and have a game still feel OSR to me, but it would need a replacement. As people have been saying, it's what makes wandering monsters something to curse, it's what makes the games more like dungeon heists than aimless wandering - it does a lot of structural stuff.

And I would totally say that no matter what you replaced it with, it would definitely not feel OSR any more to some people.


But that's fine. Some people have tight definitions, some people have loose definitions, and your own definition is just right for you. :)
 

Alter_Boy

Post Anything
Validated User
Another possible replacement would be 'XP for mapping'. That is, your party gets 1XP for each 5 ft. squared area in an untamed dungeon you map. You can qualify that by only awarding XP for accurate maps (done in visible light for your race, requiring a round per 5 ft. marked down on map, said map must be delivered to a sage to store/reproduce before XP is delivered). This would also encourage an avoidance of combat for combat's sake, but instead of a loot focus, it would be on exploration and would reward players for finding secret doors and new dungeons.
 
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