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

BrightOwl

Who?
Validated User
(SNIP original post...)
So, I briefly looked through your game. You very specifically did not ask for folks to do this, so I hope it's okay to share my thoughts here. Apologies if this is unwanted. I did not do a close read at all but I did try and make a determination about my own opinion regarding the "OSRishness" of your heartbreaker.

Firstly, whenever I look through an OSR game, I have a specific goal. Is there a rule I can steal and stitch into my own set of houserules, making them a more perfect Frankenstein's game? And I found that rule. Almost immediately.

I will be using your "Gambit" rules. Maybe not in every game I run, but often. I don't know if it's an original rule of your own creation or just something you took from somewhere else. Either way, it's a great rule. Very possibly the best rule for critical success and failure that I've seen. Very good. Made the reading worthwhile all on its own. Thank you for that.

So, by that determination your game definitely meets my DIY/OSR needs.

On the whole though, I think you're right to not call this an OSR game. Too many small changes. The way you calculate hit points is a big deviation. And your attributes. Not only do you drop the 3-18 spread (and rolled attributes entirely!), but you eliminate one attribute entirely and split another into two. No classes. Nothing even vaguely resembling Vancian spellcasting. All of this is very fine, but all together it pushes things out of the admittedly vague OSR box and into a more independent space.

But this has nothing to do with the XP system, which is great. And also includes two variants of gp-as-xp as optional rules. Right in the text. So it's weird how people focus on different things as their determining factors. For your friend, it's counting xp based on something concrete. For me, it's the original ability scores, which may be renamed or retooled but should not be eliminated. Heh.

I can absolutely see how it would feel OSR to you, however. You know where you started and probably made all of these changes incrementally. The game never lost that primordial feel to you. But speaking as somebody who looks only at the endpoint, I think you're looking at an original game more than any kind of retro D&D. There's very limited compatibility without significant conversion, which to me is the most important factor.

I didn't have time to dig into the specifics of your magic system but I look forward to doing so. I am certain that I'll find more rules and ideas to steal.

The game was much better than I expected with a $1 pricetag. You could probably go PWYW and make a bit more money.

In closing, I'll leave you with something I absolutely loved. In the description for Charisma you include this sentence: "Those who want to become legends will invest here."

That's brilliant.
 

komradebob

Registered User
Validated User
Did everyone here read the Fellowship of the Bling threads here a long while back?

I only mention it because the GM used the old B/X XP rules, where loot was the main source of XPs.

The XPs for defeating critters got handed out simply for encountering them, a broader interpretation admittedly, but one I like.

I mention it, because if you track it down and read through the thread, you'll really start to appreciate how little "Kill XPs" are really worth.

For example, a dragon, IIRC, is worth around 800 XPs. 800 XPs divided by the number of party members. Yeah.

That's why you can get away with just handing those XPs out for simply encountering and interacting with the critters, no combat necessary. Heck, you could give out those XPs for encountering the critter and running away from said critter! And it would be fine.

My real point though is that if you remove XPs for Gold ( totally understandable) you need to also mess with every other source of XPs to get the right balance without creating perverse incentives. Similarly, if you remove the End Game or heavily modify it, then you also mess with the point of GPs in play ( for better or worse).
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
I definitely agree that concrete metrics for XP gain are major for driving player incentives and providing the players with a tool by which to interact with the campaign world. But if the goal is a more heroic frame, then under those circumstances it's not unreasonable to shift to an XP framework that doesn't necessarily hinge upon maximizing retrieval-from-dungeon. (Of course, one might then want to find some other framework that incentivizes that sort of tension...)
Honestly, I'm not sold that if you're genuinely trying for a heroic feel that a concrete connection is going to make sense; heroes usually aren't about anything physical, but about a result, and in some cases a long-term one; they may care about treasure and other things as a means to an end, but that end isn't likely to be easily counted incrementally, and only physically under limited circumstances.

So I really do think in those cases you need to award experience based on various sorts of events, and if that doesn't seem old-school enough for some, I have to conclude they don't think heroic play and old school games are really compatible.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
My real point though is that if you remove XPs for Gold ( totally understandable) you need to also mess with every other source of XPs to get the right balance without creating perverse incentives. Similarly, if you remove the End Game or heavily modify it, then you also mess with the point of GPs in play ( for better or worse).
This, on the other hand, I agree with completely.
 

Octiron

Pariah
Validated User
So, I briefly looked through your game. You very specifically did not ask for folks to do this, so I hope it's okay to share my thoughts here. Apologies if this is unwanted. I did not do a close read at all but I did try and make a determination about my own opinion regarding the "OSRishness" of your heartbreaker.

Firstly, whenever I look through an OSR game, I have a specific goal. Is there a rule I can steal and stitch into my own set of houserules, making them a more perfect Frankenstein's game? And I found that rule. Almost immediately.

I will be using your "Gambit" rules. Maybe not in every game I run, but often. I don't know if it's an original rule of your own creation or just something you took from somewhere else. Either way, it's a great rule. Very possibly the best rule for critical success and failure that I've seen. Very good. Made the reading worthwhile all on its own. Thank you for that.

So, by that determination your game definitely meets my DIY/OSR needs.

On the whole though, I think you're right to not call this an OSR game. Too many small changes. The way you calculate hit points is a big deviation. And your attributes. Not only do you drop the 3-18 spread (and rolled attributes entirely!), but you eliminate one attribute entirely and split another into two. No classes. Nothing even vaguely resembling Vancian spellcasting. All of this is very fine, but all together it pushes things out of the admittedly vague OSR box and into a more independent space.

But this has nothing to do with the XP system, which is great. And also includes two variants of gp-as-xp as optional rules. Right in the text. So it's weird how people focus on different things as their determining factors. For your friend, it's counting xp based on something concrete. For me, it's the original ability scores, which may be renamed or retooled but should not be eliminated. Heh.

I can absolutely see how it would feel OSR to you, however. You know where you started and probably made all of these changes incrementally. The game never lost that primordial feel to you. But speaking as somebody who looks only at the endpoint, I think you're looking at an original game more than any kind of retro D&D. There's very limited compatibility without significant conversion, which to me is the most important factor.

I didn't have time to dig into the specifics of your magic system but I look forward to doing so. I am certain that I'll find more rules and ideas to steal.

The game was much better than I expected with a $1 pricetag. You could probably go PWYW and make a bit more money.

In closing, I'll leave you with something I absolutely loved. In the description for Charisma you include this sentence: "Those who want to become legends will invest here."

That's brilliant.
Thanks - it's $1 now cause it's just beta playtest, and only mid-way through that. When I finally get to version 1 I will start pricing it appropriately as well as kickstart/add proper art and editing. Unfortunately making it PWYW attracts ratings trolls like flies, something I ran into with another game and which a lot of indie devs on twitter and elsewhere are really bothered by. So instead of PWYW/free I put $1 up as a hater-gate.

As to calling it OSR, yeah you probably pegged the real issue. Gold-as-xp is more of less the straw that broke the camels back rather than a deciding factor in itself. It diverges wildly in many ways.

Still, this is a fun thread even if I was probably a little misguided bringing it up as if it were the real issue.
 
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Allandaros

Validated Parking
Validated User
Honestly, I'm not sold that if you're genuinely trying for a heroic feel that a concrete connection is going to make sense; heroes usually aren't about anything physical, but about a result, and in some cases a long-term one; they may care about treasure and other things as a means to an end, but that end isn't likely to be easily counted incrementally, and only physically under limited circumstances.

So I really do think in those cases you need to award experience based on various sorts of events, and if that doesn't seem old-school enough for some, I have to conclude they don't think heroic play and old school games are really compatible.
1) I've written up one framework for pro-social actions and improving the lives of others feeding into XP, and I think that there can definitely be others out there.

2) I don't think that XP has to be linked to something physical, as much as there ought to be some sort of codified and objectively assessable metric that players can rely upon for gauging "success." Maybe it's exploration, but I'd want something more regimented than Jeff's eXPloration post, because the XP values there are eyeballed and somewhat arbitrarily applied. (Not that I don't think Jeff can't eyeball shit, but because I want tools that I can use, and I don't feel like I can eyeball shit like that.)

3) The reason I think that having that sort of explicit benchmark is important is because it feeds into allowing player freedom and agency in how they set and accomplish their objectives in a campaign. (And I think that player freedom and agency is 100% compatible with heroic play.)

4) (apologies if this comes across as a bit blunt but it's been a long day) As I think I've indicated across multiple threads, I have no interest in fighting over whether something is "truly old school enough,"take an expansive view of what folks can and ought to consider in OSR influences (hint: it ain't just D&D), and have no interest in telling someone that they're playing things wrong. If it works for them, it works for them. Relatedly, I completely concur with the idea that there ought to be more West Coast D&D influence and creation in the OSR space, and again have said so across multiple threads.

To that end, if you're talking with me, I'd really appreciate it if you avoided the "well, if THAT doesn't seem old-school enough for some..." framings.
 

Shade the Lost

Registered User
Validated User
In fairness, I will concede that coming up with a codified and objectively assessable metric for gauging success is between difficult and impossible when it comes to the topic of what makes one action more heroic than another. Is it more heroic to turn down the reward for a quest or donate it to charity? Is it still heroic if the PCs are rewarded for donating monetary rewards (that a city or organization can undoubtedly use more effectively than they can) with magic items the organization has little ability to use, but the PCs might well badly need? Heroism is going to be entirely in the eyes of the specific table, I fear.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
1) I've written up one framework for pro-social actions and improving the lives of others feeding into XP, and I think that there can definitely be others out there.
Note I was talking about the idea of having, from lack of a better term, a "physical representation" (i.e. the books in the information search). You can make that one work under some sorts of campaign structure (getting XP every time you get one of the Hundred Gems needed to defeat the Dark Lord), but for plenty of them its going to be the kind of thing you talk about which is real, but immaterial.

2) I don't think that XP has to be linked to something physical, as much as there ought to be some sort of codified and objectively assessable metric that players can rely upon for gauging "success." Maybe it's exploration, but I'd want something more regimented than Jeff's eXPloration post, because the XP values there are eyeballed and somewhat arbitrarily applied. (Not that I don't think Jeff can't eyeball shit, but because I want tools that I can use, and I don't feel like I can eyeball shit like that.)
I guess I'm not sure you can get something like that that isn't, in the end, kind of arbitrary. That doesn't mean there can't be a bit more specific guidelines, of course. But the borders are bound to be kind of fuzzy.



3) The reason I think that having that sort of explicit benchmark is important is because it feeds into allowing player freedom and agency in how they set and accomplish their objectives in a campaign. (And I think that player freedom and agency is 100% compatible with heroic play.)
Hmmm. I guess it depends how broadly you define "freedom and agency". I've certainly seen people who's apparent definitions didn't seem to. But then, I've seen people who were of the opinion that you couldn't run a "proper" RPG that constrained player choices in any way (being members of a police force, for example).

4) (apologies if this comes across as a bit blunt but it's been a long day) As I think I've indicated across multiple threads, I have no interest in fighting over whether something is "truly old school enough,"take an expansive view of what folks can and ought to consider in OSR influences (hint: it ain't just D&D), and have no interest in telling someone that they're playing things wrong. If it works for them, it works for them. Relatedly, I completely concur with the idea that there ought to be more West Coast D&D influence and creation in the OSR space, and again have said so across multiple threads.

To that end, if you're talking with me, I'd really appreciate it if you avoided the "well, if THAT doesn't seem old-school enough for some..." framings.
To be clear, that was more directed at a general idea; if I was aiming it anyone specific, it was Jack Daniel. Your post was just the jump-off for it.
 
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Baron Opal

Registered User
Validated User
I actually like gold as xp far better than death as xp, but I honestly haven't actually noticed much actual difference in player behavior from either.
Don't forget that xp was awarded for combat and loot, in something close to a 1:3 ratio.

It was stated in the 1e DMG that awarding xp for loot, aside from contributing to the resource management and the avoidance of wandering encounters part of the game, was to abstract xp for class specific roles. Everyone would be fighting, so everyone received a benefit from combat xp. But, it would be tedious to develop rules and awards for theifing, clericing, and magicing. The xp for gold rule nicely abstracted what people did in their down time that might otherwise earn xp through spending the gold.
 

WistfulD

Registered User
Validated User
I'd agree 100% with this. I and a large number of gamers I know consider, for example, both Traveller and Runequest to be OSR games. While money / credits can be very central to the game, neither does "gold = XP". Hell, Traveller has even been accused of not having an experience system at all! Way too often people conflate OSR with D&D clones, and that's a definition of OSR I personally could never accept.
I would argue that Traveller is a perfect example of the gp=xp model. Money (and funds-purchasable equipment) are the primary method by which the characters get better at adventuring, and adventuring is predominantly done towards the goal of acquiring more money. The sci-fi universe simply sets up a more straightforward link between the treasure gained and how it advances the characters, not needing an intermediary mechanism.
 
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