Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Naked Chick Warriors

If you're not familiar with my experience system, before reading further I suggest taking a glance here and here.

There is a strange element of this system that has come to light in the last year or so, as enough time has passed now to compare how certain classes are affected.  Fighters, as it happens, do quite well with the system - but since fighters in general need more to go up levels than clerics, druids, thieves, assassins and even mages and illusionists after a certain level, this works out nicely.

But it really depends on how safe a fighter plays it.

Consider:  if you gain 20 x.p. every time you take a point of damage, it follows that the better your armor class, the less damage you'll take, and the less experience you'll get.  Proposed:  an orc has three chances to attack you using a short sword befpre you're able to kill it (we'll suppose your fighter can take 18 damage and live).  Here's your likely gained experience from the orc depending upon your armor class:

figure 1

That's a significant spread - and interesting since, supposing you can take 18 damage, even with the worst armor class possible you're likely to lose less than half your hit points.  The gentle reader should note that in the above table, the fighter is assumed to be fighting alone - and thus is gaining the 20 x.p. for each point of damage, PLUS the addition 20 x.p. bonus points for being present in the fight.  Also, it does not take into account the average of 45 x.p. gained from killing the orc, assuming it has hit points equal to one 8-sided hit die.  (The reader did read the links carefully, right?)

When you fight alone using my system, you really rack up the experience.

(I should pause and point out that the experience gained from killing an orc in the DMG is something like 14 total).

So, the fighter that plays it safe is going to go up levels a lot slower than the fighter that takes risks.  If we add the 45 x.p. average for the orc to the total damage, the fighter in plate mail has to kill 16 orcs in one-to-one combat (on average), while the fighter wearing no armor at all has to kill only 6.

Obviously, this doesn't stop players in my world from rushing to the best armor class they can find.  Living longer means they can rack up more damage against enemies before getting cut down, and that's usually what happens.  A fighter lasting longer takes awhile to make those 10 x.p. per point hits count, but its safer.

However, here is something else to think about.

Remember, I said that the bonus 20 x.p. was also going to the same fighter in the above example, because that fighter was alone.  But what if the fighter isn't alone?  What then?

Suppose the fighter is with a party of four - what is the spread on experience then?  Well, let's separate out the bonus from the fighter's personal gain and see:

figure 2
Basically, if you're playing it safe, you're screwing your associates out of experience.  The mage or cleric standing behind you gets a lot more knowledge about life and combat watching your limbs get hewn from your body if you're not gussied up in plate armor.  Not all that nice, but certainly interesting.

I don't think there's a player alive who'd be willing to trade in his or her better armor just so the tag-alongs can get a bit more experience - thus it begs the question:  is this fair?

Damn right it's fair.  No one can argue that it isn't hugely more vicariously rewarding to watch people get themselves cut to ribbons than to watch swords bounce off shields and breastplates.  That is, assuming that the cleric or the mage behind the fighter are also taking part in the battle (crowds in the stands at gladiatorial shows, not taking part, get no experience - but its a nice afternoon for them).  If the cleric is watching the fighter's blood pouring out, this spurs the cleric to greater, more frenzied action (one hopes), compelling the non-fighter character to get into the fight and spare the fighter some of that nasty damage.  Overall, the party benefits when the fighter isn't clothed in iron ... and doesn't that bring up some marvelous conceptual ideals where it comes to fantasy imagery?

Turns out, Conan's followers did a lot better than King Arthur's, since Conan was half-naked most of the time.  Turns out, the chain link bra worn by Red Sonja was there to bestow benefits on the followers beyond a frenzied hard on!

Unless, of course, you're not buying it.  Eh, whatever.  If it justifies a naked chick warrior, I'm all for it.


Arduin said...

Certainly an interesting caveat of the system. Having adopted it myself, I've heard players mentioning grabbing a level or two to buff HP, then just wrist-slitting themselves up to the next levels.

Naturally, I'm just waiting for some dolt to try it so that I may politely inform them that being a suicidal twat does not actually count as combat experience.

JDJarvis said...

Sounds like your exp system calculates risk vs reward for the style of fantasy gaming you are speaking of here.

I just wonder: What are the odds of the naked warrior surviving long enough to be a lord of Iron suited warriors?

Alexis said...


Excellent, if you understand how the movement system works.

Andrej said...

I've been thinking something along these lines as I consider my next character for youre online game. Do rangers in your world get the 2 8-sided hit-die at first level, and with these extra hit points given so early on, have you noticed a lightly-clad ranger faring well in your other games in terms of XP?

Alexis said...

Rangers do start with 2d8 for hit points ... and when you consider that the usual constitution bonus is applied to BOTH hit dice, and add in the hit points for mass that is part of my system, a 1st level human ranger with an 18 constitution begins the game with 25-32 hit points.

And still I haven't seen even a ranger willing to be lightly clad.

While you're considering classes with hit points, I should add that my monks use a d6 for hit dice and not a d4, and they also get 2d6 to start. They are unclad, and although the Player's Handbook starts them with an AC of 10, I start them two better, with an AC of 8 (they don't get dex bonuses to armor class). Thus a human monk with a 16 con(they can't get a better constitution bonus than +2) begins the game with 17-24 hit points.

Andrej said...

Much to consider still, and of course rolls still need to be made. Much thanks.

micahblackburn said...

Interesting system. I like the idea.

Out of curiosity, do you still reward xp for treasure.

Also, how do you deal with xp for spells like Charm Person? They 'defeat' the opponent, without killing them (or a Sleep spell assuming you don't want to slit the throats of your opponents).

Alexis Smolensk said...

I do give XP for treasure. There was a recent post about that, here.

I don't give experience if there is no damage done. I don't care if it's a spell or a weapon. But if you obtain treasure via charm person or sleep, I give experience for that.