The old campaign: Senex.
The new campaign: Juvenis.
I thought for a long time about what to call them, without the new people feeling downtrodden. Latin seemed best. And so did trying to do it on two blogs, as I have tried two campaigns on one blog and it is confusing. All previous campaigns to now can be found in the back pages of the Senex blog.
Running a campaign is, I think, a huge help in blogging. It reminds me of things that need to be done, it pushes me to get them done and it pushes me to address issues that players have a tendency to take for granted.
For example, experience. For those not familiar with my experience rules, for the purpose of this post I suggest reading them. The key element here is that I award experience for damage caused, not for kills. This means that two combatants can slam away at one another, then quit fighting, and both get experience for the conflict.
This is critical, I think, to a philosophy of what experience is and how it is gathered.
In the old system, for example, where monsters or opponents have to be killed, experience is a limited resource. There are only so many monsters and only so many people to kill them, so any experience I gain is necessarily experience you cannot. Moreover, it presumes that the ONLY experience that can be gained is accomplished by murderers . . . and since we know that the general population do not go out and kill things, it is reasonable to presume that the general population has zero experience.
In my system, however, two boys punching each other out in a schoolyard are gaining experience. Which is exactly what happens ~ remember that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. The grit and passion of the British Soldier at Kandahar, in the Sudan and as they marched into the guns at Concord was founded by a school system that supported a degree of physical violence that gave the Brit "mettle." A combat system for D&D ought to reflect that ruffians and hooligans in a bar, who may not have killed anyone, must still be capable of putting up a hell of a fight.
I challenge anyone to offer evidence that the strength and power of any army was based on how many soldiers it killed; fighting forces are founded in discipline, resolve, a sense of home and family ~ in short, nothing that is measured in actual deaths but everything that is measured in pounding, bruising and kicking a military force into being fit and trim.
Which brings me to the next point. How much experience is out there? If experience is awarded according as I've suggested it ought to be, there is no zero sum game. The amount of experience in the world is a factorial of every person in existence and how much conflict they engender.
To put this into perspective, take the European War that finishes just before the time my world takes place: the 30 Years War. From Wikipedia:
"The war ranks with the worst famines and plagues as the greatest medical catastrophe in modern European history. Lacking good census information, historians have extrapolated the experience of well-studied regions. John Theibault agrees with the conclusions in Günther Franz's Der Dreissigjährige Krieg und das Deutsche Volk (1940), that population losses were great but varied regionally (ranging as high as 50%) and says his estimates are the best available. The war killed soldiers and civilians directly, caused famines, destroyed livelihoods, disrupted commerce, postponed marriages and childbirth, and forced large numbers of people to relocate. The reduction of population in the German states was typically 25% to 40%. Some regions were affected much more than others. For example, Württemberg lost three-quarters of its population during the war. In the territory of Brandenburg, the losses had amounted to half, while in some areas, an estimated two-thirds of the population died. The male population of the German states was reduced by almost half. The population of the Czech lands declined by a third due to war, disease, famine, and the expulsion of Protestant Czechs. Much of the destruction of civilian lives and property was caused by the cruelty and greed of mercenary soldiers. Villages were especially easy prey to the marauding armies. Those that survived, like the small village of Drais near Mainz, would take almost a hundred years to recover. The Swedish armies alone may have destroyed up to 2,000 castles, 18,000 villages, and 1,500 towns in Germany, one-third of all German towns."
Sobering stuff. For our purposes, I'll try to hedge on the conservative side. The beginning of the article quoted suggests eight million died. We'll say that's 25% of the total population involved ~ German, French, Slavic, Polish, Swedish and so on.
My experience system awards 20 experience for every point of received damage; it also awards a 20 experience bonus that is divided among the witnesses of received damage, as well as the casualty or victim. Thus, you get experience just from watching another person die, or suffer a great injury, or otherwise come to harm. Consider the ramifications. You also get 10 experience from causing a hit point of damage to another person.
The next step would be to estimate the number of hit points involved in the conflict described above. Remember, we're not just talking about the total number of hit points of people actually killed, but also the number of hit points that were caused in damage, healed, then were damaged again. Over and over.
We can deliberate upon such numbers all day, but I'm going to offer a conservative estimate. Let's say that among the 32 million people involved, over the space of 30 years, from 1618 to 1648, each person took an average of 2 hit points of damage per year. Some of that average is in the form of people who died from the damage and some from people who were only wounded . . . and leaves plenty of room for both high level types who have up to 100 hit points to lose and people who lost no hit points at all throughout the entire conflict. And here we are only counting damage actually done to people deliberately. We're not talking about people who fell off horses or who died in fires set by soldiers, or those who perished by disease (though arguably, witnessing someone dying from disease is experience, since most of us who have had something like that with close relatives come away from it being changed deeply)
This gives us a total of 64 million hit points times 30 years, or 1.92 billion hit points. That is 1.92 billion hit points caused, 1.92 billion hit points received and potentially 1.92 billion hit points witnessed.
We will, however, have to remove a quarter of the hit points received ~ those people who received them are dead, so they are not part of the pool of living experience that we're calculating. So we are speaking only of 1.44 billion hit points received by people who are still alive.
We could quibble about people who died of other causes over the years, age for instance ~ but this is why I am proposing the very conservative 2 hit points per year estimate. That is pretty conservative. The town of Manchester accumulates more hit points damage than that when United wins.
Adding it all together, this gives us a total of 72 billion experience . . . shared, of course, among the remaining 24 million population (not 32 ~ 8 million of those died.). That is an average of 3,000 experience per person. Per every person who was involved in that struggle. Peasants too!
This makes 2nd to 3rd level the average level among people who participated. That includes every mercenary soldier who came home to Sweden, Norway, Spain and Greece, every bartender in the Holy Roman Empire, every wench, every peddler, every child, every grandmother.
When you walk past a person on a road in Hannover, you have no idea what the person has been through! What they've seen, what they've had to do, what kind of measures they've taken to keep their family alive, what skills they've accumulated and how dark might be the deepest corners of their soul. When you walk past anyone on the road, worry. You don't know them.
I wish I could make this clear to players. They have a tendency to think they're the only people in the world who ever experienced violence.