I'm still writing bard posts. Here I'd like to address a problem that came up the last time around as I stumbled over bard mechanics for artwork experience gains. Fundamentally it is this: if art has been created over a very long period of time and exists all over the world, and if seeing, hearing or otherwise experiencing art can contribute experience to your character, why not just wander around, look at stuff and go up levels?
Remember that the idea of experience being transmitted through art came about as a desire to make bard creations meaningful. Spend a lot of time as a bard creating something, affect others. Simple. But given that the transmission of experience would apparently break the system, some kind of limitation is necessary ~ and in the end, I did not like any of the limitations I proposed when I wrote the linked post above in early April.
As such, I'd like to try again.
Now, this "fix" may seem contrived, it may seem impractical for a more localized world than mine, but I'm only concerned that it provides a measurable limitation for the viewing of art outside the party's personal creation. The idea is more or less based on the idea that the bard you know can be more effective in transferring experience (as a player character bard has relatively the same perspective on life) than a lot of old, disconnected artists producing stuff the characters are perceived to see as less meaningful. Some will disagree; but like the concept, don't like the concept, I'll go ahead and describe it as best I can.
First and foremost, we want a measure that can be used to determine how much experience a player character can gain by visiting a given city anywhere in the world. This has to be a universal measure and I can think of only one: the city's population. Stavanger, for example, where the Juvenis party is adventuring [sorry, friends, I will get on that as soon as I get my commitments under control], has a population of 9,573 in my game. To compare, Copenhagen, the seat of the monarchy for Denmark and Norway, has a population of 109,756.
Suppose that we say that a tour around either city has the potential for netting a character, player or non-player, 1% of those numbers in experience. Visiting the artworks of Stavanger could push the character up 95 x.p. (fractions don't count), while Copenhagen could add 1,097. Characters would want to visit Copenhagen under those conditions, yes? Much more so than Stavanger.
But that doesn't solve our problem. There are thousands of cities in my world, so moving from one to the next would be like an experience smorgasbord, to use the Scandinavian term, making ordinary adventuring a thing of the past. I will have to limit the scheme somewhat.
It might be possible to see all the art that Stavanger has to offer in the space of a few days, but obviously not Copenhagen. We could set a harsh limit of 100 x.p. gained per week of "sightseeing," which would mean it could take two and a half months to get out of Copenhagen all that it had to offer, while Stavanger could be seen in just seven days. This at least creates an expense to exchange for x.p. gained, in the form of food, lodging, perhaps taxes and, of course, the cost of actually entering the churches, palaces and salons of the city in order to get the most out of it. If we also take steps to increase the cost of lodging in larger cities, this can work to discourage long visits (and push the players towards traditional adventuring). As well, the players would get older from such activities.
But we're still talking about an experience feast that's everywhere, so let's also remove Stavanger from the list of potential tourist spots. According to wikipedia, this is the only significant building to be found in the city that was built before 1650 (on the right). And while it is pretty and perhaps unusual for the area, is it worth 95 x.p.?
We can limit the number of cities that can offer meaningful sites to those that meet a certain status: perhaps national capitals, large religious and palatial monuments (of a given size), buildings of sufficiently early origin (a minimum of 800 years old), that sort of thing. Thus, while the barrow Mimmarudla that the players found near Stavanger is really old, it isn't large enough to provide x.p. just by being viewed.
Well, that helps. The party now has to make sufficiently meaningful trips between historical/artistic sights, which requires at least some dangerous travelling/opportunities for adventure. What else can we do?
We could limit the amount of experience gained from an outside bardic source per level of experience. For example, we could argue that a 2nd level fighter wanting to be 3rd, needing 2,000 x.p., could only gain 500 through visiting Copenhagen. This would narrow the amount of effect that experience could have ~ and once the player leveled, they might have reason to return to Copenhagen and have another look around.
We can also say clearly that Copenhagen can only offer that 1,097 once per character's entire lifetime. That might not have been clear.
Finally, we could say that a character can only take advantage of this increase for the first quarter of their needed experience. This is going to sound tricky and may not be fully understood at first.
Let's say that our 2nd level fighter, John, has 2,149 x.p. and needs to reach 4,001. Now, it would seem that he could spend 5 weeks in Copenhagen, collect 500, then go adventuring for the rest, yes?
I'm suggesting instead that once John hits 2,500, he's too sophisticated as a 2nd level to get more experience from artwork. Thus, when he tops out at 2,500, he can't gain any more from visiting sites until he reaches 3rd level (whereupon he could gain up to 2,000, provided he gets started early in his level gaining).
Arbitrary? Of course! It is all arbitrary. It is designed to encourage John, once he has accomplished his level, to spend some time resting, improving his mind, expanding his consciousness, visiting some sights on the Grand Tour as he trips from Copenhagen to Aachen to Paris, before deciding he's full of high-mindedness and is ready to get on with destroying some monsters.
It is at least a limitation. A weird one, but then the bard thing has been threatening to break the system in all kinds of ways. Obviously, John doesn't have to go touring. He can just fight orcs in the same old way, if he likes.