Sunday, November 15, 2015

Speed of Advancement in my DF game

What's the current speed of advancement in my DF game?

I've set up the XP system so that for each session:

- the maximum is practically limited to 7 points (5, +1 for awesome, +1 for MVP) for one person, 6 for most others.

- the expected return is 5.

- the minimum is 0.

- the average is around 3-4 points a session.

We can potentially play as often as 25 times a year, although 20 is more like it. That's 60-100 points per actual real-world year if you run the same character all the time, come back profitable more times than not, and occasionally take home MVP.

That's all off-the-top estimates - I didn't go and look at each and every session and calculate, because I'll still be close with a guess and exact doesn't matter.

Potentially, then, a character can be generated at 250, and a player can look about 100 points out in terms of advancement over the next calendar year.

I think that for us that's a good pace. Not so fast that your decisions don't have consequence, but not so slow that we're crawling along for years pretty close to your starting character power level.

I set this pace with the assumption that'd we want to advance at a good clip even without a large investment of time. We used to hand out 1-3 points, plus some extras for completion of missions and special events, at set points. So you didn't even get points for sessions. Advancement was slow - 150 point guys were closing in on 300 at the end of the game for the higher point characters. We had to jump start the points of new characters because there was literally no way to keep up or catch up.

That pace will slow in the future, because it looks like we'll rotate in Gamma Terra more often and add Star Wars, but we won't actually add any game dates. We're not playing DF 20 or so times a year do to a limit on DF, but due to a limit on game time.

All in all, though, I think it's worth running the numbers even if in this vague fashion. How often will you play? How many points will that be over the course of a year, or a month, or whatever feels long for your game? What can people aim at?

Back in the day when I used to game daily, even a slow rate wasn't slow. But with twice a month being a good month, we just can't enjoy the game at a slow pace of development. So we sped it up. And that's okay.


  1. We have different definitions about 'slow' and 'fast' paced games (and advancement thereof). To me a slow paced game is one where the time in game advances slowly, and fast is the same.

    So for my group, even if we played every day, I'd still probably hand out the normal 1-5 exps for a fast paced game (that is the characters accomplished goals and moved the story along every session). And with a slow once a month game... exp advancement would be slow.

    1. Maybe we do - but I'm not talking about time passing in game at all in the above. It's purely a session-based approach centered on how often I hand out XP. I do have time pass at a 1:1 with the real world, but that's convenience. Even if we did different time rates in game, for this campaign I'd set advancement on a per-session basis.

      If I wanted a "slow" progression, regardless of time that passed in the game, I'd have players earn fewer XP per session or take more sessions before XP were handed out. If I wanted a faster progression, I'd hand out more XP.

      So I'm not really sure how in-game time passing makes a difference here. I think I'm talking X-axis of how much characters progress and game time is the Y-axis.

    2. Sorry, my "once per month slow advancement" my have been misleading. What I mean is, regardless of real world time passage between sessions, whether that be one day or 30 days, I base exp advancement in part on 'in game' plot advancement, If we have three sessions of just socializing, nothing important happens in game as the PCs maneuver, chase rumors, gather resources, etc, then there'd be no (or very little) exp advancement. If I have an action packed /single/ session where multiple plotlines get resolved, more than one chapter's worth of events occur? Then I'd hand out more exps.

      Basically what I'm saying is 'real world time has no bearing on exp advancement', at least not in my game.

    3. Oh, okay, I see. Still, I've made sure that something happens every session because of the real world time pacing. We've set the game up around ensuring that the players are driven towards action, and that action is rewarded with XP.

      So it's really not a "real world vs. in game" choice, because I'm only rewarding in-game activity . . . and we drive the pace by handing out XP each session based on in-game activity. I think we're less far apart in approach than it might seem at first glance.

  2. I'm running a D&D 3.5 megadungeon converted to DF. The top levels are too easy for 250-point DF characters, and the bottom levels are really hard. So I've been deliberately handing out more points than usual, to give the PCs a chance when they get deeper. 4-5 points per PC per session, awarded only when they return to town, with a few 5-point bonuses for completing major goals. Half for NPCs.

    The drawback of the fast advancement is that the easy early levels are even easier. I really wish I'd started the PCs at 200 points rather than 250. But when they get to the real enemies, they'll need all the points.

    1. I see the issue there - and if they deliberately bottom-feed, they can keep the "easy" rolling in front of them for a while. The "hard" might end up a lethal shock.

      You could always scale the points so you get fewer to start with, but the amount goes up as you go deeper and fight tougher things. So maybe 2-3 points per session, 2-3 points for a major goal, but with the promise of 7-10 later on for dealing with things that can actually kill you.


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