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XP 'Cost' vs. LA

 
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canamrock
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Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 48

PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 1:17 am    Post subject: XP 'Cost' vs. LA Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The following setup is intended to replace or work with LA to allow for a more customizable scheme for balancing features a character gains from being a member of a certain race.

Table 3-2 of the 3.5E PHB gives a table for what accumulation of XP grants access to higher levels in classes. 0 XP is the minimum for being 1st level, 1000 XP for second, and so on. The scale for reaching each landmark is n*n-1*500 XP, where n is the level to be reached. When a PC accumulates this amount of XP, he's considered that level, and can access a new class level as a reward. That's the long way of saying, "Earn your level * 1000 XP, and go up another level."

LA is treated just like class levels in regard to landmarks, except you don't get to take a level in a class when you reach it, because you're getting some other super-cool benefits (in theory, at least). Alternatively, you could say that for some reason, you're treated as being a level higher for encounter purposes, because you're so bad-ass, but you have to acquire an additional 1000 XP per level to compensate for it. Again, this is the long way of saying, "For XP purposes with an LA value, you are that many levels higher; you are that many class levels behind someone who has no LA."

With that part out of the way, we can use what exists to help explain the new concept. For this setup, we'll start with the casual explanation.

When the template has an XP value, you have to meet this value in addition to the XP value given on the table to gain a new class level. However, you're treated as having the effective class level of whatever level you'd reach on the table. For example, if the template 'costs' 1000 XP, you're treated as a second level character at the 1000 XP mark, even though you're only allowed one class level (since 1000 - 1000 = 0). With a +1 LA, you would need to have a total of 3000 XP to earn the second class level, but with the +1000 XP requirement, you'll need a total of 2000 XP to earn it.

As described earlier, the +1 LA ends up working much as the XP costing scheme. It can be seen as a short-hand for having to acquire an additional 1000 XP per class level to be able to earn the next one. LA is convenient since it matches up with the normal level progression. It avoids a complication that can occur with XP costing, which I'll address shortly.

Now, with the basics of the concept explained, let's work out how it interacts with other parts of the game. Level drain's a good place to start. Normally, the last-gained or highest class level (depending on how well character progression is tracked) is lost, and the XP value accumulated is reduced to halfway between the level the PC becomes and the next above it. The easiest way to make XP Costing work here is to explain how it works in regard with stacking with class levels here.

As stated before, XP Costing makes the PC need to accumulate more XP to be able to gain class levels, which is what Level Loss removes (racial levels are counted for this, too). When dealing with level loss, the XP devoted to the template is counted as being 'earliest', even if some was put there after gaining class levels. In other words, level loss makes us treat the XP accumulation as a stack (in computer programming terms). The XP used to qualify for the template always goes to the bottom. Then, that amount is used as an addend when dropping the character's XP for level loss. This example will clarify:

A PC of a given race has a base XP Costing of +2000 XP. When he gets slapped in the face with a level draining attack, his XP total at that point was 6500 XP. Normally, that would have given him 4 class levels. Losing three levels would bring him to 1st, and he would then have only 500 XP. Losing two would leave him with 2000, and losing only one would leave him with 4500. With the Costing in place, though, he only had 4500 XP for class level determination, meaning he's really only 3rd level. Losing a single class level would reduce his total XP to 4000 XP. That is, 2000 XP to be halfway between 2nd and 3rd class levels plus the 2000 XP devoted to the Costing mechanic. Likewise, losing two levels reduces him to 2500 XP, and if he was to lose three class levels, he would die, despite having thousands more XP left.

In the case such as with the Red Dragon whose XP devoted to the Costing rises over time, we'll maintain that this cannot be lost in the same way levels can. A drained Adult Red Dragon may only have two HD left, but it's still a weakened Adult Red Dragon.

The biggest issue to resolve is that unless the XP Costing is equivalent to X*1000 XP per level, eventually, the XP invested into class levels does not scale integrally with the ECL of total XP invested. There will be times when a character who doesn't gain a class level rises in ECL simply by gaining some XP. Besides needing to do more math, this can create the potential to have a Wizard PC to be able to spend XP on item creation so he remains at the lower ECL, granting him more XP for encounters that are exactly as difficult despite being treated as a level higher or lower depending on its exact XP total.

The only solution to resolving this seems to be having low-Costing templates count as an increaser to its ECL only for a certain number of levels. So, in the case of the 1000 XP Costing race, we'll ignore its Costing when looking at the XP table for ECL. However, the race itself may give a +1 to the PC's ECL until it reaches its 5th class level. So, when it has 10,000 XP total, it has 4 class levels, but counts as 5th for ECL. When it reaches 11,000 XP, it then has 5 class levels, but its ECL is now only 5, and has 'caught up' with its actual class levels. This method also gives the template creator a little more control as to when the race's abilities are more powerful, as well as rating how much more powerful they are, without forcing the PC to pay for them indefinately.

Despite my efforts, this is still a bit wordy, but it should explain more clearly how it works in relation to many issues.
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FrankTrollman
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Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 1:32 am    Post subject: Re: XP 'Cost' vs. LA Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Let me clarify:

You have some arbitrary XP value template. Let's say for simplicity, you have a 2000 XP template.

So when you have 8000 XP you are a 4th level character and recieve XP as a 4th level character. When you hit 10,000 XP you are a 4th level character still, but gain XP as if you were 5th level, which you aren't. Then you get to 12,000 XP and you still gain XP as a 5th level character - and are actually 5th level.

So the XP you are getting actually has little or nothing to do with how powerful you actually are. It gets even worse with high cost templates. For example, a 9,000 XP template would watch you go through 2 whole levels worth of encounter equivalents and XP stunting without you actually gaining any levels at all.

And sooner or later, the costs become negligible anyway - as you approach level infinity, the XP delay on your next level becomes an infintesimally short period of time.

In total: I now see what you are trying to say, and it sucks.

-Frank
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canamrock
1st Level


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 48

PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 1:40 am    Post subject: Re: XP 'Cost' vs. LA Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yes, I'd ended up finding that problem with it too. As the last major paragraph covers, I'd probably find not use the XP value to count for finding an ECL on its own, but rather just have an arbitrary ECL adjustment value that applies until an arbitrary level is met. This would be a lot better, and it allows for making weak races with flight 'costly' early on, but 'worthless' at later levels.

FrankTrollman wrote:

And sooner or later, the costs become negligible anyway - as you approach level infinity, the XP delay on your next level becomes an infintesimally short period of time.


That would be covered by the arbitrary ECL adjustment a lot better, no?
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FrankTrollman
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Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 27140

PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 11:35 pm    Post subject: Re: XP 'Cost' vs. LA Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
That would be covered by the arbitrary ECL adjustment a lot better, no?


Define "better". Seriously, you originally came up with a system that made sure that characters had equal XP, but not equal Power (like, not even close).

Your new system no longer allows for equal XP, and it still doesn't allow for equal power, so I'm not seeing the advantage at all.

You could just totally write a character class and have people take it. I don't know what's difficult about that. You write a balanced class, and the character is balanced. The stuff you've been writing on this concept isn't balanced even if all the classes involved are.

-Frank
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