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 Milestones?
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
6824 Posts

Posted - 29 Jun 2019 :  23:36:03  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
I haven't bought any 5E but I have flipped through some 5E books from a friend's collection.

One thing I found immediately interesting was replacing the traditional xp methodology with "milestones".

I'm old school, I grew up levelling with old school experience points. Same applies to basically everyone else at my gaming tables (unless we're entertaining some children).

It seems to me that players really look forward to getting their xp rewards at the beginning or end of each play session - they tend to get a little suspicious and worried (and sullen) if this is held back. They stop having fun.
But milestone accomplishments and rewards might not naturally align with the beginning or end points of play sessions. So perhaps they interrupt the flow of the gaming (and waste time on paperwork) mid-session? Or perhaps they interrupt the flow of "breaks" between sessions by forcing uncomfortably abbreviated/extended gaming (since the "milestone" has to be reached before everyone goes home)?

And it seems to me that on-the-spot xp awards can sometimes stimulate better gaming - players like recognition, players can be competitive, players and DMs can have a little extra fun, inspired awesomeness must be rewarded, idiotically bad puns must be punished. I imagine soldiers would fight better if an officer rode by to throw a bag of gold at their feet every time they succeeded at something useful on the battlefield.
But milestones would completely take this valuable tool off the table. Just one less play option to help build momentum when the pace gets glacial, to help prod timid players into activity, to help prod disruptive players into cooperating.

I'm guessing that milestone systems are good for disposable quick one-off adventures (the sort which spans a dozen pages of a Dragon magazine). And they're probably great for convention/tournament/contest sorts of games (which tend to not really require any sort of experience/advancement anyhow, except for the sake of completion).
But I don't see any "real world" appeal because xp-based systems are just more developed and more versatile. D&D tends to be a game which naturally embraces complexity, grind, and long-term campaigning ... it just doesn't seem to be served very well by these milestone rules. (Contrast vs an episodic quick-prep, quick-action, quick-play sort of RPG engine like SWD6 where you just grab at a template and some dice while you dive straight headlong into the story ... but don't tend to have much long-term staying power once you've "finished" the story/mission/objective.)

Anyone else have thoughts to share about this system?

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 29 Jun 2019 23:46:51

Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
32144 Posts

Posted - 30 Jun 2019 :  02:45:32  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've always preferred doing the rewards at the end of the session, or at the end of every second or third session. Paperwork can be done during the week, before the next session.

Of course, if it breaks up the narrative, you can do a partial thing... Like maybe let the PCs get the XP, and if they level, they get the extra numerical stuff like the better saves and HP. But new abilities and such have to wait until the adventure is done.

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jamesewelch
Seeker

32 Posts

Posted - 30 Jun 2019 :  03:35:11  Show Profile Send jamesewelch a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Actually, I like the milestones concept. I've always disliked that you always had to kill stuff to get XP (yes, DMs can grant XP for other solutions, but XP for kills is guaranteed).

I feel like they work better for boxed/package adventures that have "part 1," "part2," etc. that scale assuming player levels scale as well. For homebrew stuff, maybe if the DM has mapped out the entire campaign with milestones (act 1, act 2, act 3, etc.) it would work.

When I play, the milestones are usually an end of a session (or the conclusion of a 'quest/adventure/segment' at higher levels), which is almost always how I played in 2e, 3e3.5e, etc. My DM (and I) never kept track of individual XP points, it was more by feel and story, so I guess I've been doing milestone XP from my start in THAC0 days, but now there's an official name for it :)

Edited by - jamesewelch on 30 Jun 2019 03:35:58
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
6824 Posts

Posted - 30 Jun 2019 :  13:42:23  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I usually awarded xp to each player. With a little handwavium during those uncomfortable sessions when substitute characters have been issued (because the main character died or otherwise got removed from play). The player gets what the player earned "in character", lol.

But I also awarded xp to the party for accomplishing party objectives, etc. They usually just divide it into perfectly equal shares, they often shift the balance a little so that a PC can pass some sort of xp threshold, they do sometimes bicker and vote but they do always figure out some sort of compromise all by themselves. I suppose this is almost like "milestones".

Just trying to get a feel on who these milestone rules are intended to serve. Since I can't see any compelling reason to adopt them but maybe there's other perspectives. These rules just look like page-filler to me, text written to sell text.

[/Ayrik]
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jamesewelch
Seeker

32 Posts

Posted - 30 Jun 2019 :  21:55:30  Show Profile Send jamesewelch a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think it's to speed up the games, especially for newer (or younger) players who don't want to do math to keep track of XP.

When I was playing with a 9 year old, we never kept track of XP, I'd just tell him at the end of the session that he leveled up. Then when we got higher level, he'd level up like every 2 or 3 sessions - which is basically milestones (where the milestone being each quest/segment which was each session of the story/game).
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Diffan
Great Reader

USA
3609 Posts

Posted - 01 Jul 2019 :  22:52:37  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik


Anyone else have thoughts to share about this system?



I've read over the rules but I, like you, feel that players get a greater sense of gratification when they're given XP on-the-spot or after the whole session. I'm the sort of DM that will parcel out XP for encounters that I create well in advance so that when they're done with the battle or they did a good job role-playing a scene I'll award them XP right there. I do, though, require them to take a long rest (or the equivalent thereof depending on Edition) for any changes that occur to your character in the form of leveling up besides some basics.

So mid-session, if they level up, they'll increase whatever basics they get (either a +1/2 level bonus, proficiency bonus, Base Attack Bonus, saves, Hit Points, etc.) but if their class gets new spells or new maneuvers or some other mechanical construct that would reasonably require some amount of time and training, they'll have to do that in town or someplace safe.

When I hear about people's experiences using the Milestones, it is usually positive though. I feel it does allow for a greater range of flexibility and will most likely result in a quicker progression of the characters. Still, I like seeing the growth and progression myself. I like knowing I only have 400 more XP to go before I hit 4th level for my Moon elf Fighter (Eldritch Knight) and I get a Feat bump or Ability Score Increase.

4E Realms = Great Taste, Less Filling.

"If WotC were to put out a box of free money, people would still complain how it was folded."
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Wenin
Senior Scribe

579 Posts

Posted - 02 Jul 2019 :  16:10:57  Show Profile Send Wenin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have found that giving out XP to players acts as a distraction and affects their play. I keep all XP awards behind the screen, and send emails out between sessions when they gain a level.

I reward XP based in three categories

Physical Challenges - Monsters/Traps
Social Challenges - RP encounters
Rule of Cool - Awarded when players do cool things, think outside the box, get creative, etc... By default everyone gets 1 point for showing up. When the group has RP based interactions that end up drawing in the entire group, this will get everyone a point as well.

If someone gets far ahead of the others due to Rule of Cool, I'll offer to sell them a boon for a chunk of XP. I've only done this once, because the lead player is also the longest playing and attends every session. I sold him a stronghold for his wizard character.

Rule of Cool makes up about 40-50% of the XP I award.

Session Reports posted at RPG Geek.
Stem the Tide Takes place in Mistledale.
Dark Curtains - Takes place in the Savage North, starting in Nesmé. I wrapped my campaign into the Hoard of the Dragon Queen, but it takes place in 1372 DR.
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