Friday, May 4, 2012

When 1 GP does not equal 1 XP

From the OD&D FAQ in Strategic Review #2:

Valuable metals and stones, however, are awarded experience points on a 1 gold piece to 1 experience point ratio, adjusted for circumstances—as explained in D & D, a 10th level fighter cannot roust a bunch of kobolds and expect to gain anything but about 1/10th experience unless the number of the kobolds and the circumstances of the combat were such as to seriously challenge the fighter and actually jeopardize his life.

It was always clear that experience awarded for defeating monsters should be adjusted downward for monsters significantly weaker than the player characters, but this seems to suggest that the experience for treasure should likewise be reduced for treasure acquired too easily. Page 85 of the DMG seems to suggest the same:

Convert all metal and gems and jewelry to a total value in gold pieces. If the relative value of the monster(s) or guardian device fought equals or exceeds that of the party which took the treasure, experience is awarded on a 1 for 1 basis. If the guardian(s) was relatively weaker, award experience on a 5 g.p. to 4 x.p., 2 to 2, 2 to 1, 3 to 1, or even 4 or more to 1 basis according to the relative strengths.

Adjusting the XP for treasure ratio does not appear in Holmes or Moldvay, nor in Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, or OSRIC.

It seems a little fiddly to use, but I'm still surprised I never noticed this before.


  1. I noticed that too. In a game where I adjusted for difficulty (Monster HD vs. PC HD) I'd also adjust treasure XP value.

    There's a big problem though: treasure is not always directly linked to the monster. There are plenty of modules where you fight a giant scorpion of something and then a couple rooms later there's a hallway armoury with a Mace +1 in it. The scorpion wasn't guarding the treasure because you could approach from various ways, and the treasure was in fact not directly guarded at all.

    Are we supposed to go based on dungeon level, assuming all threats in the dungeon level are level-appropriate? That is, Dungeon Level 1 has 1HD monsters (say 1d6 1HD, or 2d4 1/2HD, or 1d3 2HD, etc). If the PCs kill off an encounter from the Dungeon Level 1 table, and they're 2nd level PCs, they would get 1/2 XP value. If they come across some unguarded treasure on that dungeon level, they get 1/2 XPV for it because they're a bit big for that shallow dungeon level and weren't challenged enough in acquiring it. This encourages players do delve deeper, which is good.

    That ignores player ingenuity. I'm a D&D combat as war kinda guy, so if the game rewards treasure-finding and the PCs sneak past after causing a distraction, they haven't been really challenged in the same way as if they fought but I think they should get the full XP value for the loot as if they fought for it.

    Finally please note that the 1E DMG says the maximum XP you can get is 100%. If you're a 1st level PC and you descend to Dungeon Level 4 and somehow kill off a bunch of Ogres, you're not going to get 4x XP value for the Ogres. The rule we're talking about prevents grinding; it doesn't enable powerleveling.

  2. Yes, I'd say that both guarded an unguarded treasure should be adjusted based on dungeon level. This pushes characters who level-up to the next dungeon level, rather than letting them profitably strip-mine every last treasure from the current level. Or, as you say, grinding.

    My inclination would be to give an ad hoc bonus to players who venture to a deeper dungeon level than is appropriate for their characters, unless "powerleveling" becomes a problem.

    It's interesting that Gary anticipated grinding and powerleveling, problems that only became apparent (and named) with the massive play hours seen in MMORPG's. He probably logged way more hours in the DM seat that most anyone playing in this day and age.