... now with 35% more arrogance!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

XP for Exploration

Since I'm back from my trip out of town (and away from a decent computer/easily available internet,) I'm just now catching up on what's been happening in the blogs and forums. One thing I noticed was the reappearance of the topic of experience points awarded for exploration. Most approaches to this that I've seen are arbitrary xp values for travel distances or numbers of rooms cleared in a dungeon. What I think would be easier (require less bookkeeping) would be treating explored areas as treasure.

Consider what happens when you explore: either you find something new, or you reclaim something abandoned or inaccessible. Merchants can't trade with Fartown because the mountain pass has been closed for a century by horrific beasts; the local noble wishes he could reclaim one of his villas; the rugged hills contain a gold vein. By clearing the pass in some way, reclaiming the vista, or discovering the gold vein, you create value, much as you would if you found a lost treasure. You don't get that value unless you either exploit the value yourself or pass that value on to someone else who can exploit it.

If adventurers exploit the treasure themselves (create a trade caravan, build a toll road and man outposts, rebuild and operate the villa, excavate a mine,) then they get xp for the money earned. Trade is easy, since you can just use the standard 1 coin = 1 xp exchange rate for any net income. Structures, like the villa, have a treasure value equal to what it cost to build them originally, minus any building expenses needed to make the structure usable (don't deduct improvements, though.) Other areas add income from the primary economic activities (winemaking, logging, fur trapping area) appropriate for the area's resources.

If adventurers report back information about a new or reclaimed resource to someone able to exploit it, guess the max value of a limited resource or the income for one year of trade or other renewable resource and give the adventurers 1/10 the gp value in xp.

Sample Economic Estimates:
  • Trade: Use the appropriate subtype of Treasure Type A (gold only.)
  • Renewable Resource: barony tax income, minus expenses and labor, with max laborers = total Charisma scores of PCs.
  • Gold Mine: Treasure Type G (gold only.) Use gems only instead for a gem mine, add jewelry value if you hire jewelers.
Edit: The treasure type for a gold mine should, of course, be Type G, the type used for dwarves. For some reason, I was thinking of the first letter of "dwarf" and wrote "Type D". For copper and silver mines, you can use just the appropriate value of Type H (the dragon hoard.) For that matter, you could roll a d6 when a gold mine is established and upgrade it to Type H on a 6, downgrade it to Type F on a 1. You can't do the same thing with copper or silver, though, since there isn't a good treasure type sequence, but you could double or halve the possible values.


  1. While it undoubtably is a lot of work for the PCs to organize mining operations or a caravan company, I don't like the idea of giving XP for engaging in mundane trade and business operations. There's supposed to be a difference between gold earned working nine to five and gold earned adventuring and getting XP for digging ditches and other roadworks doesn't sit right with me.

    1. Keep in mind, though, that the xp is not really for the mining or caravan travel, but for the exploration that made them possible. I'm giving a choice between a quick xp reward for opening up an opportunity for someone else, or doing the work yourself for a delayed but potentially larger reward.

      Of course, you could just use the 1/10th xp formula for both, or only give xp when the PCs don't work the claim themselves, or only give xp for the gold gained from selling the claim immediately.