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Last week, I discussed some issues with the calculations for experience points (“XP”) in 1st Edition AD&D (“1e“). When I finally play 1e again, my intent is to play the game as written (as weird and impossible as that is), and every statement I make below will be in the context of the rules as written (unless expressly stated otherwise). I’m fully aware of the fact that a dungeon master can do what they want, but what I want to do is run the game as written. With that in mind, I intend to use XP, though I’m not a fan of it.
It makes far more sense to use a milestone method for leveling up. In 1e, you can’t level up within the course of an adventure because leveling up requires an expenditure of both time and money. You must spend between 1 to 4 weeks training, spending 1,500 gold pieces per level per week just to advance to the next level. (There may be even greater money and time spent on other matters, but those are outside the scope of this post.) In this regard, 1e is a perfect system for milestone leveling. There’ll never be a need for a calculation at the game table to see if it’s time to level up.
My reacquaintance with 1e does give me new appreciation for XP. The source of this appreciation is baked into why it would be difficult to run 1e without XP. (None of this will be new to any of you.) I like that you can earn XP based on treasure, which encourages playing characters intelligently (i.e., don’t have unnecessary fights). More importantly, level drain is some scary shit, and it gives you a sense of danger. That in turn immerses you in the game world. That said, I pointed out on Facebook that level drain more excessive than it needs to be, and someone suggested XP drain instead: each energy drain effect drains 500 XP per level. To that, I add the possibility that 1) in no event does XP drain take you below your current level; and 2) the XP (or level) drain is temporary. XP facilitates fine tuning energy drain to meet the DM’s specific needs, especially if you’re a modern gamer giving 1e a try.
I can live with XP, but I don’t look forward to tracking it. 🙂
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