1, 2, 3, Point!

How do you award experience points? The standard method comes down to GM caveat: “Jane, you convinced the mayor to allow that dragon in town; you get 3 XP.” That can work well, especially in a system like Blade & Crown where the range of XP awarded per session is small and there isn’t much room for argument. But it can still lead to disagreements.

That’s why I like to add a player-based element to the award of XP. Blade & Crown already includes this, in the form of getting XP for using Traits negatively. And if your social contract is clear enough, you can award XP for things like creating props or bringing chips. But I like to add an additional system that’s not in the rules.

At the end of the session, all the players save the GM hold their fingers up as if they’re about to have a pointing duel. The GM counts “1, 2, 3, point!” At the call of “point”, everyone points at one other player whom they think gave them the most enjoyment that session. You can’t point at yourself. You can ask players to say why they pointed to whomever they pointed at: “Jane, it was awesome when you convinced the mayor that dragons are domesticated animals!” You can also let players just point. My players don’t like to have the justify their choices, so we just do “1, 2, 3, point!” without explanation.

Each player then gets a number of extra XP equal to the number of fingers pointing at them. (Or, if you’re using a system where the number of XP per session is larger, make it 10 XP per finger, or 1000, or whatever.) So if three people are pointing at Jane, she gets 3 extra XP.

This system could have drawbacks, of course, but it’s worked well for me over a few years of experimentation.


1, 2, 3, Point! — 2 Comments

  1. I think it is good to experiment with XP awards in the way you describe. I pretty consistently entirely forget even to award experience at the end of a session. Of course, I also run primarly FATE-based games, where an off the shelf PC is pretty competent.

    I also find it pretty interesting how older vs. newer games model experience points. The earliest games had levelling-up where the points required varied by class, and the points required numbered in the thousands. Most modern games use XP more like tokens – there are a lot fewer of them required to improve something, more focus on incremental improvement rather than quantum leaps, and XP gets awarded for a broader set of accomplishments, such as good roleplaying or meeting scenario objectives. (And even DCC has moved to a much simpler XP count required to level-up.)

    • It is really easy to forget to reward XP and other things. That’s part of why I like the “1, 2, 3, point!” system, because a) it’s the players remembering what was nifty about the session, rather than me, and b) since the players look forward to it, they won’t let me forget!

      “such as good roleplaying or meeting scenario objectives.”

      Wasn’t that always there? I seem to recall that being one of the things Gary mentioned in the DMG, albeit obliquely, so that people like me didn’t really get that he wasn’t just talking about killing monsters.

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