So last night’s game reminded me again why I stopped using D&D: Experience Points. The quest for experience points really flavors the game. Here’s what it does:
1. Makes characters kill everything they can.
2. Makes characters gather as much gold and treasure as they can.
3. Makes characters use their skills even when they don’t need to. Why is the thief skulking around that barn? Because he might get xp for using his skills.
4. De-emphasizes role-playing. Why think yourself out of treasure and monster xp when you can just hack and slash?
5. Slows down the story. The DM is busy writing down XP when he could be planning an interesting encounter. The party is busy figuring how to get maximum XP instead of thinking about how their characters might actually act in this situation.
So this is why I went to Runequest and Call of Cthulhu in the early 1980s, because they allowed me to concentrate on the story and the characters more. When I made my Journeyman system, it’s also why my system looked more like Basic Role-playing than D&D. Just for the record, here’s what I learned from the systems I played:
From D&D, fast combat and powerful magic
From RQ, authentic combat and hit locations for monsters.
From COC, scary monsters and library research.
From Ars Magica, mage’s guilds.
From Thieve’s Guild, urban adventures.
From GW, ancient technology and bizarre monsters.
From Traveler, technology and authentic monsters (the Animal Encounters supplement)
From EPT and Jorune, how alien species can blend to create new ecologies
From Stormbringer and that article on RQ Sorcery, ideas on spiritology
From Pendragon, NPC personality traits