Let's talk XP schemes


So, let’s talk about the XP metagame and how it interacts with gameplay and narrative, for good or ill.

I almost just necroed a really old thread, but I’ll link it instead: More useful dragons / XP balancing

Last I heard, there was 50% XP for all, scaling up to full XP for full participation.

Problems - Plopping down a weakling and keeping them alive just to level them up can be a chore, and sometimes not worth the trouble.

  • Leveling them up for free just because they exist is also sort of feels wrong.
  • The strong tend to get stronger if you reward participation or kills in any way…

Solutions? - Have different types of utility outshine the power of “one big dude” more often than not. You won’t have Three Big Dudes Who Can Do Everything because that just won’t work.

  • Some kind of bonus/penalty to participation XP based on relative level? For example, XP caps at 100% if you’re the Tough Dude, but if you’re below the map’s “level”, you can scale up to, say, 200% XP at full participation. Maybe overleveled characters can’t even get over the base 50% regardless? It could be something simple, like participation cap changes by 10% per level, with a base of 100% at equal level, with hard floor and ceiling values in place.
  • Plot-based “these dudes were at a bar when stuff happened” party restrictions all day every day.
  • Separate resource for deployment only. Then it doesn’t “cost you” anything to deploy more than three people, but you may still need to make decisions. So you might be encouraged to neglect people still, but you won’t spam tier-one spawns just for the XP, either.
  • Other?

I have no idea what’s planned at the moment, or if it’s just not being worried about at all yet. It’s probably jumping the gun to even think about it this early, but I was looking at old posts and I thought I’d give it another thought or two.

Maybe it’s ok to have Three Big Dudes, if the player chooses it? But in my opinion, it shouldn’t be forced on the player because of I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up Syndrome (such as in Shining Force II and probably many others - last-hitting for XP is the devil)


The “weak-towers-get-more-XP” and “strong-towers-get-less-XP” is kinda a thing already: Enemies at higher levels give more XP per kill, which makes the weak grow faster, while high-level characters grow much less.


I feel like the overall XP cost per level is better for overall team level and not that good at evening out differences. All other things being equal, your Three Big Dudes will still probably be a few levels higher than everyone else if your Big Dudes are gaining XP at the same rate (or greater, because you have good reason to summon them first and they tend to live longer). Some games make the diminishing returns such that you get literally 0 XP after a certain point, which would fix it, but might be too restrictive.


Something else to consider is if summoning cost should scale with character level, somehow. If the solution that feeds 4 mediocre characters instead of 2-3 strong ones is equally viable, then that could be healthy for the game.