Discussions/ExperienceRate

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So I've got a situation regarding how fast characters gain experience. Not in terms of play-time, but in terms of actual time passing, in the game setting. There are a few hints in the various books about how fast you gain XP in 'downtime', but I'm interested in hearing what other Wikizens think about it. The concern is that one adventure into a shadowland to visit an Abyssal ambassador can be played at two extremes:

  • You walk into the shadlowland, and it takes roughly two days. There are some minor incidents where the dead approach, but the Zenith and Eclipse caste abilities (along with the fact that the Abyssal is expecting to meet you for the meeting) mean they mostly stay 50 yards or more away. You arrive at the large, imposing fortress. <20 minutes of player time negotiating with the Abyssal follows.> You leave the fortress, again without incident. Total travel time out is three days, as you had to wait until sunrise to cross the shadowland boundary.
  • You arrive at the edge of the shadlowland. Roll Perception+Awareness. Those of you who rolled 2 or above notice movement among the trees to your right. What do you do? <30 minute stand-off with the dead ensues, until eventually the players realize that the dead aren't really approaching>. Roll Int+Survival to figure out the best way to get to the giant fortress. You travel for a few hours - night is falling. What would you like to do? <15 minutes of game-time spent setting up camp, prepping sorcery-based protections, etc>... and so on.

In one case, you spend 30 minutes of real time on the meeting, and thus in your four-hour session, it was worth 1XP or so (assuming the book-recommended 4XP per session). In the second case, getting to and from the fortress takes the entire four hours, and is rewarded by 4XP. Now, not normally a problem if you're playing with only one group of PC's, but if you've got multiple PC's, or worse yet, multiple PC's and multiple ST's (for some maddeningly large game where some groups play the wyld hunt, and another group plays the Solars, and another group plays the Sidereals), things like experience rate start to matter. Sure, the groups can act independently for months of real-world time, but if they ever meet up, you want them to have some semblance of similarity.

Similarly, if you've got 10 years of downtime where your Twilight is building a Manse, he's gonna make some downtime XP, but it is fairly uneventful. In that same 10 years, the Dawn and Zenith conquered a small province. Do they get different XP? How much? What's the speed at which characters (PCs or NPCs) develop XP?

Similarly, take Essence 5. It takes a while to get, canonically - often a mortal lifetime (let's say 50 years). But it really only takes Ess 3 -> Ess 4 -> Ess 5, like 70 or something XP (no book handy, I forget the actual math). Now, from what I've seen, that's only like 9 charms of XP - and obviously you can get more than 9 charms in 50 years. Hence, there must be something holding you back from getting Essence up - mystical mojo, to be precise. So now you've got this character that's got 50 years, and he's going for Essence 5 like mad. He banks all 70 he needs for that purpose, and spends the rest on charms. How many charms does he have by Essence 5, then? Do we see characters with 50 charms by Essence 5, simply because they had a bunch of unused XP? Or does the average Exalt, when he hits Essence 5, have only 20 charms, as he didn't have much "excess" XP to throw around? It's quite important from a game-world-feel standpoint, as it determines the ratio of average # of charms at a given Essence rating. -- GreenLantern

I've often thought about this. And, sadly, I have no idea as to a coherant answer. In single group games, it doesn't matter. And I'm not crazy enough to... wait, no, yes, I am. So I'll have to come up with something eventually. I'll tell you if I find something tht works well
-- Darloth

Well, as for the essence 5 thing.. it's more about a matter of power.. unless you're going for solar circle sorcery or nifty such things, generally, it can be more efficient to stay at a lower essence level and get more charms and better attributes.. depends on the exalt really.. FluffySquirrel

But this is a much simpler question. Not one of power, per se, but an Exalt who desperately wants Essence 5. Since he can't do it until he's older anyway, the question is how much experience does he pick up that he can't spend on Essence in the interim, due to time limitations. It's quite possible that if Exalts pick up 10 XP per year, on average, that by the time they're old enough for Essence 5, they'll have 50 charms, no problem. On the other hand, if they pick up 2 per year, they'll barely make it to Essence 5 on time, and thus, might have very few charms. It's a big deal, because it defines culturally a lot how the Realm works - and how many charms people can actually get in a reasonable mortal lifetime. If an 'average' DB (outcaste, even) picks up 60 charms over his lifetime, that very well might be enough to give him a bunch in non-favored things, round him out a lot, and give him some sorcery. On the other hand, if they usually only get 10-15, they'll most likely be highly specialized, even at a senior age, unless they're PC-style adventuring characters. -- GreenLantern

You can get essence 5 whenever you like though, essence 6 is the tough one to get.. hell, you can apparently get it at char gen if you twink enough. But if we change the discussion to essence 6, then yeah, they're likely to have many charms before they're able to raise their essence that high. FluffySquirrel

I'm not entirely sure if this is what you're asking. But have you looked at the Players' Guide, specifically? On page 258 it has a pretty specific guide to downtime experience that designates how it's supposed to be spent -- it has a whole deal about ratios, and what goes where, and what's reasonable, and so on. Basically, if you're playing by canon, you can't take all your downtime exp and spend it on one thing. The book also has a sidebar, as I recall, that addresses the whole "but sometimes in-game experience gain outstrips this to a unreasonable extent!" thing. Not very satisfactorily -- but it does address it.
~ Shataina

Wow, haven't seen you around in a long time, Shataina! I totally agree with you that the PG does kind of address this, in some way. Thing is, that way (as you noted) is pretty unsatisfactory. Perhaps I'll grab some of the essentials of that, and use them as a starting point for discussion though. As for Mr. Squirrel, yeah, I suppose Ess 6 is what I'm thinking about. -- GreenLantern
I still lurk. :) Just don't visit or contribute nearly as much.
~ Shataina

Now then. The discussion I promised.

So, as a first analysis, I've plotted accumulated XP vs. Age, as given from the PG.

Plot of XP vs. Age

By inspection, it looks to be an inverse exponential of some sort, but Excel is being a ho and won't give me a trendline with it. I'd like to find the equation, as it implies there's a point you get to where you simply don't gain XP anymore, unless it's a dramatically interesting situation.

Now then, as to what this curve implies. First off, it implies that if you just sit around and live your Exalted life, you'll hit Essence 6 at age 100, with 500 XP accumulated. Getting to Essence 6 will take some XP mind, say, 100 or so of it, thus leaving you with 400 XP of 'stuff'. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that you can't have an Essence 6 Exalt without 400 XP of stuff, even if he sat around on his duff all day. More importantly, you recognize that since characters tend to have some split between their XP, there's probably 200 XP of charms, and another 200 XP of abilities, attributes, WP, etc. That gives roughly 25 charms beyond starting, for a total of 35. Thus, any Essence 6 character should have at minimum 35 charms, as well as some ability and attribute boosts to go with. More like 40, but it's a starting point.

Going forward to Essence 7 is a big deal, however. There, you find you've got an extra 550 XP you haven't spent on Essence, more than doubling your repertoire - and since you've already your abilities and attributes to useful and high levels, that's going to fall heavily into charms and sorcery. Sure, you'll have to bring some things to 7, and buy up the few key attributes you use, but that's really going to mean like 400 XP for charms, which is another 50 charms. Therefore, we see that an Essence 7 Exalt has not only a slightly higher essence pool, but is an altogether much more well rounded character, with a total of roughly 90 charms, as compared to his Essence 6 compatriot's 35-40 charms. That's a big power step, and where I'm sure Sidereals really start to shine as Martial Artists - you can do a lot with 3 full MA styles - see DemonKillerWhite for more on that.

Finally, Essence 8. At a relatively young age of 500 (many Celestials hit this age, especially Sidereals), they're packing another 700 XP. Taking off 200 to account for attribute and ability boosts again, that's another 60 charms, for a total of roughly 150 charms at Essence 8. Anyone thinking of high-Essence characters, and the way they work, can keep that in mind pretty easily. At the same time, it also shows that with a published list of only a few hundred charms in the core, that an Essence 8 Solar won't necessarily know "all published charms" plus a bunch in his area of expertise. Sure, if they adventure, these numbers spike, but it does show some fairly specialized Solars - walking up the charm trees to Essence 8 charms takes a lot, so you won't see people with 5 charms in every ability, and Essence 8 charms all over the place, unless they're big adventurers. It also says something about Sidereals, who will have completed the entire Sidereal charm set by Essence 7, and still have room for 8 or so complete MA styles - many of the SMA, I'm sure. Keep that in mind when designing Mr. Kejak, who will easily surpass DemonKillerWhite in pure MA sickness.

Taking this down to an adventuring level then, we note that you can only get more XP here than listed. That means the charm counts I've shown are minimums, and it's not unreasonable to assume that Essence 5 or 6 Sidereals have finished their entire charm set. Solars with 100 charms by Essence 5 are quite possible as well - especially if they're adventurers.

I'll do a discussion of the low-Essence stuff later, when I examine more about Essence 4 characters. -- GreenLantern

I'm afraid I'm still confused about what your exact thesis / problem is here. You say above that this is an important question because it determines a lot about the general feel of the setting and its elder Exalted, but that you're dissatisfied by the stuff set forth by the "Players' Guide". Are you aiming to establish a better long-term experience system? If so, does "better" mean more realistic, more cinematic, or what? Or is your major concern the differential between normal player experience awards and NPC / downtime player experience awards -- and if that's the case, what are you seeking to do about it?
~ Shataina
To be honest, I'm a bit confused as well. I'll try to do better, but it's on the spur of the moment, so bear with me. The 'issue' started with when I was trying to figure out how an Exalt's life would go if there weren't glorious conflicts just begging to get involved in. If you just had a life, with no big adventure - much as a non military dynast might. Even then, with the politicking in the dynasty, it's still a bit adventurous, but still. It defines the setting in that it sets minimum XP per age values, and thus, the minimum level of power for older characters. Since Essence (at high levels) is age limited, not XP limited, it also sets the stage for the minimum level of high-Essence Exalts. The PG has a system in place, but a quick run through of it shows that an Exalt can't pick up their first new charm until 9-12 months past their Exaltation. Two years in, they've barely got two non-starting charms. The long end of things seems reasonable, in so much as you get 'high powered Exalts' which is all well and good, so I won't complain about that. In the short end, though, I find the PG unreasonable in that it takes so little to qualify as a session of gaming, which nets 4XP quite easily. As an example, I once played through an entire session (4+ hours) simply prepping for a festival, shopping, talking to people, decorating the buildings, et cetera. A wholly enjoyable and involved game, with tons of inter-character interaction, etc - but it took perhaps one day of game time. At the end of that day, I was 4XP higher, due to all the work planning, thinking, and stretching myself. Thus, if I even do three semi-interesting things in a month - 3 "session worthy" things, I'm already well over the PG's rate. I can understand this for a 100 year old Exalt, who's seen it all, and done it all, but for the young characters many of us play, it's such a cake walk to make 60+ XP per year that I'm trying to find a better way to represent this. The PG's XP formula is kindof like this, for those interested: (I found the equation)
  • XP per Year (Rate) = 11 - floor(log(Age,2))
Since it's been waaaaaay too long since I did anything with logs - and frankly, it's one of the few bits of my algebra studies I never quite "got" - would you be willing to post some integer xp values for the sub-100-year-old crowd? i.e., at what age do they drop to 10 xp per year, 9, 8, etc.? - Hapushet
Not a problem. Since it's 6 XP per year at at 100, at half of that age (50 years) it goes to 7 XP per year. At half of that (25 years) it goes to 8 XP per year. Because WW fudged the log a bit (hence the floor) you don't go to 12.5, and instead go straight to 10 years old, with 9 XP per year. At 5 years old, it's 10 XP per year. At 2.5 years old, it's 11 XP per year. If you're really interested, I've put up an abridged version of the Excel spreadsheet I used to plot these for myself in the first place. It's got a whole bunch of ages (ranging from 0.7 days old to 2048 years old) for a total of 21 different ages, spread throughout the character's life. It's got XP rate, cumulative XP, etc. Produced entirely on a Mac, it's most likely virus free. Download here: Green Lantern's Exalted XP Rate spreadsheet.
Oh! So it's actually the Time and Space Progession from Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Ed! Why didn't you say so? ... Hapushet said, and then wrote a few paragraphs, before GreenLantern moved them down to their own section...
It holds for all of the published values, and follows a simple logarithmic progression. Conveniently, when you extend it to Exalts under 100 years old, you find a nice sharp up-curve, with 0-year Exalts earning 11 XP per year, which, while not much, is better than the 6 you see for 100-year-old Exalts. But to me, still not enough, as first-years should be hitting 20XP, at least, in my head. So - to finally get at the question. You asked "What the heck is the point of all this?" Well, I'd say I'm trying to find a system that's simple enough, but more accurately represents the progression of XP that a character might get both in actual play, and in 'actual' setting. I worry that extending the PG's system to Exalts below 100 years of age just doesn't work, so I'm trying to find a new down-time XP system for young Exalts. How's that? -- GreenLantern
I just want to say that this is perhaps one of the more interesting things I've read on the Wiki, if only because of the way in which the information is processed and presented. ~WeepingStar
Thanks for the compliment. If you can be more precise about what it is you like (the math, the example progressions, whatever) I can try to do more in the future. -- GreenLantern, more than willing to take requests, and try to improve
More or less I think it's the fact that you're not looking at things from one specific standpoint. You're pulling information from the rules and published values, sure, but you're also looking at the progression of the individual from an in-character standpoint AND from the point of view of someone who has actually played and seen how much XP they gain in regular play. Maybe I just have a thing for being thorough. I also found the implied numbers on how much experience your average Exalt would pick up for stuff OTHER than Essence to be kind of fascinating. A "standard progression", if split up into averages of what would likely be used where, would be incredibly useful to have if one had the urge to play, say, some kind of Exalted equivalent of an "Elders" WoD game. ~WeepingStar

First up, I moved some of Hapushet's stuff down - because it's good stuff, and deserves it's own space. -- GreenLantern


All righty then. Let's look at that progression and see what it suggests for a 100-year-old Exalt, because it's not quite what you put before (or, for that matter, what the book implies). A 100-year-old Exalt should have (12+(3x11)+(2x10)+(5x9)+(15x8)+(25x7)+(50x6)), or 705, experience. (I'm rounding up a couple places in there to acknowledge the fact that the curve tends toward infinity as you go below one year.) If you read the rest of the Elder Exalts suggestion, you find that you're supposed to split that into 40%, 30%, 20% and 10% sections for expenditure. In my experience, the lowest category always goes to Essence, and the highest category always goes to Charms. That means that a generic 100-year-old Exalt should have spent approximately 71 experience on Essence, and 282 experience on Charms.

For Solars and Abyssals, raising your Essence from 2 to 5 costs (16+24+32) = 72 experience, close enough. The "average" Solar will hit Essence 5 somewhere right around when they reach 100 years old. We can assume then that hitting Essence 6 will occur when they've accumulated an additional 400 experience (since 10% of 400 is 40, the xp cost of buying Essence 6). The average Solar will thus hit Essence 6 somewhere around 180. (A Solar who raised their Essence to 3 at chargen will manage it sooner, at somewhere around 150.) Also by 100, they will have picked up 30-32 additional Charms, assuming they spent about 75% of their Charm experience on Favored or Caste Charms, and scrounged a bit here or there for a Combo or two.

For Dragon-Blooded, the story's a bit different. Reaching Essence 5 costs (20+30+40)=90 xps, so only those DBs who have increased their Essence to 3 at chargen (i.e., during secondary school) are likely to reach 5 by the time they are 100 at an average progression. Otherwise, they will not reach Essence 5 until around 140. Essence 6 requires an additional 100 years, either way. At the 100-year mark, assuming that 75% of their Charms have gone into Favored or Caste Abilities (and excluding Immaculate-trained MAists for the moment), they'll have around 27 Charms and a Combo or two - DBs tend to build fewer Combos than everyone else, since they need them less.

Now what that says for your purposes I don't know, but I think it's an interesting examination of the scale as its presented in the PG and its consequences. - Hapushet, who may have gone off on a teensy little tangent

First up, thanks for the good work. I have only one disagreement with what you presented. You used the term "average" a lot - such as "...The "average" Solar will hit Essence 5 somewhere right around when they reach 100 years old." That's not quite true. The PG XP progression is very much the slowest you can go, in my mind. It really assumes that you're not adventuring that much, as even assuming you make no XP for 360 days of the year, it's really easy to make 6-10 XP during calibration. More importantly, your assumption was that Essence got the 'small chunk' of XP - 1 tenth of it, following the PG. While that's mostly true, you've just put Essence in last place. Thus, with the slowest XP progression possible, with the smallest amount of XP devoted to Essence possible, they're still hitting it by the time they're 100. To me, that says something different. To me, it says that almost every Solar will have hit Ess 5 before they're 100 - possibly well before it. This actually puts some 'teeth' into the restriction that you've go to be 100 years old to hit Essence 6. At the same time, though, the analysis of DB's is comparatively spot-on, as long as you get rid of the "average" part again. Still, DB's will most likely be hitting Ess 5 at-or-around 100, which does demonstrate their relative lower Essences than Solars. Still, your counts on charms are both correct and insightful. Feel like doing Sidereals? -- GreenLantern, thoroughly pleased

Well, I think it's a matter of which assumptions you're dealing with. I personally believe that the PG experience progression breaks down if you examine it on too fine a scale - as you've pointed out, adventuring has a strong tendency to make the learning curve in the PG look a little foolish. What I believe is that the PG curve is a few random "off-screen" adventures which were worth xps, and long periods of time where nothing happened at all. Take Beowulf for an example of what I mean. The first two parts of the poem happen in exceptionally short order, and the third is something like 40 years later. Though a great deal happens in between the second and third parts, none of it is considered important to Beowulf's development, or appears to have any real impact on his capabilities (save for age, anyway). I see the PG curve attempting to describe that sort of narrative progression in an abstract fashion. It's the only way I can get the "PC experience curve" to match that of the PG. Thus, "average" Exalts. YMM obviously V.
So this brings up an interesting difference. To me, the PG is 'minimum', and includes almost no adventuring. More like living the standard dynastic life, with possible politicking, social interaction, and the like. You, differently, believe that the PG is more of an 'average' rate, assuming bumps here and there due to events that occur infrequently, but over time, it works out to generally what the PG has. These may not be that different, but it does merit discussion. Having seen PC's go from 0XP to 400XP in only a year or two of game time, I worry that there's absolutely no way to make the low-level stuff work out. This begs the question - should we simply ditch the pre-100 year PG theory, and come up with something new? Just because I can extrapolate the PG backward doesn't mean it's a good, or accurate thing to do - the equation was never meant to go back that far. So - is there a better way to represent early-life XP? More importantly for my purposes, is there a way to do such a thing that clearly specifies "if adventuring and such" and "if sitting at home, working on your Manse, researching spells, and other such 'homebody' things?". -- GreenLantern
As for Sidereals, I dunno. There's a reason I skipped dealing with Immaculates on the DBs... variable experience costs require assumptions that I feel may be too far-reaching, especially when I lack experience (no pun intended) with the way Sidereals advance. How soon do they move into SMA? How much of their development goes into CMA or TMA before that (and after)? How much of their native Charmset do they try to pick up, and for how long? With Solars and non-Immaculate DBs, I can just draw an arbitrary Favored/non-Favored line and call it good, but with Sidereals and Immaculates, Martial Arts are both a) very significant factors in their development and b) priced separately from everything else. It makes it much harder to assess. -- Hapushet, with thanks for the kind words

This is really interesting. I would like to remind everyone who plays with XP, however, that Exalted generally assumes that XP is an abstraction which certainly doesn't doesn't translate into anything specific in the game world. I don't mean to sound patronizing, because we all know that, but it's important to remember. The downtime and elder Exalt XP awards are gonna be a little unperfect because XP was meant to be given to players as a reward for playing. I'm amazed that the math works out at all, quite frankly. But there is no cure for the fact that the ST decides how much XP the players get. Unless sessions are very long or the ST gives very little XP, the PCs will always overpower opposition of similar age in terms of raw XP. - Morpheus

This is definitely the problem. GL is attempting something that may not be feasible, and may in fact also not be desirable - a unification of xp tracking between PCs and NPCs. It's a fascinating idea, and what I described above was my take on the matter, but going beyond that seems to have insuperable problems with universalization. PCs are the ultimate exceptions; by the terms of the core and the developer's commentary, they are literally the only people who can save the world. The issues of 400xp games that only cover a couple of years is unique to PCs - they alone have the power to break out that kind of development in that kind of time. RSB even tuoched on this point in a slight fashion, when she wrote that exchange between Sidereals that said, "I couldn't have known that someone would do something cool. There hadn't been any PCs in Creation since the War." The PCs are the cool, in ways that not even other heroic characters can match. Thus, attempting to equate Pc development with NPC development might well be flatly undoable. - Hapushet, who still wants to try, ironically
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