21 January 2019

i want to give bonus experience for camping

so how about this: when you earn experience points, you don't get them right away. the DM will write down the experience that you've earned, and you get to wite them down when you get a good rest. how much you get to keep depends on how good of a rest it is. 

because I'm not an asshole, the default is '100% of your experience.' you get to keep what you earned. those goblins are dead and you killed them and you learned how to be better at inflicting violence. keep up the good work. it doesn't matter if you spent your time sleeping in a monsoon under that flimsy tent you wrote on your character sheet when you made the character and that you've apparently been carrying with you while you were being beaten up by ogres and catching arrows with your torso. it still counts. one of the functions of sleep is to help encode your memories and I guarantee you will remember a good chunk of what it is to be scourged by some nightmare acid in two weeks's time.

but treating sleep and rest like it literally doesn't matter is kind of... odd, isn't it? in real life, you spend like, a third of your day sleeping. you have a whole room in your house dedicated to the art of the snooze. probably. if you ask a hundred real life American human beings if they wouldn't mind trading their warm bed with air conditioning for a night on the streets with just the clothes on their backs, I bet you wouldn't get a single one without offering them something in return. but in fantasy games, I've had my players weigh whether they want to pay the innkeeper a handful of their hard-earned loot or if they'd rather just sleep outside of the city in their tents because, who cares? what difference does it make anyways? we'll set a watch.

in this world, a soft feather quilt is exactly as good as a threadbare woolen blanket. a king's bed is just as good as a quick snooze on an ooze-slick dungeon floor, or sleeping in a barn. a campfire is where they'll cook food, assuming that they've bothered to bring anything that isn't abstracted to 'rations,' and even then, it's not necessary that they care in the least. rations are rations, you have to eat one because the dungeon master says it's time to mark one off your character sheet, and that's it. let's get back to the parts where it matters, eh?

well look: if you make a good camp, if you can truly rest well, you get a bonus to your experience. I can think of a couple different things I'd give experience for, personally:

a) if there's a great big warm fire at night, you get 10% more.
(magic fires don't put off the 'right' kind of warmth, and give a much smaller bonus)

b) if you've got a really nice blanket, or a super cozy tent, or if you paid for quality lodgings, you get 5%.

c) if you let your guard completely down, that's 5%.
(if your players go for this somewhere they shouldn't, you're absolutely obligated to ambush them. the point is for them to always try and be somewhere safe when they put their heads down. they still get this bonus if they're ambushed, btw)

d) if you sleep through the entire night without fear, that's 5%.
(this is where they get a bonus for being right about letting their guard down.) 

e) if you are making merry before bedtime, that's another 5%. 
(singing, dancing, making love, whatever you like. entertaining descriptions get a bonus) [1]

f) if you go to sleep with a belly full of real food, that's anywhere from 3 to 7%, depending on how creative you are.
(rations, trail mix, lembas bread- those aren't real food and you know it)

you can make the bonuses per characer if you want, that can be fun. get ready for your characters to ask lots and lots of questions about making camp all of a sudden. get ready for your characters to suddenly be very interested in the local cuisine, or in exactly which parts of a griffon are edible. [2] you can lean into it- maybe pheonix feathers stay warm forever and now your characters are making a fantasy heated blanket. maybe you can distill mushrooms into a decent liquor, and the guy with a background in alchemy now is giving everybody in his party an experience bonus, and now everybody's excited to look into caves because they might find that special purple mushroom that makes the best hooch.

and the converse is true- now they're going to be grumbling if they have to live off rations, if that goblin shaman's stupid acid spurt spell ruined their blanket, if they're running out of firewood. they're roughing it. now your players care about the same thing your characters care about- and that's beautiful. embrace this feeling, and encourage it whenever you can. exploit it. run with it. have more fun.

what did you think? I'm trying a new style, a new focus. a little looser, a little freer, a little more like some of my inspirations, a little less self-serious. hope you enjoy it.

it's been two years since my other posts about camping mechanics, which I can't decide how I feel about.

[1] I write this knowing that my players, in the past, have often gotten carried away with trying to seduce NPCs. It might be better, for such characters, to encourage them to retire early and, maybe replace this with something like 'if you go to sleep before everybody else and don't cause any problems you get bonus experience.' your mileage may vary.

[2] I love Dungeon Meshi and even if you don't normally like manga, you should check it out.


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