Character Death, XP Reserve

So. My current campaign has had two PC deaths in fairly short order (almost one a session), and players are starting to look at blowing cash to set up an XP reserve.

I’m planning to tell them to not bother, and just institute a house rule that new characters come in with half the XP of the departed character.

But this brings up a question for me: are the treasure allotments based around the idea that PCs will spend 35% of their wealth on reserve XP?

If so, I may need to massage the wealth tables and XP-per-gold. If not (if the reserve XP is just an add-on rule and not part of the treasure-per-level balancing act), then I can just run things as normal.

Hmm… only 35%? My PCs keep spending basically “All the money we didn’t have to give our henchmen or use on healing magic” on reserve XP. It’s to the point where I can’t help but think that ale prices have been grossly inflated in the town they’re operating out of. Guess it’ll probably come back to bite 'em in the ass if they ever make it to castle-building level.

It shouldn’t affect castle-building too badly.

Money doubles every level up to 9th. If they start deciding to back of the wild spending around 7th, they’ll still have the majority of money earned over their careers.

That’s true. I guess if one char makes it to 7th, then the odds of them making it to 9th are better than the odds of say 4th to 6th.

Removing Reserve XP won't materially affect the economics in the long-term, as spending on Reserve XP tends to drop dramatically at 7th level, when Restore Life and Limb becomes available.

That said, I'd encourage you to leave the system in, because it is a very valuable role-playing stimulus. In our playtest campaigns, reserve XP has been spent on:

- Huge gambling events at the Thieves' Guild

- Building a huge series of statues of the adventurers in the town square

-A welfare program for indigent peasants similar to the Salvation Army

-Hiring an entire brothel for a night's entertainment

-Endowing the local Tower of Knowledge to research particular topics

And more. It's a wonderful way to give a small in-game benefit for cash that otherwise would just be hoarded.

So far it’s been “Ale and whores” and “Anonymous donations to the temple” for us (nominous donations might help patch up relations with said temple, which would be a fairly significant benefit, so they chose to donate anonymously). I’ll have to mention these alternatives to my players.

Alex wrote: Removing Reserve XP won't materially affect the economics in the long-term, as spending on Reserve XP tends to drop dramatically at 7th level, when Restore Life and Limb becomes available.
That makes sense, thank you.
Alex wrote: That said, I'd encourage you to leave the system in, because it is a very valuable role-playing stimulus.
This may just be a difference in groups, then. Several of my players were spending money uselessly before they knew about the reserve XP system; and the others seemed to be getting in the spirit.

I mean, this is a group that spent money and game time taking a war dog to a local salon for shampoo and pampering.

What I saw happening, however, was that after we discussed reserve XP … the players started asking accounting questions about their previously freeform spending. Galswintha refused to spend less than 6 gp/week on her iron rations, and now she wants to know if the extra 5 gp/wk counts towards reserve. Lotharic wants to change the amount he was voluntarily tithing to the “optimal” amount for his current level. Chlodomer, after adding up the drinks he keeps buying for strangers, asks if the goblin-sized beret he bought for Grizzba counts.

So … for this group, at least, it wasn’t needed to stimulate role-playing spending, and it actually seems to be turning what was just “fun spending” into an accounting and meta-game tool.

If I was running a game with a bunch of strangers, or a group of serious hack-n-slash optimizers, I would probably leave it in, both to encourage role-playing and as a fun meta-game.

But for my group … meh. I’d rather see the girls turn their ferocious war dog into a lap mastiff. (When they pinky-swore vengeance on the ogre? It wasn’t because Radegund died and probably filled the belly of an ogre - no, it was their precious, shampooed puppy that got them all riled up.)

Sorry to hear they reacted so negatively to the Reserve XP rule. Thanks for explaining, it's useful feedback.

I may have presented the situation too harshly. The behavioral changes were during email discussions, not the heat of actual role-playing.

My own response to it is largely because the group was already doing the desired behavior, so the only thing the rule did was add a time tax. If they weren’t doing the desired behavior, or if they seemed to need some guidance, that small tax is worth it, but since they were already doing what I wanted, it seemed wrong to formalize it.

And Vulfelind and Galswintha’s responses - which did bother me - are probably atypical. Both are teenaged girls who had never role-played before. One is my niece, the other is her friend, and this gives them and their parents a break from each other over the weekend. They tend to immerse feet-first; game mechanics tend to pull them back out.

I was having a similar situation with a few players. They are different in age, maturity, background from the players that you’re dealing with, but a simple sentence helped them to understand the spirit of the rule:

It’s not that you have to waste money to get experience for your next character, it’s that money you waste becomes experience for your next character.

I think the main issue is better guidelines for what constitutes reserve exp spending. Maybe require that it has to be over a certain amount of gold spent or something so you’re not getting nickled and dimed to death.

I love the mechanic. To compare in a 4e game when I first started as a player on that system the concept of my character was of a robin hood. I stole and won gold and spent it on the people to better them, so most games I was sending all my gold on community projects.

Except that the game is balanced around you spending gold on gear, so I had to give that up to buy magic items. Basically the meta game got in the way of my character concept. With ACK if you want to be a pauper monk it has a really good benefit for you as a player. I like it.

Well, last night they added lots of opium, taking the hot sorceress on a really expensive date, having a statue erected in their honor in the town square, and hiring a sufficiently large escort to get the resurrected gender-changed retired paladin to her ultimate destination unharmed (after liberating her from enslavement by an orcish band) to the list.

The use of these alternatives pleases me.

Wow, now that's a great use of reserve XP!