Reserve XP Fund

When a character contributes to their reserve XP fund, do they also get the experience from this treasure? If they do, it seems like quite the powerful bonus to do so at the cost of some funds, since you essentially get 190% of the XP (100% for the current character and 90% for the next one). However, I could see this as being “by design” since it’s a good way to let the player bring in a higher-than-1st-level character after losing a character.

It is powerful, yes, but it’s by design. Being built on an old-school chassis, ACKS can have a high mortality rate, which works against the desire to have characters reach “conqueror level”. The existence of the reserve XP fund thus fills 4 functions:

  1. It allows for players to continue playing within the same level range if their PC dies.
  2. It allows Judges to run honest (i.e. non-fudged) campaigns without worrying that the game will be overly deadly.
  3. It creates role-play opportunities through choices about the ridiculous ways the PCs spend their money. For instance, a fighter who spends it erecting a giant stone statue of himself and a fighter who spends it on loose women will develop a different “feel” in the game.
  4. It creates a useful money sink that helps drain adventuring cash.
  5. Finally, and most difficult to explain, it helps PCs act like real human beings do when they get rich. In real life, most people want money to spend it on the luxury, status, and pleasantries associated with wealth. In D&D, PCs pursue GP in order to buy gear and get XP. So you get the motivation (greed) but not the appropriate behavior. The reserve XP system means that you actually will get, e.g., PCs spending their money on huge banquets, over-the-top outfits, wild parties, useless trinkets, and otherwise acting like Richard Branson or other rich people do.

It’s not foolproof, however.
We’ve been playing so that when you use your Reserve XP it “empties” when you advance your new character. If I have 2500XP in my Reserve Fund, and I use it to increase my backup to 2nd Level, my Reserve Fund goes down to 0 XP again.
So, it’s totally possible to lose that new, advanced character as early as the next session and be back down to 0 XP in Reserve XP.
So, it’s a constant battle to keep that Reserve XP up and losing two characters back-to-back can be a huge loss. Definitely a good treasure-sink.

That’s a really clever idea!
In general, our playtesters usually aimed to keep their “reserve PC” at about 1/2 the experience points of their main PC. That meant they’d be 1 level behind, which was not too painful.

I’m pretty sure that the geometric XP tables and henchmen were specifically designed to take care of the problem of leveled characters dying…
Maybe I’m missing something?
Let’s say your Fighter has 16,000 xp, and a henchman with 8,000 xp; just like everyone in the party does. Then he dies horribly to a vile beast, like a cow. He was 5th level. Now he’s dead.
Two choices loom:

  1. Play the henchman. You’re 4th level (by the magic of geometric xp, one level behind! Note: it’s ALWAYS going to be this way until you stop getting Hit Dice) and will only ever be a mere 8,000 xp behind the person with the most xp, given equal game time.
  2. Roll up a new character. You’re 1st level, oh no! What to do? Well, by the time the party earns 16,000 more xp to reach 6th level, you’ve earned 16,000 xp to reach 5th and are automagically one level behind again! When they reach 7th, you’ll only be 16K xp behind, which is peanuts and you’ll have already outleveled the mage.
    Assuming that the average party spend 13 sessions gaining a collective level, when a character dies, he spends the next 13 sessions either leveling up quickly or one level behind and that’s going to turn into equality in the next couple of levels or so.
    Reserve XP does away with that ‘penalty’ that really just encourages creative play.
    Not sure I like that.

Thanks for the responses and the insight into this rule.
I do think I’d have the player have to spend the XP in his reserve fund to level up a new character if only to maintain the money-sink aspect.
You could also put an upper limit to the reserve XP; just tune that limit based on how much of a ‘penalty’ you want character death to incur.

Ataraxzy, you aren’t missing anything, mathematically. Psychologically, many players hate the 5-10 sessions where they are reduced to being several levels behind their peers. Moreover, in many campaigns, the danger level can be such that the new character simply gets killed again, before he catches up. The reserve XP system lets a player bypass that by sinking some of his previous character’s treasure.
This is particularly helpful when the group is on the cusp of transitioning to a new tier of play. For example, let’s say that everyone is 8th level, and campaign activity is revolving around stronghold construction, clearing hexes, hiring mercenaries, and so on. If I die and re-enter at 1st level, this is going to be quite boring for a long time. On the other hand, if I die and re-enter at 7th level (say), then I’m on the verge of being able to participate.
Of course if everyone has invested their cash into Reserve XP, the fortresses they are constructing at 8th level will be substantially smaller than they might have been. So it’s a trade-off of risk.

"Of course if everyone has invested their cash into Reserve XP, the fortresses they are constructing at 8th level will be substantially smaller than they might have been. So it’s a trade-off of risk. "
I hadn’t considered that.
It’s good that there are choices that seem to be real tradeoffs.