XP for "outsmarting" monsters

Hi folks,

So, we finally started my year-in-the-making campaign last week. Feedback was generally positive, and we got plenty done in the session, which was a nice change from some of the crunchier games we play. We have, however, already come across a rules question, and I think it's a bit of a grey area. I'm happy enough to make my own call, and already have adjusted things to suit my preferences, but it would be good to know how others approach this so I have some guidance.

We had 2 random encounters in the sesion. I pre-roll encounters so I can jump right into them. The first was a band of orcs returning from raiding a hamlet, romping through the forest with their goods. I had rolled mutual awareness, but because the forest was thick, they heard each other before they saw each other. Upon hearing a large group of beings grunting in a langauge they didn't know, the players sensibly elected to hide in the brush. The orcs stopped and looked around, having heard a sound, but were distracted by each other and were in large enough numbers that they didn't feel threatened, so they shrugged and continued on.

The second encounter the players stumbled onto a group of goblins hunting a boar. Both groups were deer in the headlights when they spotted each other, until the party's high Charisma cleric started using crude sign language (beastmen don't speak English/Common in my setting) to indicate they should all hunt the boar together. I made a reaction roll and with modifier came up 13 on 2d6, so I decided the goblins were cooperative. After killing the boar the PCs took a share of the meat and went on their way.

My question to you all is with reference to ACKS Core Book Pg 114:

"All defeated monsters (either outsmarted, captured, or killed) grant XP..."

Should the players have earned XP for these actions. I'm fairly satisfied that they earned their XP in the second encounter with the goblins, as they avoided the danger through intelligent play. The orcs, however, well, if I grant XP for hiding in the bushes, I can see that happening an awful lot, and that doesn't sit quite right.

I would very much welcome thoughts on the matter.

I definitely wouldn't grant full monster XP for hiding in the bushes (it's basically equivalent to running away), only for some sort of direct interaction. If the party reported the movements of the orc patrol to some authority willing to pay for such information, they could get "treasure" xp for the amount of the bounty, but the major reward is escaping a fight too tough for them.

As long as the means of overcoming the monsters never leads to them attempting to "double dip" and get the XP twice, you can safely give them the XP.  They may have an easier time, but in my experience monster XP is such a drop in the bucket compared to wealth XP that going easy on them is unlikely to break the game.  That being said, running away tends to not be very final, especially if it's part of a series of pursuit rolls.  You should probably only award XP when you're sure the PCs have ensured they'll never have to meet these foes in combat for the forseeable future.

I wouldn't award XP for either of those. As has been listed, the reward for hiding is that you don't have to fight! In the case of the goblins, the reward is some free boar meat and some boar XP, plus a friend in the woods that will surely come in handy later.

Same here: I wouldn't award XP for either of those. The only time I'd award XP for "outsmarted" monsters is if they were neutralized in some fashion, as in they were effectively defeated without actually engaging with them. Running away and successful negotiation wouldn't really qualify. I can't read Alex's mind, but I would guess this is mentioned in the text to leave leeway for Judges who want to grant XP for unusual encounters (e.g., indestructible enemies, enemies trapped by a cave-in, enemies tricked into entering a door that is actually a Sphere of Annihilation, etc.).

As others have stated, the amount of XP normally granted by Monsters is such a small proportion of total XP that not giving constant rewards for interacting with Monsters isn't much of a hardship.

Scenarios where I would award XP for noncombat encounters:

If the goblins had shouted "IF YOU WISH TO LEAVE ALIVE YOU MUST ANSWER ME THESE RIDDLES THREE" and the PCs answered their riddles. (Oh man I just realized that in my first ACKS game I had the PCs do a riddle game with a dragon and I did not actually award them XP! My bad. Totally should've. Oops. I'm going to start my next players off with an extra couple hundred each as a way of paying it forward. I'm sure my original party will appreciate that.)

If the goblins had been carrying treasure and the PCs rolled up with a lie like "Hello we are the county treasure inspectors we will need to take a 10% sample to verify that your treasure isn't contaminated" then I'd give them some XP for that (on top of the gold XP!)

Selling the ogre tribe gorgeous, high quality, smallpox-covered blankets.

Tricking the ancient guardian into drinking from the Wrong Grail.

Poisoning Wallace Shawn.

When I award XP for non-combat encounters its usually for something like charming some monsters and making then serve you (either as shock troops or for guarding the party's back).

Compared to most of you, I am quite generous. I grant XP for these sorts of encounters any time the party moves forward rather than backward. Avoiding a fight merits a reward, in my book, if it gets them closer to the next payoff.