Author Topic: Weaponizing XP penalties  (Read 297 times)

Offline PlzBreakMyCampaign

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Weaponizing XP penalties
« Topic Start: March 16, 2017, 01:00:00 AM »
It's well known that a character can reach 100% XP penalties due to how poorly tested the multiclass rules are. Going Non-Favored Class A 2 / Non Favored Class B 1 / Non Favored Class C 1 / Non Favored Class D 1 / Non Favored Class E 1 / Non Favored Class F 1 and then going Non-favored Class A 3 suddenly means all XP received goes to 0.

Since penalties all stack this would also nullify any XP losses. Which oddly, isn't abusable since the XP nullification happens "from the moment the character adds a class" that puts you into the penalty. So even if you would have extra XP left over, it goes to zero. That means no XP available to spend (for free) on magic items. Since level drain also sets the level first before messing with XP, the temporary XP nullification is not helpful (since the XP change happens after the lost level).

If the above example took a 6th dip before gaining 3rd level in the highest level class, the XP penalty would be negative. The XP gain to get you there would have to exactly put you at 0 hp over the amount needed or it would create a yo-yo effect of instantly de-leveling because the gained XP would become negative XP. Presumably this was a built-in fix. If a a PC managed this situation, would you allow XP losses to become gains? There are very few ways to spend XP when you have 0 more than you needed for your last class level....

Offline Garryl

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #1: March 16, 2017, 01:17:01 AM »
I don't know how you're getting the idea that multiclass penalties affect XP losses. You're going to have to explain it better. Walk me through your reasoning.

Did Rules Compendium expand on XP penalties or something? I know it's discussed (but not well defined) on page 60 of the PHB. Is there anything in the DMG, too, or something?

Offline PlzBreakMyCampaign

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #2: March 17, 2017, 10:01:23 PM »
"Your multiclass character suffers a -20% penalty to xp for each class that is not within on level of his or her highest-level class."

An XP penalty is an is a penalty to xp change. Things that change XP use the XP penalty because ... its your XP penalty value. The examples mention XP awards which state no source or other restrictions. I see no reason to think other awards would get off scott free. If they did, the XP penalty would be toothless for a character who stayed at a set ECL and spent XP on other things. That would be an even great dysfunction to me.

XP costs are just negative awards. Basic math is preserved in D&D, aside from the (x2)*(x2)= x3 stuff.

Offline SorO_Lost

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #3: March 18, 2017, 02:47:19 PM »
I don't know how you're getting the idea that multiclass penalties affect XP losses.
It's what happens when you take an abstract concept of something, rather than the actual something, and attempt to reverse it.

For example, under Multiclass Characters which according to it's header is only discussing progression, it contains a paragraph sentence partial blurb about an XP penalty. ie "Developing and maintaining skills and abilities in more than one class is a demanding process. Depending on the character’s class levels and race, he or she might or might not suffer an XP penalty." If you forgot most of that sentence, and the following half-a-page of examples, you might get confused over whether or not XP penalty applies to everything, or just progression.

Of course,
"Your multiclass character suffers a -20% penalty to xp for each class that is not within one level of his or her highest-level class."
Sometimes you also miss the fact Classes are not Spells too.

And in this realm of misunderstanding you may thing a -20% rate applies to say, XP Costs on Spells.
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Offline Maelphaxerazz

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #4: March 18, 2017, 04:08:52 PM »
This is one of those cases where a "no duh" common sense reading of the text is necessary. Why on Earth would anyone read a "penalty" to mean something that is a penalty in some cases and a bonus in others? The -20% XP penalty obviously only applies to XP gains, and the idea that it reduces XP costs is one of those things that would leave any DM (including the game designers who wrote the rule in the first place) wondering what you have been smoking.

EDIT: also, I doubt that the -100% XP penalty for very multiclasses characters was unintentional or an oversight or due to poor playtesting. It is a bad rule, but it is a rule that follows the logic in the edition before it. Plenty of humanoid characters in 2e faced a level cap, and this level cap was lower in many cases for multiclass characters. Thus, the designers probably thought this rule is okay. It's a level cap in a different form.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2017, 04:15:49 PM by Maelphaxerazz »

Offline PlzBreakMyCampaign

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #5: March 18, 2017, 06:31:29 PM »
@mael, the reason a penatly can become a non-hinderence is if it is multiplied by a negative number. Go ask a community college accounting 101 teacher for tax examples.

It's what happens when you take an abstract concept of something ... and attempt to reverse it.
Yup. Mathematics is all about abstraction.

All the descriptor text about the XP penalty being a result of classes, and applying to leveling is true, though.

Quote
And in this realm of misunderstanding you may thing a -20% rate applies to say, XP Costs on Spells.
Oh I get what you're saying. Normally the penalty does only apply to gains (see the "awards" language I quoted above). So a single conflicting class causing a 20% XP penalty would not have to pay 20% less XP to cast spells. You're saying "this way lies madness" because changing the value from a positive 20% penalty to a negative 20 or 40 or whatever doesn't change what it applies to.

But I beg the question. The only reason the above didn't count is because the XP cost wasn't a gain. Once a penalty becomes negative, it changes XP loss into XP gain. There are no other restrictions on it.

Imagine an imbalanced 9th level spell that caused you to gain 10 XP upon cast. Would a normally XP penalized, multiclass character gain less XP? Sure, since it sounds like an "award". Now if his XP penalty were negative, wouldn't he then gain more than 10 xp per cast?

A normally penalized (positive XP penalty) character casting a normally XP costly spell at no point has an XP award. That would be why there is no penalty on the cost, to me. Only negative penalties could change that.

Offline PlzBreakMyCampaign

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #6: March 18, 2017, 06:40:03 PM »
Why on Earth would anyone read a "penalty" to mean something that is a penalty in some cases and a bonus in others? The -20% XP penalty obviously only applies to XP gains
Depending on the sign of the number value. And, I agree

Quote
I doubt that the -100% XP penalty for very multiclasses characters was unintentional or an oversight or due to poor playtesting.
I think I agree as well. Initially it seemed dumb, but when I probed it harder, the yo-yo effect helped settle characters into that cap.

Offline SorO_Lost

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #7: March 18, 2017, 08:03:37 PM »
But I beg the question.
A logical fallacy into it's self. As noted, they don't apply to begin with so trying to ask questions on the matter is technically irrelevant.

But in this case, it's worth going into not because while you hit a dead end but because we hit a point in the rule structure where the DMG sort of suggests ignoring (a certain type of) experience penalties.
Quote from: DMG41, under Rewards
EXPERIENCE PENALTIES
Characters can lose experience points by casting certain spells or creating magic items. This allocation of personal power serves a specific game function: It limits and controls these activities, as well as making them interesting choices for players. In general, however, you shouldn’t use experience penalties in any other situation. While awards can be used to encourage behavior, penalties don’t serve to discourage bad behavior. They usually only lead to arguments and anger. If a player behaves in a way you don’t want him to behave, talk to him about it. If he continues, stop playing with him.
It goes without saying there are a few things to mention, like just because they both call them selves "experience penalties" doesn't mean they are the same, there is a fundamental difference between a adding negative value and reducing a positive value before it's added to another just as there is a difference between limiting powerful Spells costing limited resources and frivolously using the same spells to endlessly power up, and likewise the article seems to primarily be discussing the concept of a DM handing out negative XP for breaking a railroaded game is a bad idea.

But as noted, you shouldn’t use experience penalties in any other situation other than Magic Item and Spell cost. So I find it a little ironic that players are penalized for Multiclassing and not taking Bloodlines on time. It seems that conceptually, the authors of the DMG ignored their advice and applied penalties that don't discourage bad behavior and only leads to stupid arguments online over how to weaponize XP costs :p
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Offline Maelphaxerazz

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #8: March 18, 2017, 08:28:29 PM »
Following the logic in its entirely,
XP costs are just negative awards.
Not exactly. An XP cost is a negative XP change, and an XP award is a positive XP change. While a cost or a penalty is the opposite of an award or a bonus, something that specifically modifies an award does not also modify a cost. The multiclass XP penalty rule is effectively saying "in the case of an XP change, if that change is positive, reduce that positive XP change by -20% before applying it to the character".  Thus, this...
Since penalties all stack this would also nullify any XP losses.
...is not true. Not because "this way lies madness", but simply because the language does not allow it. It is not talking about "-20% to any XP change", it is talking about "-20% to any positive XP change". So the answer to the original question of this thread,
Quote
If a a PC managed this situation, would you allow XP losses to become gains?
... is "no". No, I would not allow XP losses to become gains. The rule does nothing at all to reduce XP losses or turn them into gains.

A multiclass character, whether he is at 3/1 or 3/1/1/1/1/1/1, will still have to pay 12 xp to craft a potion of Bull's Strength and 100 xp to cast Burial Blessing. There is no situation where his multiclassing will cause him to pay less xp, or gain more xp, than a single-classed character.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2017, 08:32:43 PM by Maelphaxerazz »

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #9: March 19, 2017, 07:13:00 PM »
Interesting problem, but won't work.

For example, I can pay for xp costs with other sources. This means that the xp cost of say... casting simulacrum is a cost, not a xp increase. In order for your concept to have any traction, you need to have a negative XP award.

For example, killing a monster grants you 200 xp in situation X.
However, in some games, killing a NPC is a XP penalty of say -200 xp. (why did you kill all the kobold children?)

In THAT case, and that case alone would your theoretical -20% penalty net you a whopping 40 xp.

However, the only examples I can find of this are in modules. Therefore there is no hard core rule mechanic where you can consistently exploit this.

Spending XP is not the same as EARNING XP. I am not EARNING negative XP when I brew a potion. I am not EARNING negative xp when I cast a spell with an XP cost. I am spending XP that exists, not being given Anti-XP.

Although I am now intrigued with the very concept of Anti-XP. I think it might make for a very strange concept in a game. Sort of thing a villain embraces, or the existence of Nightmare world creatures (Beings that exist 3 dimensionally in dimensions 3,4, and 5, as opposed to dimensions 1,2,3) that work on the force of anti-XP.

Fascinating. I must explore it sometime.
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Offline altpersona

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #10: March 20, 2017, 12:03:47 AM »
establish a psionics mechanic that damages xp

(i pick psi because of the mind aspect, totally ignoring the fact that all the casters do mind stuff also)

all of a sudden, the 'I do 500 damage a hit' builds get weird.

also, seems like level drain is pretty functionally similar to the point of whats the point... beyond immunity, which i would think would carry over.
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Offline awaken_D_M_golem

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #11: March 20, 2017, 05:10:06 PM »
Here's part of what PLZ is referring to (but not this newest idea).
http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=7679.0
It's already waffly how it worked, and of course there's plenty of exp hi-jinks anyway.
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Offline SorO_Lost

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #12: March 20, 2017, 05:30:36 PM »
establish a psionics mechanic that damages xp
Most Classes can already do that through proxy. If a Negative Level lasts 24 hours then on a failed Save the level loss results in a minimum 500xp, so just recruit some Undead.

Heck the Enervating Arm costs 40k and gives a +4 Inherent Bonus to Strength (a 110k value!) and gives you two DC 14 Negative Levels you can smack people with. Get someone to craft you one using Enhance Item to crank the Save DC up which doesn't even have a listed increase to cost and it doesn't even matter if the DM charges you 10k per +1, you can still afford DC 20 for cheaper than buying the actual Tome :p
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Offline PlzBreakMyCampaign

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #13: April 21, 2017, 12:12:59 AM »
As noted, they don't apply to begin with
Er, I know I'm being hard headed, but I don't yet see a nail in the coffin against the opening argument. It's been a while since i made/read this, so if you want to try again in a very concise manner I'll retry.
Quote
there is a fundamental difference between a adding negative value and reducing a positive value before it's added to another ... a DM handing out negative XP for breaking a railroaded game is a bad idea.
XP punishments are bad for lots of metagame reasons (why try?) but railroading is its own problem to be avoided by any good DM.
Quote
only leads to stupid arguments online over how to weaponize XP costs :p
*Takes a bow*


While a cost or a penalty is the opposite of an award or a bonus, something that specifically modifies an award does not also modify a cost.
That may be true, but it is irrelevant. I am not talking about modifying awards. I'm talking about modifying costs. Specifically in the situation of 0XP but -120% XP rate spending a few thousand XP (that you don't have) in a highly unusual manner. The manner is irrelevant for now too. The question is: if a character A) could spend XP they didn't have and B) had a negative XP rate, would you let them use it to gain XP? The "award" is at the end and therefore is never modified. If it were modified, it wouldn't be the last mathematical step, then would it?  ;)
Quote
It is not talking about "-20% to any XP change", it is talking about "-20% to any positive XP change"
Uh, rules quote? Because I quoted "a -20% penalty to xp" not "a -20% penalty to xp gain" or "a -20% penalty to positive xp". Whether that XP is positive or negative isn't relevant. We know which direction is the "normal" way but that mathematics for sign change over multiplication still functions in D&D as per usual arithmetic. That's how I'm using the rules in ways not intended.
Quote
A multiclass character [with an xp penalty] will still have to pay 12 xp to craft a potion of Bull's Strength
Again rules quote? If you look carefully at the math, you'll realize that the example you cited does not allow for any discount on XP spending: you first have to get the XP available to spend, which is already reduced by the amount you might think you're "saving." Basically once you realize how dang balanced this is, you appreciate the beauty of the XP penalty system: something the community has been harshly critical as "poorly designed" or whatever.

Offline PlzBreakMyCampaign

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Re: Weaponizing XP penalties
« Reply #14: April 21, 2017, 12:24:30 AM »
@aDMg wow that thread was 5 years ago... And the graft Soro mentioned is a trap because the save is low and the inherent bonus doesn't stack with wish et al

In order for your concept to have any traction, you need to have a negative XP award.
Not necessary. I have one, but it is left as an exercise to the reader. One thing at a time. As you can see there isn't agreement yet before getting there anyway.
Quote
in some games, killing a NPC is a XP penalty of say -200 xp. (why did you kill all the kobold children?)

In THAT case, and that case alone would your theoretical -20% penalty net you a whopping 40 xp.

However, the only examples I can find of this are in modules. Therefore there is no hard core rule mechanic where you can consistently exploit this.
Thank you. I'll count that as a "Yes" tally then.  :D
Quote
I am not EARNING negative xp when I cast a spell with an XP cost. I am spending XP that exists, not being given Anti-XP.
Show me, RAW. You are correct that you have to have XP to spend it, which as you can see, I am aware of and is the 2nd dilemma in the OP. Again, it is a nice feature that helps show how resilient the XP penalty system actually is.