300 x.p. for 3 minutes

The new revision of the Savage Worlds RPG has something neat that captured my imagination and inspired me to an idea that could be used in just about any game that runs on x.p. This will piss off those who think that awarding experience points for anything other than hauling back gold coins and slaying monsters is akin to signing one’s soul over to Mr. Pip, but so be it (“x.p. for plot points”, they will cry, and I will simply shrug). My idea is thus (and it’s not something that I would introduce to Adventures Dark and Deep, but it’s definitely something I might do in my own campaign).

In “interludes”, that is, times when the characters are on an extended journey, or an extended period of rest, one or more might be given the opportunity to do a little off-the-cuff exposition on some aspect of their character. The theme would depend on the situation, and ideally, I’d have a quick table (d6, d8, or maybe d12, depending on the circumstance and how inventive I feel) that would give a broad theme.

The player is expected to provide an in-character exposition relating to the theme. If they can keep up the banter for a full three minutes, they earn 300 x.p. (At higher levels, say 10 and above, I could see myself making that 3,000.)

One sample table could be, for a period of down-time while another player character was recuperating from a nearly fatal wound and nothing much else was going on:

  1. A romantic encounter
  2. A run-in with the law
  3. The PC discovers a new personal goal
  4. A friendship with an NPC that flourished briefly and ended suddenly
  5. A religious revelation
  6. An old skeleton in the closet emerges
  7. The PC is the victim of a scam artist
  8. A brief encounter with royalty, nobility, or some other high-echelon of society

The idea is that the player, in the course of describing the encounter, would have the opportunity to add a little something to the campaign. The GM would, naturally, have complete veto power, and be able to gently guide the player as he does his narration (filling in details and names and such), but the idea is that the campaign grows organically, and giving the players the opportunity to do so in a way that’s particularly specific to their character.

I bought a nifty little hourglass-timer on eBay that goes for 3 minutes. Can’t wait to try it out. Fair warning to my players– 3 minutes is an awfully long time to talk.

EDIT: Some folks seem to have gotten something of an incorrect notion about this. It would be an opportunity to earn the x.p. through a little impromptu character development. As in, “Who wants to earn 300 x.p.?” and the first person to raise their hand gets the chance. Nobody would be chosen, randomly or otherwise.

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Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

13 thoughts on “300 x.p. for 3 minutes

  1. The Toastmasters have a thing like this, called Table Topics. Or something. People randomly get chosen to stand up and talk about something. The point is to be able to think on your feet and be able to keep people entertained enough to not notice that you don't know much about what you're talking about. At least that's how I saw it.

    Point is, this is a well-established thing that should work. Three minutes is really not that long at all. It's not enough time to go into much detail, but you need a little flesh there.

    I suggest getting a yellow card and a red card. Yellow card means he's at 1.5 minute and needs to wrap it up. Red card means he's got 30 seconds left and needs to just finish.

    They had a rule for people who went way over: the clapdown. If the timer guy saw you go over by a whole minute he'd start clapping for you because obviously you're done. Everyone else starts clapping too (and basically stops listening). It feels so rude to keep talking!

    CAPTCHA: fullbirp. When you eat a lot and then release a single sonorous belch with smug moist lips.

  2. I for one love this idea. I might even see it as something I would include in every session. It might be modified to allow for an additional 5% or 10% experience as the case may warrant. I could see creating a stack of 100 of different questions and have them drawn individually. The players would write the characters name on the card so they did not get to do the same question again.

  3. i love this idea! consider it stolen. I also like Wymarc's card modification of it. Very cool. I might make it mandatory for each session – any player can attempt it, but at least one player must do so. Maybe there's a way to give some bonus xp (100) for the quality of the riff, as determined by the other players.

  4. You could use the Baron Munchausen storytelling rules for this, with the DM and other players interrupting and putting obstacles in the narrator's way.

  5. Nice idea. I fancy using this in my long running PBeM to allow characters to give some background to the other players.

  6. after thinking about it a little, I'd also want to mess around with the value of the x.p. award, if only for the fact that if one were playing AD&D 1e, for instance, 300 xp represents something like a quarter of the XP needed for a 1st level thief to advance to 2nd level (IIRC).

    Maybe 100 xp per level of one's character?

  7. On one hand, I really like the idea of this sort of creativity and development of both the world and the characters, but on the other I feel it wculd create an unnecessary tension were it to come up for certain people at bad times. I suspect I'd be one of the more likely to be able to ramble on for three minutes about a subject, but even so there are days I show up to a game feeling drained and tired and am just relieved to have the company of all the cool friends we play the game with.

    I can see a shorter form that is a less binary hit-or-miss, such as the questions on a card thing, being much more successful with less potential negativity risked.
    As to some of the more tension-creating stuff, like the yellow/red card thing I red previously, or the 'clapdown' thing, frankly, if that happened in the game it would become too uncomfortable and forced a situation for me to even want to try to take part and would pretty badly hurt the dynamic of the game as I see it. No, sir, I wouldn't like that, not even one little bit.

  8. Good suggestion and the overall theme of the idea is great. Really XP gets far too much focus from players, it is simply a game pacing mechanic. It just keeps the pot from boiling over too quickly … really nothing more. It obviously also incentive's

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