Here’s a collection of XP-related house rules. I’ve actually been using these for most of my ACKS campaigns; it’s time I post them…
Players Keep Experience:
In my games it’s the players who accumulate XP – not the characters.
This makes it a lot less painful if your PC dies or suffers level drain. (It also means that I ignore the ACKS rules for Reserve XP.)
I’m trying to encourage more team-based play so I also take a cooperative approach: experience and treasure gained during a session is divided amongst the players who participated.
If a player can’t make it to a session, I’ll ask them if they want their characters to participate as “henchmen” for half the regular XP, or keep them “out of play” for the session and earn nothing.
In the current campaign this cooperative approach even extends to campaign activities. So XP from domain rulership and magic research, for example, is split evenly between all players.
Each player designates one “primary” PC. Other characters are considered “secondary” (and are usually – but not necessarily – henchmen to the primary).
The primary character always earns 1 full share of treasure and XP, while by default each secondary character earns a ½ share.
I allow the players to change a secondary character’s share from a session: from a minimum of ¼ to a maximum of 1 full share. This should reflect the character’s participation in the session. If they spent the entire time duing stuff “off-screen”, then ¼ is appropriate. If they were the centre of action then they can earn 1 full share.
So let’s take one simplified example… Let’s assume a session with only two players; Player A with a single primary PC, while Player B has their primary plus two henches.
If the group earned 2000XP in a session, each player gets 1000XP. Player A’s character gets 1000XP. Assuming Player B’s secondary characters each get a ½ share, then his primary PC gets 500XP and each hench gets 250XP.
“Floating” Henchmen Option:
If the players are reluctant to burn personal XP on henchmen, then I may allow “floating” henchmen to be shared amongst the group instead.
These floaters will be treated as a half “player” in terms of shares, and will split experience and gold evenly amongst themselves.
The downside to this approach is that since the henches aren’t attached to any particular player, then I’m much more likely as referee to dictate their actions and loyalty.
Hiring Experienced Characters:
PCs may gain alliances with experienced NPCs or hire seasoned henchmen during play. They will enter play above 1st level, but I still track thei rexperience starting at 0XP.
This means that the character might be “stuck” at a level for a while, but since XP requirements double at low- and mid-levels this is less of an issue than it first appears.
Sometimes I’ll fudge these guidelines. If a character dies during play and a player wants to “promote” a former hench, then I’ll allow them to transfer a bunch of XP to their new primary PC. (You still can’t gain more than 1 level per session, though.)
Or if they get sick of a secondary character I’ll let them ditch the unwanted adventurer and apply the XP to a replacement.