When you reward an action, it will cause people to do that action more. Traditionally in the early years of "roll" playing, looting and slaying were the primary methods of leveling up your character. I like looting and slaying, in games mind you, quite a bit, the difficulty arises when these are the core ways one levels up their character, this becomes the paradigm for all adventure creation. So developing a story line and rewarding people for advancing plot elements with something other than a blade's edge are not tangible rewarding to players. I kill creature X, to get experience reward Y. I loot treasure A I get experience B. Basic, but honestly kind of boring and it can get quite convoluted in trying to compute it. Worse crunching numbers after a battle to reward XP can take players right of the game and slows adventure momentum as well as game play.
As gaming advanced the emphasis in many games shifted to "role" playing. Epic plots, intrigues, and multiple sessions where combat might never occur. Rewarding a player for good "role" playing though is somewhat subjective and in my own experience, can lead to internal party or group friction. This is also a difficult method of play for those who dislike theatrical pontification in strange not quite right accents. Does the showiest most theatrical person deserve a bigger award than the quiet guy who just wants some thing to slay and loot? If you reward "role" playing than those who dislike showmanship will be turned off from playing.
Lastly, I never like the XP division by class to artificially limit and make advancement more difficult for some and quicker for others. It is an artificial social leveling to insure some character classes who are seen as too powerful within the game are held back.
Okay, in that brief overview you know what I don't like and why. So how do I have it set up in Roguish?
At the end of an adventure you are awarded a combination of 1,2, or 3 XP. Any class needs 10 XP to raise to the next level. Maximum reward is 5XP at the end of any adventure.
You get 1 XP for surviving the adventure
You get 2 XP if you survived, and did something clever, tricky, or brave in the adventure.
You get 3 XP if you survived and were an instrumental participant in completing the adventure.
Yes it is a little vague on purpose. Generally most folks will get 3-5 pts. Some who helped, but were also a bit of a drag on the adventure will get a 2, and the participant award player who generally was a pain in the ass probably gets 1.
So it will take 2-3 adventures in general to raise a level for most players. I don't know about you, but finding time to complete 1 adventure a month is difficult. and this XP system I think will help foster return play because you can level up quickly. Second, the level grind issue goes away and the game becomes more concerned with participating in the adventure. Treasure is its own reward so is not counted in as an XP reward. This system should take advantage of any players particular ability without giving a specific reward for slaying the dragon, or out smarting the troll at the bridge. Both, in this system, are equally valuable.
The Referee and the players are ( I hope) freed by this reward system to focus on playing the game, not on tracking who killed what or who role played the best. It also mean stopping to figure out XP after a battle goes away, increasing immersion in the game and speeding play. It is simple and easy to pick up for new referees and expert referees can change and use what ever system they like.