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I started drafting a “public works” system, which will be the principle non-combat, non-dungeon-crawling means of earning experience in my system. If you figure that spending GP earns you XP, public works set the pace for how it works.

A public work (hereafter referred to as a “project”) takes a minimum of one week to complete, and there’s a maximum amount of GP that can be invested in a project per week. The maximum GP that can be put toward a project per week is one-fifth the XP it takes the project leader to progress to the next level.

A five-week project is sure to advance a character one level, assuming they had no XP toward the level to begin with — no character can earn XP to advance more than one level per project, so if you want to speed-level a PC, you’re looking at twenty-nine projects and nearly three years to hit the level cap.

That is, if you have the million-plus gold pieces to fund them all.

Anyone can invest in a project, even — at the GM’s discretion — affluent NPCs. This means “quest rewards” are effectively built into non-combat situations. You could even have multiple project leaders divvy up the XP.

So, what’s the downside? You could hypothetically level an entire party of PCs like this with enough GP. Well, while there’s technically no upper limit on how much GP can be invested in a project, there’s no guarantee when it will be completed.

Skill checks are progressive, and made toward a level-based goal similar to monster hit points A few weeks of bad checks could have investors grumbling. Also, project leaders gain XP upon the project’s completion.

The implications as to a failed projects’ resources are open-ended at the moment. If NPC investors decide to break a PC’s kneecaps because delivery times weren’t met, the project might be still be salvaged within a certain time period.

I don’t know.

Anyway, it becomes more fun when you involve the character-side Risks that can be taken with skill checks. I’ve mentioned them here and there, but the basic idea is that while success on a skill check is generally assumed, you can take a “Risk” (mechanically an attack roll) to boost the outcome of a given check.

It introduces failure and project delays, and “critical hits” for skills.