Bingo Style Experience Points after a few months of leveling up

Bingo Style Experience Points after a few months of leveling up

We’ve been using the Bingo Style Experience Points (LINK TO FIRST POST) for a few months now. The last character just hit 3rd level. The way we’ve done it is when we hit a bingo-row/column/diagonal the group gets a level to hand out to whichever character they decide. I can see different ways to do this.

Row/Column/Diagonal = Single Level

I like the table deciding where each level goes. I haven’t seen it create bad feelings but I could see how it might if there are other problems afoot at the table. It might even create problems, which is the last thing I want.

I realize that asymmetric level advancement vexes some folks. They might very well be right and if so, I’ll move things around. For now, I dig it and it stays. If anything, I might lean into that a bit, see how far we can go before the game breaks.

I think I am going to have the levels be able to go to other things – leveling up hirelings, pets and maybe an HQ. Something to consider for later…

The group makes the decision about who gets the level for reasons both narrative and strategic. Sometimes it is, “Level up the cleric and the wizard first,” thinking about artillery and healing and sometimes the conversation goes, “Helewyn clearly just learned something; she should get the level tonight…” and the level is doled out because it makes narrative sense. Other times it is pragmatic, “Is anyone still 2nd level?” I like this blend.

Sometimes we keep track of things as they happen. Other times we go over it after a scene or at a good resting spot. Some sessions folks tinker with it during a break. There have been days we’ve forgotten about it and gone back to it at the end of the session. It can be as intrusive or background as you want and still work.

I use the jamboard where we keep it as a place to store NPC names, maps and art. Players use it as a spot for character art.

Row = Party Level

Alright, everyone gets a level every time you get a row. Maybe there is a way to write the bingo squares so they are not so easy to reach. If we did it that way the party would be 20th level rather than 3rd.

Maybe add another layer of squares? Otherwise it would go too fast. Maybe only one level per session? I don’t think we hit a level every session but sometimes we hit more than one or two right at the same time. Something to work on and consider.

Clear the Board

I wasn’t sure when to clear the board and then it became very clear – whenever hits a level, we clear it. Everyone’s 2nd level…clear it. Everyone’s 3rd level…clear it.

We’d have to figure out a different time if we played a strange rule-breaking game in which a group of 1st level characters dump all of the levels into one character, who is said to be their demi-god.

“Judd, that wouldn’t work!”

I know. I want to do it anyway. It is just so strange to have a party trying to elevate one character to godhood.

Bingo Squares

I’m figuring out how to put to words what makes for a good bingo square.

Build a Bridge

Plant a Seed

Both could be literal or metaphorical and it gets us to watch out for play in which these things happen. I don’t have proof but I feel like this style of experience encourages players to pay attention, looking for their friends to do cool things.

Then there simple and literal ones that gets everyone looking for opportunities:

Spring a trap on a mighty foe

Use a mundane item as a weapon

Dress up as your enemy to gain access to a forbidden place

And sometimes going into a particular mission inspires one. When the players were going to a Faery Ball we had:

Ask someone dangerous to dance

In the week before we play, if we’ve just cleared the board, we have a thread where we share ideas. Before we start I make sure no one had an idea that isn’t represented. I add some in too. Sometimes I use what I know of the upcoming adventure but often I have no idea how the group is going to attack a problem. I never know if they are going to use dynamite or diplomacy (and I wouldn’t have it any other way).

I’ve tried to keep the 3 Pillars in mind: Exploration, Social Interaction, Combat.

Last house-rule we use now – A bingo chip can be spent off the board as Inspiration. I choose the chip. I wouldn’t necessarily want players spending a chip on a square they were accomplishing with that roll. I’d want the chip to mean some kind of sacrifice.

If we hit the same bingo square twice, could we put two chips on that square and use one for Inspiration while still having a chip on that square? Something to consider…

If you use the Bingo XP Variant, please let me know. I’d love to hear the glories and challenges you experience with it at the table.

Thank you to the Thursday night crew that has been gaming regularly since the first days of the pandemic. And thanks to Aaron for talking D&D with me.

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Bingo Style Experience Points

Bingo Style Experience Points

Some friends at the Indie Games Reading Club have been chatting about experience points and I just bought this lucious art bundle on sale over on, so I decided to dust off an ugly old google doc idea and use the Affinity Art Suite and some adorable bats from the British Library’s flickr page to showcase an untested idea.

Artwork used with permission by Charles Ferguson-Avery of Feral Indie Studio

Shouldn’t there be something written in the outer ring?

Yes! Everyone at the table helps fill that in. Before play the group puts ideas for things that they’d like to see in the game. Each item in the outer ring has to be something anyone could do. If you want to see the Barbarian overcome their mistrust of Sorcerers, don’t put, “Barbarian overcomes their mistrust of sorcerers.” Instead try, “Overcome a cultural bias you’ve brought with you from your homeland.” That way any character might trip over it. The barbarian might hit it but the druid might really dig coffee, tea and literate, long legged lovers that the city has to offer.

Once you make a row, you get one level. I love when groups are asymmetrical, so I’d have one level that goes to one character and then you wipe the outer board clean and start again. Which character gets the level?

  • The character with the most failed rolls.
  • The character who seems to have learned the most.
  • The character with the least levels.
  • Hand out the level by going around in a pre-established order.
  • The one character who is destined to become a living deity.

If the prompts in the middle area are not longer serving your game, change them. They felt like a gaggle of solid D&Dish prompts to me but I have a blank version of the PDF above if you’d like to make your own.

Does this work? I have no idea. I’d love to take out Five Torches Deep or Old School Essentials or even Worlds Without Number, Stars Without Number (I’d have to change up the prompts a bit) or Godbound and give it a go. If you take it for a spin let me know how it works for you; I’d love to hear from you.

Check out the art bundle sale on It is a cool half off sale aimed at zinequest folks and has fun art.

Playtest to Find Out

When the table gets level bingo, do you clear the whole board or just the line in which you achieved bingo?

I think just the line but I’d have to see how fast levels accrue to know for sure. Hm. That is a good one. Thank you, Tony L-B. Great question.

After level 10 characters are going to level up WAY too quickly!

Maybe after level 10 you add another row outside the outer ring.

Outer Rim Suggestions

  • Told a tale of my people so that my friends could learn from our wisdom.
  • Broke a law or went against a cultural norm that is an important part of my heritage in order to accomplish a goal or keep a friend from harm.
  • Used an arcane tool (spells count) in an unconventional way to solve a problem.
  • Used a tool or mundane item as a weapon.
  • Made a binding oath with a powerful antagonist in order to accomplish a party goal.
  • Offered an enemy mercy rather than vengeance or anger.
  • Told our enemy a lie so brazen that it shocked the room and used it to get something.
  • Dressed up as an enemy to trick our way into a forbidden place.
  • Saved a friend from the brink of death.
  • Gave a rousing speech in the face of fell enemies.
  • Celebrated my friend’s cunning in public so all would know of their amazing heroics.
  • Toasted the dead so that none would forget the fallen.
  • Perished in a heroic feat so that others might live.
  • Died in a quick and brutal act of violence, a cautionary tale parents will tell their children when they say they want to be heroes.
  • Unravelled a mystery by asking good questions.
  • Learned about my comrade by asking them about their homeland.
  • Used the wisdom of my comrade’s people, taking a tale they told of their people and applying it.
  • Play into the stereotype of cold, cruel adventurers, only taking up arms for gold and experience.
  • Push aside the stereotype of cold, cruel adventurers, show empathy for those without power and take up arms in order to make the world a better place.

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