Giving out XP based on amount of damage sustained?


First Post
I guess this would apply to really any version of D&D, but one thing that knocks about in my head is an old element in Middle Earth Role Playing, where players would earn xp for the damage they took.

That has stuck with me over the years, and after a recent game of Pathfinder where players coasted through several encounters that were rated as being "hard" for their level, I thought perhaps... instead of giving out xp based off of the potential threat of the encounter, why not give out xp based on the actual threat of the encounter?

That is, the more the characters take a beating, the more xp they get, regardless of whatever the encounter is rated at.

I haven't thought rigorously about how a system would work, but loosely you could, say, add up all of the hit points the party possesses. Then as the combat unfolds you just keep track of the total damage delivered to the party. Also note things such as failed saving throws, characters that go unconscious, how many spells and other resources are expended.

Add all of that up and that would yield how much the encounter was worth. So the ideal situation for players who wanted to get as many xp as possible would be to get beaten to within inches of their life as much as possible.

Has anyone done anything like this, or are there any system that are built around this method?

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First Post
Dude... you just BLEW MY MIND.

That actually does seem like a good system, although it leads to player abuse ("these guys deal 1d4 damage... let's all get within 5 hit points of dying, and then kill them!")


First Post
I pulled out my old MERP rulebook and here is how xp were handed out with that system:

Hit points - get 1xp per hit point taken in battle.

Critical Hits - you got a certain amount of xp depending on how bad the critical hit was on your character. Players would often bemoan getting a lame "A" crit and cheer when they got an "E" crit, until I rolled on the chart and paused a moment, wondering if they just got killed... but I think that was some of the most fun moments as players trash talked to each other over the xp they were getting for the awful crits they survived.

You also got xp for delivering crits on opponents, but the big payouts were usually when you got hit.

Kill Points - You got a certain number of points for delivering the deathblow to an opponent. When the monster was really powerful the reward was pretty big. This was once again another great font of memories as players would yell at each other telling them not to kill the BBEG because they wanted to deliver the deathblow. I miss that kind of jockularity in games.

Manuever points - you got these for pulling off what are essentially skill checks.

Spells - If you cast a spell that was pertinent and effective in the encounter they you gained xp.

Idea Points - If you came up with a good idea then you got xp for that.

Travel Points - all the travel earned you xp also. Every 10 miles you traveled int new lands you got xp, and it was rated on how dangerous the area was that you traveled through.

Miscellaneous points - A grab bag for the DM to hand out. This was generally for making good strategic decisions, or developing a character story more, etc.

The overall result I remember from these games was that people didn't do min-max nonsense. Instead it was a gambling game. Players knew that if they went up against more challenging opponents and survived then they'd earn big.


It's an interesting idea, but I think it holds the possibilty of attracting unwanted player behaviour. Fighting becomes a gamble, but personally I couldn't stand things like Wik implies.
Imagine this: The pcs, already battle hardened and experienced (e.g. around 10 level), could search for a bunch of orcs (low level compared to them, no real challenge anymore), let themselves get damaged pretty badly. Then the party wizard unleashes a fireball and the orcs are history. The more hp you've got, the more xp you can "earn" via a method like this.

Yes, propably this wouldn't happen because the players are all at the table to have fun and don't want boring fights just for the xp.
However, in the end I don't believe that a xp system like this ("getting hit [in a fight] earns xp") would result in a much different playing experience than the standard system ("fighting earns xp"), but would cause additional bookkeeping. Also, fighting more dangerous monsters earns you more xp in both variants.

Cheers, Marcus

Edit: On the other hand, the xp for travelling parts sounds great and would definately promote a different play style!
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Sounds like a very strange disincentive to use clever tactics, stealth, and chicanery. I'd not use it.

Back in MERP, you got as much xp from inflicting damage as from taking it, and inflicting damage was way easier and less detrimental to your health. This was also the system where you got 1xp per mile traveled, and 5 times the xp the first time - the xp base was very different from most other games.

Whenever considering ideas like these it helps to imagine how Brian Van Hoose from KODT would deal with them.

Close your eyes and think about awarding XP for damage taken then imagine Brian playing in such a game.


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