D&D 5E How do you time your level-ups?


We're using milestone XP and levelling up occurs after a Long Rest. We sometimes do it at the table, sometimes between sessions. It's up to the players.

Edit: I love one of the lines from that linked play report. "I'm exactly dead."

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We typically have a separate session just for level up or sometimes at the start of end of an otherwise shorter session.

Our group only levels during downtime as we require training, research, etc. + experience (we don't track XP explicitly) to gain levels. To gain a level you need to spend 1 week of downtime and 10 GP* per level. So to get to 15th level (our current level) the Wizard had to conduct research and experiments for 15 weeks** and spend 150 GP to get from 14th to 15th level, after they have gained enough field experience (XP). So we tend to spend a whole session doing downtime activities and a portion of this is training to get to the next level.

* we use a silver standard
** A week is spending approximately 40+ hours performing the required activity. If you one spend 20 hrs, then you only get the benefit of 1/2 week.

We use XP, and the DM usually announces when we're likely to level the following session. This give us time away from the game to figure out any choices we need to make, so that the character sheet adjustment only takes a few minutes. The actual benefit occurs after a long rest.


In our current campaign it requires Proficiency Bonus weeks of training to level up and you also need to find and pay for a trainer.
Previous campaigns have been everything from XP and potential leveling after every encounter to milestone leveling after missions.
It all depends on what I as DM best fits the campaign combined with what my players agree to :)


We do long rests, but I may let them level up at the start of next session where they will fighting a dragon..

Loved that video of Leroy the Master and all the cool 80s graphics and cool background music.


Leveling up for my group is done between sessions and usually when there is an in-game lull to simulate there being time for the PC's to study, practice and train (all off camera). it's mostly a hand-waved narrative thing where they give a brief monologue at the beginning of the next session to highlight how they achieved the abilities of their next level.


Honestly, the only way I could see mid-combat level ups not being a massive distraction / flow-breaker is if folks came to session with prepped character sheets.

"And as [BBEG] begins the ritual of D'ark B'aad, you feel a reserve of inner strength welling up from within. Gamers and gentlemen? You may switch over to your Level 10 character sheets."

Cue boss music and high fives.

Usually between sessions, but if I did not have enough time to prepare, I let my players level up at the start of the session. At least this way, no one complains. ;)


Limit Break Dancing
  • We track XP through the course of the gaming session.
  • When the gaming session ends, we add up the XP and divide it out to all the characters.
  • If someone levels up, we do it right then and there, before everyone goes home (so that I can witness the hit point rolls and answer any questions.)
  • We always roll for hit points, but players are allowed to reroll 1s. Fighters, paladins, and barbarians reroll 1s and 2s.
  • Spell slots, hit points, etc., refresh when characters finish their next long rest.


I either award XP, or do milestone leveling, after that particular adventure, when the party returns to "civilization" where they can train, re-equip, find a/their mentor, etc. I try not to do it in the middle of an adventure.


Mod Squad
Staff member
I only award XP or milestones at the end of a session, so the players have between session to handle their character sheet updates between sessions. New spell slots and other powers manifest after the first long rest.

Most frequently, that session end is a fine place for that long rest, so the next session usually begins with the party levelled up.

Level between sessions to maximize actual play time during sessions. Arbitrary leveling depending on when it feels right in the campaign. If somebody wants the group to level up regardless of story progress sure we can discuss it, but bringing it up with at least a few days' notice is required so that everyone can go over their options and whatnot before the next session begins. Level skipping is on the table, especially if there's going to be a time-skip in-game.

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