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D&D 5E How long does it take to level?

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
So I was killing time with Excel (like you do) and decided to take the assumptions of D&D5E at face value and see about how long in game it should take for a character to level up. This is kind of a tangent off the D&D world demographics thread, but I didn't want to derail that thread, so here's a shiny new one for this.

My assumptions are:

1. The party is four adventurers.

2. One medium encounter is the party facing one solo monster of a CR equal to the party's level.

3. The adventuring day consists of the recommended 6-8 medium encounters.

According to pure math, with 6 medium encounter per day, it would take 143.28 days to go from 1st level to 20th level. At 7 medium encounters per day, 122.81 days from 1-20. At 8 medium encounters per day, 107.46 days from 1-20. As an example, the Mighty Nein, the PCs from Critical Role campaign 2, went from 1st level to 16th level in 327 days. This is the equivalent to about 1.7 encounters per day. The rest are: 1 enc/day, 859.65 days to 20; 2 enc/day, 505.68 days to 20; 2 enc/day, 429.83 days to 20; 3 enc/day, 286.55 days to 20; 4 enc/day, 214.91 days to 20; 5 enc/day, 171.93 days to 20; 6 enc/day, 143.28 days to 20; 6 enc/day, 122.81 days to 20; 8 enc/day, 107.46 days to 20.

Considering how hardy adventurers are and how the game mechanics are stacked in their favor, most people who start the life of an adventurer would survive...and in a rather short period of time, you'd have a world dirty with high level characters. The hiccup would be parties between levels 1st and 4th because they wouldn't have access to resurrection spells. Revivify comes online at 5th. If the party has a cleric, celestial sorcerer, or wildfire druid. Even if adventurers are so rare that there's only one adventuring party formed per year, you'd still get four 20th level characters every year. Unless you consider things like adventurers retiring. A few too many near death or actual death experiences and the character hangs up their bedroll. Or they set out to accomplish some specific task, did so, then retired. Or they were trying to get a certain amount of gold for some purpose, then called it quits.

ETA: Yeah, characters advance however often the DM wants. I don't bother with XP and just use story-based advancement. This is just a post about the game's math. Not how it "should" be done.
I did something similar myself, though with slightly different assumptions. Basically, I took the exp budget for a single medium encounter for one character (the budget multiplies for party size, so this scales easily to any sized group) and solved for how many such encounters it would take a character to reach each level (assuming they only gain exp from encounters and the exp of all their encounters over the course of that level average out to the medium value). Rounding to the nearest whole number of encounters, you get…

LevelEncounters
26
36
412
515
615
715
815
916
1015
1118
129
1310
149
1510
1611
179
1810
1910
2010
 

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MarkB

Legend
Considering how hardy adventurers are and how the game mechanics are stacked in their favor, most people who start the life of an adventurer would survive...and in a rather short period of time, you'd have a world dirty with high level characters.
Eberron addresses this with the "Player Characters are special" concept. Basically, the way PCs level up is not a universal rule for the setting - they are uniquely gifted in that regard, and it's very unusual for anyone else to consistently have these epiphanies and formative moments that drive them to continually greater strength. An NPC adventurer might gain only a couple of levels in a decade of escapades, even though they're not facing any fewer challenges than the PCs, and characters who aren't in the adventuring professions would generally not advance through PC classes at all.
 


Eberron addresses this with the "Player Characters are special" concept. Basically, the way PCs level up is not a universal rule for the setting - they are uniquely gifted in that regard, and it's very unusual for anyone else to consistently have these epiphanies and formative moments that drive them to continually greater strength.

I'd like to imagine that this means there are any number of other adventuring groups that end up flopping because they discover several weeks of adventuring in that one or more party members does not have the special gift of being able to level up.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
What you've worked out is the minimum time. But it assume that that many level-appropriate challenges require no additional travel time, that all of them are small enough grounds that the XP give equal the XP used to determine it's a medium encounter, and that there is no down time - which considering things like HD don't all come back with a long rest is an assumption.

As to why there aren't all of those high level adventurers - because if there was numerous enough high level threats for them all to fight, civilization wouldn't have lasted for them to get to 1st. Think that many campaign only run until 10th or 11th, and those are usually very rare big deals.

So you have a minimum, but with a large numebr of variables about how it would take longer that are undefined, and some of those, while not strongly defined, are at least loosely defined as not enough, such as ready threats for tier 4 opponents for each and every party to haver 6-8 medium encounters per day with small number of opponents in each so they get the full XP.
 

ECMO3

Adventurer
So I was killing time with Excel (like you do) and decided to take the assumptions of D&D5E at face value and see about how long in game it should take for a character to level up. This is kind of a tangent off the D&D world demographics thread, but I didn't want to derail that thread, so here's a shiny new one for this.

My assumptions are:

1. The party is four adventurers.

2. One medium encounter is the party facing one solo monster of a CR equal to the party's level.

3. The adventuring day consists of the recommended 6-8 medium encounters.

According to pure math, with 6 medium encounter per day, it would take 143.28 days to go from 1st level to 20th level. At 7 medium encounters per day, 122.81 days from 1-20. At 8 medium encounters per day, 107.46 days from 1-20. As an example, the Mighty Nein, the PCs from Critical Role campaign 2, went from 1st level to 16th level in 327 days. This is the equivalent to about 1.7 encounters per day. The rest are: 1 enc/day, 859.65 days to 20; 2 enc/day, 505.68 days to 20; 2 enc/day, 429.83 days to 20; 3 enc/day, 286.55 days to 20; 4 enc/day, 214.91 days to 20; 5 enc/day, 171.93 days to 20; 6 enc/day, 143.28 days to 20; 6 enc/day, 122.81 days to 20; 8 enc/day, 107.46 days to 20.

Considering how hardy adventurers are and how the game mechanics are stacked in their favor, most people who start the life of an adventurer would survive...and in a rather short period of time, you'd have a world dirty with high level characters. The hiccup would be parties between levels 1st and 4th because they wouldn't have access to resurrection spells. Revivify comes online at 5th. If the party has a cleric, celestial sorcerer, or wildfire druid. Even if adventurers are so rare that there's only one adventuring party formed per year, you'd still get four 20th level characters every year. Unless you consider things like adventurers retiring. A few too many near death or actual death experiences and the character hangs up their bedroll. Or they set out to accomplish some specific task, did so, then retired. Or they were trying to get a certain amount of gold for some purpose, then called it quits.

ETA: Yeah, characters advance however often the DM wants. I don't bother with XP and just use story-based advancement. This is just a post about the game's math. Not how it "should" be done.
In my experience it is less than the times you noted. 2-3 Months to reach 20th level. That assumes no downtime.
 

Stalker0

Legend
The other rationale is the gold driver.

to take a real world analogy, if I won a million dollars in the lottery, and then decided to spend all of that money on more lottery tickets to get “really” rich…people would think your nuts.

similar with adventuring, every time your rolling the dice on your life, once you have a fortune in treasure…would you really just spend it all on equipment to keep doing it for an even bigger one?

the answer is a lot of people would not, only the really crazy ones like PCs would.
 

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