D&D 5E If I were to publish a megadungeon, how would you prefer I handle XP?

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Man, it's been a while since I touched this idea, and now I've got a wild idea to just bundle all my 'fantasy RPG heartbreaker' ideas into one book: a megadungeon with showcase dungeon adventures, using 5e rules but with a suite of custom classes designed specifically for the campaign.

Wild classes.

Like, screw 'fighter.' No, you're a 'fusilier' with mastery of mount and musket. Forget 'cleric.' You're a 'penitent,' deriving divine power from a great sin you are seek to redeem yourself for. No time for a 'wizard.' You're a 'rhabdomancer,' crafting wands from magic items you destroy and from the remains of creatures you kill. There are no 'rogues' here: you are a 'leper,' diseased and deadly.

Or I could be goofy, and make classes like 'mushroom man' and 'roofer.' What does a 20th level 'roofer' look like? I dunno. He probably throws very lethal shingles.

Like, design monsters specifically to do cool things in relationship to PC abilities, and design PC abilities to combo, and to unlock certain tricks as you level up to make the Metroidvania gating possible. Rather than being a supplement to an existing game -- like a new episode of the TV series we watch each week -- make it more like a special event mini-series prestige HBO thing.
I really like your class ideas. I mean, why not? That said, would the game map to those wild classes? Feels like Lost Mines of Phandelver isn't "wild" enough to match the classes. So I'd love GM advice on how to "wild-up" my game...

One thing Freebooters on the Frontier (pbta) does for XP is grant xp individually if the PC does a Class goal and an Alignment goal every session. Then everyone gets XP if their party "Finds some cool loot"; "Fights something major"; and "Figures out something about the world" (not those words). There are a couple other ways to get XP also, although not as much as Dungeon World. Also, there's another advancement economy - when doing moves that relate to an attribute (the classic 6 - STR, DEX, CON, etc) if you fail, you mark the attribute. 5 marks, and the attribute goes up by 1 (from 10 to 11 for example).
 

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I know my normal way for megadungeons: If you make it to a new floor of the dungeon then make it back to base camp you get to level up. That or levelling up is explicitly diagetic and requires finding the parts of [whatever the PCs are doing in the dungeon]
 

S'mon

Legend
I recently ran a very, very big dungeon campaign and went old school using 1 gp = 1 XP. It creates a cool dynamic and led to a lot of interesting situations. Not saying it is for everyone, but I do think it kept my players much more engaged than just the good old kills = xp.

I like the quoted idea above about creating a mix of these methods.

I think 1 gp = 1 xp in 5e D&D can work with the regular 5e XP table, but the DMG treasure hoard tables would need some tweaking; at high level XP to level is almost flat, only about 1/10 what a 1e-2e PC needs, while the hoard tables give tens of thousands of gp at 11-16 and hundreds of thousands at 17-20. I think the 1st two Tier tables work ok, but Tier 3 should only be twice Tier 2 not 10 times, and Tier 4 should only be four times Tier 2 not 100 times.

Tier DMG Award Suggested Award
1 100s 100s, eg 500gp
2 1000s 1000s, eg 5000gp
3 10000s 2000s, eg 10000gp
4 100000s 4000s, eg 20000gp

Another way to look at it would be to base typical treasure hoards off the Monster XP table, which is already tailored to PC XP-to-level:

Tier XP award (GP/XP)
1 200-1100
2 1800-5900
3 7200-15000
4 18000-25000

That matches up pretty close to my intuition for Tiers 3 & 4.

Magic item sale values would need to be tweaked similarly if magic items give XP, eg:

Rarity DMG List Value > Tweaked Value (gp)
Uncommon 500 500
Rare 5000 5000
Very Rare 50000 10000
Legendary 500000 20000
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
You mentioned not wanting to do Milestone leveling, but what about it's lesser talked about cousin Milestone XP. Basically, accomplishing various milestones grants XP, and there are a lot more granular than Milestone leveling.

"Get access to the hidden elevator - 2500XP". Doesn't matter if your mapping discloses the area and you figure out the trick to opening in on level 2, if you go to level 4 and either kill the guardian beast or sneak past them, or on level 5 if you murder/bribe/trade with the Living Statues. Or even get down to level 8 and the open entrance and now you have a way to get out to rest as needed.

This way you can tailor the achievements to important things to do in the megadungeon, without ever forcing a single type of solution on the players like killing monsters. You get what you reward is a very true statement.

You could even make some of them publicly known milestones. Entering a deeper level of the dungeon than you have before. If you are setting up factions either in the dungeon or in the base camp settlement, they could also grant some. You might find out that fixing the kobold's trouble with the hobgoblins will grant a Milestone if you negotiate with them, while talking to the hobgoblins will get a Milestone only for killing off the kobolds - which do you want to pursue?
 

NotAYakk

Legend
You could even make some of them publicly known milestones. Entering a deeper level of the dungeon than you have before. If you are setting up factions either in the dungeon or in the base camp settlement, they could also grant some. You might find out that fixing the kobold's trouble with the hobgoblins will grant a Milestone if you negotiate with them, while talking to the hobgoblins will get a Milestone only for killing off the kobolds - which do you want to pursue?
Oh I know this one!

You solve the hobgoblin/kobold dispute, bringing peace, then you wipe out the kobolds.

The trick is to complete the hobgoblin peace quest without claiming reward, then wipe the kobolds, then claim both rewards with both dialog boxes open.
 
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Cruentus

Adventurer
We run megadungeons using GP = XP for treasure and loot taken from the dungeon. It doesn't count as XP until you hit town (i.e. successfully recovering the loot and resting). We also like tracking encumbrance and other challenges this style of game brings. I usually also give XP for clever ideas/approaches to situations, RPing, and I've seen (in other games), XP bonuses for "Feats of Exploration" (uncovering lore, and searching through rooms, etc.). As should be clear, we play on OSR-style game when we dungeon crawl, so that is what we're used to.
 

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