In Defense of Milestone Leveling

Since 3ed I never play or Dm with xp.
Dm and players agree when it’s time to level up.
We have fun, we follow the story, we fight when needed and do out of combat encounter.
Why mess with xp?
 

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5ekyu

Hero
Tier x 3-4 sessions is when you level up in my games.

The 3-4 gives me a narrative window for the level up point to be reached.

That's all. No fuss. No muss.
 

Retreater

Legend
I was having the discussion about milestone XP with my fiancee today, specifically how following XP rules has made my DMing difficult for years (especially when running adventure paths in 3rd edition.)
Since we've started using milestone XP, we've been able to progress through adventures, cut out inconsequential encounters, and overall enjoy the game more.
Now I will never use standard XP again.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I mean, you could do that, but you're sort of pushing into story-based awards any time you do. In your hypothetical situation, a group could get no xp at all for engaging with all three factions, taking on all three assignments, and working on all three without actually completing any. One of the joys of sandbox play, to me, is all the dangling plot threads that pcs leave behind them everywhere they go. Milestone xp seems like it would force the pcs clean a lot of those up in order to gain xp.

But yes, you can use milestone xp in a sandbox. I just feel that the very concept of milestones results in a strong push toward more story-based play. And while there's nothing wrong with that, it's not my preference.

I still don't see how giving players rewards for completing the things they agreed to do is anti sandbox or pushes toward a more story based game. They are still choosing what to do. They can still stop doing it and do something else at any time. All of that is still true. Besides it's not like they know how much XP they are getting before the quest is done anyways...
 

Wik

First Post
So, in older editions of the game, XP made a lot of sense. But this was because of a few features of those games:

1. Classes needed different amounts of XP to progress to the next level.
2. Characters with high ability scores earned more XP than those with low scores.
3. Each class had a few optional bonus ways to earn XP.

In addition, older games tended towards this idea that PCs didn't always adventure together - sometimes, three players would grab whatever PC they had on hand to go explore the DM's dungeon. It wasn't always the same five or six PCs adventuring together - the party composition was much more in flux.

With that in mind, it was pretty much a given that every PC had different amounts of XP, and there was a wider spread of levels in the adventuring party.

Compare that to modern D&D versions, and things are a bit different. Each class progresses at the same XP limits, there are no bonus methods to gain XP in the core game, no XP bonuses for ability scores, etc. Plus, the party is assumed to be static - it is, I'd guess, more common than not for every PC around the table to have the exact same XP total (or near enough).

I'd say that if every player at the table has the same XP amount written on his or her character sheet, experience points are really just an illusion. By having the DM say "at the end of this adventure, you all level" or something similar, it saves a bit of bookkeeping and really doesn't change much.

Plus, as it was said earlier, players do what they're incentivized to do. If you remove XP, you are incentivizing the players in a different manner. If you level PCs every six weeks of real play, for example, the characters can really do whatever the players most enjoy. If you level them up when they progress through the adventure, you're rewarding players for keeping the game moving.

It creates a different thing than "Man, I need 50 more XP. Who wants to go orc hunting?"

I've mostly done the XP thing in the past. Lately, I've made a tentative switch to milestone and found my group loves it. In my next campaign, starting next month, we'll be following a "1 level per adventure" format that I think will be fun.
 

I do not oppose milestone leveling, but I prefer to award XP and have players level as they get the required amount. That said, I miss the 2e system of class-based awards, and wish we had a rules module for using it in 5e. I may end up designing something myself, but It would be cool to have something official to use.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Milestone leveling removes xp from the game entirely and instead just awards levels. The systems are a bit different.

One just has a layer of abstraction the other does not. Otherwise, they are equivalent. The only question for the GM is whether the ability to sub-divide the bookkeeping into smaller pieces is useful.
 

5ekyu

Hero
So, in older editions of the game, XP made a lot of sense. But this was because of a few features of those games:

1. Classes needed different amounts of XP to progress to the next level.
2. Characters with high ability scores earned more XP than those with low scores.
3. Each class had a few optional bonus ways to earn XP.

In addition, older games tended towards this idea that PCs didn't always adventure together - sometimes, three players would grab whatever PC they had on hand to go explore the DM's dungeon. It wasn't always the same five or six PCs adventuring together - the party composition was much more in flux.

With that in mind, it was pretty much a given that every PC had different amounts of XP, and there was a wider spread of levels in the adventuring party.

Compare that to modern D&D versions, and things are a bit different. Each class progresses at the same XP limits, there are no bonus methods to gain XP in the core game, no XP bonuses for ability scores, etc. Plus, the party is assumed to be static - it is, I'd guess, more common than not for every PC around the table to have the exact same XP total (or near enough).

I'd say that if every player at the table has the same XP amount written on his or her character sheet, experience points are really just an illusion. By having the DM say "at the end of this adventure, you all level" or something similar, it saves a bit of bookkeeping and really doesn't change much.

Plus, as it was said earlier, players do what they're incentivized to do. If you remove XP, you are incentivizing the players in a different manner. If you level PCs every six weeks of real play, for example, the characters can really do whatever the players most enjoy. If you level them up when they progress through the adventure, you're rewarding players for keeping the game moving.

It creates a different thing than "Man, I need 50 more XP. Who wants to go orc hunting?"

I've mostly done the XP thing in the past. Lately, I've made a tentative switch to milestone and found my group loves it. In my next campaign, starting next month, we'll be following a "1 level per adventure" format that I think will be fun.


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"It creates a different thing than "Man, I need 50 more XP. Who wants to go orc hunting?"
"

i recall a cartoon in the dragon of a troll in a big box cage and a slit with a sign which said "for xp, insert sword here."

cant seem to find it anywhere now tho.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
One just has a layer of abstraction the other does not. Otherwise, they are equivalent. The only question for the GM is whether the ability to sub-divide the bookkeeping into smaller pieces is useful.

I disagree. Milestone leveling is mostly just a progression slider the DM controls. Milestone XP is quite a bit different. It still allows the DM to incentivize certain behaviors if he desires. It gives the players a better sense of progression. As such It serves a greater purpose than just keeping everyone all leveled up for the content at hand which is what milestone leveling boils down to.
 

I think @Saelorn was essentially just suggesting a way to explain how "XP for fighting" can be viewed to make it palatable if you think it works weird. He could probably just as readily offer a way to explain milestone XP if someone thought that was the system that worked weird.
Actually, I feel pretty strongly that XP for fighting is the way that makes the most sense. Not that it's perfect, but I feel like it makes more sense than most of the alternatives, especially in 5E. The only real problem with it is that spellcasting also progresses through combat, and you'd think that spellcasting would be a broad enough ability that you don't need to fight in order to improve it - there should be some order of pacifist wizards out there, and they shouldn't be stuck at first level forever - but then I remember that the rules are only really meant to describe professional adventurers. Presumably, non-adventuring wizards can progress through study and practice, in the same way that NPC carpenters can improve their skills.

I could rationalize milestone levelling as something that makes sense within the world - that your abilities advance when the DM believes you have accomplished enough to have actually learned something - but I would rather not. In my experience, it doesn't make for fun or exciting gameplay. Fifth edition has already removed all of the danger from combat, since you regenerate completely overnight, so getting rid of the XP would make combat a huge waste of time. If combat isn't tense (because you can't get hurt), and it's not exciting (because you get nothing out of it), then there's no reason to care about it at all. It becomes perfunctory, going through the motions because you feel obligated to, rather than because it's actually fun.
 
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