WotC Milestone leveling in WotC editions?

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
Later-era Pathfinder modules / adventure paths specify what level the PCs ought to be for each bit. They also hand out plenty of story awards (typically, "if the PCs achieve X then award them XP for a Level-Y encounter").

When I run Pathfinder, the characters level whenever I feel it is appropriate i.e. pure GM fiat. This is because calculating and tracking XP is a chore that I can do without.
Amen. I think the added bonus of the Paizo Adventure Paths is the fact that the milestones suggested are based on calculated XP directly from the system. So, that allows the GM guidance on when the leveling points make sense that isn't so arbitrary. It also allows the GM some empowerment to add or subtract items from the adventure as they see fit. For example, there might be XP for finding a few secret doors that lead to pointless encounters and/or treasure that dont matter to the grand scheme of the adventure/campaign. Does it really matter that they were missed?
Each session ends with the traditional chorus of "Have we levelled yet?" (spoken more or less ironically, depending on how recently they last gained a level).

I'm a bit bemused by the idea of milestone levelling that some people seem to have - namely that if the milestone is "kill the Ogre that's been terrorising the village" then it's set in (ahem) stone and that's the only way the PCs can gain a level, forcing them to accept the quest. Surely nobody runs their games like that in practice? If the PCs decide to do something else then you come up with a new milestone.
I think "kill the ogre" is an oversimplification of the milestone process. Contextually, there is some conflict because of the ogre and the PCs need to find a solution. Assuming, of course, the Ogre isnt just a cog in a larger machine instead of the architect of the issue alone. There is usually much more to the story than facing the Ogre. Unless you are running a dungeon delver west marches style game where it may be as simple as "Ogre over there go kill it." A lot of these misunderstanding seem to be around pre or post Hickman gaming styles.
 

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It just occurred to me that I don’t remember seeing much/any discussion of leveling with milestones in B/X or AD&D, or in OSE and such. This is absolutely not an assertion that nobody’s done it, just me noting that I personally either missed it or forgot it.
How many people have done this in their play, and how did it go? I’m keen on it with more recent editions since I never really liked tracking xp and often want to focus on neither slaughter nor pillage. When it comes to earlier editions, I very much dislike weirdly uneven xp requirements and feel like it’d open up fun-for-me possibilities. But I also know how bad I can be at anticipating consequences, especially mechanical ones where tab A is now going to throw up into slot B.
So please enlighten me! Speculation is okay, but experience is what I most hope to hear.
Hmm. I don't think we ever specifically named or formalized it, but there certainly were times where the DM just levelled people up -- either after a success, before a new challenge (if the party was drastically under-levelled for a situation), or we just wanted to play in a new context (be that name level or just 'after the party gets access to fly/water breathing/plane shift').

As others have mentioned, because of the different XP charts, we'd be much more apt to give milestone XP blocks than straight levels, but that was no means universal. The game communicated as much, with a very mixed perspective on the matter. Yes, each class had a different XP value, and thus handing out levels as atomic blocks is unfair to the classes where exactly one level is maybe worth less, but there are plenty of examples where the game does that. Adventure modules are rated for parties of characters level X-Y, without concern for what those levels are in. undead were capable of draining a character of exactly 1 level, again without differentiation. Back in oD&D, the XP reward for defeating a monster (direct combat xp and treasure-based) was prorated by comparing the monster level the character level. So it has always been a bit of mixed messages. Regardless, I suspect we did do some occasional 'okay, everyone gain a level' and then the party thief complaining vigorously about the fairness and then some response to that (and handling multi-class characters differently each time, if this was AD&D 1 or 2).

Regardless, AD&D 2e certainly opened the discussion about what xp should be rewarding, and I know we hacked/homebrewed many variations on its' rather unimpressive-to-us* xp for non-loot/monster-defeat actions list. However, this was, IMO, codifying what a lot of people had already been doing (and the game had been alluding to at least since the Dragonlance modules). The game is set up to incentivize treasure hunting, and it is a very fun little game when played towards that end. However, plenty of people, right from the beginning, wanted to do other things with it. Once people realized that their different playstyle didn't meld with the reward structure presented, they modified the system to fit their goals. *I know we noticed right away that it granted like XP per hd of monster defeated for fighters and per spell level cast for casters, which grew arithmetically, while xp to level grew geometrically in the pre-name-level range; which we did not like.

Overall, I don't think it worked significantly different for TSR-era D&D than it does for WotC-era. Certainly if you give levels instead of XP chunks there will be imbalances (although those are part and parcel of the TSR-era experience). Overall, though, just decide as a consensus what behavior, activity, or accomplishments you want to reward and incentivize, and the rest flows through pretty much the same.
 

cbwjm

Seb-wejem
My friend for a 5e campaign qould just level us up at appropriate times, he alao gave out a bonus feat at one point which I thought was a cool reward other than xp.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Each session ends with the traditional chorus of "Have we levelled yet?" (spoken more or less ironically, depending on how recently they last gained a level).

I'm a bit bemused by the idea of milestone levelling that some people seem to have - namely that if the milestone is "kill the Ogre that's been terrorising the village" then it's set in (ahem) stone and that's the only way the PCs can gain a level, forcing them to accept the quest. Surely nobody runs their games like that in practice? If the PCs decide to do something else then you come up with a new milestone.
Then it's just become GM-fiat levelling under a milestone-like veneer.
And ultimately they'll level up just from passage of time, even if they haven't done anything particularly "milestone-y", provided they've been adventuring. (Again, does anybody actually run a game where the PCs level even if they just stay in the tavern - and who would want to play in such a game even if it were available?)
Maybe not stay in a tavern, but I did have a situation once where all they did was wander around for a few sessions looking for an adventure they knew was out there somewhere and - between uncooperative dice and their impressive ability to ignore clues (or just not look for them) - never find it.

Nope, not much xp for that. :)
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I do a thing for good or ill, for my two 5e parties of mostly newbies, is everyone has the same XP. The players track it but if someone forgets to mark their xp down, they can double check with everyone else and get back on the same page.

In 5e I think the PCs being far apart becomes less fun. For some of last year I was in a high level game where one PC was 15th level, and had been there all along and had all attunement slots filled with Magic Items, and I had none as a new player coming in at 11th level - I had fun, it was a cool homebrew adventure - but I did feel like I was behind the power curve for sure

So anyway, I have in my two newbie groups, everyone has the same XP total. Also if someone misses a session (but in-fiction their character was there-ish), they don't get punished for it. I don't have an issue with one or more people frequently missing - everyone is pretty stoked to be there so far...

However! Relevant to the OP, I don't recall ever reading anything about milestone advancement

I wonder if nosing around this site might lead to some revelations? Every Dragon Magazine article categorized in some way (I'd rather have an API call with access to the actual DB tables but we can't always have nice things now can we...) http://www.aeolia.net/dragondex/index.html
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
One thing I like about more granular leveling rewards is it give players options and control over what they will do to level. I realize that , in the end, it is all GM fiat to some degree. The GM populates the adventure area with foes, goals, and treasure. One thing I like about mini milestones based on a mixture of location discovery, foes defeated, quest goals met, macguffins found, etc. is that it incentivizes a broad range of activity across all pillars of play. Players can choose to focus more on defeating foes in combat but will still need to engage in other activities. Or they can avoid most, but not all, combat and still get sufficient XP to level.

It is true that a DM offering XP on the fly for a various activities gives even more freedom to the players to play however they want, but their is something satisfying about having known XP goals you can choose to go after. Perhaps it is a bit to video-gamey, but it has worked well in play when I've used it.

I'm liking how Warhammer does it. You give XP each session, end of the adventure, and end of the campaign based on broad parameters: poor, good, and exceptional performance. The only thing I am not comfortable with is the GM sections guidance to determine performance level based on "cooperation, good roleplaying and making the experience fun" and added bonuses for "for excellent roleplaying, teamwork, or otherwise getting in the spirit of things." Similar to how I am not a fan of inspiration as written in the 2014 PHB, I don't like to be in a position of judging how well the players role play. I find it silly to punish players for poor at-table behavior with XP. I'll talk to them and maybe not invite them back if there is a problem. Using in-game mechanics to enforce social behavior or encourage a style of play weirds me out.

Instead I make an (admittedly subjective) determination at the end of each session on how much the characters accomplished and how successful there were in meeting the objectives they set for themselves. I will give a bonus when they take risks, to offset poor overall result but interesting, creative, and/or bold attempts. I realize I'm still incentivizing game play, but it just feels less like judging whether they are having good fun / bad fun or are good vs bad players. Or maybe I'm still doing exactly that and any system where leveling is based on action you take in the game are doing that.

In WFRP, XP is also awarded when a PC achieves a short-term goal that the players set him/herself, giving the players an opportunity to have a great deal of control over how their PCs gain some XP.

Anyway, I'm comfortable with how WFRP 4e does it. I find it easy and fair as a GM and I enjoy it as a player. Because advancing attributes, skills, talents, and careers is so granular, their are constant incremental awards and incremental improvements, each session. As a player it gives me a nice little dopamine hit each and every session. I'm finding it more satisfying than D&D class-level advancement.
 


GrimCo

Adventurer
We dropped xp based leveling long time ago, still in 3.5 days. It's not really fitting for our groups play style. Characters level up when it's convenient and fits the story. With other group, PF1, we leveled up every 3 sessions. That group liked to play very tactical hack and slash heavy, role play light games and we would regularly end up killing monsters way above our level and would loot anything not bolted down with adamantine screws (and sometimes we would even take those screws).

We did use xp in our ad&d 2ed game, since different classes have different charts and level mismatch was kind of tool for balancing power levels.
 

Gradine

The Elephant in the Room (she/her)
Milestone XP is plenty easy in 5e and 4e, and I used it a lot in 3.X as well. You really only need to figure out/houserule/remove the incredibly clumsy magic item creation system. You can ignore it entirely very easily, really.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
We dropped xp based leveling long time ago, still in 3.5 days. It's not really fitting for our groups play style. Characters level up when it's convenient and fits the story.
Isn't that basically informal milestone leveling?
 

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