D&D 5E Sacred Cow Bites The Dust.

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I actually did the opposite. I ran my first 5e campaign using milestones--it didn't have the right feeling, and my players commented on it on several occasions. We never used XP during 4e or PF, either, so it was natural to use milestones. It just didn't have the same feel. It just wasn't...D&D to us. To be fair, we're a bunch of old grognards that played a lot of older editions, so that's our norm.

However, as a DM, I give XP for more than just killing monsters, and I'll give XP for solving a situation that doesn't end up as a fight, because of their cleverness (or lack thereof). I also second the idea that it provides incentive to come to sessions every week; I do have rules that allows a character to train to catch up a bit, but if you miss a session, you'll miss out on a good potion of XP.


After 23 years I killed a sacred cow.

I no longer use XP.

I just level the PCs up. Generally it is.

1. At the end of an adventure OR
2. Something epic happens.

Yesterday the PCs at level 7 killed a CR 13 Dragon (Adult White) in Skyreach Castle which I mined for my current game (not playing HotDQ).

The PCs were 1 breath weapon away form a TPK, I rolled great on the weapon recharges and in the 3rd round the weapon recharged again. The Dragon did not breathe (white Dragon not to bright) and the Dragon still had almost a 3rd of its hit points left. High damage roll and a crit later though= dead Dragon.

TPK the party or give them an "IT" moment. I went with the "IT" moment and then nailed them with an attack later that obliterated a +1 rapier +3 vs reptiles.

I've been doing this for years. Decades probably. But then characters in my campaigns advance much more slowly as well.

As I've been going through the forums and tweaking my rules I've come to understand what I'm looking for in my game related to this: Character development and growth combined with story. Success is measured as it is in life, as well as most other media (movies, novels, comics) in that it's about achieving goals, overcoming challenges, defeating (or at least hindering) villains, etc. Gaining levels and new abilities are long-term goals. Most of the new abilities that characters gain in my campaigns are from magic items, most of them consumable. The rest of it is them figuring out how to achieve what they are attempting to accomplish. They aren't focused on gaining another level for that cool ability, or whatever. It's really cool when it happens, but it happens when it's appropriate.


Tried both.

I Find milestone is more about what you are going to encounter and works well when running adventure paths or linear campaigns but xp is more about what your characters have experienced and i prefer it when I run sandbox


I've never used XP, part of it is that I don't like the system that way, part of it is that it is way too much work for me to invest t do it properly.

Since I prefer the game without it anyways, I've never felt the need to put in that extra work to use XP.


Dusty Dragon
I give XP but it's not precisely calculated. If I feel a lot was accomplished in a session, I give more, if less I give less. I keep the amount needed to level up in mind vs the speed I want the party to progress. Absent players get half XP. I'm going to replace level-draining monsters with XP draining monsters.

So I get most of the benefits of XP with almost none of the effort.

I started operating like this in Warhammer frpg 2nd ed and in starwars Saga, and I never looked back.


We do still use party xp, players don't need to track individual xp totals, rather we just have a single total and every character, old or new, has that xp total. We could use milestones without any real change to how we play.

In all honesty, I haven't really thought DnD needed xp ever since 3e, even though back then it was required for creating magical items and casting some spells. With the same xp chart for every class it kind of killed the need to track individual xp.

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