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D&D 5E Sacred Cow Bites The Dust.

Uchawi

First Post
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.
None of the examples you provided would equate to sacred cows, but more along DM preference to exercise the game they want. I have been exercising those options since I began playing the game. I guess you can call it hand waiving the details. However, with your second example, that would be considered fudging the dice rolls.
 

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pdzoch

Explorer
I'm still a purist who still gives XP. But my players do not seem to notice it. So I suppose the cow is dead, but it just doesn't know it yet.
 

Ilbranteloth

Explorer
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

That makes sense if you're tying XP to adventure milestones. I wouldn't necessarily call my approach a "milestone" approach, but if I were, it would be to character milestones, not adventure milestones.

I don't really use a mathematical XP system, in part because I've found any XP system lacking. To me, experience is just that - your successes and failures over a period of time that improve or hone your existing skills, combined with training and practicing to learn new skills.

Regardless of the system, a handful of encounters, over the course of days or even weeks, just isn't enough in my book to count as experience. It's a start, but doesn't quite get you there.

I totally understand that my approach puts things entirely in the DMs hands, although if the players ask we certainly discuss things. The thing is, they usually agree that their characters have grown enough (or not).
 

I used it when I was learning to DM, but ditched it by the time I ran my first real campaign in 1981. These days I just award levels after a certain number of sessions. I try to run a sandbox game (or at least a sandbox with a lot of choose-your-own-adventures in it), and I don't want leveling rewards driving player decisions. They can sit in the tavern drinking and gambling, if that's what they want to do (they don't). In practice, they have their own interests and goals and they pursue them.

What I do care about is campaign pacing, and session-based leveling works great for that. Even in OSR forums, I see a lot of threads of the "how much treasure should I place to provide enough XP for a well-paced campaign?" variety. That seems bass-ackwards: why not run a well-paced campaign and place the amount of treasure that makes sense for the campaign world?

Pacing may not be your primary concern. Awarding levels for milestones makes sense in a plot-based "adventure path" campaign, where you want to directly incentive players to pursue the goals of the adventure path. Awarding levels for discoveries and areas explored makes sense in an exploration-focused campaign, where you want to directly incentivize players for exploring. Awarding levels for contacts made, alliances formed, rivals vanquished or backstabbed might make sense in a social- or intrigue-focused campaign.

Arneson appears to have innovated the XP concept from unit-upgrade mechanics in wargames so his players could keep playing the same heroes over extended campaigns, as opposed to individual scenarios. It was a natural progression and a good idea at the time.
 

Never used XP as a DM.
Still wonder why some people calculate encounter / monster XP.
If it's time, let the players level up.

One golden rule: all PCs are the same level. If one player is missing a session
- and they usually do for a reason - the missing PC will stay the same level as the others.
 

Mercule

Adventurer
One golden rule: all PCs are the same level. If one player is missing a session
- and they usually do for a reason - the missing PC will stay the same level as the others.
This. We still use XP, but don't sweat missing PCs. All the players are grown-ups and expected to behave as such. If they're getting their butt kicked at work, we aren't going to dump on them. On the other hand, if they keep skipping -- especially without a heads up -- just to go to the bar and watch "the game", then I have no problem recognizing their real priorities and filling seats accordingly.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I use XP in my current town-to-dungeon campaign. You earn it by overcoming challenges during the session. After the session, you can earn bonus XP for essentially talking about the notable events of that session. These bonus XP award resolving and creating new character ties, surviving the delve while having been dying at least once, defeating a notable monster, overcoming a challenge with words, learning something new and important about the world, and doing at least one heroic thing that people in town will talk about for days. So here I'm rewarding particular things on top of getting as many challenges done in the session as possible. It works well for keeping the players focused on what I intend to highlight in this game. You gain no XP if you're not at the session. You can level up at the end of a short or long rest if you have the requisite amount of XP.

Notably, all PCs start at 1st level regardless of what the average party level is. So if you join the game for the first time or bring in another PC (either because your other one died or you want to level up your background character), you start at 1st level. Many sessions see PCs of disparate levels and tiers. I found this works just fine - lower level PCs end up contributing well and leveling up very quickly. In the session before last, a 1st-level character played by [MENTION=6801984]Demorgus[/MENTION] went to 4th level in one session. [MENTION=6801813]Valmarius[/MENTION] is the highest-level PC at 6th level.

I have found that earning XP is a focus of the players during play. But that's okay! I tied their rewards to things I want them to do and, not surprisingly, they do it. This means the game is very well-paced and the PCs are always interacting with each other and examining their relationships, taking heroic risks, and exploring. Pretty much the essence of the town-to-dungeon experience if you ask me.
 

Igwilly

First Post
I have found that earning XP is a focus of the players during play. But that's okay! I tied their rewards to things I want them to do and, not surprisingly, they do it. This means the game is very well-paced and the PCs are always interacting with each other and examining their relationships, taking heroic risks, and exploring. Pretty much the essence of the town-to-dungeon experience if you ask me.

Of course is a players’ focus, it’s meant to be! You are using it right, I guess. The original game had a lot to do with dungeon crawling, defeating monsters, finding treasure, etc. But just adjusting what gives XP – and the quantity of it – can work wonders toward encouraging specific behaviors. That’s why I resurrected XP in my games: it stills feels good when you earn it, but now it rewards what I want.

Notably, all PCs start at 1st level regardless of what the average party level is. So if you join the game for the first time or bring in another PC (either because your other one died or you want to level up your background character), you start at 1st level. Many sessions see PCs of disparate levels and tiers. I found this works just fine - lower level PCs end up contributing well and leveling up very quickly. In the session before last, a 1st-level character played by [MENTION=6801984]Demorgus[/MENTION] went to 4th level in one session. [MENTION=6801813]Valmarius[/MENTION] is the highest-level PC at 6th level.

Seriously? I always had that fear: “the player will be useless!” And that’s something I don’t like. Nice to see your experience.
 

Creamsteak

Explorer
I can go either way. I think that XP and even XP for GP actually made a ton of sense for Gygax conception of D&D and what that game was about. You might even have a 3rd level PC working with new 1st level PCs. It was a different kind of game, and it really brought a sense of significance to successes and failures. I'm using XP in one of my play by posts because it's kinda in that realm, very grim and gritty in some ways. And levels mean quite a bit in that game because the monsters are static, and while one might easily wipe a party at 1st level, it's going to have a lot of trouble against even one 5th level character.

I mostly use milestones because I want people to be focused on the big objectives and it makes life simpler. My sessions are too short and infrequent in real life to run a lot of extra random encounters or spend too much time on any one level or area.
 

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