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D&D 5E Training to Level Up

Snoring Rock

Explorer
This has been an age-old question. Back when I cut my teeth on Holmes edition Basic and AD&D, training to level up was mentioned in the PHB, but no real system or cost was in place. I have given this a lot of thought over the years.

A rogue (thief) to me; seems like there is no need to for training in the academic sense. School of hard knocks works just fine. A paladin, cleric, fighter, needs training, but what if the party is in a deep mega dungeon where there is no training center? Certainly, you do not tell your PCs that they cannot level up, do you? The party just finished a dungeon, they have loot, they have blood on their hands and they are ready to power up and then get to town (population 56) to find that the highest level fighter there is 3rd. Seems to me that the trainer must be higher level than the trainee. All problems.

Then you must ask, how much? How much does it cost to train from one level to another? Is "level" just a game term? Is that used "in-game?" I like to take gold from my players on a regular basis. Wear and tear on items causes them to need repair or replacement. I require new swords to come with a 50gp training on use, or a set of thieves tools come with a 100gp extra pick or something like that.

I expect the wizards and other casters to study, search and join schools, covens, and guilds in order to pay dues and thus be training all the time. That way when the time comes, they just level up.


How do you do this in your campaign? What about the mega-dungeon scenario? Do you make them leave the dungeon to go get trained?
 

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Caliban

Rules Monkey
In every edition, every group I've played with has ignored training times and costs. You get XP, you level - sometimes a long rest is required to gain the benefits of the new level but that's it. It falls under "acceptable breaks from reality".
 

delericho

Legend
In every edition, every group I've played with has ignored training times and costs. You get XP, you level - sometimes a long rest is required to gain the benefits of the new level but that's it. It falls under "acceptable breaks from reality".

Yep, this.
 

Raith5

Adventurer
In all campaigns (except my first 1e campaign), we have levelled up after a rest. We all accept that the PCs have been learning on the job!
 

akr71

Hero
I insist on the party completing a long rest before leveling up. Though I was pretty lax in chapter 1 of HoTDQ - levels 1-3 go by so quickly anyway and the pace of that first chapter is intense, I let them level up with a short rest.

Its just my 2 cp, but I think it helps keep the attention of video game players to allow easier leveling and healing.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Since experience points represent experience in adventuring, I think the adventuring on its own is sufficient "on-the-job" training and no additional time need be set aside for advancement in level. When I use standard experience point awards in D&D 5e, I dole them out as we play (typically after each scene) and the PCs level up immediately upon achieving the required amount for the next level. No resting or separate training is required. Players are free to establish how and why they now have a new class feature, spell, or the like if they wish.
 

Gardens & Goblins

First Post
We encourage players to set aside some time each day/every so often where their characters can be said to be training, be it studying in their quarters, sparring with a comrade, composing a witty ditty in the mess hall etc.

The idea being that when their characters do level, it can represent both their development in face of dramatic events and a continuous process of personal improvement.
 

Rhenny

Adventurer
Like others, most of my campaigns assume "on the job training." That said, there are campaigns that work if formal training is required, but here are some considerations:

1) It is a drag to play a PC who has the potential to level up, but has to wait for time and personnel to train; therefore in campaigns that require training, pcs should always be near some type of civilized "hub".

2) Since 5e has less opportunity to spend cash (no buying magic, etc in default setting) training would give pcs ways to use earned treasure.

3) Campaigns that force PCs to move fast to stop evil plots are not conducive to training requirements. For example, in Princes of the Apocalypse, if the PCs take longer breaks, the cults have more time to destroy and call forth their respective deities. Story-wise it just doesn't make sense that pcs would take time to train when they know that the entire adventure is a race against time.
 

Every level is likely too much. Key levels work. When picking a subclass and maybe every 4 or 5 levels after. Or when training into a new class.
Training should be fairly cheap. 10gp per level would be a lot, especially at low levels. Maybe 5 gp/level at level 3, 10 gp/level after that, and maybe 20 or 100 gp/ level after level 10.
 

collin

Explorer
Since experience points represent experience in adventuring, I think the adventuring on its own is sufficient "on-the-job" training and no additional time need be set aside for advancement in level. When I use standard experience point awards in D&D 5e, I dole them out as we play (typically after each scene) and the PCs level up immediately upon achieving the required amount for the next level. No resting or separate training is required. Players are free to establish how and why they now have a new class feature, spell, or the like if they wish.

We have generally abided by this rule since D&D 3.0. You get better at being a fighter by fighting things; you get better at being a thief by stealing (whether you are successful or not - you learn by mistakes, too). The only area that makes this logic fall apart in my mind is for spell-casters. We have not required magic-users of any sort to train, but in seems to me they should require some form of education before learning new spells, but then you are laying a set of requirements on them that you don't for other classes. Maybe that is okay since spell-casters are typically regarded as more powerful than straight fighters. I don't think either training or no training is wrong or right, it's all in how everyone agrees to deal with leveling up.
 

akr71

Hero
We have generally abided by this rule since D&D 3.0. You get better at being a fighter by fighting things; you get better at being a thief by stealing (whether you are successful or not - you learn by mistakes, too). The only area that makes this logic fall apart in my mind is for spell-casters. We have not required magic-users of any sort to train, but in seems to me they should require some form of education before learning new spells, but then you are laying a set of requirements on them that you don't for other classes. Maybe that is okay since spell-casters are typically regarded as more powerful than straight fighters. I don't think either training or no training is wrong or right, it's all in how everyone agrees to deal with leveling up.
For spell casters I view it that they have been practicing these 'new' spells in some form or another all along. When they 'level-up' they have finally mastered the spell - at what time to use the material component, the proper inflection on the verbal component and the finesse of the somatic.
 


I've been using the training rules in my current "sandbox" game and it's been interesting.

It's definitely given a sense of time passing, since instead of them going from 1st to 4th in the space of a week, they've taken most of the Spring season to get there. It's allowed me to introduce NPCs for them to interact with, which spun off a couple motivations and drove a bit of the action. I've also found it introduced both time pressure ("If we train, will it give the sahuagin time to mass?") and an opportunity cost ("If we train, one of the NPC adventuring parties might clear the dungeon") to otherwise clear decisions.

Combined with the living expenses rule, it's also been decent for giving the PCs reasons to go looking for loot, which has also helped drive some of the adventure.

I do think in the more adventure path/story driven stuff, having to pause for 10 days or 20 days to go up a level would break the flow of the game too much.
 

Skyscraper

Explorer
It depends on the type of game you and your players want to play.

Does your game include maintenance and other chores, generally?

I view training and paying for training to level up, as stuff that lies outside the inresteing parts of role-playing. I mean, beyond training, you also need to actually eat meals, pay or forage for food, tend to and replace your equipment, tend to your wounds; you need to watch how much stuff you carry because too much should slow you down; and so on.

I think everyone agrees that training should be part of a PC's advancement. Players I know, including myself, do not care to spend some game session time lost on managing stuff like that.

We want to kill the monsters and loot the treasure :)
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
We all may learn on the "job", but the closest profession to an adventurer is probably an athlete, and they spend lots of time training and practicing. And extreme (but highly relevant) case would be a boxer who may train for months for the next big fight.

Training and similar rules can help with pacing and treasure (or the spending there of). It can also be an interesting way to reconnect with the campaign world, meet new NPCs, that sort of thing.

5E uses language and tool training (plus other optional downtime rules in the DMG like research and running a business) to give PCs a gentle nudge to take some time off and learn something new.

You should think about why you want training in the game. Is to get them to spend gold? Maybe a "wine, women, and song" rule where they get XP for spending gold. Is it to meet cool NPCs? then something where they need to check in every few levels with the temple head, theives guild, ect might work, but you may need to have something for each player.

Maybe you want them to find "safe areas" in the wilderness or megadungeon to make exploration more interesting. You can also have rules like this for long-rests (and it can work quite well).

If the reason is so that the players actually spend some time doing normal things, then you can link that to some of the things above, or create additional incentives. Sometimes you can just handwave it (and one year latter...).
 


Arial Black

Adventurer
The 'training to level up' rules just suck fun out of the game.

We assume that the PCs are training in their downtime, just like we assume that they are shaving, going to the toilet, buying snacks, whatever boring, mundane chores that we role-play to escape from in real life.

I've never yet had a DM inform me that my PC has exploded because I never actually said I went to the toilet, and the campaign's been going for months....!
 


pdzoch

Explorer
I treated leveling up differently from training. Though I generally think of them hand in hand. The benefits of experience gained during the adventure (XP) translates to leveling up of benefits. This "on the job training" automatically happens when sufficient experience has been achieved. I do, however, design my adventure chapters so that the leveling up by XP occurs in natural pauses in the story when training, resupplying, spending of loot, etc would occur. Training, in the other hand, gets at additional features (skills training, language training, multi-classing, etc). The training timeframe is tied to story elements and NPC (bardic colleges, druidic circle, wizard schools, other mentors, etc.) It also allows for other income generation activities (making and selling crafts or other business ventures) and world building activities (buying and maintaining keeps, castles, lodges, etc; hiring hireling, getting new tasks from patrons, guilds, etc.) during this period that training is happening.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
I'm using a kind of training in my Curse of Strahd campaign now.

A rogue (thief) to me; seems like there is no need to for training in the academic sense. School of hard knocks works just fine. A paladin, cleric, fighter, needs training,

I think that if you are using training, even a rogue needs training, in the same way that a fighter or a sorcerer does. Rogues can train with master thieves and guildmasters and learn the ins and outs of the criminal underbelly.

but what if the party is in a deep mega dungeon where there is no training center? Certainly, you do not tell your PCs that they cannot level up, do you? The party just finished a dungeon, they have loot, they have blood on their hands and they are ready to power up and then get to town (population 56) to find that the highest level fighter there is 3rd. Seems to me that the trainer must be higher level than the trainee. All problems.
In my current campaign, I take a much broader view of training than "pay someone to teach you." - it's a form of reward (like XP or treasure) and of pacing.

So, like, the first "training session" happened in mid-dungeon, and it happened in a library. I said that the books contained enough new information on various class matters that this essentially counted as training. Our party bard discovered some Vistani love songs. The wizard found some old star charts. Etc.

I might say "hold off on gaining a level," but I basically work the training into the next long rest that the party takes once they have the XP necessary to level, wherever that long rest might be.

Then you must ask, how much? How much does it cost to train from one level to another? Is "level" just a game term? Is that used "in-game?" I like to take gold from my players on a regular basis. Wear and tear on items causes them to need repair or replacement. I require new swords to come with a 50gp training on use, or a set of thieves tools come with a 100gp extra pick or something like that.

The DMG has some guidelines, but I'm not personally sweating the details IMC. It's more about adding a bit of context to what their class looks like in this world - to make the setting live and breathe alongside the characters. At higher levels, I might consider using it as a GP sink (you hear a beautiful Vistani love song being sung in the tavern, with instrumentation you can't begin to imagine, but the gypsy offers to teach it to you...for a fee...), but I'm not too concerned aobut it.

I expect the wizards and other casters to study, search and join schools, covens, and guilds in order to pay dues and thus be training all the time. That way when the time comes, they just level up.

I use the "training" as an excuse to touch base with the setting and get the PC's reaction to it. Our party ranger met a vampire hunter. Our party Cleric/Fighter experienced a vision. If anyone was a member of a guild, I'd probably mention something like "your allies in the guild share their new library with you and you learn so much you gain a level!" The point is to characterize their advancement, so that it's a character moment as much as it is a mechanical moment.

How do you do this in your campaign? What about the mega-dungeon scenario? Do you make them leave the dungeon to go get trained?
I don't make them leave the dungeon, but I think about what the dungeon could have that could "count" as training. Like, if there's a trap, maybe the party thief gains a level by spending some of her long rest tinkering with the thing in a way that suddenly "clicks" for them.

lowkey13 said:
Some tables require you to keep track of your ammunition. Some table you write, "20 arrows" and then forget about it- forever.
Some tables require you to track rations and water. Others? Well, two weeks rations last through level 20.
Some players enjoy accounting for their downtime. Other players hate this type of homework and consider it an unnecessary chore.

And, yes, some tables enjoy a more detailed accounting of leveling up, and other don't (I always have 20 arrows, because ammunition is boring!).

Another nuance is that you can want different levels of granularity for all of these things.

I don't keep track of ammunition - but I do have "supplies" that are required to rest, and "supplies" is an abstraction of consumable adventuring supplies including ammunition (along with rations, water, oil for your armor, whetstones, torches, rope, other random adventuring supplies, etc.).

I try to target my details to "things I want the players to care about." In Curse of Strahd, I want the players to care about the fact that thay're Not In Kansas Anymore (so gaining a level of Cleric in Ravenloft looks differently than gaining a level of Cleric in the Forgotten Realms), and also to remember that safe places are few and far between (so you need supplies if you are to get there).
 
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