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D&D 5E What kind of XP awards does your group currently use in 5E?

What kind of XP awards/advancement do you use in your 5E D&D game?

  • Monsters killed (straight up)

    Votes: 10 15.2%
  • Milestone (as described in DMG)

    Votes: 10 15.2%
  • Monsters killed, but granted at Milestones

    Votes: 2 3.0%
  • Session-Based Advancement (as described in DMG)

    Votes: 2 3.0%
  • Story-Based Advancement (as described in DMG)

    Votes: 19 28.8%
  • Something else or variation on one of the above (please explain below)

    Votes: 23 34.8%

  • Total voters
    66

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
But if they just receive a lump sum without knowing what they did to earn the XP, the only thing they’re encouraged to do is keep showing up every week. It ends up being about the same psychologically as session-based advancement.

I get that, but they get it for advancing the story and developing their characters as a group. And they understand that b/c we have discussed D&D as a collective activity where everyone rises and falls together. I don't want to encourage them to do anything but have fun within the framework of the type of game we've agree to share. I know I like certain behaviors and habits, but short of disrupting the game I know these are not for everyone (or even best if everyone did them).

I used to give bonus XP as incentives for certain out of game behaviors but that just rewarded the people who already did those things and did nothing to change the behaviors of others - and after years of being a teacher I am not into trying to coax anyone to do anything they don't really want to do anymore.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
It seems like doing it that way, you would have all the work of tracking XP with none of the psychological benefits for the players.
I think it is just another kind of psychological benefit. XP award day is like a birthday surprise! A cheer goes up around the table and everyone starts discussing what they'd do if they went up a level. It is always a fun moment.
 

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
I divide the XPs required by a number of sessions and hand out the fraction at the end of each game. I stopped caring about XPs midway during 2e.
 

Voadam

Legend
I hated AD&D xp accounting as a DM. I did it, but there were times I fell behind a number of games and going over the encounters and figuring out the xp was an exercise I was happy to give up from 3e and on.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I get that, but they get it for advancing the story and developing their characters as a group. And they understand that b/c we have discussed D&D as a collective activity where everyone rises and falls together. I don't want to encourage them to do anything but have fun within the framework of the type of game we've agree to share. I know I like certain behaviors and habits, but short of disrupting the game I know these are not for everyone (or even best if everyone did them).

I used to give bonus XP as incentives for certain out of game behaviors but that just rewarded the people who already did those things and did nothing to change the behaviors of others - and after years of being a teacher I am not into trying to coax anyone to do anything they don't really want to do anymore.
I’m not talking about bonus XP for out of game behaviors (or the IMO deplorable practice of giving bonus XP for “good roleplaying”). I’m talking about setting up the XP award structure to encourage certain types of play. XP for encounters encourages a play style where you seek out dangerous challenges. XP for treasure encourages a play style where you try to avoid encounters (because they tax your resources for no direct reward) and prioritize challenges with the lowest risk and highest monetary reward. XP for completing quests encourages a play style where you take on quests for their own sake, regardless of potential monetary reward. XP for new locations discovered encourages a play style where you explore the uncharted sections of the map, but probably don’t return to areas that you’ve already filled in.

And of course, you can mix and match as you like. Since I like my games to be focused on heroic adventurers who take on quests and face deadly dangers, I award XP for encounters and quests completed. For a less heroic, Sword-and-Sorcery style hex crawler campaign, XP for treasure and locations discovered might be more appropriate. What you award XP for can have a big impact on the tone of a campaign.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I think it is just another kind of psychological benefit. XP award day is like a birthday surprise! A cheer goes up around the table and everyone starts discussing what they'd do if they went up a level. It is always a fun moment.
Sure, but you could get that same effect with session-based or even story-based advancement. You’re using XP but not getting the benefits that are unique to XP.
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I’m not talking about bonus XP for out of game behaviors (or the IMO deplorable practice of giving bonus XP for “good roleplaying”). I’m talking about setting up the XP award structure to encourage certain types of play. XP for encounters encourages a play style where you seek out dangerous challenges. XP for treasure encourages a play style where you try to avoid encounters (because it races your resources for no direct reward) and prioritize challenges with the lowest risk and highest monetary reward. XP for completing quests encourages a play style where you take on quests for their own sake, regardless of potential monetary reward. XP for new locations discovered encourages a play style where you explore the uncharted sections of the map, but probably don’t return to areas that you’ e already filled in.

And of course, you can mix and match as you like. Since I like my games to be focused on heroic adventurers who take on quests and face deadly dangers, I award XP for encounters and quests completed. For a less heroic, Sword-and-Sorcery style hex crawler campaign, XP for treasure and locations discovered might be more appropriate. What you award XP for can have a big impact on the tone of a campaign.

Ah. I misunderstood.

What you describe makes a lot of sense. In my current game, however, I hadn't given it much thought because everyone is enjoying doing what we've been doing (facing encounters and completing quests). Role-playing is its own reward, though in the case of people who want to rp every single micro-interaction in character it feels like a punishment for everyone else. :sneaky:
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Ah. I misunderstood.

What you describe makes a lot of sense. In my current game, however, I hadn't given it much thought because everyone is enjoying doing what we've been doing (facing encounters and completing quests). Role-playing is its own reward, though in the case of people who want to rp every single micro-interaction in character it feels like a punishment for everyone else. :sneaky:
For sure! I mean, session-based and story-based advancement work for tons of groups, so it’s not like you need an XP award structure to set the tone for your campaign. It is a powerful tool for doing so though, and again, human brains love watching progress bars fill up. So I prefer it.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I hated AD&D xp accounting as a DM. I did it, but there were times I fell behind a number of games and going over the encounters and figuring out the xp was an exercise I was happy to give up from 3e and on.

I loved it and still love it.

Back in 1E days I had an accountants ledger I used to keep track of XP. Now I use excel and I am not exaggerating that I LOVE making/using spreadsheets. :geek:

XP.jpg
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Depends on the group preference. Done milestone and done xp tracking. usually for xp tracking, it's awarded at the end of the session when the party has access to their next long rest.
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
Every group I’ve played with does some version of story/session milestone leveling. Whenever there’s a break in the action after a few sessions, the DM will decide that you’ve leveled at the end of the session.

Honestly, outside of a specific game feel, like an OSR style, XP feels a little anachronistic. Level is more about deciding what tone and feel you want the game to run at, rewards for play are a lot more about magic items.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
You’re using XP but not getting the benefits that are unique to XP.
I somehow missed this in the cross-posting. What are these unique benefits? They still get the bar filling up effect, just more spaced out making it more special when it happens. Getting XP is not guarantee of going up a level. Like I said, I have awarded XP six times and they're just shy of 5th level.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I don't want to "encourage" players to do anything other than what they think what their PCs would do or what they have fun doing. If they're having fun with RP sessions instead of killing monsters, I don't want to influence that one way or another. So I use session based advancement (for the most part) which is something I discuss with the group ahead of time. How quickly do they want to advance?

I used to try to figure out XP for defeating obstacles and RP but I just found myself thinking in terms of how quickly I wanted them to advance. Doing session based just kind of cuts out the middle man. I mean, one of my PCs developed a nemesis who spread rumors about them. One of the people that believed the rumors was the only legit broker of magic items in town so they had to find an "alternative". It was quite fun until we got the nemesis issue resolved and everyone had a blast with it. But how much XP should I have rewarded? I have no clue.

I'd rather reward my players with things that have an impact on their PCs in game, not things that only impact the players or the meta-game.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
What this thread has helped me to discover about myself so far, is that the complicated tabulations of XP are for my psychological benefit not the players, who could not care less :ROFLMAO: (except maybe that one guy, but he isn't playing with us anymore, but not for that reason).

I'm okay with that.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I somehow missed this in the cross-posting. What are these unique benefits? They still get the bar filling up effect, just more spaced out making it more special when it happens. Getting XP is not guarantee of going up a level. Like I said, I have awarded XP six times and they're just shy of 5th level.
Mainly, tying the filling of the progress bar directly to your in-game actions. Watching a progress bar fill up on its own is satisfying. Making a progress bar fill up is significantly more satisfying. If you award XP in batches and don’t specify what the players did to earn it, they get the former effect, but they don’t get the latter. And you can get the former from session-based advancement too.

A side-effect of tying XP awards to in-game actions is that it encourages the players to seek out more ways to perform the actions that they get XP for. They want to make the progress bar fill up, so they will actively try to do more of the thing that they know makes it fill up more. Now, to some, like @Oofta, this may be a negative side-effect (in which case, session-based advancement will probably be more appealing), whereas to me it’s a hugely positive one. As I pointed out in the other post, it is a powerful tool for setting the tone of a campaign.

In theory, story-based advancement ties progress to in-game behaviors, but doesn’t have the bar-filling element. In practice though, it tends to be pretty arbitrary which story-based achievements result in a level increase and which ones don’t. It is, in my opinion, the worst method for character advancement of the three, though it does require the least work on the DM’s part, which I believe is the main reason for its popularity.
 
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