log in or register to remove this ad

 

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

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Like I said, I think most people don’t need XP awards to enjoy the game, but the benefit they have, while subtle, is significant. The difference it makes isn’t obvious like getting rid of bookkeeping is, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that players might appreciate the lack of bookkeeping and not consciously appreciate the lack of progress as a direct reward for their actions. And hey, if it works for your group, how much that difference actually matters is pretty academic. Keep doing what’s fun for you!

I have tried other ways, and they have their own benefits and drawbacks. I use the method I do because I think it creates the best player experience overall. YMMV.

If they have significant benefit for you and your group, you're doing it right. Just saying that not everyone would agree. Then again, I don't even give specific numbers for individual treasure found, I just let everyone know at the end of the session or after the game if I need to. At first some people found it odd, but now they don't even bat an eye.

Which is one of the strengths of D&D IMHO, each table can implement what works for them. Vive la difference!
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It only let me choose one, but we give immediate XP for monsters killed/conquered. We also give XP, though, for information gathered/quests accomplished.

TBH XP feels artificial to me nowadays, the reason I want PCs to level is so we can tell different parts of the story.

But while there are concrete rules for XP for defeating monsters, how do you decide to reward XP for non-combat? That always felt artificial to me.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
TBH XP feels artificial to me nowadays, the reason I want PCs to level is so we can tell different parts of the story.

But while there are concrete rules for XP for defeating monsters, how do you decide to reward XP for non-combat? That always felt artificial to me.

I mean all these numbers are ultimately arbitrary no matter how they are determined, but for me I would very simple say - is this obstacle a fair challenge for a group of 4th level characters? Then I will award XP for CR4 monster.
 

When I'm awarding XP according to combat and social interaction, I award XP immediately after the challenge is resolved and, if character advancement is indicated, the player may level up the character right then and there.
This. Although I have a house rule that if the player isn't ready with their updates, we only roll for hit points and they have to wait for the next session or a break to get the rest of their upgrade. They should know when they are about to level.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
It only let me choose one, but we give immediate XP for monsters killed/conquered. We also give XP, though, for information gathered/quests accomplished.

I purposefully made it so that people had to choose their preferred one if they used multiple methods with different groups or "Other" if no one fit.

So you give XP during sessions AND after longer term goals like accomplishing a quest. Sounds like other, I guess. :)
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
This. Although I have a house rule that if the player isn't ready with their updates, we only roll for hit points and they have to wait for the next session or a break to get the rest of their upgrade. They should know when they are about to level.
Yeah, one of the opening topics of conversation when we're preparing to play is "Who is close to leveling?" Then players say how close they are. That gets them thinking about what to choose when they do level up so that it's seamless during play.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
If the xp come from your actions (as a direct result), it's setting the tone. Because even "you get xp for taking actions" is setting the tone in the sense of "I expect active play, and not passive play." The only way for xp rewards to not influence tone is for them to happen regardless not only of what actions you take, but whether you take actions at all.
Right. This is basically just a different way of phrasing the same thing I said.

If setting the tone can be a negative (as @Voadam so eloquently explained), then awarding xp for actions can be a net negative.
Agreed.

And if the choice of what you do is irrelevant, including whether or not to do anything, it becomes less meaningful than a participation trophy. It can even feel like a waste of tie and energy to note it down. That might seem like an extreme case, but it also seems to be the experience of quite a few people.
The choice of what you do, including whether or not you do anything, is only irrelevant in the case of session-based advancement. XP-based advancement ties advancement to specific actions in-game, so what you do is intrinsically relevant. That is, in my opinion, the primary benefit of XP. Granted, if tying advancement to specific action (which as a side-effect, sets a tone) is a negative for you, then session-based advancement will probably appeal to you more.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
If they have significant benefit for you and your group, you're doing it right. Just saying that not everyone would agree. Then again, I don't even give specific numbers for individual treasure found, I just let everyone know at the end of the session or after the game if I need to. At first some people found it odd, but now they don't even bat an eye.

Which is one of the strengths of D&D IMHO, each table can implement what works for them. Vive la difference!
For sure!
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The choice of what you do, including whether or not you do anything, is only irrelevant in the case of session-based advancement. XP-based advancement ties advancement to specific actions in-game, so what you do is intrinsically relevant. That is, in my opinion, the primary benefit of XP. Granted, if tying advancement to specific action (which as a side-effect, sets a tone) is a negative for you, then session-based advancement will probably appeal to you more.
Yep. You ain't getting XP for shopping in my game. Which is why we don't see much of that at all.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Yep. You ain't getting XP for shopping in my game. Which is why we don't see much of that at all.
I never have either (unless it was a required part of some adventure to haggle for the MacGuffin or something) but in my experience many players love shopping in-game for its own sake. And I am fine with that and can even enjoy it - as long as it does not go on TOO long (just like shopping in real life before the pandemic!)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
TBH XP feels artificial to me nowadays, the reason I want PCs to level is so we can tell different parts of the story.

But while there are concrete rules for XP for defeating monsters, how do you decide to reward XP for non-combat? That always felt artificial to me.
The DMG recommends assigning non-combat encounters a difficulty appropriate to the challenge, and awarding XP as you would for a combat encounter of the same difficulty. This is necessarily somewhat subjective, but ultimately so is the difficulty rating of combat encounters.

Personally, I assign XP based on encounter complexity rather than difficulty. A simple encounter that requires little to no setup and can be resolved with a few actions is worth an Easy encounter worth of XP. A moderately complex encounter that requires set-up, such as a battle grid or involves tracking multiple success and failures like a skill challenge is worth a Medium encounter worth of XP. A climactic encounter such as a boss fight or a particularly intense skill challenge is worth a Hard encounter worth of XP.

For quests/goals, I give an Easy encounter worth of XP for a side-quest or minor objective, and a Medium encounter worth of XP for a main-quest or primary objective.
 
Last edited:

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I never have either (unless it was a required part of some adventure to haggle for the MacGuffin or something) but in my experience many players love shopping in-game for its own sake. And I am fine with that and can even enjoy it - as long as it does not go on TOO long (just like shopping in real life before the pandemic!)
In most of my games it's a "town task" which is effectively a downtime activity we call Resupply. Make your list, check it twice, usually make a Charisma (Persuasion) check to resolve haggling (advantage if you're a guild artisan), then the price is increased or decreased from list prices depending on the result. Add the items to your sheet, deduct the gold, the end. No quirky, cagey shopkeeps to deal with. A minute of session time, tops, to resolve.

I did write a one-shot called "6 to 8 Hours of Shopping" that is a scenario entirely about shopping. I wrote it because I watched one too many streams where they were shopping for a good chunk of the session and I was like, okay, how can this be written to actually be engaging (and also make fun of this behavior). It's pretty funny. But since it's a one-shot, XP was irrelevant.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I play "shopping" at both those registers (just subtract the money from your sheet / NPC shopkeeper with detailed personality) depending on my mood and the desires of the players.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
While I think the instant gratification of immediate XP awards AND the ability to anticipate exactly how close their characters are to levelling up makes XP the preferable system for the vast majority of players, the truth is that as DM I'm already working WAY harder than anybody else at the table and I just flat out can't be bothered with XP.

In most campaigns, I do leveling like this:
  • Character reaches level 2 after 4 hours of play
  • Character reaches level 3 after an additional 8 hours of play
  • Character gains an additional level roughly every 16 hours of play thereafter

My sessions tend to be 2,3, or 4 hours in length.

In some adventures, I find it more appropriate to award levels based on storyline achievements, so I do it that way.

I think the only time I've used XP in 5E was the first time I ran Lost Mine of Phandelver, and the first time I ran an AL season. In both cases, I did it because the adventure did most of the work for me in indicating how and when to award XP.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
My current group for reasons I don't really comprehend love shopping. They complain if I hand wave it too often.

But they all really have fun with it so I just lean into it and play it up. Of course that just means other players asking if they can go shopping too. :oops:

But we're all having fun, so that's all that matters.
 

I use a completely different system than mentioned here. I only give out half the normal experience for killing/defeating monsters (called MXP). The other half of the potential experience is given out for exploration encounters (EXP) and social encounters (SXP). In addition I'll sometimes add experience for completing milestones/quests (QXP) to encourage the player to follow through on their actions. The average amount of experience is about the same, but the players are encouraged to find alternatives to straight up combat, since it doesn't provide a much experience.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
While I think the instant gratification of immediate XP awards AND the ability to anticipate exactly how close their characters are to levelling up makes XP the preferable system for the vast majority of players, the truth is that as DM I'm already working WAY harder than anybody else at the table and I just flat out can't be bothered with XP.

In most campaigns, I do leveling like this:
  • Character reaches level 2 after 4 hours of play
  • Character reaches level 3 after an additional 8 hours of play
  • Character gains an additional level roughly every 16 hours of play thereafter

My sessions tend to be 2,3, or 4 hours in length.

In some adventures, I find it more appropriate to award levels based on storyline achievements, so I do it that way.

I think the only time I've used XP in 5E was the first time I ran Lost Mine of Phandelver, and the first time I ran an AL season. In both cases, I did it because the adventure did most of the work for me in indicating how and when to award XP.
Well, at least you’re honest about the fact that you do it for your own benefit even though XP would probably be preferable to the players.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
My current group for reasons I don't really comprehend love shopping. They complain if I hand wave it too often.

But they all really have fun with it so I just lean into it and play it up. Of course that just means other players asking if they can go shopping too. :oops:

But we're all having fun, so that's all that matters.
As a player, I enjoy a good shopping session or lengthy chat with a quirky NPC. As a DM, I do my best to make the adventures more interesting than talking to NPCs, but I also recognize that such scenes are fun for some players (including me!) but boring for others. So, I try to provide opportunities for such interactions, but don’t let them go on long enough to dominate the session.

I think the main appeal is that it’s basically spotlight time. You get to show off how quirky your character is, by bouncing off a quirky NPC.
 

Puddles

Explorer
I give out XP for killing monsters as soon as the encounter ends. I also give half XP for monsters that rout. They get XP for completing puzzles and circumventing traps (given as soon as they clear the room/area), and get XP for completing quests.

It’s important for me that the players get some experience every session, so I design the sessions accordingly.

All players have the same XP, so they level up together. Inspiration is given if I want to reward just 1 player for something exceptional. :)

I’m really not a fan of milestone levelling so I will be sad if XP goes and will probably cook up my own XP system if I play an RPG that has milestone levelling instead.
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top