Unearthed Arcana WotC's Mearls Presents A New XP System For 5E In August's Unearthed Arcana


Shasarak

Banned
Banned
So... your players have goals and they achieve them then? So where's the objection to milestones coming from?

Milestone leveling fails on several fundemental levels.

Firstly there is no sense of progresion, so there is no sense of your character slowly getting better over time you just have to hope that the DM decides you have done enough story to suddenly qualify for the next level.

Secondly unless you are playing through a rail roaded story path there maybe no clear differentiation when you qualify for a milestone. As you say the PCs have goals and achieve them, so how many goals to a milestone? Normal XP gives you that answer.

Thirdly milestone leveling does not solve any problem that I am having. I can see a lazy DM using milestones because that is one less thing for them to worry about.

So unless you are playing through someones elses adventure where the PCs have to be at a set level to fight a set enemy at a set time then, why would you use milestones?
 

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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Milestone leveling fails on several fundemental levels.

Firstly there is no sense of progresion, so there is no sense of your character slowly getting better over time you just have to hope that the DM decides you have done enough story to suddenly qualify for the next level.

Secondly unless you are playing through a rail roaded story path there maybe no clear differentiation when you qualify for a milestone. As you say the PCs have goals and achieve them, so how many goals to a milestone? Normal XP gives you that answer.

Thirdly milestone leveling does not solve any problem that I am having. I can see a lazy DM using milestones because that is one less thing for them to worry about.

So unless you are playing through someones elses adventure where the PCs have to be at a set level to fight a set enemy at a set time then, why would you use milestones?

If you don't mind, I'd like to weigh in on these.

1. Sure, if the DM sets it up as three goals to the milestone, and tells the players, they have the same insight into progression as they do with XP.

2. There's zero need to railroad to set up what qualifies as a goal. I, as DM, don't have to provide the goals, I can provide general guidelines to what constitutes a goal, like the suggestion I made above of defeating 3 tier appropriate adventures like a dungeon or defending a town or something the players have set as a goal. There's no reason there cannot be a discussion about appropriate goals or if this thing or another counts as a goal and making that plain to the players.

3. I'm glad it doesn't solve a problem you're having -- you don't need to use milestone leveling and no one here is trying to convince you that you do need to. It's just something in a bag, and it can be pretty versatile. It doesn't require a railroad, although it works for one as well. And it really has nothing to do with lazy DMing. Honestly, calculating XP is a trivial task compared to what else a DM has to do. If a DM preferred to not provide XP and use milestone leveling, I'd strongly advise against calling them lazy on that basis alone -- they still do way more work just to provide you with a game.

In general, and I'm stressing this, it's not good to assign negative traits to people just because they don't share your preferences -- especially when talking about hobby gaming.

And to your unnumbered final point, because you want to. Honestly, this is pretty much the answer at the bottom of any choice in how you run a game. But, to expand on how it could be useful in a more general sense: a) it keeps players at the same level, a goal that may or may not be something you care about. I find it easier to run a game where everyone is at the same level; b) it stops the 'how much XP for that?!' questions; and c) it allows leveling at points that work with pacing. Case in point, I ran a game where there was milestone leveling but I kept a track of xp that would have been handed out and used that to gauge when to announce a level. But I only announced levels at downpoints in pacing, sometimes when the XP was almost to the next level and sometimes after, depending. To the players, they didn't have to track XP and gained levels at points where they had accomplished things or were ready to go accomplish things. My players liked it, as they felt they got levels at appropriate points and it was easy to adjudicate leveling concerns while they had time to do so, and they didn't have to track their XP and feel that moment when you're 10xp from the next level but have hit an adventure downtime.

There are many reasons you might want to use milestone leveling in your own, nonscripted, unplotted, sandbox game. I've provided a few that I've seen. But I use different methods depending on what feeling I"m trying to evoke in that particular game, so I don't exclusively use milestone leveling --although I've used it for my last two games.
 

At least according to the DMG, Milestone Leveling isn't the same as Story Based Leveling (which seems to be be what you are talking about).

Milestone leveling states that you designate certain events or challenges as milestones (such as accomplishing a series of goals, discovering a hidden place, reaching an important destination). It then states to grant Hard encounter XP for a major Milestone and Easy encounter XP for a Minor. It sounds like it is supposed to work with the same XP progression as default, just as an alternate XP system than standard monster XP.

However if it is implemented in an arbitrary fashion and is not clear to the players, it becomes, in practice, no different than Story Based Leveling

I have detailed a way in this thread on how one can use Milestone Leveling in a way that supports sandbox style play and promotes player agency.

You provide your players with a list of Milestones and have objective and static rules that govern their XP value, and you let them use that to inform their decisions in game.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
As an aside, I'm surprised to see the "6-8 encounters per day" trope still around. If you stick to even moderately interesting encounters it's hard to fit more than 3-5 encounters into the typical adventuring day's budget, per DMG guidelines. "6-8 encounters per day" was sort of a semi-okay rule of thumb back when 5E came out, especially before they revised the encounter rules to turn difficulty ceilings into difficulty thresholds somewhere around Basic 0.2ish, but by the time the DMG came out that guideline was totally obsolete.
The "adventuring day" XP seems intended to budget for 6-8 encounters, but comes in about an encounter under. What I believe gives good diversity is when you can also fit in some easy encounters that are over quickly, but matter mechanically. Adventuring days should vary (using days in a non-calendar sense here). Notionally, the XP budgets per DMG guidelines work well for that. Actually, they probably work fine for inexperienced or casual groups. Not as fine for groups that are more on top of the mechanics.

It would have been helpful if they'd given 2 or 3 columns for adventuring day XP. Novice, Standard, Elite perhaps. Tomorrow I'll have a shot at working out what those budgets should come to!
 

Fair enough.
I just thought it strange they were talking about alternatives for initiative and leveling. I wasn't aware that these were areas that people really had complaints about. I haven't heard in person or read online about alot of problems with these areas. So, the choice seemed strange to me.
"So, what do we want to work on next?"
"...argh... I don't know.... anything but a Warlord..."
"OK, how 'bout we tackle resting & recovery?"
"I know! an initiative variant! we totally need an initiative variant!"

;)
 
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The "adventuring day" XP seems intended to budget for 6-8 encounters, but comes in about an encounter under.

More than one encounter under, if you stick to medium/hard encounters. I no longer have my table handy but I believe the typical level can fit in about 4.5 encounters that are midway through Medium difficulty (i.e. the average of Medium and Hard thresholds). There are a couple of levels where it goes as high as 6 encounters, and a few there are more in the 3-4 range. There are none that are as high as 7 or 8.

The "6-8" meme made more sense before they revised the difficulty guidelines, back around Basic 0.2. Back then, the breakpoints were ceilings, not floors, so what today is an easy/medium encounter would have been a medium/hard encounter back then. If you do the math using those guidelines, you'll find that you actually can fit 6-8 encounters in.

Unfortunately, when they updated the difficulty guidelines and then printed them in the DMG, they did not update the accompanying text blurb saying that "most adventuring parties can handle about six
to eight medium or hard encounters in a day," even though they had changed the definition of "medium or hard encounter."

[Note also that back then there was such a thing as "Deadlier than Deadly" difficulty, which Kobold.com used to call "Ludicrous" difficulty.]

Concrete example: if you look at Basic 0.1 pages 56-58, there's a Hard encounter given as an example encounter between four PCs (three level 3, one level 2) and four hobgoblins. That consumes 800 out of the 4200 XP budget for the day (3*1200 + 600, per table on page 58), leaving 3400 XP left. If you distribute those 3400 XP evently between six other encounters for a total of seven encounters, that gives you one Hard encounter (hobgoblins, 800 XP) and six more barely-Hard encounters (whatever else, 566 XP). That's because a Medium encounter can be at most 550 XP (3*150 + 100) and a Hard encounter can be at most 825 XP (3 * 225 + 150), according to the table on page 56. So we see that "six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day" held, back then.

Contrast that with today's DMG rules. (I'm AFB so I'll refer to Basic 0.5 instead here: http://media.wizards.com/2016/downloads/DND/DMBasicRulesV05.pdf but they are the same rules.) Now the example Hard fight is of a bugbear and three hobgoblins against the same party of three level 3s and a level 2. Due to the addition of a bugbear, it's 1000 XP, which crosses the new Hard threshold of 825 XP. The adventuring day budget hasn't changed, so we've still got 4200 XP total to spend, and 3200 XP to split between six encounters. That gives us 533 XP per encounter, which according to the new difficulty table on page 56 means each encounter is Easy (just shy of the 550 XP threshold for Medium).

The upshot is that whereas Basic 0.1 would have given you seven Hard encounters in a day, Basic 0.5 or the rules printed in the DMG would give you one Hard and six Easy encounters. Both versions preface the "Adventuring Day" XP table on page 57 with a text blurb stating that "Assuming typical adventuring conditions and average luck, most adventuring parties can handle about six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day", but that's a holdover from Basic 0.1. In 5E as the DMG actually published, that statement is no longer compatible with the table it's introducing.

In both cases, there never was any expectation that you have six to eight encounters a day. The expectation was that you don't exceed your adventuring day budget and accidentally TPK the party. 5E's design parameters are built to handle two or three hard/deadly encounters per day just as readily as six to eight easy/medium encounters.

What I believe gives good diversity is when you can also fit in some easy encounters that are over quickly, but matter mechanically. Adventuring days should vary (using days in a non-calendar sense here). Notionally, the XP budgets per DMG guidelines work well for that. Actually, they probably work fine for inexperienced or casual groups. Not as fine for groups that are more on top of the mechanics.

It would have been helpful if they'd given 2 or 3 columns for adventuring day XP. Novice, Standard, Elite perhaps. Tomorrow I'll have a shot at working out what those budgets should come to!

Also, risk tolerance is important. Even novice players can easily handle 150-200% of the standard adventuring day XP; but sometimes their PCs die, and some groups require a 100% chance of PC victory in order to have fun, which means those groups will have to stick more closely to the standard values.

IMO the game is at its best when the PCs are outnumbered and outgunned but not outthought; I like pitting e.g. four 9th level PCs are up against six CR 6 Chasmes and a couple of CR 17 Goristros. DMG guidelines tell me that that encounter is ludicrously difficult (124,500 XP when the Deadly threshold is 9600 XP) but my experience tells me it is about right for a couple of hours of fun. I'd love to be one of the PCs in that party, especially when they collect all the DMG-generated treasure associated with such monsters.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
More than one encounter under, if you stick to medium/hard encounters. I no longer have my table handy but I believe the typical level can fit in about 4.5 encounters that are midway through Medium difficulty (i.e. the average of Medium and Hard thresholds). There are a couple of levels where it goes as high as 6 encounters, and a few there are more in the 3-4 range. There are none that are as high as 7 or 8.
Taking the example in the book - 3x 3rd PC, 1x 2nd PC. A medium encounter for them is 550XP and a hard encounter is 825XP - their adventuring day XP budget is 4200XP (3x1200+1x600). That pays for 7 of those medium or 5 of those hard encounters. One encounter less than the guideline, skewing the game toward the "easy" difficulty setting that appears to have been the design intent. I'll number crunch the whole table later and see how it looks.

The "6-8" meme made more sense before they revised the difficulty guidelines, back around Basic 0.2. Back then, the breakpoints were ceilings, not floors, so what today is an easy/medium encounter would have been a medium/hard encounter back then. If you do the math using those guidelines, you'll find that you actually can fit 6-8 encounters in.

Unfortunately, when they updated the difficulty guidelines and then printed them in the DMG, they did not update the accompanying text blurb saying that "most adventuring parties can handle about six
to eight medium or hard encounters in a day," even though they had changed the definition of "medium or hard encounter."
I agree with your characterisation of "unfortunately" here!

The upshot is that whereas Basic 0.1 would have given you seven Hard encounters in a day, Basic 0.5 or the rules printed in the DMG would give you one Hard and six Easy encounters. Both versions preface the "Adventuring Day" XP table on page 57 with a text blurb stating that "Assuming typical adventuring conditions and average luck, most adventuring parties can handle about six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day", but that's a holdover from Basic 0.1. In 5E as the DMG actually published, that statement is no longer compatible with the table it's introducing.

In both cases, there never was any expectation that you have six to eight encounters a day. The expectation was that you don't exceed your adventuring day budget and accidentally TPK the party. 5E's design parameters are built to handle two or three hard/deadly encounters per day just as readily as six to eight easy/medium encounters.
I see what you are saying. To clarify what I am saying - I'm arguing that maximum mechanical diversity is achieved when I can offer any assemblage of encounters that fit within the budget. From all easy to all deadly. I take the 6-8 as the centering figure, as in mostly 6-8 medium or hard. It's the expectation only in that sense, that on average that's where we land, but the whole range is meaningfully available to us.

Also, risk tolerance is important. Even novice players can easily handle 150-200% of the standard adventuring day XP; but sometimes their PCs die, and some groups require a 100% chance of PC victory in order to have fun, which means those groups will have to stick more closely to the standard values.
That's true.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Fair enough.
I just thought it strange they were talking about alternatives for initiative and leveling. I wasn't aware that these were areas that people really had complaints about. I haven't heard in person or read online about alot of problems with these areas. So, the choice seemed strange to me.
I wasn't meaning to say they can't develop alternatives...that's part of their job.
And I wasn't trying to make a judgement about milestone xp.
It is much easier to faff about with superficial tweaks than to dig deep into the fundamentals of the game.

Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
 

Taking the example in the book - 3x 3rd PC, 1x 2nd PC. A medium encounter for them is 550XP and a hard encounter is 825XP - their adventuring day XP budget is 4200XP (3x1200+1x600). That pays for 7 of those medium or 5 of those hard encounters. One encounter less than the guideline, skewing the game toward the "easy" difficulty setting that appears to have been the design intent. I'll number crunch the whole table later and see how it looks.

Nitpick: it doesn't make sense to assume that the average Medium encounter will be just-barely-Medium. Assuming a uniform distribution of Medium encounters (and why wouldn't you?), the average Medium encounter will be (550 + 824)/2 = 687 XP. You can have only six of those in a day.

I see what you are saying. To clarify what I am saying - I'm arguing that maximum mechanical diversity is achieved when I can offer any assemblage of encounters that fit within the budget. From all easy to all deadly. I take the 6-8 as the centering figure, as in mostly 6-8 medium or hard. It's the expectation only in that sense, that on average that's where we land, but the whole range is meaningfully available to us.

I see and agree with your basic point about using the whole range, but if you'll permit an expansion on that point:

Honestly, I feel like you get better mechanical diversity when you let the players off the rails. Let's say that you're designing an adventure for level 5 PCs, and you allow self-pacing. You might set it up so that a minimum level of success (save the princess!) is achievable by finding all of the clues and beating 50% of the DMG adventuring day's XP budget, or by finding some of the clues and beating 100% of the adventuring day's budget; a higher level of success (save the princess AND capture the perps!) is achievable by finding all of the clues and beating 100% of the adventuring day's XP budget, or by finding some of the clues and beating 200% of the XP budget; and a maximum level of success (sand the princess AND capture the perps AND find evidence sufficient to convict Cardinal Richelieu of masterminding the whole thing) is achievable by finding all of the clues and beating 200% of the XP budget.

In this case you're using the XP guidelines not as a rigid set of expectations for what players will do and when, but merely as a set of guideposts which allow you to differentiate a typical party from a superior party. IMO that is fun because it allows the superior party to (1) challenge themselves; (2) be rewarded for their superior skill, instead of just facing a difficulty treadmill where everything just gets harder automatically.

Truly skilled parties may then opt to do even crazier things, like go for the maximum level of reward while blindfolded, or while only using melee weapons, or with a party of all Purple Dragon Knights and Elemental Monks. :)
 
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S'mon

Legend
The basic idea of 100 xp to level and 10 xp per achievement I think is a good one, I was using it 20 years ago in a system I made myself. :)
I definitely prefer it to fiat levelling. However it does make mixed level groups work less well, but doubling xp for pcs 1 tier lower and x3 for 2 tiers lower is a good idea.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
...discussion about encounters per Adventuring Day
So here is the number crunching. I simply divided encounter XP at each level and risk threshold into adventuring day XP. At the bottom are means, modes and medians. And the correlation of medium to hard encounters, which is significant and tight meaning that they are good predictors of each other (from a game design point of view, it suggests that the table is coherent).

Level Easy Medium Hard Deadly

1 12.0 6.0 4.0 3.0
2 12.0 6.0 4.0 3.0
3 16.0 8.0 5.3 3.0
4 13.6 6.8 4.5 3.4
5 14.0 7.0 4.7 3.2
6 13.3 6.7 4.4 2.9
7 14.3 6.7 4.5 2.9
8 13.3 6.7 4.3 2.9
9 13.6 6.8 4.7 3.1
10 15.0 7.5 4.7 3.2
11 13.1 6.6 4.4 2.9
12 11.5 5.8 3.8 2.6
13 12.3 6.1 4.0 2.6
14 12.0 6.0 3.9 2.6
15 12.9 6.4 4.2 2.8
16 12.5 6.3 4.2 2.8
17 12.5 6.4 4.2 2.8
18 12.9 6.4 4.3 2.8
19 12.5 6.1 4.1 2.8
20 14.3 7.0 4.7 3.1

mean 13.2 6.6 4.4 2.9
mode 12.0 6.0 4.0 3.0
median 13.0 6.5 4.3 2.9
correll 0.97091184

The real number of encounters per day using the adventuring day XP budgets is 4.4 to 6.6 i.e. about one and a half encounters fewer than advertised. I suspect this is a root cause of comments that 5e has an "easy" difficulty setting. For mass-market games it usually is correct to dial down the difficulty. Although ideally there should be a way supplied to dial it back up again. The problem might not lie in the adventuring day XP of course: it could lie in the monster CRs i.e. the XP may be paying for too few monsters. That could matter because if it is the case, increasing the XP serves to accelerate character advancement without appropriately increasing the risk.

What I'd like to do is figure out a simple method to provide a "hard" difficulty setting for 5e. We need to know if monster CRs need tweaking, which I think we can tell from the XP Thresholds table perhaps using Kobold Fight Club? Ideally, they won't, in which case all we'll need to do is up the Adventuring Day XP... perhaps by a quarter?
 

The real number of encounters per day using the adventuring day XP budgets is 4.4 to 6.6 i.e. about one and a half encounters fewer than advertised.

Excuse me, don't you mean 2.9 to 6.6? 4.4 to 6.6 is the Medium band only; 2.9 to 6.6 is the Medium/Hard band.

Remember, those numbers you're computing ratios for are floors, not medians.

What I'd like to do is figure out a simple method to provide a "hard" difficulty setting for 5e. We need to know if monster CRs need tweaking, which I think we can tell from the XP Thresholds table perhaps using Kobold Fight Club? Ideally, they won't, in which case all we'll need to do is up the Adventuring Day XP... perhaps by a quarter?

CR is lossy--this is immediately apparent as soon as you examine the DMG rules for computing CR. There is no way to derive a genuinely reliable difficulty metric from CR because it's already missing too much information. Furthermore, playstyle matters. There's an enormous difference between a T-Rex being run by a DM who roleplays a T-Rex's likely behavior given its goals and low Intelligence, vs. a DM who runs a T-Rex with the mind of a tactical battlecomputer focused on destroying the PCs at any cost. The first T-Rex can be satisfied if you just give it a horse to eat; the second T-Rex is going to leverage its high speed (50'), reach attacks, and grappling bite to strafe the PCs and pick off the weakest-looking member of the party. If it gets lucky on geography, that second T-Rex could potentially TPK a melee-oriented 7th level party.

But the things that would enable the T-Rex to do that aren't valued at all by the CR calculation. A T-Rex with 10' move and no grapple would have exactly the same CR by DMG rules.

I've tossed around potential metrics in the past, like say a Champion rating which says how many Nth level Champions you'd need on average to have a [better than 50%? essentially 100%? somewhere in between] chance of winning a computer simulation of a given fight/adventure. I haven't found a metric that has enough predictive value to make everyone happy with it, but I am at least pretty sure that it's possible to do much better than CR.
 
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Ristamar

Adventurer
What I'd like to do is figure out a simple method to provide a "hard" difficulty setting for 5e. We need to know if monster CRs need tweaking, which I think we can tell from the XP Thresholds table perhaps using Kobold Fight Club? Ideally, they won't, in which case all we'll need to do is up the Adventuring Day XP... perhaps by a quarter?

I've leaned toward simply awarding less-than-standard XP for encounters in "short" adventuring days and bonus XP for pushing beyond the suggested range.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Excuse me, don't you mean 2.9 to 6.6? 4.4 to 6.6 is the Medium band only; 2.9 to 6.6 is the Medium/Hard band.
The table formatting here might make it difficult to read. The minimum value in the Medium column is 5.8 and the Maximum value is 8.0. The minimum value in the Hard column is 3.8 and the maximum value is 5.3. The average for Medium is 6.6 and the average for Hard is 4.4.

CR is lossy--this is immediately apparent as soon as you examine the DMG rules for computing CR. There is no way to derive a genuinely reliable difficulty metric from CR because it's already missing too much information. Furthermore, playstyle matters. There's an enormous difference between a T-Rex being run by a DM who roleplays a T-Rex's likely behavior given its goals and low Intelligence, vs. a DM who runs a T-Rex with the mind of a tactical battlecomputer focused on destroying the PCs at any cost. The first T-Rex can be satisfied if you just give it a horse to eat; the second T-Rex is going to leverage its high speed (50'), reach attacks, and grappling bite to strafe the PCs and pick off the weakest-looking member of the party. If it gets lucky on geography, that second T-Rex could potentially TPK a melee-oriented 7th level party.

But the things that would enable the T-Rex to do that aren't valued at all by the CR calculation. A T-Rex with 10' move and no grapple would have exactly the same CR by DMG rules.
Agreed, it's very noticeable as soon as you go ahead and make up some creatures of your own using the rules and tables toward the end of the DMG.

I've tossed around potential metrics in the past, like say a Champion rating which says how many Nth level Champions you'd need on average to have a [better than 50%? essentially 100%? somewhere in between] chance of winning a computer simulation of a given fight/adventure. I haven't found a metric that has enough predictive value to make everyone happy with it, but I am at least pretty sure that it's possible to do much better than CR.
Ideally they'd just brute force it heuristically. My intuition is that it might be better to leave Adventuring Day XP as is and discount encounter values, e.g. we might build an encounter worth 550XP using the rules and then discount it by 20%*. Here the discount would impact the XP awarded, and it would be the discounted value that is paid out of the XP budget for the "day". This is perhaps the most conservative approach: it ramps difficulty without accelerating levelling. What do you think?

*20% is chosen even though the discrepancy is more like 25%, just for ease of calculation.
 

The table formatting here might make it difficult to read. The minimum value in the Medium column is 5.8 and the Maximum value is 8.0. The minimum value in the Hard column is 3.8 and the maximum value is 5.3. The average for Medium is 6.6 and the average for Hard is 4.4.

Oh, I understand now--I misunderstood the derivation of your table. You're already measuring from the midpoint of the Medium band, not from the threshold, so you don't need to double-correct. I stand corrected, no pun intended.

Agreed, it's very noticeable as soon as you go ahead and make up some creatures of your own using the rules and tables toward the end of the DMG.

Ideally they'd just brute force it heuristically. My intuition is that it might be better to leave Adventuring Day XP as is and discount encounter values, e.g. we might build an encounter worth 550XP using the rules and then discount it by 20%*. Here the discount would impact the XP awarded, and it would be the discounted value that is paid out of the XP budget for the "day". This is perhaps the most conservative approach: it ramps difficulty without accelerating levelling. What do you think?

*20% is chosen even though the discrepancy is more like 25%, just for ease of calculation.

Hmmm. I'm not sure I'm following what problem your proposal is trying to solve. If you want to slow down levelling, the most straightforward way to do that is to just change the shape of the XP table. I've run games where all XP requirements are x10 (but you get bonus XP for spending treasure offscreen on your campaign goals, essentially converting gold to XP on a 1 gp:1 XP basis). Likewise, Mike Mearls' most recent UA actually linearizes the XP table and changes the way XP get awarded. In any case, I don't see that the adventuring day necessarily has to be involved.

If on the other hand you're just trying to make the game more interesting, you can simply crank up the length of the adventuring day and the difficulty of individual encounters and leave the level advancement XP table unchanged. My very first 5E campaign did precisely this. PCs die occasionally, but they also advance really fast, so a replacement PC that starts off at 1st or 2nd level takes only a few sessions before it's a fully-functioning 8th level member of the party. It's not like 5E's advancement rate is delicately-tuned in the first place, or milestone levelling wouldn't even be mentioned in the DMG.

In any case, I don't quite follow what the goal is of your proposal, so I'm not sure how to give feedback. Could you be more explicit please?
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Hmmm. I'm not sure I'm following what problem your proposal is trying to solve. If you want to slow down levelling, the most straightforward way to do that is to just change the shape of the XP table. I've run games where all XP requirements are x10 (but you get bonus XP for spending treasure offscreen on your campaign goals, essentially converting gold to XP on a 1 gp:1 XP basis). Likewise, Mike Mearls' most recent UA actually linearizes the XP table and changes the way XP get awarded. In any case, I don't see that the adventuring day necessarily has to be involved.

If on the other hand you're just trying to make the game more interesting, you can simply crank up the length of the adventuring day and the difficulty of individual encounters and leave the level advancement XP table unchanged. My very first 5E campaign did precisely this. PCs die occasionally, but they also advance really fast, so a replacement PC that starts off at 1st or 2nd level takes only a few sessions before it's a fully-functioning 8th level member of the party. It's not like 5E's advancement rate is delicately-tuned in the first place, or milestone levelling wouldn't even be mentioned in the DMG.

In any case, I don't quite follow what the goal is of your proposal, so I'm not sure how to give feedback. Could you be more explicit please?
The goal isn't to slow down levelling, it is to increase the game difficulty without accelerating levelling.

As you noticed in your campaign - if you keep the XP as it is in the DMG and increase the encounter CRs, then encounters become more dangerous and characters advance faster. So that increases both the challenge and the pace of the game. The proposal here attempts to achieve the former without the latter. My motive is that I like the overall thinking and design represented in the DMG. Building encounters to an "adventuring day" budget works well from several angles. However, the values the designers tuned the system to are far too low for experienced gamers.

Another approach could be to increase the adventuring day XP budgets and the XP costs per level by the same amount. That would have the same effect as discounting the encounter XP values. The change needs to be applied in two places, but it's done once instead of done on every encounter. However, it's also more visible to players and could weaken suspension of disbelief.
 
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The goal isn't to slow down levelling, it is to increase the game difficulty without accelerating levelling.

As you noticed in your campaign - if you keep the XP as it is in the DMG and increase the encounter CRs, then encounters become more dangerous and characters advance faster. So that increases both the challenge and the pace of the game. The proposal here attempts to achieve the former without the latter. My motive is that I like the overall thinking and design represented in the DMG. Building encounters to an "adventuring day" budget works well from several angles. However, the values the designers tuned the system to are far too low for experienced gamers.

Another approach could be to increase the adventuring day XP budgets and the XP costs per level by the same amount. That would have the same effect as discounting the encounter XP values. The change needs to be applied in two places, but it's done once instead of done on every encounter. However, it's also more visible to players and could weaken suspension of disbelief.

Sure. Equivalently, you could simply reduce the XP value of monsters. Equivalently, you could simply have fewer, larger encounters. 10 quaggoths attacking at once, led by a drow mage, is much harder than five groups of 2 quaggoths whom you get to ambush, plus a drow mage in a tower. But they both give the same XP.

I wouldn't expect increasing XP advancement costs to have any effect on player suspension of disbelief. What would that even look like?

"Sorry, DM, but my first level fighter has killed three orcs today and he still has only 12 HP. I just can't believe in so preposterous a world--it's really straining my suspension of disbelief not to have 20 HP and Action Surge."

Trying to imagine those words coming out of a player's mouth strains my suspension of disbelief. :) Instead, just say, "I want this campaign to be harder, but I don't want to speed up advancement rates, so in this campaign you need twice as much XP as the PHB says for each level. Don't worry, I'll be throwing twice as many monsters at you too."

My players found 10x XP requirements more believable, not less. (After a while though they got tired of it and wanted to go back to the regular advancement pace, so we switched campaigns.)
 
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So here is the number crunching. I simply divided encounter XP at each level and risk threshold into adventuring day XP. At the bottom are means, modes and medians. And the correlation of medium to hard encounters, which is significant and tight meaning that they are good predictors of each other (from a game design point of view, it suggests that the table is coherent).

Level Easy Medium Hard Deadly

1 12.0 6.0 4.0 3.0
2 12.0 6.0 4.0 3.0
3 16.0 8.0 5.3 3.0
4 13.6 6.8 4.5 3.4
5 14.0 7.0 4.7 3.2
6 13.3 6.7 4.4 2.9
7 14.3 6.7 4.5 2.9
8 13.3 6.7 4.3 2.9
9 13.6 6.8 4.7 3.1
10 15.0 7.5 4.7 3.2
11 13.1 6.6 4.4 2.9
12 11.5 5.8 3.8 2.6
13 12.3 6.1 4.0 2.6
14 12.0 6.0 3.9 2.6
15 12.9 6.4 4.2 2.8
16 12.5 6.3 4.2 2.8
17 12.5 6.4 4.2 2.8
18 12.9 6.4 4.3 2.8
19 12.5 6.1 4.1 2.8
20 14.3 7.0 4.7 3.1

The table formatting here might make it difficult to read. The minimum value in the Medium column is 5.8 and the Maximum value is 8.0. The minimum value in the Hard column is 3.8 and the maximum value is 5.3. The average for Medium is 6.6 and the average for Hard is 4.4.

Oh, I understand now--I misunderstood the derivation of your table. You're already measuring from the midpoint of the Medium band, not from the threshold, so you don't need to double-correct. I stand corrected, no pun intended.

Actually, vonklaude, I did some further spot-checking of your math and now I think I have to retract my agreement here. I think my initial understanding of your method was correct and you are high-balling the numbers. Take first level:

The typical (median) Medium encounter will be worth (50 + 74)/2 = 62 XP. Since the adventuring day budget is 300 XP, that means you can fit 300/62 = 4.83 Medium encounters in the adventuring day budget. Or you can fit 300/((75 + 99)/2) = 3.49 Hard encounters in the budget. The easiest possible Medium encounter is however 50 XP, and you could fit in 6 of those before running out of budget--and 6 encounters is what your table reports. In this case your table is clearly measuring from the thresholds, not the medians, and is therefore highballing the actual number of typical encounters that you can fit.

Likewise at third level, your table reports 8.0 Medium encounters, corresponding to the easiest-possible Medium encounter, but the median Medium encounter will have 187 XP, and you can only fit in 6.4 of those in the typical adventuring day. You could fit 3.84 median Hard encounters.

I'm a bit confused because I spot-checked a couple of your numbers previously and they came up in the right ballpark; but now I think I actually misread the columns when I was spot-checking. (I think what happened is that I computed the medians for 3rd level, came up with 6.8, looked at your table and accidentally read the 4th level column, which reads 6.4, and confused myself into thinking I'd seen the same number in both places and that you were using the median method after all.)

Sorry for the churn here, but my point is: the correct way to read your chart is as a bunch of thesholds, since that's what it's derived from. If you want to know the approximate range for medium/hard encounters, start at the Medium number, and read up to but not including the Deadly number. If we take the average across levels as meaningful, that means that since you got:

mean: 13.2 6.6 4.4 2.9

we can crudely infer that 2.9 encounters per day or more means they are either Deadly or over budget; 3.0 through 4.4 encounters per day means they are Hard (or over budget); 4.5 through 6.6 encounters per day means they are Medium; 6.7 through 13.2 encounters per day means they are Easy; and more than 13.3 means they are not even easy.
 
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clearstream

(He, Him)
Sure. Equivalently, you could simply reduce the XP value of monsters. Equivalently, you could simply have fewer, larger encounters. 10 quaggoths attacking at once, led by a drow mage, is much harder than five groups of 2 quaggoths whom you get to ambush, plus a drow mage in a tower. But they both give the same XP.

I wouldn't expect increasing XP advancement costs to have any effect on player suspension of disbelief. What would that even look like?
Okay, so if you change the levelling up XP amounts then that pulls it into the foreground. It undermines the validity of the XP per level because those costs starts to appear arbitrary. In general it pays not to tinker with the mechanical pillars too frequently. Here's an extreme example - change all the XP/level thresholds. Then change them back a few sessions later. Then change them again to something different. You'll very likely notice players reacting. Those reactions are hard to predict. Human behaviour is often indirect.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
The typical (median) Medium encounter will be worth (50 + 74)/2 = 62 XP. Since the adventuring day budget is 300 XP, that means you can fit 300/62 = 4.83 Medium encounters in the adventuring day budget. Or you can fit 300/((75 + 99)/2) = 3.49 Hard encounters in the budget. The easiest possible Medium encounter is however 50 XP, and you could fit in 6 of those before running out of budget--and 6 encounters is what your table reports. In this case your table is clearly measuring from the thresholds, not the medians, and is therefore highballing the actual number of typical encounters that you can fit.
In my defense, I'm not high-balling or low-balling them. I'm using the book values exactly as I said I did. Our goal is only to understand the game difficulty. The table is a means to that ends. What you are suggesting sounds valid although we should admit that we don't know the empirical average and that could be higher or lower than the assumed average. A secondary problem is that as Deadly has nothing to average with, it isn't clear what values you use. A tertiary problem is that the greater our attempts to be precise, the shakier our reliance on magic ranges like 6-8 will start to look. Here is the table adjusted for your averaging principle -

Level Easy Medium Hard Deadly
1 8.1 4.8 3.4 2.8
2 8.1 4.8 3.4 2.8
3 10.7 6.4 3.8 3.3
4 9.1 5.4 3.9 3.2
5 9.3 5.6 3.8 3.1
6 8.9 5.3 3.5 2.9
7 9.1 5.4 3.6 3.1
8 8.9 5.2 3.4 2.9
9 9.1 5.6 3.8 3.1
10 10.0 5.8 3.8 3.3
11 8.8 5.3 3.5 2.9
12 7.7 4.6 3.1 2.6
13 8.2 4.8 3.2 2.7
14 8.0 4.8 3.2 2.6
15 8.6 5.1 3.4 2.8
16 8.3 5.0 3.3 2.8
17 8.5 5.1 3.4 2.8
18 8.6 5.1 3.4 2.8
19 8.2 4.9 3.3 2.8
20 9.4 5.6 3.8 3.2

I noticed Medium are about 2x Easy, and Hard are about 3x Easy, and Deadly are about 4x Easy, so I assumed a super-deadly of about 5x Easy. Sorry the layout makes it hard to read.

Level Easy Medium Hard Deadly
mean 8.8 5.2 3.5 2.9
median 8.7 5.2 3.4 2.9
min 7.7 4.6 3.1 2.6
max 10.7 6.4 3.9 3.3
correl 0.87471915

So now we see call it 5.2 Medium and 3.5 Hard per "day". Medium is less well correlated to Hard because of the way we're shifting all the numbers. Pointing a finger at the arbitrary nature of our choices. It's still significantly correlated. If we like this table and have faith that an expected 6-8 medium-hard encounters represents good game balance, then we might say that about 50% more encounters per day are needed. We could factor this without accelerating levelling rates, by discounting our encounters about 30% e.g. 4 orcs are worth 140XP not 200, so we add 2 orcs to bring it roughly to where we want it.

Thus I believe I would suggest at this point that a good simple way to ramp game difficulty from Easy to Medium without accelerating levelling is to discount encounters either 20% or 30%, depending on whether you more often use values close to the book value, or above that. Does that seem right?
 
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