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

Tony Vargas

Or as the cliche goes, he is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. *
Kinda his job as 5e chief designer, really.

Nitpick: note however that there is no canonical award for defeating an Easy/Medium/Hard combat encounter. A Hard encounter for four level 6 PCs ranges from 3600 to 5599 adjusted XP, but the actual XP earned and awarded could be anywhere between 300 XP and 20,000+ XP.
He may have been flashing back to 4e when there was, and the exp for non-combat Skill Challenges mapped neatly to it.

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"Now that I'm a third level cleric I'll eat this expired pork! And then cast lesser restoration on myself, killing millions of bacterium and parasites and gaining dozens of levels!!"

Assuming that bacteria exist as the cause of sickness in that campaign, that is, and not just an imbalance in the four bodily humors.


Sparkly Dude
I dig everything about this, except the part where you keep deleting your XP every time you level. Just go with the familiar progression table in increments of 100 and this is the beginning of something gold.


Jeff Carlsen

I like it quite a lot. It dramatically improves the XP and leveling interface in D&D. You only have to track your current level and the percentage to your next level. If you wanted, you could even have an XP bar on your character sheet that slowly fills up to 100%.

What I'm not so keen on is breaking it up along the three pillars, as it feels incomplete. XP should be given out for:

  • Making Discoveries
  • Overcoming Challenges
  • Achieving Goals

The rules should be organized around these concepts.

Hawk Diesel

People still use XP? :confused: Left that method back in the 3.5 days. Just use milestone leveling, its way simpler and prevents the ever-constant 'is that worth xp?' and killing creatures just for the XP. Been in over 6 groups using that method and it works wonderfully.

I feel like using XP is only really useful if:

1) You are using crafting rules or powerful spells that require investment of XP (as done in 3.5)

2) You want to allow uneven distribution of XP between party members, encouraging different rates for leveling up.

Otherwise, at least in my experience, it is better to use milestone leveling.

Nathan Gaudry

First Post
I really like this article, and it had something I'll be implementing ASAP!

So, I'm not going to change the XP system wholesale- I feel like this is too simple to be satisfying for my table. BUT, the tier tables are crazy helpful for me. I always give out XP for exploration and social interaction, but the amount I gave out has always been really arbitrary. I love codifying "10 Percent of XP needed to level", and applying it to the tiers provided. I'll be putting the tier tables on my DM screen, and now my players and I will have a really clear idea of what kind of treasures, exploration, and NPCs they should be interacting with, and the exact XP they'll get for it. This is great.

It's always good to re-contextualize things, but I'm just going to point out that the DMG already has rules for this if you're using the regular XP values, and I think the DMG way is better.

The DMG suggests that you award a Hard Encounter's worth of XP for Social and Exploration Milestones (if you want to include the Tiers from this UA, just award two Hard Encounter's worth of XP when you would award 20XP). This is almost exactly the same pace of leveling, as it takes 10 Hard Encounters to level at most levels.

There are two benefits to doing this, rather than 10% of XP needed to level. First, the math is done for you already on page 82 of the DMG or on www.kobold.club. Second, and more importantly, this keeps the leveling speed the same as it is in the standard XP rules rather than evening it out. It takes 10 Hard Encounters most levels, but only 4 at level 1 and 2, for one example. So if you change to 10% XP you'll double the amount of time you spend in the vulnerable levels.
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After having some time to read though it and consider the article. I like the ideas of awarding exploration and interaction XP, but I'm not crazy about the change to the XP economy.

The consistency for advancement has merit (but I can see arguments against it), the actual XP awards for combat really don't feel right--as has been noted, there is potential for abuse with ridiculously low CR creatures, but the higher in level you get, the more every award is the same (at 10th level anything between CR 6 and 14 gives the same XP?).

Kinda his job as 5e chief designer, really.

I disagree. I'd say the 4E designers threw the baby out with the bathwater - and that was one of the problems. The 5E team didn't design the best fantasy RPG they could - they designed the best version of D&D that they could. You could say that they kept Gary and Dave's baby (ok taking the metaphor too far, I know) healthy and happy and just focused on giving it the best possible bath.

Tony Vargas

The 5E team didn't design the best fantasy RPG they could - they designed the best version of D&D that they could.
Right, which meant throwing out new ideas, no matter how much better they were ('babies') in the process of making the game conform ('bathing') to that backward-looking ideal.

Really, the flaw in the "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" analogy in that context, is that they were throwing out the baby, and keeping the bathwater.
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