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D&D General XP Awards for -- what????

When do you award XP?


payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
But then the question, to me at least, is what does milestone leveling tell us about the game? What’s the game about? How can I play it well? The answers are far less clear with milestone leveling.
I think this is where session zero steps in. Published or home brew I’m looking for queues as to what the games setting entails. Adventure paths highlight this for GMs and with players guides (big fan). If it’s sandbox, frame up the setting and take it from there.

I don’t need to be told “kill things”, “pick locks”, “talk to people” I’ll do that on my own. I just need a setting overview and off I go. YMMV
 

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pemerton

Legend
It seems easy to presume that if you grant levels or XP based on milestones then the game becomes about achieving those milestones. Maybe it's too easy and that's incorrect.

One of the DMs I play D&D with does fiat leveling when the PCs have done something substantial toward advancing one of their goals. Seems to work well at his tables. The obvious presumption those games are about the PCs pursuing their goals is consistent with my experience there.
Even milestone XP/leveling is arguably a form of incentivizing a certain approach to play. If the game is about playing through curated content (e.g., an AP or prepped adventures), then advancing after completing content is an incentive to keep things on track. I used to be down on milestone advancement, but I’ve come around to the idea that there are styles of play where it makes sense.
I think these two posts are saying the same thing, more-or-less, and seem right to me.
 

Clint_L

Hero
I don't do milestone levelling based on the players accomplishing anything in particular. There's no particular plan; it's just when it feels like it's time to level up.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
It seems easy to presume that if you grant levels or XP based on milestones then the game becomes about achieving those milestones. Maybe it's too easy and that's incorrect.

One of the DMs I play D&D with does fiat leveling when the PCs have done something substantial toward advancing one of their goals. Seems to work well at his tables. The obvious presumption those games are about the PCs pursuing their goals is consistent with my experience there.

Yeah, my group largely does milestone leveling or some variation on it when we play 5e as well. But I think it can be a very nebulous thing. Do players know what the milestones are? Or do they only discover them once complete and the GM then says “okay, you guys can level up now”?

Does that lack of knowledge hinder the players in any way?

I think this is where session zero steps in. Published or home brew I’m looking for queues as to what the games setting entails. Adventure paths highlight this for GMs and with players guides (big fan). If it’s sandbox, frame up the setting and take it from there.

I don’t need to be told “kill things”, “pick locks”, “talk to people” I’ll do that on my own. I just need a setting overview and off I go. YMMV

Sure, session zero and regular communication can help. Our group tends to know what the game is meant to be about. I’m currently playing in a 5e game of Temple of Elemental Evil. So, I know what the game is about and I’m engaging with the material. But I have no strong idea of when I’m going to gain a level. Certainly not with the kind of certainty that tracking XP would yield.

As for the XP triggers… it’s interesting. You seem to not want to be told to do the things you’d do anyway, things which you’d do in service to something else… something perhaps determined by you? But you seem okay with someone else deciding what your overall goal is.

It’s interesting. As I said, that’s how we level, too. And I’m comfortable playing the Temple of Elemental Evil game and I’m enjoying it. But I’m not really deciding what the game is, am I? It’s already determined.

But the games I play where the XP is more specific… the kind you think will lock things in to a specific cycle… are far more open for players.
 

Yeah, my group largely does milestone leveling or some variation on it when we play 5e as well. But I think it can be a very nebulous thing. Do players know what the milestones are? Or do they only discover them once complete and the GM then says “okay, you guys can level up now”?

Does that lack of knowledge hinder the players in any way?
It has become pretty clear that if we want to level up we need to set goals and take steps toward achieving them. Leveling up almost always happens after a story hits some sort of important inflection point. Rarely it happens right before such a point if leveling up makes surviving the inflection point more likely.

EDIT: To answer your second question I do not feel hindered at all by how my friend manages leveling up.
 
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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Yeah, my group largely does milestone leveling or some variation on it when we play 5e as well. But I think it can be a very nebulous thing. Do players know what the milestones are? Or do they only discover them once complete and the GM then says “okay, you guys can level up now”?

Does that lack of knowledge hinder the players in any way?
I find it’s opposite. The players focus too much on the specifics and let interesting paths go by the wayside, or pursue uninteresting ones to an annoying degree.
Sure, session zero and regular communication can help. Our group tends to know what the game is meant to be about. I’m currently playing in a 5e game of Temple of Elemental Evil. So, I know what the game is about and I’m engaging with the material. But I have no strong idea of when I’m going to gain a level. Certainly not with the kind of certainty that tracking XP would yield.

As for the XP triggers… it’s interesting. You seem to not want to be told to do the things you’d do anyway, things which you’d do in service to something else… something perhaps determined by you? But you seem okay with someone else deciding what your overall goal is.

It’s interesting. As I said, that’s how we level, too. And I’m comfortable playing the Temple of Elemental Evil game and I’m enjoying it. But I’m not really deciding what the game is, am I? It’s already determined.

But the games I play where the XP is more specific… the kind you think will lock things in to a specific cycle… are far more open for players.
I find playing the game and engaging the campaign is it’s own reward. I don’t worry about leveling but progressing the campaign. Am I supposed to be a pirate? Ok get a ship, go sailing, find a safe harbor, etc… If it’s sandbox, I let the players drive but they need some direction to set the table. Some players/groups are much more proactive and self sufficient than others. YMMV
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
It has become pretty clear that if we want to level up we need to set goals and take steps toward achieving them. Leveling up happens almost always happens after a story hits some sort of important inflection point. Rarely it happens right before such a point if leveling up makes surviving the inflection point more likely.

EDIT: To answer your second question I do not feel hindered at all by how my friend manages leveling up.

Do you think the game loses something in some ways? Like, you’re headed toward a big conflict and the GM decides you guys better level up before hand.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I find it’s opposite. The players focus too much on the specifics and let interesting paths go by the wayside, or pursue uninteresting ones to an annoying degree.

So you like not knowing the milestones? Or is it more you like that the milestones are not set? That the GM can decide what they are and award a level after sufficient progress has been made, regardless of what that progress may be toward?

I find playing the game and engaging the campaign is it’s own reward.

Sure, but that’s hopefully true of any game, right? What I’m talking about is reward systems that help propel the game. Milestone is one type.

I don’t worry about leveling but progressing the campaign. Am I supposed to be a pirate? Ok get a ship, go sailing, find a safe harbor, etc… If it’s sandbox, I let the players drive but they need some direction to set the table. Some players/groups are much more proactive and self sufficient than others. YMMV

I think it depends on the game. With 5e, I think milestone is so common because the rules lack much in the way of XP beside killing monsters. And because it’s so open. It also allows the GM to control the pace of progression entirely.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Do you think the game loses something in some ways? Like, you’re headed toward a big conflict and the GM decides you guys better level up before hand.
I know this wasn’t directed at me but I got thoughts. I think this works if it hits the right story beats. This is more adventure design territory. Solve all the puzzles, level, face the boss. It can be a myriad of sceanarios but this the example I had.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I know this wasn’t directed at me but I got thoughts. I think this works if it hits the right story beats. This is more adventure design territory. Solve all the puzzles, level, face the boss. It can be a myriad of sceanarios but this the example I had.

Yeah, I’m sure there are as many ways to handle it as there are people to ask how they handle it. I’m asking because this is how my group has been doing it in 5e, and although I much prefer it to the default XP system, there’s something visceral and positive about tracking XP in the other games I’ve played recently. It’s something that I feel really adds to the sense of player accomplishment (along with the in-story progression) and I feel it’s entirely lacking in the milestone method.

I’ve been wondering if there’s a simpler XP system that could be applied to 5e that’d help add that sense of accomplishment and tracking of progress back to the game. Something engaging and not just math.
 

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