D&D 5E XP for Gold (without the XP)

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Inspired by old-school XP-for-gold systems and the leveling mechanic of the Soulslike family of games, I’m looking to try out the following mechanic in my next campaign in place of XP.

Training
A character can spend a downtime training to gain a level in a class. Doing so requires a suitable instructor. The training takes one week and costs an amount of gold determined by the level to be gained, as shown in the table below:

Level Gained Cost
250 gp
3100 gp
4200 gp
5300 gp
6-113,400 gp
12-1718,000 gp
18+168,000 gp

By this table, the cost to level up is about 1/4 the average GP value of a tier-appropriate treasure horde, multiplied by the number of treasure hordes you can expect to gain after the number of Medium encounters it would take to level up (assuming hordes are distributed evenly).

The intended effect of this is that basically all of the monetary treasure acquired from hordes goes towards leveling up, leaving individual monster treasure for spending money. Magic items are not factored in, so you can keep any that you find, or sell ones you don’t want for extra cash or to hasten your progress towards your next level. If you find a bigger-than-average horde, you might be able to level up a little sooner than “expected,” or have some extra pocket money to put towards some plate armor or whatever. If you find a smaller-than average horde, it might take you a little longer to reach the next level unless you dip into your savings. Likewise, if you have a larger-than-average party, it will take you longer to level up, and if you have a smaller-than-average party, you will be able to level up faster or have more spending money for adventuring gear. And of course, you have the option of prioritizing upgrading your gear over gaining levels.

It’s worth noting that this is intended for use in a sandbox campaign, where players have some ability to choose their level of challenge. In that context, going into higher-level areas to try to nab some treasure from higher-tier hordes has the potential to rocket you ahead if you can pull it off successfully, whereas sticking to lower-tier areas could slow your advancement to a crawl. But as long as you’re taking on level-appropriate challenges, you should level up at approximately the same rate as you would with XP in a game run strictly by the adventuring day and encounter budget guidelines, with some natural wobble due to the randomized nature of treasure hordes.
 

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TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
I have played around with systems like this for a long time. I like what you have here.

Would advancement--technically--only come from treasure and training? It keeps things very focused, but it might be, well "gamed", as you touch on. You may want to combine with some milestone tracking. You may also want to be sure that there is some space for leftover GP so the PCs have them.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
It seems possible to use the Players Handbook XP advancement table. Then have the gold equal the XP/5 (conveniently, the xp divided by 10 and times two).

So, a character that has aquired 60 gold reaches level 2.

Level: XP → gold
L1: 0 → 0g
L2: 300 → 60g
L3: 900 → 180g
L4: 2700 → 540g

Note, this is the total amount of gold ever accumulated by the character.



Meanwhile, the gold value of magic items might count toward leveling?
 

The question is (1) who is training persons into the teens and level 18+? Halastar looking for an apprentice, the spirit of Huma, a patron, a deity? AND (2) is also requiring payment

In my campaign world the capstone for ordinary folk is level 9. Something extraordinary needs to allow one to exceed that such as a Wish, being a clone, hit by a wave of divine energy, passing through a demiplane built on alien physics, awakened by making direct contact with the mind of an otherworldly being...etc
 

aco175

Legend
I have done training without great success, so I would be interested to see how it goes on your end. My main problem is that the PCs would gain enough XP to reach a new level and then have to stop things to go train or find someone. Some PCs would gain a level and the others not, so we would travel to find one for them. It led to pre-training a level to avoid stopping everything. Maybe doing away with XP and having it be downtime will work for you.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I have played around with systems like this for a long time. I like what you have here.
Thanks!
Would advancement--technically--only come from treasure and training? It keeps things very focused, but it might be, well "gamed", as you touch on.
That’s the idea, yeah. We’ll see how it goes but for now I see the “gamability” as a feature more than a bug. If players sneak into more dangerous areas than they’re “supposed to” at their level, trying to avoid combat in hopes of getting a big score, that’s exactly the sort of gameplay I’m hoping to encourage. And if they pull it off, I think they’ve earned that progress.
You may want to combine with some milestone tracking. You may also want to be sure that there is some space for leftover GP so the PCs have them.
The table is based on horde treasure alone, so there should be leftover GP coming from individual monster treasure as well. And, I intend to allow the sale of magic items, which aren’t accounted for in the table either. So the PCs should have some spare cash, unless they make the conscious decision to spend it all on more levels.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
It seems possible to use the Players Handbook XP advancement table. Then have the gold equal the XP/5 (conveniently, the xp divided by 10 and times two).

So, a character that has aquired 60 gold reaches level 2.

Level: XP → gold
L1: 0 → 0g
L2: 300 → 60g
L3: 900 → 180g
L4: 2700 → 540g

Note, this is the total amount of gold ever accumulated by the character.
I looked at doing it that way, but the numbers were pretty far off from what I calculated for average treasure horde values, which I was worried would mess with the pace of progression. My hope is that this table will result in leveling at pretty close to the same pace as XP would of awarded “by the book”.
Meanwhile, the gold value of magic items might count toward leveling?
I’d prefer that it doesn’t. One of my goals with this system is for players to have the option to prioritize character advancement over upgrading gear or vice-versa.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
The question is (1) who is training persons into the teens and level 18+? Halastar looking for an apprentice, the spirit of Huma, a patron, a deity? AND (2) is also requiring payment
One possibility is that the players decide to multiclass rather than seek out trainers of even higher level in their original class. Alternatively, they need to venture beyond the mundane world to find higher level trainers.
In my campaign world the capstone for ordinary folk is level 9. Something extraordinary needs to allow one to exceed that such as a Wish, being a clone, hit by a wave of divine energy, passing through a demiplane built on alien physics, awakened by making direct contact with the mind of an otherworldly being...etc
Yeah, I left the term “suitable instructor” deliberately vague, so maybe at high enough levels you need to seek out powerful supernatural entities to train you. Is it a little weird that these entities would charge gold to train the PCs? Yeah, maybe a bit. It’s ultimately a gameplay concession, and if it needs an explanation I’m sure it can be justified as like a sacrificial offering or some such.
 

One possibility is that the players decide to multiclass rather than seek out trainers of even higher level in their original class. Alternatively, they need to venture beyond the mundane world to find higher level trainers.

Yeah, I left the term “suitable instructor” deliberately vague, so maybe at high enough levels you need to seek out powerful supernatural entities to train you. Is it a little weird that these entities would charge gold to train the PCs? Yeah, maybe a bit. It’s ultimately a gameplay concession, and if it needs an explanation I’m sure it can be justified as like a sacrificial offering or some such.
Excellent. My post was not a critique and more a way to get one thinking about the higher level training and in what way it would make in-game sense. It's my inner crazy. :)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I have done training without great success, so I would be interested to see how it goes on your end. My main problem is that the PCs would gain enough XP to reach a new level and then have to stop things to go train or find someone. Some PCs would gain a level and the others not, so we would travel to find one for them. It led to pre-training a level to avoid stopping everything. Maybe doing away with XP and having it be downtime will work for you.
I definitely do expect this to eventually lead to PCs leveling unevenly, and that’s something I’m ok with for this campaign. It’s going to be an open-table affair, and I’m hoping that players will end up with stables of multiple characters at different level ranges they can pull out at different times, depending on who everyone else wants to bring and what kind of challenge they all feel like taking on. But yeah, my hope is that cutting out the “middle man” of XP and just charging for gold directly will prevent the situation you’re describing where you get enough XP to level up, but have to go on another whole adventure to find a trainer. I’ll let you know how it goes.
 

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