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Level Advancement
By James Wyatt

I talked last week about the rate at which characters acquire magic items as they gain levels. So let's back up and talk about the rate at which characters gain levels!

How Many Goblins . . .

I'm curious: How many goblins does a 1st-level fighter have to defeat to reach 2nd level?

In 1st and 2nd Edition AD&D, a goblin was worth around 15 XP. A fighter needed 2,000 XP to reach 2nd level. That's a lot of goblins—134 goblins would make the fighter 2nd level if you assume the fighter killed them all alone.

In 3rd Edition D&D, a goblin was a CR ⅓ monster, so 3 of them were an appropriate challenge for four 1st-level characters. That means a 1st-level fighter would get 100 XP for defeating 1 goblin. All characters needed 1,000 XP to reach 2nd level, so 10 goblins would bring the fighter up a level.

In 4th Edition, that goblin might be a level 1 minion or a level 1 lurker or skirmisher. If they're minions, each is worth 25 XP, so the fighter (who needed 1,000 XP to reach 2nd level) would need to defeat 40 goblins. If they're not minions, each is worth 100 XP, so the answer is the same as in 3rd Edition: 10 goblins to reach 2nd level.

That's a pretty random measure, but it certainly speaks to different expectations of level advancement in the different editions of the game, as well as some variable understandings of the threat presented by a single goblin.

How Many Encounters . . .

It's hard to judge what the pace of level advancement actually looked like in AD&D, for a couple of reasons. First, different characters advanced at different rates—the fighter needed 2,000 XP to reach 2nd level, but the thief needed only 1,250 XP and the magic-user needed 2,500. Second, there weren't any clear guidelines for what an appropriate encounter was. But a roll on the random monster tables for a 1st-level dungeon would yield an encounter worth, on average, about 90 XP. For a party of four characters, that's 23 XP each. So 87 of those encounters would bring the fighter to 2nd level! Any treasure found in those encounters would also contribute XP to that total, so the actual number of encounters could have been much less—possibly more like 40.

Oy. I've said it before: I think one of the great advances brought to the game by 3rd Edition was a clear guideline for how to build an encounter to challenge a party. And that guideline undergirded the math of character advancement. The charts were built so that a character would advance a level after 13⅓encounters of the same level. 4th Edition stayed on the same trajectory, but adjusted the expectation to about ten encounters—or eight encounters, one major quest, and one minor quest per character in the party.

How Many Sessions . . .

There's psychology behind the question of level advancement. Games reward you for playing: An opponent lands Park Place where you have a hotel, and you collect a fat wad of cash. You play a 7-letter word on a triple word score and write down 180 points on the score sheet while gloating over your opponents. You beat your previous high score, end up on a leaderboard, or earn an achievement. You get a power-up, finish a level, or send your opponent flying off the screen.

The rewards in D&D include experience points (earned after every encounter), treasure (earned after some encounters), new class features (earned each level), and new feats, spell levels, ability score increases, and the like (earned at some new levels). You might earn treasure or XP as a reward for completing an adventure. Many DMs award XP after every game session rather than every encounter. 4th Edition gave action points at every milestone (every two encounters).

But you see what I'm getting at: rewards of different magnitude come at different intervals. That's good—our brains respond well to both small, frequent rewards and large, infrequent rewards, and a good game design offers both. Without frequent small rewards, players begin to feel like their efforts aren't paying off. They're doing a lot of work with nothing to show for it. Without occasional large rewards, encounters feel like pushing a button to get a morsel of food—a repetitive grind with no meaningful variation.

So the trick to figuring out level advancement is figuring out how often players need that very significant reward. A number of factors go into answering that question: How long does it take to get used to playing your character at a new level? How long do you want to play the character at that level once you're used to it? How big is the reward of going up a level? How do you ensure that players have a feeling of progress without feeling like they're getting rewarded for nothing?

In 3rd Edition, 14 encounters would get you up a level, but how long did it take to complete those encounters? Of course, that depends: How long are your sessions and how often do you play? If you play four-hour sessions, how much do you get done in one session?

The 4th Edition DMG reveals some of the expectations that went into building the XP math for that game:

If you were to start a campaign with 1st-level characters on January 1st, play faithfully for four or five hours every week, and finish four encounters every session, your characters would enter the paragon tier during or after your session on June 24th, reach epic levels in December, and hit 30th level the next summer. Most campaigns don't move at this pace, however; you'll probably find that the natural rhythms of your campaign produce a slower rate of advancement that's easier to sustain.

At four encounters every weekly session, characters would reach a new level every other week, and we thought that felt about right. We also adjusted the scale so that you'd hit 2nd level pretty quickly—the first hit is free, so to speak.

Where We're Heading

Our current design is going in a similar direction: advancing pretty quickly at low levels. It's a little tricky to nail it down, because our expectation of what an appropriate encounter is has changed somewhat. We expect every adventure to include a mix of easy, moderate, challenging, and really hard encounters. That said, a 1st-level character should hit 2nd level after about 6 moderately difficult encounters. (I'm not sure yet, but that might be 15 goblins' worth of XP.)

Compared to the previous two editions, an encounter can go much more quickly, so (again, depending on the length of your sessions) it's not unreasonable to think that you'll hit 2nd level after a single session. Another session might bring you to 3rd level, two more to 4th, and three more to 5th level. You might hit 20th level within a year of play, assuming a relatively steady rate of play.

What Do You Think?

How does that sound to you? Too fast? Too slow?

Previous Poll Results

In a standard, average-magic campaign, about how many permanent magic items would you expect a single character to acquire by 20th level?
Fewer than 5 (like our low-magic guideline) 287 10%
About 6–8 (like our baseline, or the 1st Edition tables) 1143 40%
About 9–12 (like our high-magic guideline) 525 18%
About 13–20 261 9%
About 21–28 (like the 4E guidelines) 170 6%
About 29–35 (like the 3E guidelines) 141 5%
More than 35 58 2%
I have no expectations, and I don’t think the DM needs any guidance. 244 9%
Total 2829 100%

In a low-magic campaign, about how many permanent magic items would you expect a single character to acquire by 20th level?
Fewer than 5 (like our low-magic guideline) 1741 61%
About 6–8 (like our baseline, or the 1st Edition tables) 597 21%
About 9–12 (like our high-magic guideline) 136 5%
About 13–20 44 2%
About 21–28 (like the 4E guidelines) 39 1%
About 29–35 (like the 3E guidelines) 25 1%
More than 35 19 1%
I have no expectations, and I don’t think the DM needs any guidance. 186 7%
Total 2787 100%

In a high-magic campaign, about how many permanent magic items would you expect a single character to acquire by 20th level?
Fewer than 5 (like our low-magic guideline) 48 2%
About 6–8 (like our baseline, or the 1st Edition tables) 240 8%
About 9–12 (like our high-magic guideline) 782 27%
About 13–20 557 19%
About 21–28 (like the 4E guidelines) 393 14%
About 29–35 (like the 3E guidelines) 296 10%
More than 35 266 9%
I have no expectations, and I don’t think the DM needs any guidance. 223 8%
Total 2810 100%

How do you feel about monsters that don’t take full damage from non-magical weapons?
There should be no such thing in the game. 166 6%
They should always have another non-magical option, like silver weapons, to deal full damage. 1189 42%
They suck for the fighter or rogue with no magic weapon, but they give the spellcasters a chance to shine, so I think they’re fine—as long as any magic weapon will do the trick. 603 21%
I think they’re fine, and I like the idea that some monsters take full damage only from more powerful weapons (+3, for example). 861 30%
Total 2819 100%

James Wyatt
James Wyatt is the Creative Manager for Dungeons & Dragons R&D at Wizards of the Coast. He was one of the lead designers for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons and the primary author of the 4th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. He also contributed to the Eberron Campaign Setting, and is the author of several Dungeons & Dragons novels set in the world of Eberron.
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Previously ... the video game trying to simulate the experience of RPGs in video game console or PC ... today, the RPG that tries to simulate the experience of the video game.

I believe that the tabletop RPG should not be like a video game. The DnD Next is intended to be a system that appeals to all players, so I hope it is able to do that. It may have mechanics for those who prefer an RPG similar to a video game, and for players who do not like ... who prefer RPG as a simulation of a novel.
Posted By: R.A.S (2/28/2014 2:51:16 PM)


I truly believe that the best for DnD is offering several options for speed of evolution (level up). I know it can be frustrating for some level up slowly, but by other hand, there are also very of players who like something more realistic when the evolution of adventurers.

My group and I like the game very slow progress, because we think it makes a lot more sense. We very liked the rate of evolution of the 1st and 2nd edition.

Pathfinder, for example, solved the problem with three types of XP table.
Posted By: R.A.S (2/28/2014 2:38:55 PM)


Original DnD used Gold as the basis for advancement. Whilst that may seem odd, it seems to me even more problematic to judge advancement based upon kills. The GP to XP relation allowed the GM to reward all types of things, not just fighting, which is the primary domain of FIghters.
Posted By: Otto_von_Rheinsberg (2/8/2014 10:11:48 AM)


Boo hiss. None of my answers ever match the greatest percentages on these surveys... which makes me worry. haha.

At any rate, a little off topic; but I would like to see something to spend all that treasure and loot on. Since it's looking like there's no fancy pants magic mart and buying mundane equipment is boring; I think there needs to be something snappy people can spend all that had earned loot on.

I always liked the magic mart idea because it gave something for people to spend their monies on. I of course understand why people don't like it; be cause you have people rolling around with tons of items that make them nigh unstoppable, but i thought 4es limit to daily magic item use helped nix a lot of the abuse.

So I would hope that in 5e, they bring back stuff to spend loot on; and temper it with the 4e limitations possibly.

Just my thoughts.
Posted By: awogaman (2/3/2014 2:01:19 PM)


Goblins are not a good way to measure units of XP across editions. First, 1st and 2nd edition the 15 is misleading because you have to add in experience for their loot to get the real number. Second problem is that goblins in 3rd and 4th edition wildly differed in how inferior they were to PCs. Goblins in 3rd edition were the equivalent of 1st level PCs with marginally badly rolled stats and a poor choice of class. In 4th edition they were vastly inferior to PCs-- like the difference between a 1st and 3rd level character in 3rd edition. If you want to use an enemy as a measure of XP, an Orc or Hobgoblin would work better as they have been consistently portrayed as roughly the equivalent of a 1st level PC enemy across all editions.
Posted By: Hebitsuikaza (2/2/2014 10:01:11 AM)


Have the designers actually played first edition? You're comparing apples to oranges. A single goblin *may* be worth about 15 exp, but that's not where you get the lions' share of your experience points. Most comes from treasure and magic items - both kept and sold. In fact, it's encouranged to *avoid* combat with those goblins and get their treasure in other manners. There's a big difference between a group of 10 goblins (150 xp) and a group of 10 goblins carrying +1 short sword and 250 gp (800xp). Comparing goblins across editions is apples to oranges. Big time.

There is sound advice in the (recently re-released, I might add) first edition DMG about encounter building as well, not to mention essential tables showing the *level* of monsters. To say that there are not guidelines is in fact, false.
Posted By: jdarksong (1/31/2014 10:55:21 AM)


Rewards should be XP for problem solving, or at least go back to XP for GP. It encourages more creativity than bashing everything until they stop moving by default.
Posted By: Bargle0 (1/31/2014 12:11:11 AM)


Why should a campaign be assumed to last 20 levels? There's nothing intrinsically wrong with high level play, but not every campaign needs to end with the PCs as the most powerful mortals in the game world. Frankly, it's difficult to write an extended collection of challenges if you don't have rules for characters significantly more powerful than the average PC.
Posted By: KidSnide (1/30/2014 9:43:30 PM)


There's one important aspect about 1e and earlier versions that is being ignored. In these version, there were no rules for balancing encounter to the party because that's not the way the game worked. The difficulty of the encounter was based entirely on the level of the dungeon. Deeper levels being more difficult than higher ones. So it wasn't the job of the DM to balance the encounters. The player decided how difficult the challenge of the game was to be by which level of the dungeon they decided to adventure on. If it was too easy, they'd go deeper, too hard, go back up. This put the rate of advancement entirely in the hands of the players, not the DM.

There should be some player input in this system; it shouldn't just be the DM deciding all this.

Posted By: Hedgehobbit (1/30/2014 9:33:20 PM)


It's a bit awkward to ask how many goblins should be killed to reach 2nd level and to ask if the journey from 1st to 2nd level should go by more quickly than other levels.
Posted By: yellerSumner (1/30/2014 4:01:18 PM)


I see two main comments thrown around here, and I'll throw in my 2 cents. First: Rate of level gain should not be tied to monsters defeated. Leveling should be tied to plot, and the fulfillment of short arcs. For my purposes, I use 3-6 encounters (not fights,) as a "level arc", but that's more a rule of thumb than a strict guideline.
Second: Random encounters are a tool for me- if the characters have done something bizarre and unexpected and I need to stall, primarily- but I don't like them because they simply are not interesting. There is no plot progression, and limited ability to make the encounter interesting.
Posted By: TheBryn (1/30/2014 3:53:53 PM)


You're absolutely right about all of that. Unfortunately, we're stuck with these archaic systems, out-dated designs, kludgy procedures and boring ideas because they're part of the "core of DnD".

Remember that article? (Legends and Lore, 6-21-2011)

Those fourteen bullet points doomed DnD to becoming a bizarre retroclone of itself. That article isn't the moment when everything went catastrophically wrong, but it is the moment Wizards ceased to be innovators.
Posted By: Kalranya (1/30/2014 4:43:22 PM)


You can't base advancement on fulfilling the plot since only a small subset of DandD games actually have a plot in the first place.
Posted By: Hedgehobbit (1/30/2014 10:07:00 PM)


Tying XP and level-ups to a number of defeated monsters is just plain stupid
Posted By: Cypher2009 (1/30/2014 3:43:30 PM)


I am your stereotypical Min-Max player. I am always looking for interesting gimmicks to make my player characters more powerful. So hopefully this comment comes with a little more weight when I say: Experience points don't matter! Leave the decision of when to level up, up to the DM. DM's listen to your players, determine when they've been at a level long enough based on how fast they want to level and how it fits in with your campaign. Gauging the system for experience points for level advancement seems like a waste of time to me. The only thing I use it for in my game is to determine encounter difficulty. (are 5 goblins roughly equivalent to 3 orcs?)
Posted By: Nachofan (1/30/2014 1:57:41 PM)


I stopped even using XP years ago. I just tell the party when they level up every few sessions. Instead I just track number of encounters / challenges to make sure they feel like they are going up at the proper rate. The only time XP was actually fun was when the different classes leveled at different rates.
Posted By: Keen_Man (1/30/2014 11:43:05 AM)


Kill rate is a horrible metric for judging level advancement rate. Take a lesson from 4e: if you need a "number of X to advance a level" metric, use "number of encounters" rather than "number of monsters killed." In 4e, an "encounter" could be a combat encounter, a skill challenge, or something more nebulous, as the GM saw fit. A GM could award XP or just use the "about 10 encounters per level" rule of thumb. Give us something along those lines for DDn.

Better still, tie it to story, with in-character prerequisites for advancing a level ("after X weeks of adventuring you can find a mentor who will train you for Y GP over the course of Z days/weeks").

And goodness gracious, get a better content management system for the website before the launch of 5e. This commenting system is annoying to use, overly restrictive in terms of character set, and frankly, just plain ugly.
Posted By: CHeard (1/30/2014 2:01:40 AM)


I really second this. The whole "kill monsters and get XP" thing only caters to one kind of style.

The math system for calculating XP has always been ridiculous to me and just more numbers. I always just hand out a new level when it seems appropriate in the story and players have never complained.

That being said, I wouldn't mind seeing some sort of guidelines for storyline and noncombat XP. If you only get XP for killing monsters, it makes characters go out of their way to fight rather than talk or sneak for fear of missing out on rewards.
Posted By: RC-0775 (1/30/2014 10:31:39 AM)


BTW: No random encounters, I think I had the last of those 15 years ago ;-)
They are a mechanic of the past.
Posted By: MagicSN (1/30/2014 1:37:18 AM)


See my response to Kalranya further down the page.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (1/30/2014 11:31:21 AM)


Why in 2014 still connect when to give a new level to encounters or killed monsters? For my own group it was a mechanics we got rid of 10 years ago ;-) Advancement is relative to finished adventures and campaigns, simple as that. As this is what the achievement is. Not stacked monster bodies. Not found Gold.

Also I think it not a good mechanics to give a levelup first every game session, and on higher level every 3 or 4 only. Best give ALL levelups after 2-3 sessions (or even better "levelup after completing a story arc" - which feels the best... for us a completed story arc is usually 2-3 sessions, so it does not make a difference).

Advancing independent of the story arc always sort of "feels wrong".

In Short: It should NOT be related in any way to killed monsters, but to completed story arc. This also includes the achievement of social encounters, role play situations, etc., automatically, then.

I sort of liked the XP sy... (see all)
Posted By: MagicSN (1/30/2014 1:35:46 AM)


"Why in 2014 still connect when to give a new level to encounters or killed monsters?"

Because Next isn't being designed for 2014. It would have been an AMAZING, cutting-edge RPG in 1997, though.

Look at the games that are being designed now. Dungeon World, 13th Age, Iron Kingdoms. Heck, Numenera. If Monte "Passive Perception!" Cook can design a game that's so slickly modern and elegant, Wizards has absolutely no excuse for their behavior.
Posted By: Kalranya (1/30/2014 5:06:59 PM)


Here's my thing: level shouldn't just be a naked game mechanic with no justification in setting. Level is supposed to track a character's career from young farmkid to grizzled veteran--but the math doesn't work that way at all. If we assume from the 3e PHB that adventurers start adventuring about 16 and end at 53 (the old category for humans in the racial age table) you're looking at about 37 years in a typical adventuring career. That's 5135 xp per year. So in setting a 2nd level character has been adventuring for about 2 1/2 months. That feels about right to me. Third level is about half a year. 10th is about 8 years. 15th is 20. Now really I'm not as into the idea of level as a treat dispenser to keep me playing as I am in it as a storytelling tool. I don't really care how many "encounters" it is from one level to the next or how deep I've stacked goblin bodies. I want to know if I make a 5th level character, how old should he be? What major setting events has he lived thr... (see all)
Posted By: Grimcleaver (1/30/2014 1:05:51 AM)


For the purposes of the poll I selected the "just once" option, but that's only because there was no "I don't use random encounters" option.

Random Encounters are an artifact of obsolete thinking in game design and have no place in a modern RPG. Unfortunately this means they're perfectly suited to DAMPERSANDD*, which refuses to evolve into a modern RPG.

* - you still haven't fixed this? wow.
Posted By: Kalranya (1/29/2014 10:21:45 PM)


Random encounters are not obsolete. They're a measure of the typical creatures inhabiting a given location. Is it mostly stirges, aligators and ropers? How about avalanchers, thri-kreen and giant scorpions? The encounter tables can really be the paintbrush to understand what one part of the world feels like as distinct from another. Love them like crazy. I eat that stuff up!
Posted By: Grimcleaver (1/30/2014 1:10:08 AM)


And more power to you for that. I disagree completely. Random encounters serve no purpose; they don't advance the plot, contribute anything to character or story development, or support theme and tone. Mostly, they get in the way by breaking narrative flow, spoiling the mood or screwing up the pacing of the adventure.

There is nothing that a random encounter can accomplish that a planned encounter cannot, and much a random encounter cannot do that a planned encounter can.

In my experience, if a GM is falling back on random tables to keep the PCs occupied, he's not telling a very interesting story.
Posted By: Kalranya (1/30/2014 1:28:20 AM)


We can disagree, and that's fine, but another reason random encounter tables exist is to offer a risk to making constant trap checks, trying multiple times to unlock a chest or break down a door, or even to make traveling thru an (supposedly) cleared part of the dungeon an experience to warrant more thinking. A DM can certainly plan an encounter or two to use for such situations, but random tables can provide a starting point for burned-out DMs and insure the game continues even when inspiration is momentarily low.

Playing the game to "find out what happens" is a fun prospect even if you're the DM, and random tables can help that, but it isn't a tool to use without thought, and it's not a tool for everyone's tastes.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (1/30/2014 5:11:04 AM)


Okay, stop right there. Go read an article about GNS game theory. Random encounters are about emulating a living world--not a story. They darn well do provide something that a designed encounter can't. If you are playing DnD as a *storytelling game* then you probably neither want nor are benefited by random encounters. That isn't the only way to play however. DnD has a long tradition of being played as more of a *world simulation* a kind of "Sim Adventure," and without a super-computer running a simulation of the ecosystem of a planet, random encounters and events are your best option for providing that sort of experience.

There shouldn't be anything to argue about here. Just understand that there are other styles as valid as your own, and that they aren't an example of somehow playing the game in a wrong or inferior manner.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (1/30/2014 11:28:30 AM)


GNS Theory is bunk. Even Edwards admitted it.

That aside, a "living world" approach to gameplay is not reliant in any way on randomness. All that is necessary is the appearance of randomness.

Random events can interfere with gameplay and obstruct story. Well-planned events, even those that have the appearance of being random, cannot.
Posted By: Kalranya (1/30/2014 4:57:55 PM)


Random Encounters are just one tool from the toolbox. Some groups will use them, others will not. In a plot driven campaign they are out of place; in a sandbox campaign emergent events can often provide some of the most fun and memorable encounters a player will have.

It is a matter of style and taste, not absolutes.
Posted By: 5Shilling (1/31/2014 4:00:19 AM)


Cool artwork. I'm also mildly surprised that the majority of voters agreed with me on this poll.
Posted By: Diamondfist (1/29/2014 9:15:15 PM)


Since 1984 Dungeon Master Combanion book 2 pg 2 from tsr we have had at our disposal a flawless and quick generator mechanic. Rate of progress. It takes into account the number of players present at the game session, and the number of times in a month you play a game session. It generates how much xp should be used or awarded per session to provide a player friendly time of xp advancement. I use it as such. I use the progression chart f 3.5 lightly modified for base xp progression. I use the rate of progress chart to set up the overall nightly xp based off of #of players at the session and that I like a rate of progress to be at least 10 adventures each of which include 10 encounters. This goes towards the xp at lvl. Each monster has a base xp as a total by level. Each monster has a unique xp value added to that base by race/species and role. Encounters revolve around rollplay, strategy, exploration success, and combat / skill challenges. From the number of players and the CR of the en... (see all)
Posted By: Valkrim (1/29/2014 8:17:41 PM)


In addition a set number of monsters you have to kill to level is not the mechanic direction I would go for. In a typical progression the higher you level the slower you progress but the greater the xp reward. If you take goblins for example. Just mowing enough down in an adventure to gain a level is propostrous. First you trek to the city or location gaining xp for skill/rollplay/exploration. With the knowledge you trek out or the city is under seige. You gain xp for execution and body count even bonus xp for preventing the goblins from or keeping loss from the set minor quest that lingers from the towns contact. When alls done and goblins litter the street dead you rollplay yourself to a handsome reward or trek out to find the source of the goblin raids. You random encounter your way to the source for an epic skill/challenge/battle that seals your reward and your well on your way for reward. Only upon compleation af a full adventure do you truely calculate monster and xp encounter st... (see all)
Posted By: Valkrim (1/29/2014 8:35:04 PM)


Also, 1e did have guidelines on what monsters to throw at a party. Each monster had a level, it's just that the information for calculating that level is found in the DMG rather than having it simply displayed in the monster's entry.
Posted By: lord_zack (1/29/2014 6:31:33 PM)


Really if you're asking how many goblins you should need to kill to level up, you've already lost me. It's their treasure you need to get to level up in my games. Killing goblins is something to be avoided unless it's necessary to attain you're goals. Those goals need not even be to obtain treasure. If you're doing an adventure path or similar story-driven game, you'd get the xp for accomplishing goals. But killing things should be a very small source of xp.
Posted By: lord_zack (1/29/2014 6:26:09 PM)


Why does this site time out logins when I'm in the middle of commenting?
I've had to log in again every time I wanted to add a new comment. Surely the timeout can be set to more than a few minutes.
Posted By: Rartemass (1/29/2014 5:58:25 PM)


Probably for the same reason a comment system on a DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS site can't use an ampersand.

Try using the DnD Insider log in button at the bottom of the page, not that stupid little flash box at the top. Also make sure your browser isn't set to clear cookies when you close it.
Posted By: Kalranya (1/29/2014 10:25:10 PM)


I'm not a fan of random encounters happening at all. If the DM wants something to happen it does. The encounter can seem random to the players.
If I were to use a random encounter system however, all the options presented in the survey are poor choices.
I would roll a dice for the entire journey to see how many "random" encounters occur on the trip. This may be a straight D10 roll for that many encounters; or a range of rolls such as 1 to 3 is 1 encounter, 4 to 6 is 2 etc. Then if the journey takes 20 days, roll a D20 for the number of encounters. Whatever comes up means an encounter happens on that day of the journey. If three encounters happens in one day then it will be a crappy day for the party.
Posted By: Rartemass (1/29/2014 5:56:11 PM)


I said this in a reply to another comment, but I'll post it in the main thread...the article isn't saying there aren't other ways to earn XP than killing monsters. It's just saying what the rationale is for the XP award for that one action. If a game is all just dungeon crawling and killing monsters then you can expect to gain levels at this particular rate based on these particular assumptions. Adjust your expectations or your XP rewards accordingly to fit your game...I expect they will have other ways for gaining XP: story awards, awards for avoiding combat but still moving the game forward, XP for discovering treasure etc.
Posted By: WarpigPSU (1/29/2014 5:22:14 PM)


Earning XP per monster or per fight is a poor method and one of the biggest gripes I've had with DnD. More focus should be put on non combat encounters. It is far more challenging to sneak into a prison, find the political prisoner and sneak back out without getting caught than to storm the prison, kill every guard and walk out.
The results are the same in that the target has escaped prison, but the sneaking should be worth far more experience than bashing in skulls.
I'd prefer to see guidelines on what XP pool you have for a challenging encounter and pieces to add that spend this pool. Monsters etc should be a piece of this but so should traps, skill challenges, NPC interactions, environment hazards, extreme weather, natural disasters, random events and anything that could present an obstacle to success.
Having a guard to bypass that is drunk will be easier than a pissed off guard that simply wants to hurt something. So NPC temperament should make a difference to the XP... (see all)
Posted By: Rartemass (1/29/2014 5:21:16 PM)


Funny, I had a similar thought last year:

I used that lowliest of all monsters, the kobold, but the result is about the same. You needed to kill a /lot/ more monsters to get out of the old-school doldrums of 1st level.
Posted By: Tony_Vargas (1/29/2014 4:38:02 PM)


I really enjoy slow-leveling campaigns. I like players to really get to know their characters at each level before they hit a new one. Advancing a level should feel like finishing a semester in school, or advancing a degree of blackbelt, or getting a promotion at work. Big, rare events. I want a 1-20 campaign to last 5 years or more.

I'm in the minority, I know, but I'm hoping for a "dial" to support my playstyle. Slow leveling needs to be about 2x to 3x slower than whatever the default ends up being, and there needs to be a way to balance treasure tables with it. I might want slow leveling, but want treasure to be standard, rather than 3x standard.

For those who've never tried the "long-haul" slow leveling campaigns, try it sometime. :-)
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (1/29/2014 4:27:40 PM)


Leveling done right depends a lot on the goals of the campaign. On the one hand, you expect there to be some character advancement, so leveling means you should get better over time, and that your higher level PC should be better than lower level NPCs (or lower-level versions of himself). On the other hand, being better tends to eventually propel a character into completely different arenas.

For example, imagine a gritty street crime-focused campaign where, if you play your Sam Spade-like gumshoe character long enough, it's inevitable that he becomes Spider-Man. They're both focused to a degree on crime-fighting, and Spider-Man is clearly an improvement in abilities over Sam Spade, but they also belong in completely different campaign styles. The trick is trying to support both campaign styles -- zero to Spider-Man, as well as Same Spade to "more awesome Sam Spade" -- in the same 20 levels. Otherwise some player will feel held back, while others will succeed until... (see all)
Posted By: longwinded (1/29/2014 4:57:39 PM)


Yep, I agree that it's not easy to maintain a tone for 20 levels. For "long-haul" campaigns like that, I'm not even trying. This type of campaign is not intended to be a story (even a long story) but is intended to be the life of the characters. Here are these guys and gals, facing a dangerous life in this world, and here's what happened from the time they were young apprentice adventurers until they were middle-aged retired adventurers who had saved the world a couple times. :-)

For a focused campaign I select a starting level (generally not 1st) based on the desired tone.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (1/31/2014 7:53:08 PM)


Just think of XP like HP: Its "abstract"! (I hear the groans already). You don't get XP for killing monsters. You get XP for swinging a sword (or casting a spell, etc) in combat against monsters. Tracking each hit or miss is silly. More monsters = more swinging (casting) = more xp. Tougher monsters = more swinging (casting) = more xp. Might as well lump all that swinging/casting into a pile on the monster (monster xp) then lump all the monster xp together (encounter XP) and be done. You get XP for overcoming an encounter...the granularity of who contributed what and how is unimportant...abstract it away!
Posted By: Mourne (1/29/2014 3:42:34 PM)


This is actually a pretty complicated question, since it's at the very heart of the game. Here are a few things that made it difficult for me to begin answering the survey:

1) How many sessions at level 1? That depends on how terrible a character is at level 1. The more competent a character is, the longer you can game at level 1. But if you start as a dirt farmer (read: apprentice) who can be easily killed by a housecat, it better go by pretty darn quickly

2) How many encounters should it take to get to level 1? It really depends on what you call a fair encounter. I know you mention goblins, but that just means we have to ask, "how hard are _these_ goblins relative to other monsters?" If a goblin is about equal in power to a sewer rat, it's going to feel pretty degrading slogging through those early levels for any length of time.

3) There's an unasked question here: how many encounters do you usually get off in a 4 hours session? I can only ... (see all)
Posted By: longwinded (1/29/2014 2:59:32 PM)


Your first two points are very important. The current 5e version of 1st level, like old-school 1st level (or 1-3rd)l, is something to put behind you ASAP. 1st level in 4e, in contrast, was perfectly playable. In past editions, you'd want to linger at the mid levels, the 'sweet spot,' but, ironically, in 2e and earlier, you shot through those levels quickly, while the lowest and highest levels dragged, while in 3e each level took about as long to go through.

5e's rapid advancement at low level is probably a good idea, but it should let you have some time to enjoy mid-levels - and maybe even de-emphasize experience as advancement at high levels in favor of using it fuel Legacy features?
Posted By: Tony_Vargas (1/29/2014 4:46:10 PM)


I think you should have to kill hundreds of goblins to level from just killing. Leveling up shouldn't be a measure just of what you've killed. I think other things should give you experience, like solving puzzles, finding gold, outsmarting enemies, completing quests, having good ideas that work out, etc. If you only put EXP on the monsters, you'll make a very different game with different motivations than what DandD has been in the past. For example, the idea that every GP was an EXP meant that killing 143 goblins to level wasn't actually very restrictive, because in killing goblins, you also got their loot which added to EXP. Please don't make killing the single major source of EXP.
Posted By: mbeacom (1/29/2014 1:22:48 PM)


Rules are great but can be somewhat restrictive and too rigid. It would be wonderful to see DM advice on giving XP for interatctions, relationship building/breaking, task fulfillment, training, and general roleplaying.

Getting XP for killing monsters, is easy and makes logical sense. The other things people do in campaigns are a little more squishy and deserve critical thought.
Posted By: patch101 (1/29/2014 12:27:23 PM)


I agree with several other people here, XP should be rewarded for more than just killing things. In earlier editions XP was gained from treasure (brought back to town) as well as defeating monsters. Keep in mind that defeating a monster also included parlaying and other ways of getting past the obstacle that monster represented. An example that has stuck with me from back in the day is an ogre is guarding a cave entrance. Getting past the ogre is the encounter/obstacle and whether the PCs fight the ogre, trick him, fast talk, or sneak by, XP is rewarded for getting past that obstacle. Using goblins as XP 'currency' (as someone else said) is ridiculous as is trying to nail down an exact number of encounters in or to level up.
Lastly, I think the classes leveling up at different rates was a better system. The classes were not designed to be equal to each other in terms of level but abilities. The monsters were the same way in that their hit dice did not directly indicate the ... (see all)
Posted By: Rauthik (1/29/2014 12:07:21 PM)


Why are they still tying most XP rewards to killing things? That's just infantile. XP should be earned for accomplishing something meaningful, not for wholesale slaughter.
Posted By: pauldanielj2 (1/29/2014 11:20:23 AM)


I don't like goblins being used as "currency" for XP, because I think XP should not be earned by killing monsters but for accomplish objectives.
Also, in ADnD monsters gave maybe 1/5 of the XP total; in my 4th games there is a lot of skill challenges and no more than two or three combats per level...You can't really "normalize" advancement criteria and pace, every gaming group gets by that in his own way.
Posted By: EmmeDiEmme (1/29/2014 10:58:06 AM)


Can I comment now? Does this pass validation? What a glitch filled frustrating system.
Posted By: Kazadvorn (1/29/2014 10:45:09 AM)


It's the ampersand that causes the error.

Yeah. I know.
Posted By: Kalranya (1/29/2014 10:31:26 PM)


Better rules for gaining xp for exploration and role playing encounters would be nice, paired with a higher xp total to gain a level.

The survey was a little unsatisfying here. I prefer leveling every 2-3 session, which is between answers. Every 3 sessions is a nice number but sometimes you need faster for more rapid rewarding. So an average of 2.5 sessions.

1-2 random encounters is also a nice number. You don't want many (unless that's the adventure) so more than 2 can bog down the game and make the session just about random encounters. But just one makes them ignorable; after you've had one you can rest easy.
It's super important for random encounters to be a mix of combat and non-combat, to sometimes just be encountering a monster that you don't fight.
Posted By: The_Jester (1/29/2014 10:26:08 AM)


In my game last Sunday, the 2nd level party was doing a dungeon crawl and completed about 6 Combat Encounters and about 5 non-Combat Encounters. The session was 4-5 hours long. That felt pretty nice to me. I didn't rush the Heroes, but neither did they screw around for long. We had a good pace and got a lot accomplished. Their accomplishments during that one session were enough to level up. When we play again this Sunday, they'll be at level 3.
Posted By: Ramzour (1/29/2014 9:39:15 AM)


I generally tend to ignore the posted XP values, but for kicks I tried using them in my DnDNext games. Whenever I "felt" like the players had earned a new level, I calculated their accumulated XP. I found that my gut feeling for a level and the XP totals matched up within reason.

Seeing that the expectations and the data yield similar results, I feel pretty comfortable going back to ignoring XP.
Posted By: Ramzour (1/29/2014 9:53:12 AM)


On behalf of Goblins everywhere i'd like to strongly object to the use of their deaths as a metric for charting progression through the hero's journey. The wholesale slaughter of innocent humanoids by so called "Adventurers" has been romanticised for far too long.

Experience points should not be awarded for "Killing Monsters", The advancement through levels should be dependant on the achievements of the player character, not their head count.

Posted By: Eccentric_Circle (1/29/2014 8:52:02 AM)


Lets take an example which most of us will be familier with:
Frodo and Sam should have levelled up when they reached Rivendel,They had been travelling through the wilds for a while, had learnt how to survive and how to adventure, and they had resolved to continue the quest rather than go back home. They hadn't actually killed anyone though. I'd have awarded them their next level after passing through the Mines of Moria, Here we're a bit better off, as while I doubt they had earned enough xp themselves their party has almost certainly killed the requisite number of goblins. After crossing the Emyn Muil we have a problem, as this arc of the story was mainly about them deciding not to kill Gollum, but they are clearly becoming far more experienced adventurers by surviving on their own. By the time Sam has Rescued Frodo from the Orcs and they set off across the Plains of Mordor they should have gained considerably more than the 2300 XP which my Monster Manual informs me is the award f... (see all)
Posted By: Eccentric_Circle (1/29/2014 8:52:35 AM)


Folks are acting like the article is saying the only way to gain XP is by killing monsters. It's not really what it is saying. It's just giving the rationale for XP awards for killing/defeating monsters. It says nothing about other ways to gain XP.
Posted By: WarpigPSU (1/29/2014 5:15:50 PM)


This is true, However my reason for posting, and i'd guess that of many others, is that I'd rather that the Xp per monster killed system wasn't the default.

Unfortunately a Body Count Xp system only serves to reinforce the opinion of many in the hobby that DnD can never be more than a game about killing monsters and taking their stuff. Which simply isn't true. I've seen people refuse to play in complex, story focused DnD games, because they think it will just be a dungeon bash, and had people tell me that if I want to run a story focused game rather than a dungeon bash I should be using a different system, which is largely missing the point.

Consequently I'd rather the next version of DnD had a more neutral mandate, so that each group can take the game in which ever way they want.

I don't neccersarily think they will and I don't really mind whether they do, or whether they create an optional system for story based progression or not. After all the XP... (see all)
Posted By: Eccentric_Circle (1/30/2014 5:06:48 AM)


Actually, the article is not about the rationale for awarding XP for killing or defeating monsters. It's about the rate of gaining levels. This is why we are objecting to the comparison between monster XP for 1e or 2e and that for 3e or 4e. To know, on average, how much time it took to gain levels in 1e or 2e, looking at monster XP is useless, and it makes the questions given at the bottom downright silly. Ask how many sessions of successful play before gaining a level and you are closer to the mark. It's not as though older iterations of the game didn't have at least some advice for the placement of treasure, after all.
Posted By: Llenlleawg (1/30/2014 8:31:44 AM)


I had occasion to re-read the Moria section of FotR, and the Fellowship killed 14 orcs, including a large orc chieftain, in the chamber of Mazarbul. No one's leveling for that. ;)
Posted By: Tony_Vargas (1/29/2014 4:57:26 PM)


If a hero can only grow more experienced by killing lots of monsters then the only story we can really tell is Beowulf. Frodo and Sam would have remained level one for the duration of the Lord of the Rings and probably would never have gotten to Mordor. Harry Potter would never have learnt any second level spells and most of the fantasy fiction which D and D emulates would never have happened, because the low level protagonists would never have gotten very far.
Posted By: Eccentric_Circle (1/29/2014 8:53:47 AM)


I enjoyed reading this comparison to LoTR and HP. It was entertaining and good points were made.
Posted By: Ramzour (1/29/2014 9:50:42 AM)


I can't agree more with you, sir.
Adventurers should not level until they reach a significant goal or's not crazy and awkward a PC "ding!" suddenly after killing some monster in the middle of nowhere?
Posted By: EmmeDiEmme (1/29/2014 11:04:49 AM)


I really hope there are options for advancement rate. Some groups may want a fast rate of 1st to 20th in a year, while another may just want to top out at 10th, and take two years to get there.

It would be great if the DMG included formulas like the ones in the article so a DM could anticipate advancement rates.

I realize there need to be a baseline for published adventures and campaigns, but it should be flexible. This is such an easy thing to offer options on in the rules that it would be remiss not to. I realize it is also easy to houserule, but having codified options for faster or slower advancement means players will be more accepting to it.
Posted By: Narl (1/29/2014 8:41:57 AM)


I rarely use XP for level advancement (in the current campaign, PCs simply level up between adventures) but I do find them helpful for building encounters. As long as monster XP values provide a guide to balanced encounters by level, I'm satisfied.
Posted By: DrewMelbourne (1/29/2014 8:08:46 AM)


I think the issue of levelling is something that really needs a range of guidelines. Personally I think players like to have their characters progress quite quickly else it can get boring. Also, from my experience, a campaign doesn't usually get past the 6-9 month mark before the players get a bit bored of it. It would be nice if after that time the players were reasonably high level. Assuming a weekly game, that's a ballpark figure of 2-3 sessions per level.
Posted By: Chimpy20 (1/29/2014 6:51:41 AM)


Another thing to bear in mind is that sometimes sessions can go by without players engaging in any combat encounters. I've often DMed or played in sessions where the characters have worked hard just talking to NPCs or looking for clues. I think this should reward just as much XP as fighting monsters.
Posted By: Chimpy20 (1/29/2014 7:11:19 AM)


4e had full rules for skill challenge encounters, that could be anything from negotiations, to unraveling a mystery, to successfully navigating a dangerous swamp, etc, including giving out XP rewards. One more thing that I hope does not get lost in the 5e rules and the popular cry to disown all the good things that 4e brought.
Posted By: Noirsoft (1/29/2014 8:18:53 PM)


I would just like to point out the word "defeat" is used rather than "kill". 4th edition assumed that you pretty much killed everything you encountered (with a small number running away or surrendering). In early editions however I think I am right in saying that you would get the XP for for a monster however you negotiated it - whether by killing it, tricking it, using diplomacy, hiding from it...

I much prefer it that way and it encourages more creative play. Please make it explicit that XP is given not just for killing a monster but by moving past it in any way at all. If this means that the XP / level has to be adjusted (as in ADnD) then take that into account.
Posted By: 5Shilling (1/29/2014 3:40:15 AM)


I SO agree with this. i'm hopeful that'll be stated somewhere in the new rules.
Posted By: Ashlock (1/29/2014 6:28:43 AM)


I hope it will be discussed that XP can be awarded for varied things, and a DM may well decide XP is awarded for delivering treasure from the depths of dungeons or fulfilling story goals and not from combat victories, for example, and how changing XP awards changes what player behavior is encouraged. In the Black Box, for instance, it was easier to level up via treasure than combatl; 500 gp was 500 XP, but an orc was 10 XP (IIRC).
Posted By: Dreamstryder (1/29/2014 7:25:46 AM)


4e most definitely did not assume killing for earning XP. the DMG clearly and explicitly states on p120 that if you overcome the encounter, you get the XP. For combat encounters, you have to risk failure, so avoiding the encounter doesn't count, but it clearly says that "Killing, routing, or capturing the opponents in a combat encounter certainly counts."
Posted By: Noirsoft (1/29/2014 8:23:59 PM)


And as an addendum: In 4e if you negotiate with a group, then it's not a combat encounter, it's a skill challenge, hence why the limited wording for "combat encounters" -- Far from assuming always killing, 4e was the first edition to truly codify doing things other than combat for XP with skill challenges and explicit quest awards.
Posted By: Noirsoft (1/29/2014 8:36:19 PM)


The letter of the rules may be one thing, but the general effect on play is plain. That hard line between combat encounter / skill challenge could be seen as a problem. And if stealth is a skill, using it should not be seen as 'avoiding' an encounter.
Posted By: 5Shilling (2/2/2014 4:06:05 AM)


The estimates of four encounters is a 4-5 hour session were clearly for very experienced gamers (e.g. Wizard's employees) who intimately knew both the rule system (because they wrote it) and their characters. They are simply not typical players. If players take 1 minute to play their tactical turn and the DM takes 30 seconds per monster, it still takes about 10 minutes per round of combat, and combat typically takes about 6 rounds so assuming no restroom breaks, distractions, social interaction, snacks, dropped dice, etc. it will take an hour per encounter. I find that to be an extremely fast pace for any group that I've played with, more likely, we see 90 minutes to 2 hours per encounter and thus 2 encounters, plus perhaps a skill challenge or some roleplay in a 4-5 hour session. A typical group will simply not hit the targets presented in the 4e DMG or probably the expected pace of Next.
Posted By: zteccc (1/29/2014 2:38:20 AM)


An hour per encounter? Sorry, but that seems extremely slow. We have a mix of experienced and inexperienced gamers in our group. None of the players have played DnDNext before. Some of them haven't played DnD at all since 2e. And for a simple encounter, it takes us maybe 10 minutes. Complicated encounters might be 15 minutes. Or less than 5 minutes for really simple encounters. I don't know your group, but it sounds like you are wasting a lot of time if it takes you 1 hour to complete one combat.
Posted By: Ramzour (1/29/2014 9:42:44 AM)


Ramzour, I was referring specifically to 4e in the hour per encounter estimate. In our best night, with very experienced and focused players, we were happy to get three encounters done in a session. The 4e DMG suggests 4 encounters in a 4-5 hour session and that is easily an hour per encounter, but we've never seen that pace. Yes, we do "waste" some time as DND is very much a social game and we do spend time joking, getting snacks, etc. but even at that, the best speed that could be expected would be a hour per encounter with a tactical game like 4e.

DND Next has a different style entirely, it is not a tactical game which leads to easier decision making, and I don't have enough time with it to make comparisons, I was just trying to say that whatever estimates WOTC comes up with, it should be expected that they will overestimate the pace of the game and that progress will likely be slower. possibly significantly so, than the DMG suggests.
Posted By: zteccc (1/29/2014 7:59:24 PM)


Oh, I didn't realize you were talking about 4e. That makes more sense, I suppose. It did tend to run slow with the grid + forced movement.

For what its worth, you should definitely give DnDNext a look...and try gridless battles! I used to love the grid and my huge collection of minis, but combat is really so much smoother and quicker without it. For huge boss fights you can always sketch out a quick battlefield layout on some paper. But for most fights, we do it all in our heads. I think this actually encourages better roleplaying and participation. Since you don't have the grid to rely on, everyone has to pay attention so they know what's happening. And instead of bickering over a few feet here and there (sorry, you cant hit the goblin because your move is 30 and he's 31 ft away), you play more to the story.
Posted By: Ramzour (1/30/2014 3:00:44 AM)


These poll questions are hard to answer. For example, the first question. Do you mean a level 1 PC alone fighting goblins? How many goblins are being fought at once? How many PC's are fighting? A PC in a party of 3-5? A PC in a party of 6+? Obviously, if you're playing a small game (1-3 PCs) it's harder, and therefore they should be awarded more XP. Unless the monsters are also scaled down...

I have never followed the RAW when I DM and dole out XP, GP, or items.

I improvise it based on what's going on, how hard it was, if the PC's got bad rolls and/or the monsters got good rolls, etc.

Also, the random encounter question is kinda messed up too...What type of wilderness are you referring to? Is it a well traveled road running through fields with lots of visibility? Is it a dark ancient forest? Is it a necromantic magic-blasted war zone? Is it a jungle? Day or night? Clear or rainy? That makes a huge difference as to how many, or even if any rolls for rand... (see all)
Posted By: seti (1/29/2014 2:29:38 AM)


I think they're looking for, "how often is a random encounter (from a table, any table)?" The last question came down to whether or not Next really needs to support random encounters and whether or not anyone actually uses them. The mode lately has tended to be preplanned, story-specific encounters.

They popular opinion through fora and surveys seemed to be that random encounters were valuable, so now they want to know how often a random encounter actually happens in a given day of wandering. Is it like a dungeon where you hit three or four encounters in the course of a day, or is it a once every few days sort of occurrence.

Personally, I answered "about once a day", since most players will see the fight as a good excuse to make camp and heal up. Unless there's pressing business, that day's over whether the DM likes it or not.
Posted By: longwinded (1/29/2014 3:23:26 PM)


Maybe it's just my group, but we can barely get two encounters in, let alone 4 in a 4-5 hour session. And this is with DnD Next!
Posted By: Effervex (1/29/2014 2:26:32 AM)


Of course, in ADnD 1st Edition, gold peices = experience. That might have skewed the "expected" advancement somewhat. I think the 3E/4E model had advancement about right.
Posted By: Clansmansix (1/29/2014 1:21:57 AM)


Agreed. 3 and 4e did it best. They also made advancement rates the same for all classes, encouraged DMs to split XP evenly, and have everyone share all rewards as equally as possible.

4e (IMO) made encounter building even easier...the CR system was clumsy compared to the monster level system, the minion/normal/elite/solo system, and the monster role system.
Posted By: seti (1/29/2014 2:39:53 AM)


It's not that the experience for gold/treasure "skewed" the advancement "somewhat". Treasure *was* the means to advance in levels. You got a few XPs for your trouble in combat, but the whole point was that trying to gain levels through combat was ultimately a losing game (since each combat yielded few XPs balanced against the very real risk of PC death). In fact, I'm rather disappointed Wyatt made the comparison he did, since I know he knows that you didn't gain levels in 1e and 2e (and older editions) through encounters, but through finding and taking treasure.

Admittedly, one of the downsides of this system was that if you wanted to run a campaign not about people trying to get treasure one day to build up a castle/wizard's tower/thieves' guild/whatever (e.g. you wanted something more like the King Arthur's Camelot), then getting XP for treasure was counter-intuitive (and contrary to the "feel" of the campaign). However, we often forget the be... (see all)
Posted By: Llenlleawg (1/29/2014 6:21:52 AM)


I agree with Llenlleawg. The focus on XP for combat has really changed the game in a way that I feel is detrimental. If XP for GP is too narrowly focused, though, they ought to at least set the majority of XP to come from "quest" rewards and bring the combat XP back down to the "not really worth it" level.

When combat is the best (or only) way to advance, that's what the players are going to focus on, even when it's inappropriate. With all of the complaints about min-maxing combat monsters and balance issues and how long combats take, you'd think the community would be eager to nerf combat XP and encourage roleplaying or exploration or whatever instead.
Posted By: Ludanto (1/29/2014 9:11:22 AM)


Agreed. For most encounters, if it ends up in combat the party has failed, badly.
You don't go around killing things to get around them.
Take the Hobbit for example. The goal of Bilbo was to sneak in and get the Arkenstone without waking Smaug. He did OK to start with but eventually failed his stealth checks. He then delved into a skill challenge to bluff his way out. Again he was doing OK until Smaug passed his perception check and smelled dwarf. This then escalated into a run and hide challenge.
Once the dwarves entered the picture it was a whole series of skill challenges that resulted in using Smaug's weakness for shiny things against him in an attempt to defeat him WITHOUT pulling a weapon.
Through all of that the party should get a ton of XP for continually rolling with partial successes and failures and not relying on combat.
Posted By: Rartemass (1/29/2014 5:46:51 PM)


The thing is, GP = XP was written into the rules, but its implementation depended entirely on the DM. There were no set guidelines given for expected advancement. That's what I mean by "skewed." A friend of mine still runs a 1st/2nd Edition hybrid game that uses GP = XP. I have had characters jump 10(!) levels after one battle, based on random treasure rolls. He also claims that "gold or treasure taken from human or demi-human opponents doesn't give you XP, because they have already claimed it." XP from robbing the king's treasury? Not in his game! Oh, and he doesn't use morale rules. Every fight is pretty much to the death, regardless of what the PCs try. So, yeah, "skewed" is about right. As far as 3E/4E goes...skill challenges set the pace for gaining XP outside of combat encounters. And I have always used "defeat" rather than "kill" as the benchmark in combat. I have set points for monsters where their morale will effectively snap. ... (see all)
Posted By: Clansmansix (1/29/2014 1:06:06 PM)


Ten levels in one battle? Only if your DM ignored what was first strong advice back in the original set in 1974, and then encoded in later rules, namely, that no matter how much treasure you got, you can only go up one level per delve/adventure into the dungeon. So, even if you rolled up a 50,000 gp gem at first level, those characters will not get to go up higher than 2nd level. Besides, if your DM is going arbitrarily to limit what kind of treasure "counts" or makes each and every fight to the death, that's hardly the fault of the *rules*. You could have something equally silly for every iteration of the rules! My point is that combat, whether about killing or defeating, ought not to be the principal way of getting XP, since doing so makes the game *necessarily* about combat (and inclines players to evaluate every class, spell, magic item, etc.) in terms of its ability to help in combat. Make the game about something else, but one in which combat can and does take place, th... (see all)
Posted By: Llenlleawg (1/29/2014 3:20:40 PM)


I suppose you could get around the one-level-at-a-time rule by leaving a lot of the treasure behind. Some other monster would come in and claim it, and you could come back after leveling, gank it, and take enough treasure to get your next level, until the treasure ran out or a critter with some common sense and a moving van came along...

Posted By: Tony_Vargas (1/29/2014 5:00:28 PM)


The whole point, however, is that dungeons are not supposed to be static. You can't just leave treasure somewhere unguarded and think that it will be there, waiting for you, when you return. Besides, every delve is another risk of death. The moving van scenario was, so to speak, the one that players presume will occur. That's why things like Bags of Holding were desirable magic items, since they allowed taking more treasure out at once without being too encumbered. So, what you propose isn't really a "get around". A DM who allows large treasures to sit around in a dungeon discovered but unclaimed needs to rethink how the dungeon environment is supposed to work!
Posted By: Llenlleawg (1/30/2014 8:22:24 AM)



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