An Easy Way To Handle XP And Leveling

I hate Experience Points (XP).

As a GM I have always hated doing the math after every game and I dislike creating XP for individual encounters.

The time it takes could be spent playing or, if you are like me, sleeping after a late night session.

The last thing I feel like doing after a gaming session is calculating XP.

So, what’s left to do? How do characters go up in level if not for XP?

A lot of GMs level characters up based on events.

So, the characters level once they achieve something within the game.

I don’t mind this system, but I have started using another which is just as easy (albeit a little arbitrary).

The characters level based on how many sessions they play.

It’s simply math and the record keeping is just as easy.

For a character to move from first to second level, the player would have to turn up for two sessions.

To go from second level to third, the player would have to play another three sessions (for a total of five sessions).

And so on.

I find this incentivises players showing up to sessions – your character will fall behind if you don’t show – and is also very easy to calculate.

You can record this a number of ways:

  • You as GM can keep track of who turned up to play each session
  • You can make the players keep track by marking on their character sheets how many sessions they have played

In fact, using the second option you could call them XP – you get 1 XP per session. Once you reach 2 XP you can move from first level to second.

Once you gain 5 XP you move from second to third level.

Once you gain 9 XP you move from third to fourth level.

And so on.

I usually run Epic5 campaigns so the PCs will need to play 14 sessions before they max out at fifth level.

(From that point on they gain feats or other special abilities instead of levels each time they would normally level up.)

Obvious Issues

There are negatives to everything, and this is no exception. Here are a couple:

1. All the player has to do is show up and the character gains an XP. He doesn’t even need to try very hard.

2. It doesn’t reward roleplaying

3. It doesn’t reward heroics

I don’t see any of these as real issues, however.

1. If a player just shows up and doesn’t contribute either I am failing as a GM or the player is not pulling his weight – neither of these is an XP issue.

2. Roleplaying should be its own reward and I see it as being the very least a player should be doing, so no XP reward is needed.

3. Again, heroics is its own reward.

If you really want to reward character you can always find other ways: favours from NPCs, gold, (magic) items, fame, favours, and so on.

It’s a simple, no-fuss system – something that I find very appealing.

Over to you. Would you use this system?

While You’re Here…

Since 2021 I have been publishing d12 Monthly, a monthly zine, which has a ton of articles for any edition of Dungeons and Dragons.

Printed copies are available in my store. The PDF is available on DriveThruRPG and you can get both, plus support my work, via my Patreon.

I will also be releasing some more products in the near future.

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