As characters adventure, they earn Experience Points (XP). These awards come from achieving goals, completing social encounters, exploring new places, fighting monsters, overcoming hazards, and other sorts of deeds. You have a great deal of control over when the characters gain XP, though the following guidelines are what you’re expected to give out in a standard campaign.
Normally, when a player character reaches 1,000 XP or more, they level up, reduce their XP by 1,000, and start progressing toward the next level. Other means of advancement are described in the Advancement Speeds sidebar on page 509.
Experience Points are awarded for encounters, exploration, and progress in an adventure. When the PCs face direct opposition, such as a fight or a social conflict, the XP earned is based on the level of the challenge the party overcame. Characters can also gain XP from exploration, such as finding secret areas, locating a hideout, enduring a dangerous environment, or mapping an entire dungeon.
Any XP awarded goes to all members of the group. For instance, if the party wins a battle worth 100 XP, they each get 100 XP, even if the party’s rogue was off in a vault stealing treasure during the battle. But if the rogue collected a splendid and famous gemstone, which you’ve decided was a moderate accomplishment worth 30 XP, each member of the party gets 30 XP, too.
Adversaries and Hazards
Encounters with adversaries and hazards grant a set amount of XP. When the group overcomes an encounter with creatures or hazards, each character gains XP equal to the total XP of the creatures and hazards in the encounter (this excludes XP adjustments for different party sizes; see Party Size on page 508 for details).
Trivial encounters don’t normally grant any XP, but you might decide to award the same XP as for a minor or moderate accomplishment for a trivial encounter that was important to the story, or for an encounter that became trivial because of the order in which the PCs encountered it in a nonlinear adventure.
Characters’ actions that move the story forward—like securing a major alliance, establishing an organization, or causing an NPC to have a change of heart—are considered accomplishments and should be rewarded with XP. Their significance determines the size of the XP award. Determine whether the achievement was a minor, moderate, or major accomplishment, and refer to Table 10–8: XP Awards on page 508 to award an appropriate amount of XP. Minor accomplishments include all sorts of significant, memorable, or surprising moments in the game. A moderate accomplishment typically represents a goal that takes most of a session to complete, and a major accomplishment is usually the culmination of the characters’ efforts across many sessions. Moderate and major accomplishments usually come after heroic effort, so that’s an ideal time to also give a Hero Point to one or more of the characters involved.
As mentioned earlier, it’s up to you how much XP to give out for accomplishments. As a general guideline, in a given game session, you’ll typically give several minor awards, one or two moderate awards, and only one major award, if any.
|* Typically earns a Hero Point as well.|
|Adversary Level||XP Award|
|Party level – 4||10 XP|
|Party level – 3||15 XP|
|Party level – 2||20 XP|
|Party level – 1||30 XP|
|Party level||40 XP|
|Party level + 1||60 XP|
|Party level + 2||80 XP|
|Party level + 3||120 XP|
|Party level + 4||160 XP|
|Hazard Level||Simple Hazard||Complex Hazard|
|Party level – 4||2 XP||10 XP|
|Party level – 3||3 XP||15 XP|
|Party level – 2||4 XP||20 XP|
|Party level – 1||6 XP||30 XP|
|Party level||8 XP||40 XP|
|Party level + 1||12 XP||60 XP|
|Party level + 2||16 XP||80 XP|
|Party level + 3||24 XP||120 XP|
|Party level + 4||32 XP||160 XP|
The rules for advancement assume a group of four PCs. The rules for encounters describe how to accommodate groups of a different size, but the XP awards don’t change—always award the amount of XP listed for a group of four characters. You usually won’t need to make many adjustments for a differently sized group outside of encounters. Be careful of providing too many ways to get accomplishment XP when you have a large group, though, since they can pursue multiple accomplishments at once, which can lead to the PCs leveling up too fast.
GROUP PARITY AND PARTY LEVEL
It’s recommended that you keep all the player characters at the same XP total. This makes it much easier to know what challenges are suitable for your players. Having characters at different levels can mean weaker characters die more easily and their players feel less effective, which in turn makes the game less fun for those players.
If you choose not to keep the whole group at the same character level, you’ll need to select a party level to determine your XP budget for encounters. Choose the level you think best represents the party’s ability as a whole. Use the highest level if only one or two characters are behind, or an average if everyone is at a different level. If only one character is two or more levels ahead, use a party level suitable for the lower-level characters, and adjust the encounters as if there were one additional PC for every 2 levels the higher-level character has beyond the rest of the party.
Party members who are behind the party level gain double the XP other characters do until they reach the party’s level. When tracking individually, you’ll need to decide whether party members get XP for missed sessions.