Simplified Experience Points


Be honest. The Final Fantasy “Level Up” jingle popped into your head at least once while reading this.

Experience Points (XP) have been a part of Dungeons & Dragons since the very beginning. They help measure the advancement of a character, telling you how close they are to reaching that next level. The things that grant XP might have changed, but the rule itself has remained as a key feature of the system.

However, like most rules that have been present throughout the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons, XP is not without its fair share of problems.

The most prominent critique you might hear is how the modern implementation of the rule seems to favor a more combat-focused style of play. The default method for earning XP in the most recent editions is defeating opponents in battle. This has led to many believing it can condition players to lean to viewing combat as the go-to solution to an encounter, seeing as it’s the only one that will actually help them get closer to leveling up.

I also take issue with the sheer amount of XP needed to earn a new level. These totals made more sense in the earlier editions of Dungeons & Dragons because you used to earn XP based on the treasure you discovered, usually 1 GP = 1 XP. This method was eventually abandoned by the designers, but the XP totals were kept for some reason.

The easily solution to these issues would be to simply do away with XP, but I feel like that would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I decided I’d go with a different solution.

This method is based upon how Pathfinder Society handles XP. Characters will be awarded 1 XP for every adventure they complete. They advance a single level for every 3 XP they have earned.

Short, simple, and straightforward.

There is a big issue one would have to deal with when adopting this system: how to handle the expedited advancement of the initial levels (1st-3rd). I would suggest just altering the required amounts. I’d say 1 XP for 2nd level, and 2 XP for 3rd level.

The reason why I like this method is that it takes combat out of the equation entirely. This makes it all about finishing adventures, and doesn’t lean towards one path to do so. The smaller totals also make it much easier to figure out when you level up, especially since you no longer have to look up a table to figure out the next arbitrary amount.

How much XP do I need to reach 4th level? +3 XP. How much XP do I need to reach 5th level? +3 XP. How about 10th level? +3 XP.

What do you think? Would you prefer this method over the default? Would you add or change anything? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


4 thoughts on “Simplified Experience Points

      • In that case, I’d probably alter it to be “1 XP per Session you complete”. I rarely have quests that last that long, and when they do, they are the exception to the rule.

        The reason I like this method is that you can really rework the conditions for how you gain XP, tailoring them to your campaign & style of play.


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