Monday, October 31, 2016

Dungeon Master Techniques: Making Experience Work for You

Hello, and welcome back to Pact of the Tome! Today, I'd like to spend some time talking about the experience point system in Fifth Edition D&D. While the options in the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide may work well for some games, for others they leave something to be desired.

This article breaks down the way Fifth Edition awards XP, then suggests an alternative method that Dungeon Masters can customize to their taste. Hopefully, by the end of reading this you'll have a richer understanding of experience in D&D 5E better and have some ideas for making it work better in your game.

Goals of an Experience System
Why have experience points? I see a few reasons:
"Come on... if we take that thing down, think
of how much XP we'll get!"
  • As a player, it's helpful to be able to see your progress as you advance. Knowing you're close to the next level can be really exciting!
  • Earning experience from certain actions gives weight and meaning to the characters' choice. If they gain extra XP from finding a secret door or defeating a powerful monster, they can feel good about their choices that led them to do so.
  • Players are motivated by experience. If they know they'll be able to gain lots of XP by accomplishing story goals, then they're more likely to try and do just that! The desire to gain XP is one factor that keeps players adventuring, as opposed to just sitting around.
Overall, XP is a motivating factor for players that can enhance their enjoyment of the game. While it's tempting to simply award levels as needed, putting some work into the way you handle XP can make a difference in your campaign.