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Experience An Alternative


TTRPGs each have their own unique way to level up, most using Experience(XP) of some form. Fifth Edition D&D being one of the most known uses experience as its main rule. As someone who has mainly played D&D and a few other games I am most familiar with D&D 5e so I will be using it as the base.

In 5e you go around and kill monsters to gain XP and after a given amount you level up. You require more and more XP each level. I see nothing wrong with needing more per level but I do not like the fact that you need to go out and kill things. I know 5e has alternatives such as Milestones but that leaves everything up to a DM to determine when to level and everyone levels up at the same time. Some players deserve to level up faster if they are willing to put in more work. They do not need to be the best at Role Playing but they need to show up and do their best when playing. Going to try to get to why I am here, an alternative to Experience for D&D 5e, and maybe a few other games who knows

An Alternative

Going to try to make this short but still get across what I am wanting.
First off, when you level up base XP resets to 0
The amount of XP needed to level is current level +1 times 10, so level 2 would need 20, level 3 needing 30, and so on.
There needs to be rules for a level 0 but I have not gotten that far just yet in my own game or homebrewing it into D&D 5e.
To gain XP a player sets goals for their character or themselves and once the goal is reached they give an amount of XP that they and the DM set beforehand. The goals can be something simple or complex and it is up to the DM to determine if it is even achievable. Players should have three goals set at a time and once a goal is done they can create a new one.
Goals can include other players if they collaborate, no goal should include another player without being asked first. So no goal from a thief stealing something off the paladin without the paladin noticing unless the paladin’s player said it was okay.
Anything over the line or that may provoke disruption at the table should not be allowed.
The goal is not checked until after a session is over so for this alternative to work you need to set aside time for XP as normal and for questions to be asked.
As for questions the DM should have a few goal originated questions of their own.
Did the party plan go as intended? If so +1 XP, if it went horribly wrong you may even reduce the sessions XP by one.
Yep, that is right, you can reduce XP from the session depending on the outcome of goals. Note you should not make this a habit but it has its place. A session XP minimum is 0 so they can not actually lose XP, players just do not gain the full amount they could have.
This alternative adds a bit to prep time for a DM as they need to think of questions to be asked for each session, or they can try to come up with them on the fly at the end of a session.
I think it best to have a few repeat questions at the ready.

Some examples
Your Sugestions?x

Questions that give XP
  • The party met a specific NPC +1
  • The party arrived at [TOWN NAME] +1
  • Made it out of Dungeon without being knocked unconscious or taking a rest (this could give more than one and only awarded to fewer players)
Questions that remove XP
  • The party killed specific NPC
  • The party burned down [TOWN NAME]
  • Player started augment or did something to upset someone -1(can grow higher if player keeps at it first time should be a warning first)

No need to share with players what questions you use but do not ask all of them at the end of a session you could make a table and roll randomly or just pick some ahead of time.


I don’t think I am the first to come up with something like this but I think it could work out. It may even be a key part to another TTRPG I have not seen yet.
I have watched How to Award XP as a GM and read a few reddit post but most of this was after I had the thought for this and decided to post.

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5e Rules

Posted by r0zzin May 1, 2022

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