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This question already has an answer here:

When a character kills an enemy, do only they get the experience, or does everyone in the whole group get the experience?

That is, does it matter who made the last hit that took the enemy down?

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marked as duplicate by Shalvenay, okeefe, Purple Monkey, nitsua60, DuckTapeAl Jan 20 at 5:16

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

up vote 47 down vote accepted

The whole group divides the experience between them

Each monster has an XP value based on its challenge rating. When adventurers defeat one or more monsters-typically by killing, routing, or capturing them-they divide the total XP value of the monsters evenly among themselves. If the party received substantial assistance from one or more NPCs, count those NPCs as party members when dividing up the XP. (DMG p.260)

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Maybe worth explaining that "on a last/killing hit basis" as the OP was considering, would have some problems such as bias against support characters (e.g. healers, wizards specialising in buff effects) who contribute lots but rarely do direct damage. Figuring out who really contributed to success and how much would be a nightmare. – Neil Slater Jan 15 at 9:17
Even if one of the party was essentially useless eg kept trying to hit the monster and missing? – Wikis Jan 15 at 12:57
If you keep the party member out of the experience distribution, chances are they will become even more "useless". – Tijnkwan Jan 15 at 15:03
@Wikis If you want to an in-setting rationalization of why a missing PC should also get XP, is that you learn more from your mistakes than from your successes :) Additionally, an "useless" PC that is part of the combat still "helps" by providing an additionally target for the enemy (even if he's never actually targeted). Think of him as a cognitive extra load for the enemy. – Diego Martinoia Jan 15 at 15:15
@NeilSlater Yeah, a healer "fights" by finding some tough guy to put in front of the monster and then keeps him alive while he kills the monster. Even a wizard might not kill anything--what about a crowd-control specialist? Disable them while someone else kills them. – Loren Pechtel Jan 15 at 23:25

Typically, you do the following:

  • Add up the experience that every monster gives in an encounter into one giant pool of experience.
  • Divide that experience pool evenly by the number of people in the party.

You do this for encounters where players kill off the monsters as well as encounters where they manage to defeat the monsters via other means (traps, skill checks, etc.)

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I can't find anything in the DM's Basic Guide about awarding XP, apart from the following sentence.

Typically, XP is awarded for defeating the monster, although the DM may also award XP for neutralizing the threat posed by the monster in some other manner.

My ruling is to award the XP to the whole party, working on the idea that they all contributed to the fight. Grog the Barbarian might have made the killing blow, but Wrog the Warlock contributed by hitting the monster lots with spells and Trog the Cleric helped by healing and blessing Grog. Giving XP only to Grog wouldn't be fair.

Five monsters, 450 XP per montser, against 3 characters: each character gets 450 * 5 / 3 = 750 XP.

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It is, however, addressed in the DMG. See DaleM's answer. – PurpleVermont Jan 14 at 23:45

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