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I've been running 5E for some friends, and after probably 10 or so sessions, we have yet to level from 5th to 6th (we started at 5th). I'm seriously considering just switching over to "Leveling when thematically appropriate" as the easiest solution, but it still seems weird that even after 10+ encounters (we average one a session) that they still haven't leveled up.

Is there some aspect of calculating XP that I'm missing for encounters? My understanding is that while there are multipliers to calculate difficulty, when calculating for XP reward, it's just the sum of all enemy XP.

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You'll need to fill in the gaps as to how many encounters/session and what xp budget you're using for people to find if you have an issue or not. Give a representative encounter and the XP you rewarded for it. – mxyzplk Mar 6 at 14:51
Keep in mind 5e PCs are pretty strong between rests. Throw some bigger targets at them to speed up the process if they don't mind the risk – Nemenia Mar 6 at 18:07
up vote 10 down vote accepted

About 17 On-Level Encounters

It takes 7,500 XP to progress from 5th to 6th level. A challenge rating 5 monster is worth 1,800 XP. That's an on-level encounter for a party of 4.

1,800 XP / 4 characters = 450 XP / character per encounter. At that rate is takes 16 2/3 encounters to reach 6th level.

A highly skilled party might be able to defeat stronger monsters.

(It's worth noting that in 5E, the first few level-ups come very quickly, and are a neat way to "flesh out" characters in the midsts of play.)

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Okay, that tracks pretty well with what we were getting, but it just seemed slow. Thanks – Dugan Mar 6 at 15:13
Is there a lot of mystery/talk/role-play in your game? In my experience, you usually can get through more than one encounter an evening. If your game is about progressing through a plot, then consider rewarding XP for that. If folks just take forever to decide what to do, then maybe insist that they speed up. – timster Mar 6 at 15:51
That's a separate issue we're trying to address. We realized it was taking us all night to get through a single encounter, so we're working on speeding that up. – Dugan Mar 6 at 15:52

The rough rule of thumb for most D&D varient games is that you should get 4 encounters per session and level up after 4 sessions. In other words 16 encounters to level.

If you are getting fewer than 4 encounters in a day then you can either consider why they are taking so long and try to streamline things or if people are enjoying that part of the pace of the game then reduce the experience needed to level and/or increase the xp reward.

For example if your players spend a long time in the session role playing and are enjoying that then start rewarding them with experience for it. Especially if they are accomplishing objectives through it.

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4 encounters per session? I don't think I've ever had a session with more than 3 encounters in my life... – Mooing Duck Mar 7 at 2:39
@MooingDuck It depends on your party, the size of the encounters, and lengths of your session of course. A 4 hour session with 1 hour per encounter and stuff in between is possible though, especially if your players all know what they are doing and are ready to act when their turn comes around. We normally do 2 to 4 encounters per session but our encounters tend to be large and complicated and/or protracted. – Tim B Mar 7 at 9:29
Four encounters, or more, is doable in a dungeon crawl. – timster Mar 7 at 15:58

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