Has there been an answer to why there is no non-combat Experience points awarded in D&D 5e? I'm not referring to XP gained from monsters by defeating them other than combat, but XP awarded for completing quests, roleplaying, or other non-combat activities. I'd prefer an answer quoted from Mike Mearls or Jeremy Crawford if possible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you do not have designer commentary, don't answer this question. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 3:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am downvoting this because the title of the question makes the assertion that there is no non-combat XP, and this can mislead people to think there is no such thing (if they don't click here and read the answer by Icyfire). \$\endgroup\$
    – user27327
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 4:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin Questions about designer intent mandatorily require quotations of designer intent, because otherwise get people speculating "here's what I think they think" (which is no better than any querent's or reader's own private musings). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 11:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Raddu I think the question makes a lot more sense now. (It struck me as very strange to think that you didn't know there are non-combat XP sources in 5e.) However, the edit you made undercuts a correct answer to your original question that's gotten +40 votes, which is pretty significant. I think the long-term result is going to be a good question with an answer near the top that doesn't even address it. I'm going to revert the edit, hold this question, and ask that you pose the hardcover-focused question separately. (There's room in the DB for plenty of questions!) Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 13:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because Designer Reasons. - although the question itself is wrong in its premises, so I'm confused. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Commented Jun 24, 2018 at 18:46

1 Answer 1


The premise of your question is flawed because the system allows for non-combat XP.

Your question assumes that there is no non-combat XP in 5e, but this is not true. The DMG (pg 261) leaves the door open for awarding noncombat XP:

You decide whether to award experience to characters for overcoming challenges outside combat. If the adventurers complete a tense negotiation with a baron, forge a trade agreement with a clan of surly dwarves, or successfully navigate the Chasm of Doom, you might decide that they deserve an XP reward.

In fact, the same page gives specific guidelines for how much XP to award (emphasis added):

You can also award XP when characters complete significant milestones. When preparing your adventure, designate certain events or challenges as milestones, as with the following examples: ...

When awarding XP, treat a major milestone as a hard encounter and a minor milestone as an easy encounter.

Jeremy Crawford backs this up in an interview:

MT: I’ve noticed there’s more opportunities to talk and formally tie experience points to negotiating with enemies instead of killing them. It does make DMs have to think about advancement. Tyranny of Dragons has rules of leveling between sessions, which is definitely a new mindset that’s different from “killing one more orc to get exp.”

JC: The advantage of this open-ended approach is that if the DM prefers to track experience points, the DM can do that because since things are more open-ended the DM has more space to play in, so if the DM would rather have more traditional combat encounters and those are the source of experience points, that can totally be done.

In a tweet, Crawford has said that he does not tie XP to combat in his home game:

In my home game, I award XP when it feels right for the story. Sometimes I just say, "You gain a level." #DnD #wotcstaff

In a tweet, Mike Mearls has said:

@RobertPascuttin the system really shouldn't use XP as a measure - it muddies the issue of its meaning.

I'm not sure exactly what he means here, but it does seem to be something against the idea of XP being a strict measure.

Thus, we can see that the designers have left lots of space in the system for the DM to award non-combat XP.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer is absolutely correct and I've already upvoted it. I do think it'd be improved by pointing out that almost all AL modules feature some sorts of "story XP" in addition to combat XP. I feel like it's not just that they've left the door open for non-combat XP, but they're explicitly trying to encourage (at least awareness of) it. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 11:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ The system allows for it, but the hardcover adventures do not give quest or roleplaying awards, only milestones. I've edited the question to be more clear, your answer is great, and it showed that I did not ask the right question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Raddu
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 13:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nitsua60 we included story XP award in the AL adventures in order to make up for the XP deficit we had to meet for each adventure, otherwise there would be too much combat (or the possibility of combat) to fit into the desired time limit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Raddu
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 13:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Raddu I would contest your statement that the hardcover adventures do not offer XP-based Quest Rewards or other Interaction rewards. Just from OotA... pages 60, 69, 72, 77, 78, 79, 91, 92, 103, 109 (x2), 110, 115, 135, 204, and 205 all feature XP rewards for quest completion, ally gaining, and other tasks that are not 'milestone achievements.' \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 13:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Raddu that's a great bit of context that I encourage you to include in the hardcover-centric question. (If nothing else, it's a great bit of designer commentary on the DDEX/DDEN line that I'd love to have extant in a post!) And I hope my handling of this question made sense--feel free to ping me in Role-playing Games Chat if you think I mis-handled it or want to clarify something. (Or if you just want to chat!) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 13:58

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