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I'm designing a game of some sort of battle arena, which in every session there are 4 PCs fighting each other. The whole campaign will revolve on the arena fight and amassing XP to stand at the top.

I'm not sure how the XP should be distributed when there exists different hostile (to the killed PC) parties.

For the XP being distributed, I'm using this answer.

For example:

Anne, Belle, Charlie, Dean are all fighters of same "CR", worth 400 XP when killed each. Anne lands the killing blow and kills Dean.

How much XP should Anne receive?

In one question, an answer argue that a PC being around will receive XP, because they indirectly make the victim being wary, thus deserve the XP. However, that question ask about when the PCs in one party, but this one has 4 opposing groups.

Is there a rule can be used to address this? Or rule as intended, or anything else that can be used as guide to make a DM ruling?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ A simulation of gladiator-league. There's no expedition or adventure outside of this. I want to give EXP to let them advance in levels while doing the league. There will be existing higher leveled NPC gladiators before they join. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vylix
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 6:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think Anne delivering the killing blow is relevant because some might argue that the whole XP should be hogged by the killer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vylix
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 6:05

2 Answers 2

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What you're doing is not supported by the 5e design philosophy.

The game that you're designing is fundamentally a different game than D&D 5e. The core assumptions that the entire system is built around is that the players are a (more or less) cohesive party, banding together against external threats. The XP system is built entirely on this assumption: The party gets XP when the party solves an encounter, and the XP gained is based on how hard that encounter was to solve. XP is a reward that the group gains for playing well.

What you're doing here is something very different. Like you say, you have what is effectively four different groups all fighting each other, and all are player characters. This is so alien to the assumptions that the 5e XP system is based on that nothing in the book is going to give you a useful answer.

What I'd suggest is that you go much further with your game modifications than what you currently describe. If you're going to be building a new game using the 5e combat engine, then using any part of the 5e progression engine is going to give you a lackluster experience. So, rather than trying to shoehorn in the same progression system, make your own. Totally throw out the existing progression and XP system and make your own that encourages the kind of fun you want your players to have.

Actually designing a progression system is beyond the scope of this question, but the most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure that your system encourages the kind of play that you want. If everyone gets some XP, and the person who died last gets bonus XP, then that encourages one kind of play. If you only get XP from getting the last hit on an enemy, then that encourages another kind of play.

Addressing the specific needs of your new game and designing a progression system that fits those needs will give you much better results than trying to follow the exact rules of what is effectively a different game.

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I'm trying to design something similar currently. Called the Colloseum, it will involve players (/gladiators) fighting monsters, fighting versus each other in teams, and fighting versus each other in the arena style you are trying. My default XP system, will look something like this:

  1. XP per usual if they team up against a beast; but also add a kill shot bonus = 1/2 of the creature's XP (because the crowd loves a show boater).
  2. When they fight each other, they'll get XP as if the PC killed was a monster (CR guestimated from DM table on pg 274) and the other players were a party, again with a kill bonus.
  3. The ultimate winner will also get a win bonus ~1/3 a level.

I'm going to adjust this fight to fight (to see what happens / works best; but also because part of the story is they will be placed in unusual battle situations and need to work out the best plan - e.g. hang back and save yourself in the beast battle = less kill bonuses but more chance of ultimate win). I'm also deliberately accelerating the amount of XP they get so they level up quickly (it may surprise you but this game is more focussed on combat tactics and epic fights and less on character development - although, there will be CHA checks to see who provides favours to / receives rewards from the patrons).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Pete, welcome to RPG.SE. Remember to check out the tour and help center some time. Although you're still designing this, do please come back when you have play-tested it and update your answer to indicate what worked and what didn't. This would provide some evidence to back your answer (untested homebrew as an answer is often frowned upon here). \$\endgroup\$
    – BBeast
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 3:52

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