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I just was reading the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure when I noticed that page 21, section "3. Trapped Hall" says:

Awarding Experience Points

Divide 100 XP equally among the characters if the party avoids or survives the pit trap.

Does that mean that in normal encounters/dungeons/whatever characters earn XP for avoiding or surviving traps? My DM never rewarded me with XP for that stuff!

In the case it's yes, how much XP is awarded? As far as I know, neither the DMG nor XGtE (which has guidelines about traps) explain how to calculate the XP of a trap.

Additionally, I found this answer to "How should I award XP for traps?" on RPG.SE - but if that answer says you shouldn't do this, why does the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure (which, as far as I know, is an official campaign) do it?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @colmde See this FAQ for why your comment was removed. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 29 at 15:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @vlaz See this FAQ for why your comment was removed. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 29 at 15:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note, the answer you reference as saying you shouldn't goes on to say you can. You shouldn't is the author's opinion. You can is their conclusion. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Jan 29 at 16:04
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XP is entirely up to the GM

In 5e, the GM can award XP for anything they choose. XP represents experience, and disarming or avoiding a trap is an experience. You don't need guidance on this in RAW, but you could treat it as having the xp value of a monster of a CR equivalent to the PC's average levels, plus or minus 10% depending on how deadly you estimate it to be, if you really need a mechanic.

Personally, I find tracking XP per monster, per encounter, etc extremely fiddly and not worth the effort, and I go for a lump-sum XP award per session, with bonuses for good RP, cool tactics, progress, teamwork, etc. Or use the milestone progression technique and forego XP altogether. Since it's no longer used as a fuel for crafting magic items, like in prior editions, it's not super important as long as your level progression is a reasonable pace.

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Xanathar's Guide to Everything offers optional XP-for-traps

From page 113 to 121 on XGtE, traps are compared to monster CR as compared to tiers of play (1-4 5-10, etc). On page 118 there is a recommended XP award for complex traps: 650 XP for Tier 1, 3850 for Tier 2, 11,100 for Tier 3, and 21,500 for Tier 4. Needless to say, some of these example complex traps are fiendish. You can use that general guideline, scaled down a bit, for your own traps.

If you don't have Xanathar's Guide, there was a UA article in 2017 with similar suggestions for trap complexity(much of it ended up in XGtE). You need to estimate how difficult or deadly a trap is for a party of level X, compared to the deadliness of a CR Y monster to get an estimated XP award.

Even with the broad guidelines given, tinkering a bit with it and customizing it for your table is part of the DM's art.


FWIW, I discovered rather by accident that waaaaay back when, when Thieves were being played early on in the Twin Cities and Lake Geneva area, that thieves usually got their level X 100 XP for defeating traps .... but as that was a different edition and philosophy (1 GP = 1 XP in that system) it may not suit your needs in this edition. (I'll try to find the link, it's elusive at the moment). The idea of XP for traps is pretty old.

Well, I certainly did hand out XPs in my campaign for spell use, also successful tracking by rangers, use of thief abilities by any PC so doing, that sort of thing. ~Gary Gygax on enworld boards

That quote is from a discussion that was about AD&D at that forum.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What edition/system is your experience towards the end referencing? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 29 at 5:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast It references a comment from either Gary or from Mike Mornard, and I can't find the link at the moment. We are talking pre AD&D 1e, as far as I can recall, but it might have been at Gary's 1e tables as well. One of many things that got done that weren't published. When I find the link I'll include it. I tripped over it while looking up something else. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 29 at 11:46
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The following information is from Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage (page 5) and seems to be specific to that adventure, but may serve you as a guideline:

You can also award XP for overcoming traps and for exceptional roleplaying with key NPCs. The Bonus XP Awards table provides recommended XP awards for such interactions.

BONUS XP AWARDS
Character Level XP Award
1st- 4th        50
5th- 10th       250
11th- 16th      1,000
17th- 20th      2,500
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I award XP every time my players overcome some challenge. Be it by force or guile.

Running or turning back doesn't count, unless of course the challenge is to turn away from some temptation.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Running or turning back can also count if followed up by taking some other route to the actual goal, one which avoids encountering that particular trap or other challenge at all. For example, seeing that the gate of the town you're infiltrating is heavily guarded, and backing off and finding some other way into the town, should still get xp for overcoming the challenge posed by those gate guards, even though you never fought nor fooled them. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthew Najmon Jan 29 at 20:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, yes, but I'd interpret that as: overcoming by other means than violence. Running would be Turning tail and never looking back, e.g. Seeing the heavily guarded town gate, going "Nope" and going looking for some other assignment \$\endgroup\$ – rasmus91 Feb 1 at 6:55

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