Say you beat a flameskull or some other enemy that can be revived. On your way back out of the dungeon, you beat it again. Do you gain XP for the second encounter just like you did for the first one? In both cases, you're overcoming a challenge that's keeping you from your goal.

In another example, say a dragon flies down looking for a snack. Your goal is simply to "survive". You use diplomacy or a suggestion spell to make it go away. Then, days later, you see it again and use the same tactic. Can you continue to do so in order to repeatedly gain XP?

Same with traps: what if, for example, you got a job ringing the bell tower in The Speaker in Dreams? There's a trap that casts enervation on creatures who step on the stairs. Would you therefore gain XP every 3 hours as you survive the trap on the way to your goal of ringing the bell?

(This may not have an objective answer, but I'm hoping there is something official written about it somewhere)


2 Answers 2


This is a mixed question.

The trap scenario listed, of passing the same trap in the dungeon twice, would not award exp twice. The reason for this is that the encounter has not changed. Now if the dungeon got remodeled and you had to go back a second time, it might. However all resetting traps do not award exp each time.

The dragon example is another story. It is not a mindless beast, so it should remember the encounter. If it happens again it should try to behave differently. However if the dragon has not changed significantly (or isnt better prepared) then the reward should be reduced for defeating it a second time. There is also that the first encounter shouldnt have awarded the full exp (if any) because the encounter was never actually finished if its going to come back. If you defeat all a wizard's summons and then they teleport away, you get NOTHING because the wizard escaped.

from the DMGv2 page 36-37

You must decide when a challenge has been overcome. Usually,this is simple to do. Did the PCs defeat the enemy in battle? Then they met the challenge and earned experience points. Other times, it can be trickier. Suppose the PCs sneak past the sleeping minotaur to get into the magical vault—did they overcome the minotaur encounter? If their goal was to get into the vault and the minotaur was just a guardian, then the answer is probably yes. It’s up to you to make such judgments

So it comes down to what the focus of the encounter was. Was it surviving the wizard or defeating the wizard?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree about getting nothing if the wizard escapes. The DMG is clear that surviving an encounter is the same as "beating" the encounter. I could see a case for getting a reduced XP award if the wizard escapes, due to not facing the full might thereof, but they should not get nothing... as per the DMG in my opinion. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Apr 15, 2020 at 14:49
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko Ive updated the answer \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Apr 15, 2020 at 15:59

My rule of thumb: You get XP when you find a solution for a given encounter or situation.

Figuring out how a trap works and how to evade it gives XP to the group. Applying this solution again does not give anymore XP. If things change, and the group needs to figure another solution for the same trap because the circumstances changed, that's another opportunity for XP.

An example.

Group A uses a floating spell to avoid a pit full of angered, flaming zombie kobolds. They are awarded XP. For some reason they have then to backtrack, and use the same spell (thus, the same solution), to go past the same pit. No new XP is awarded.

On another moment, they need to get past this pit one more. However, things are now different - the mage has no more spells to cast, and they find themselves with a completely different context. They need to find another solution and thus have another opportunity to get a reward.

It isn't the act of avoiding the trap that grants the player the XP. It is the figuring out which act do you need to begin with - and executing it properly afterwards, of course.

For a given creature, beating it again - be it revived or not, maybe it survived the first encounter - is always an opportunity for XP. The context changed! The players got more experienced, the creature probably is also now more experienced. They won't have the same resources or the same allies. They will be aware of each other's tactics. Heck, even the luck of the players won't be the same. Maybe your warrior got a few lucky 20's the first time, but on this second time they end up getting a bunch of "1"s. There is a lot of variables changing, and so it won't ever be "the same". The solution for the encounter isn't same. Thus, repeated encounters with the same creature - when properly conducted by the DM - should most likely award XP.

Your example of the repeating the tactic against the dragon, however, falls on a different place. It is a weird, unlikely case that the dragon will fall for the same trick over and over. If the players repeat the same tactic in this case, what should happen isn't then getting XP - is the trick failing, the situation getting more complex and interesting, and the story taking a different turn.


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