I want to increase the experience gain per game season for several reasons:

  • My group does not play too often, something like once a month, therefore some players seem to loose sense of achievement if the season went slow
  • The campaign we are playing is fast-paced, since we don't meet that often. It means a lot of battling and interaction without proper full rests. That makes the game a bit hard for low-level players. And the full rests just don't fit in the campaign because of the fast-pacing
  • PCs mostly consist of Power Gamers, Slayers (and a Thinker) and they would enjoy leveling up and getting new skills a lot. And these games are meant to be fun.
  • I can see more opportunities of making the game more challenging for players at higher levels. But we have decided, that we don't want to play game where paragon path levels are just given for killing some rats.

These are the ways I have came up with so far:

  • Simply increase XP gained from combat

This would mean that I have to also increase loot and it would essentially be "leveling by killing rats" thing. Tho I would want to increase it a little bit

  • Increase frequency of combat by decreasing lengths of each individual combats

I have read that decreasing HP while increasing damage would do the trick. Sill, I am not that experienced as a GM and I fear a bit of killing them off by accident.

  • Give experience for having a good RP season

I would especially like this one, since it would also motivate players to role-play more. The reason PCs don't role-play as much is that they are as inexperienced as I am and this is just something new for everyone.

  • Using other methods that would allow players to battle more often

I read this question while researching and, although the question is quite the opposite of what I am looking for, few of the answers would fit as a solutions to my problem. I just wouldn't want things like bonus Action Points to become a regular thing.

So, the questions:

Could anyone please point me to issues any of my methods could cause and how to fix them?

Also - any input from experience and/or any other methods that would serve my purpose are welcomed!

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ There are a lot of different questions in this post, from "How can I use the 'brutal 4e' method to speed up combat without unintentionally killing my players?" to "How can I grant bonus XP without cheapening the leveling experience?" and "How can I use XP rewards to encourage my players' RP?" You might get better answers for each one if they were separated out into different posts, as trying to address all your many concerns in a single answer is daunting. I'm sure that someone one the chat would be willing to help with that if need be. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 13:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with @BESW. If you do ask about encouraging roleplay, though, it would be better to ask "How do I encourage roleplay?" For that question, XP rewards would be one answer of many. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 14:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ You're asking the wrong question. What you want to know is 'How do I make players level up quicker?' which is simple - decrease the amount of exp necessary to level up. It has the same effect as a blanket exp increase, but is much easier and needs less conversion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dakeyras
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 23:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also note: Just because YOU don't meet that often, doesn't mean your campaign has to be fast paced. For example, look at ars magica - where a single gaming session can span years. \$\endgroup\$
    – Benubird
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 7:10

2 Answers 2


Same answer as to how to deal with characters levelling too quickly.

Don't use XP. Just level the entire group at appropriate times - appropriate plot milestones for example. It removes a huge amount of busywork from the GM and players to calculate and award XP, avoids this problem entirely, avoids characters leveling at different times, etc. Our gaming group tried it once and never went back - it adds nothing for what it takes.

We've run four full year+ Pathfinder campaigns under this scheme and no one regrets it one bit. We level at the right rate for the game. In some cases (my pirate campaign) that's very slow - the PCs just hit level 7 and the campaign is 2.5 years along. In others we level right at the right aggressive pace for the Adventure Path or whatever we're using. No "the guy who missed some sessions is behind," no "but how does a new character catch up in level," no "let's spend an hour doing paperwork every game session," no "whoops the AP didn't give enough XP and now we have to go grind pigs to be tough enough for the next adventure..."

Some claim that XP serve as a positive motivator GMs can use to shape PC behavior. Well, by default the D&D experience system only rewards mass murder; adding story or roleplaying awards etc. requires a lot of changes anyway. A good GM doesn't need that and can reward desired behavior in-game or can use an alternate currency (we use FATE points grafted onto our Pathfinder, for example). The other question you cite has some things you can give besides XP, but really the joy of killing things and kewl loot are their own reward.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for Mass murder. I used to give XP and when the player would reach a point where they only need 10 XP (or so) to level up, they'll be looking for something to kill or ask me to round up. \$\endgroup\$
    – user4000
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 14:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ All that is easily eliminated nonsense. Pathfinder removed all of that - XP for crafting, XP for spell costs. It was a bad idea in the first place and doesn't hurt anyone to lose. If you need to restrict how many times a spell can be used, there are many other ways to do it - time, money, requiring specific items/times of year/sacrifices... With the bonus that those reasons then make sense in-game and aren't just a lame metagame construct. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 15:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Some players like gaining experience points and enjoy the feeling of the micro-progression their characters make as they achieve their goals. While this may be a good idea for some who don't care about those things, there are an equal number of people who do. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cypher
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 17:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Cypher Just give the player a laptop running Progress Quest while they wean themselves off of MMOs :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Tacroy
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 18:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can earn a lot of stuff in an RPG, the thought that it has to include XP is nothing but inertia from "but that's what we've always done" - saying it has any positive effect is ungrounded assumption. We usually level when we hit major plot milestones, and you have to work to get to those... \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 20:23

Simply increase XP gained from combat

Unless you're doing a strictly combative game I'd argue against this. It will influence your power gamers to choose combat over diplomacy because they want more XP. I'd give a blanket XP increase instead.

One other option that I've used is to do away with XP. Just tell the players when they level. When I do this I usually level them every 2 or 3 sessions because that's the pace I like. I find this adjustment easier than trying to figure out how much of an XP bonus to give to get the levels to happen at the right time.


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