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I remember reading somewhere that characters can gain general 'life' experience during story downtime, usually downtime that takes place over years of story line... Could someone (if anyone remembers where it's located) give me a reference to where I could find it?

My primary reason for asking is that my party's D&D 3.5e campaign is about to wind up, and I don't plan on starting the next campaign for about 5 years game time.

I remember suggestions being printed in a D&D book that stated that a character could gain levels over time outside of questing during down time. I would like my party to advance 1 level, or possibly 2 before starting the next campaign. Preferably with their current equipment, as they have been living the 'home' life, maybe making a little money through crafts of professions... Now, I could just tell them that's what happens, but I would like to have a more concrete basis than just telling them they gained an additional level or two randomly. This way they will not expect loot like they would if they had been adventuring, and they will have a little money saved up.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What is wrong with this question that it keeps getting downgraded? \$\endgroup\$ – AOKost Dec 13 '14 at 9:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is very... generic. Do you have any more pointers to what it could be? Was it about gaining experience points? Was it about NPCs? Did you found it in a limited set of books you used to read at that time or on the web? \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Dec 13 '14 at 10:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't heard or met such a system in D&D 3 or 3.5. I recently encountered the Pathfinder version of it. But that was only to "catch-up" after a raise dead, resurrection or missed game time, not to "get ahead". \$\endgroup\$ – DoStuffZ Dec 13 '14 at 12:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure that it was a D&D book and wasn't a 3rd-party OGL book? Are you sure it was a book, not something in a blog or elsewhere online? The more you can remember, the better the chance of anyone recognising what you're remembering. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 13 '14 at 19:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's honestly been so long since I recall reading about that system that it could have been in another d20 game setting or publisher. At the time I vaguely recalled it for D&D... I am very sorry for the high DC of this Knowledge check and is currently a moot point as my group has continued our story using something similar to what was suggested, just house-ruled in lou of an official citation. I will continue my search in a broader spectrum of settings. Thanks everyone for your time and patience! \$\endgroup\$ – AOKost Sep 25 '15 at 9:57
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It's going to be pretty difficult to track down a specific system like that, and it sounds like you already know what you want to do, so such a system is probably unnecessary. I've seen this kind of "a year passes, you gain a level" thing done narratively, and as long as you have an idea of what your characters would likely be doing over that break, you can tell them a short story about why they gained that level.

For example, let's say you have a group of characters who live in a town. Maybe you could say that they were gifted land and titles by that town in exchange for protection. They spend the next year fighting off minor threats, and their reward is a nicer home base and the title "Thane of Genericton". They don't get any loot, just respect and the sense that they belong somewhere.

This approach would have to be adapted to the situation of your characters, but I'm sure you can think of something that would give your characters xp, but wouldn't necessarily give traditional loot. I've found that players tend to really like having a nice home base that they can customize, so that's usually a good place to go.

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