I'm starting off a new 5th edition campaign, which will hopefully be running long term. We've played some 13th Age and one of the things the players really enjoyed was the Incremental advancement system.

In 13th Age, at certain milestones (we used the end of every session), characters can take on an aspect of their next level. This includes a bonus to attack/defense, extra hit points, talents, powers, a feat or an ability bonus, or an icon relationship.

It seems that just about every class in 5th edition gains something at every level, whether it be new spells, class features, or proficiency bonus. We're also planning on porting icon relationships over, so that will be an option for at least a few of the level ups.

Does 5th edition have an equivalent/ comparable incremental advance system that would keep the same feel? I don't currently have the DMG, so an answer that simply states this information exists and gives a page number would be acceptable.

If it doesn't currently come pre-packaged with 5th edition, are there any major issues with implementing the incremental advance system as it stands into 5th edition? Is access to higher level features/ spells going to majorly unbalance the classes compared to each other? Are there few enough class features per level that incremental advance is unnecessary?

I'm expecting the PC's to level up every 3-4 sessions, if that changes any of the answers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Question for 5e DMs/players - Is 3-4 sessions the usual timing for level advancement? I got the impression it was faster than this (especially at low levels)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Adeptus
    Mar 16, 2015 at 23:15
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Adeptus DMG p. 261 suggests 1 session each for the first two levels and 2-3 for subsequent ones. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Apr 1, 2020 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


No, this does not exist in 5e.

Implementing it in 5e may be less satisfying, since the increase in proficiency bonus covers many of the incremental advancement options from previous rulesets in one swoop.

So for the fighter, for example, you'd have two options - the one feature they get every level or the proficiency advance they get every 5th level. It's pretty difficult to make that incremental. Even with something like a druid, they get a spell advance and then 0-2 other improvements. Within a single level there's not enough advance, on average, to break it up much.

Another way to implement incremental advancement is to let the character apply the next larger proficiency bonus to one of (attacks, saves, skill checks) per level they go up (not between levels). That seems pretty fiddly, though, and lets someone min-max what they're already good at levels ahead of time.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It is a good answer. Also, if we ignore the crafting part, downtime activities like learning a new weapon, tool, cantrip, research a spell and so forth can be adapted to get that feeling. And can be made progressive. For example, learning a cantrip could be "you can use it one time per day, two times per day, three times per day, you have mastered the cantrip and can be used unlimited times". Same with weapons, tools and proficiency. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chepelink
    Apr 1, 2020 at 15:57

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