When awarding XP in Hackmaster 5th edition, is the experience earned by each character individually or is it earned by the entire party and then divided for each character?

The reason I ask this is because if it's earned individually, the next adventure I have planned for my party is going to catapult them to 7th level if I follow the information in the GMG about 16 encounters and the XP for number of PCs and level.

I've been scouring the GMG and Player's Handbook looking for this answer and I can't seem to find it.


I can't find any specific mention in the rulebook, which I find a little odd. However, the impression I always had, which I have just confirmed with a read through the relevant portions of the book, is that experience awards are intended to be split between those PCs participating in the specific achievement for which the award is given. But not split equally among all PCs at all times.

The grid in the Gamemaster section on suggested encounter strength (page 198 of the free basic rules) shows experience awards increase with the number of players. This only makes sense if the intent is to split that total among all PCs.

The section on Experience Yield in the sample adventure shows some pretty small awards for some pretty specific achievements (e.g. "Figuring out that the Orcs only appear on stormy nights (10 EP)," on page 205). I've inferred these awards are meant to be given only to the PC or PCs who directly contribute to that goal.

The section discussing Story Awards (page 198) also suggests assigning half the Story EP to achieving the final objective and reserving the other half to be awarded "as you see fit (rewarding clever play or meeting interim objectives)."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I have contacted kenzer and company on their official forums. According to many posts that I have received the above answer is sufficiently accurate. The intent is to split experience awarded amongst the group. \$\endgroup\$ – Daxon Khaed Oct 16 '16 at 4:20

Using chapters 10 of the GMG and 15 of the PHB one can find the following information:

  • ‘At the end of a 5th level adventure, the party should have enough EPs to advance to sixth level.’ (Though read on for the disclaimers.)
  • ‘Ideally, the adventure should consist of 16 separate encounters each of which comprise monsters with an aggregate experience value appropriate for the mean character level and party size.’
  • Using a four-person party of fifth level, they use table 10.1 to find an appropriate encounter strength in experience points, ‘about 16 encounters of about 181 EPs each, worth around 2896 EPs total.’
  • As Longspeak points out, the idea appears to be that half the awards should be encounters and the rest story awards; this is indeed specifically said on GMG p. 189: ‘The EPs above are only half the total. Story Awards should add an additional amount equal to the encounter EPs.’
  • From PHB p. 265 we can infer that a character needs 1200 XP to reach level 5, since \$3400-2200=1200\$.

Thus, it is clear that the experience award is supposed to be split amongst the party members, since

\begin{array}{rcl} \frac{\left(\text{story award}\;+\;\text{encounter award}\right)} {4} & = \\ \frac{\left(2896 + 2896\right)} {4} & = \\ \frac{5792} {4} & = & 1448 \end{array}

This number is quite close to the number necessary to achieve a new level in a single adventure, and also allows some leeway, should the PCs choose to withdraw after few encounters on some occations, or fail to achieve some of the adventure’s goals.

In conclusion: The sum of XP should be divided between all PCs as they were involved. Remember, though, that if the PCs have henchmen, sidekicks or protégés, these should have a share of the XP, as well as be awarded honour points. Specifically it is said, GMG p. 184, that

If the NPC participated fully in the adventure, i.e. he partook in the same risks as the PCs, then he receives a one-half share of the experience for the adventure (after-all, these NPCs are not full-fledged PCs and are under the direction of a PC).

In other words, it is important to remember to include the NPCs when counting the number of players involved, for calculating the appropriate per-encounter XP award.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your edit, +SevenSidedDie; it greatly improved readability. I tried having fractions like that, but have never written in MathJax, so now I’ll study your edit to better understand how it works. \$\endgroup\$ – Canned Man Apr 20 '17 at 15:14
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ here's a meta link to some description of the features available in MathJax. Be careful to note that our MJ environment delimiters are different from those in the linked summary. But once you've started and stopped a block of MJ in one of our posts, everything else will work the same. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Apr 20 '17 at 15:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's no need to call out my name. I just edit a minor usage matter on @Longspeak 's post. Also... It's @ here, not +. In fact, I added a link to your post. As silly as it may seem to link to the same page, it's the best way to do it. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Jun 22 '17 at 20:33

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