Three ways to reward XP in your tabletop RPG games

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It may seem mundane in this world of fantasy and adventure, but you gotta do the bookkeeping.

Someone has to track experience points, and when you’re planning your new campaign, you have to decide how you’re going to do it.

Dungeons & Dragons advises you to award experience points for defeating monsters. You take the XP reward and divide it among the party.

But it’s not the only way.

You can reward XP for more than just killing monsters or toss XP out the window entirely. It all depends on how you like to do things.

Let’s explore a few options.

XP only

This is the traditional method. Kill a crew of orcs. You get the XP.

But what about noncombat encounters and roleplaying? Shouldn’t the party get rewarded for retrieving that weapon for that one NPC? Or for disabling a trap? Or for the hour-long roleplay session that involved negotiating with a king?

Maybe you think XP only comes from combat, and that’s cool. But if you want, you can easily assign XP rewards to those noncombat encounters. Depending on the difficulty of the quest or the trap or the roleplay, assign it a challenge rating just like a monster and hand out that XP to the crew.

Story Rewards

Instead of awarding XP for every little battle or encounter, do it per session.

If you know it will take five sessions to get from levels 6 to 7, give them ⅕ of the XP at the end of every session until they reach that level. That way, they get well rewarded no matter what sorts of obstacles they face.

It’s also extremely easy on you. It does take some planning (estimating how long it’ll take for them to get to the next level), but once you figure it out, it’s easy to track.

Milestones

Instead of awarding XP, you can award levels. Straight-up.

It’s easier than it sounds. Instead of adding up all the XP every time they have a fight or noncombat encounter or whatever, you give the party all their XP for a single level when they complete a significant milestone.

That can be when they find an important artifact in an adventure or when they finish an entire dungeon.

It’s effective because it marks a significant accomplishment, so your players will feel well-rewarded for their efforts. It’s also easier than tracking every little point.

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