An Innovative XP System: Buying Your Next Level

Today, I’m sharing an interesting XP system from Wizard of Adventure @valenpendragon where you buy your next level.

This method of XP came up during last Saturday’s monthly Wizard of Adventure Q&A call. Speaking of which, Wizards of Adventure: the call recording (MP4, MP3, transcript) from Saturday is now available here.

I found the system intriguing, and when valenpendragon offered to do a write-up of it on the forum, I readily accepted. Here’s what he shared:

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Hero Points and Other Reward Currencies for 5E (and Non-Level Based Systems)

Here’s how I usually handle XP to greatly reduce leveling due to killing stuff. It also incorporates my take on rewarding people for good roleplaying, achieving milestones, great solutions to challenges, etc.

TFT stands for The Fantasy Trip, a system in which XP buys up 8 stat points and spells/talents thereafter. It has no concept of leveling, per se.

Leveling Up

D&D: 15 Level Points are required to “purchase” a new level. Level Points can be given out as direct XP for completing an adventure.

There is no maximum for Level Points, but I recommend trading them in during play breaks to get the full benefit of level-ups.

TFT: 1 Level Point is equivalent to 100XP. So, 5 LPs will buy a new skill or spell.

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Hero Points

I like the concept of Hero Points. Per the DMG, players get 5 + (Character Level/2), rounded down, Hero Points at each level that do not stack between levels. There is no carry-over of spare HPs.

A player can apply an HP after a d20 roll is made, but before the final result is tallied and applied. Once for any roll, the HP adds an additional d6 to the die roll or 3 points (my rule). The player must decide which option before rolling the d6.

I like the idea of players being able to acquire more points via their other reward options. This process allows players who want to replenish the points they use more often than each level to do so.

Maximum: 5 + Character Level/2, rounded down. Replenishes when the character levels up.

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Roleplaying Points

Good roleplaying earns RP Stars. These convert at:

  • 25 RPs for a Hero Point
  • 35 RPs for a Level Point

The reason for the steep prices here is that there are many good opportunities to roleplay well during game sessions. The maximum encourages regular trade-ins.

Maximum: 75 RPs.

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Challenge Points

Challenge Points are rewarded for overcoming challenges at a rate of 1 CP per level of difficulty to the challenge. CPs can be traded in as well:

  • 15 CPs for a Hero Point
  • 25 CPs for a Level Point

Challenges are also frequent, especially during adventures. Again, the maximum is intended to encourage frequent trade-ins.

Maximum: 75 CPs.

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Resolving major milestones in adventures are rewarded with Milestones. These are very valuable and can only be used to buy Level Points. Completing a long adventure can result in receiving MSs and LPs.

  • 10 Milestones for 1 Level Point

There is no maximum for Milestones, but I recommend trading them in for Level Points often.

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Basically, we’ve got five currencies here. This might seem complex at first, but they can all convert to the primary one, Hero Points, for leveling up or acquiring/improving abilities.

In exchange for this intricacy, the GM gains an easy way to decide how to reward different aspects of gameplay.

  • First, we’ve got Hero Points to track leveling up.
  • Second, Hero Points help smooth out swingy rolls and unbalanced encounters.
  • Third, Roleplaying Points reward moments when players portray their characters well, make great in-character decisions, or resolve conflicts without combat.
  • Fourth, Challenge Points offer ways to reward clever play, solving problems, and defeating obstacles.
  • Finally, Milestones feed Plotline and narrative accomplishments.

Right now, you might struggle figuring out how many D&D 5E XP a particular gaming moment is worth. How much represents a decent award? How much is too much? What if advancement becomes too fast? And, is defeating a goblin worth the same as making a great pun?

With valenpendragon’s approach, you have a category for each type of reward you want to mete out. Categories convert to XP (Level Points), which means multiple aspects of play can convert to XP without worry over balance and whatnot.

In addition, players are presented with interesting choices on whether to convert points to gain a level or cash them in for some other purpose. In today’s example, Hero Points can be cashed in for XP or re-rolls. You could apply this design thinking to your other reward currencies as you see fit.

And that’s why I’m sharing these ideas with you today. You might not use valenpendragon’s exact system, but you could file off the serial numbers and apply parts of the approach you like to your campaign.

For example, you might want to add a treasure category for loot earned, or a legendary feat category when PCs perform fame-worthy deeds. Treasure Points and Legend Points convert to XP at a ratio you specify. And, perhaps, players can also cash in Legend Points for bonuses/advantage on charisma or social checks.

Have more fun at every game!

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