Simplified Experience (3.5e Variant Rule)
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The Reason for this Variant
The title of this section is also known as, "Why the old 3.5 experience tables suck". Some of the reasons are...
- The old system is not intuitive. For example, how much XP does a level 8 character have? How about a level 10 character? Level 15?
- The old system did not allow for small rewards to be meaningful. DMs are often stingy with XP, expecting players to be impressed with 100 to 500 XP at mid-to-high levels. Oooh, 500 XP when I need to gain another 12,000 to level. Oooooh.
- The old system did not easily allow the correct perspective for how XP works. Much like the previous point, this new variant allows everyone to easily have the same perspective on exactly how much XP is given.
What this Variant Isn't
This variant doesn't actually change much in-game. Thus, it does not...
- Change how fast people gain XP unless the DM wants it to be faster or slower.
- Change how LA or ECL and the like work.
- Fix crafting or XP-spending rules.
How this Variant Works
Each level takes 1,000 XP to gain the next level. That is it.
This means that one is easily able to find how much XP is needed to get to the next level by multiplying their level by 1,000.
- A level 5 character requires 5,000 total XP to become level 6.
- A level 11 character requires 11,000 total XP to become level 12.
- A level 18 character requires 18,000 total XP to become level 19.
- Note that this is total XP, and not what is required to go from one level to the next.
Lower/High Level Characters
In order to bring lower-level characters and to slow down higher-level characters, as per the original rules, when a party would gain XP increase or reduce the amount of XP gained by 25% for every level a given character is lower or higher than the average party level respectively by 25% per level. Thus, a character 2 levels higher would gain 50% less XP when XP would be awarded, while a character 3 levels lower would gain 75% more XP when XP would be awarded.
Results of Using this Variant
It's important to understand the role of XP. XP isn't something that's there just to level up. It's there as a reward that the DM uses to shape player behavior (much like a Skinner box, or the response of Pavlov's dogs).
When players do something you approve of, award XP. This can be as much or as little as you want, and players will rarely be dissatisfied with 200 XP regardless of what level they are.
This does not mean that players should automatically gain XP when defeating monsters--though that's entirely possible. Instead, players may only receive XP at the end of quests (though this should be a bigger amount due to how rarely they gain this XP) or complete specific objectives.
However, if you must give XP for a fight, it's easy to adjust this to the CR rules. Split the total example XP amongst the characters, adjusting the EL (encounter level) to the party's average level. (Numbers in parentheses are totals per character assuming 4 characters.)
- If a fight has an EL equal to the party's level, grant 400 XP. (100 XP each)
- If a fight has an EL one level higher than the party's level, grant 600 XP. (150 XP each)
- If a fight has an EL two levels higher than the party's level, grant 800 XP. (200 XP each)
- If a fight has an EL three levels higher than the party's level, grant 1200 XP. (300 XP each)
- If a fight has an EL four levels higher than the party's level, grant 1600 XP. (400 XP each)
It's also easy to change this if the fight is lower than the party's level.
- If a fight has an EL one level lower than the party's level, grant 300 XP. (75 XP each)
- If a fight has an EL two levels lower than the party's level, grant 200 XP. (50 XP each)
- If a fight has an EL three levels lower than the party's level, grant 150 XP. (37 XP each)
- If a fight has an EL four levels lower than the party's level, grant 100 XP. (25 XP each)
The reason for this is that every +2 or -2 change in EL is a doubling or halving of the power of an encounter respectively. For other systems, change accordingly depending on how CR/EL works.
Because each point of XP is worth much more in this system, we have the following change to the XP cost that would be expended by various abilities such as crafting, spells that require XP expenditure, and so on:
- Divide the number of XP that would be spent by the level of the of the character, rounded up.
- Thus, if a level 7 character would be required to spend 200 XP on something, instead they spend 29 XP.