Proficiency Bonus instead of XP

I was fooling around with non-XP level progressions and thought of this neat idea: use the Proficiency Bonus as the number of Adventuring Sessions required to level up.

 

Have a look at the way the Proficiency Bonus scales from levels 1-20. It's a nice gentle upward slope. We can use that.

 

Given a typical party, how much "Adventuring Time" should be required to level up? If you run a typical 4-hour adventuring session, the number of sessions required to level up is equal to your Proficiency Bonus.

 

Level 1->2: 1 adventure session

Level 2->3: 1 adventure session

Level 3->4: 2 adventure sessions

Level 4->5: 2 adventure sessions

Level 5->6: 2 adventure sessions

etc.

Level 19->20: 6 adventure sessions

 

If you have two adventuring sessions per month (every other week), that's 26 gaming sessions in a year. That's enough time to bring characters from level 1 to level 11...or level 11 to level 17 (roughly).

 

The DM doesn't have to follow this rule strictly and should feel free to level up the characters a session or two early or later, if that makes more sense. Also, those 8-hr marathon sessions might be worth 2 adventuring sessions, in terms of XP.

 

Another way this works is that it encourages player attendance. Personally, I have a large group of players in my campaign, but I never get all of them to show up at the same time. Each time we play it can be a bit of a rotating cast. If you don't attend a session, you're a session behind in XP. Sounds obvious, right? But how do you track and balance out all that XP? What if characters helped on the first half of the quest, but weren't at the next session where they completed the quest (and thus gained the XP)? What if one session is light on combat (and XP), but the next session was a grind fest? This method doesn't distinguish much between those details. If you play a fun and interesting gaming session, then your characters should gain "experience" in the world, both literally and figuratively, regardless of how many things you killed.

 

This goes along with the discussion in the recent WOTC article about leveling up. Should XP come largely from "killing" monsters? This isn't Diablo or WoW. It shouldn't matter if the players killed every single thing in the dungeon, or if they spent the whole time negotiating a deal with the Orc Warchief. Both could be time well spent playing. In fact, this method discourages players from doing things for pure XP reasons alone, because individual monsters don't give set XP. They're not going to "level up faster" just by grinding kills. And if the players WANT to kill every single animated skeleton in the Necromancer's Mansion of Pain, then you can hand-wave that as story. Unless you really want to spend several hours rolling attacks after attack against level 1 skeletons. Is it important to the story? No? Then skip it. 

 

Here's a table of the progression.

Level Prof Bonus / Sessions Required to Level Up Tot Num of Adventure Sessions played
1 1 1
2 1 2
3 2 4
4 2 6
5 2 8
6 2 10
7 3 13
8 3 16
9 3 19
10 3 22
11 4 26
12 4 30
13 4 34
14 4 38
15 5 43
16 5 48
17 5 53
18 5 58
19 6 64
20 6 70

 

Anyway, not sure if it would work for everyone's campaign, but it might be a neat option for non-XP based leveling module. And you don't have to use the Proficiency Bonus either, but I think it gives a nice even linear progression.

 

What do you guys think?

 

EDIT: the table looks great when I edit the post, but absolutely terrible when submitted. Thanks wotc forums!

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Nice! *stolen*

bawylie wrote:
Nice! *stolen*

haha, thanks!

 

I've been using this system since I started this new playtest campaign. We've played 4 adventuring sessions so far, but not everyone has attended every session. Even still, the PCs are all within a level of each other and I didn't have to add up a single encounters worth of XP. 

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Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

Huh.

That's quite interesting.

 

This kinda implies that there may well be some "deep math" behind DDN.   Damn I'm gonna love reverse engineering it.

Qmark wrote:

Huh.

That's quite interesting.

 

This kinda implies that there may well be some "deep math" behind DDN.   Damn I'm gonna love reverse engineering it.

Assuming 4 characters at level 10, an average encounter will be worth 900 XP. It would take roughly 23 of those average encounters to bring all 4 characters to level 11. If each gaming session has about 5-10** or so XP yielding encounters (and remember not all encoutners are "Combat" encounters), they will level up in 2-4 adventuring sessions.

 

Or you can look at the Proficiency Bonus for level 10. It's +3. That means a level 10 character will level up after 3 adventures. And 3, as you know, is directly between 2 and 4. Simple!

 

Let's look a little deeper...

If you take the average number of encounters needed to level up all the way from 1-20, it's around 300. Meaning, you need to complete roughly 300 encounters (each appropriate for your level at the time) to level to 20. 

Now, if you take the total number of "adventures required based on Prof Bonus" from 1-20, it's 64. You need to complete 64 gaming sessions to level up to 20.

Combining the two, we get about 5 average encounters per adventure session, times ~60 encounters = 300 encounters.

 

So yeah, as a spot check, I'd say the math works out pretty even between my method and actually calculating XP.

 

** This number is pretty accurate from my adventuring group. After each session I write up a list of all the "XP worthy" events. In a given session, they tend to get through 5-10 such events.

 

 

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Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

Great idea, Ramzour

 

The more alternatives the better. 

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Qmark wrote:

Huh.

That's quite interesting.

 

This kinda implies that there may well be some "deep math" behind DDN.   Damn I'm gonna love reverse engineering it.

 

Apophenia

 

Ramzour's idea is excellent, and but let's not accredit anything deeper to the game's advancement system.

Brilliant idea, Ramzour.  Really good.

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Reinhart wrote:
Qmark wrote:

Huh.

That's quite interesting.

 

This kinda implies that there may well be some "deep math" behind DDN.   Damn I'm gonna love reverse engineering it.

 

 

Apophenia

 

Ramzour's idea is excellent, and but let's not accredit anything deeper to the game's advancement system.

Only those who are "intentionally ignorant" will refuse to acknowledge a connection/pattern that actually exists. This one is too close to ignore; even if the designers didn't make/use it, it shows that they know what they're doing despite all the nay-sayers out there.

For my taste, this progression is a bit too fast at low levels...but I still think it's pretty great.

 

I might go something like this:

 

1 session for level 1

2 sessions for levels 2 and 3

3 sessions starting at level 4

 

And then follow proficiency progression as characters get to middle and higher levels.

 

Like I said, there's a lot of merit in this. I reserve the right to change my mind. Nice going, Ramzour!

Thanks everyone for the kind words!

 

@Reinhart:

You're right that this progression might not have been intentionally designed this way. It could be a coincidence that it works for my method. The scaling of the Prof Bonus is designed to be linear with a very tiny slope. It's primary function is to reward characters for their level without breaking Bounded Accuracy. It's designed to reflect their knowledge and experience gained over the course of their adventuring career. Wait...did I say "experience"? And full circle.

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Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

THEMNGMNT wrote:

For my taste, this progression is a bit too fast at low levels...but I still think it's pretty great.

 

I might go something like this:

 

1 session for level 1

2 sessions for levels 2 and 3

3 sessions starting at level 4

 

And then follow proficiency progression as characters get to middle and higher levels.

 

Like I said, there's a lot of merit in this. I reserve the right to change my mind. Nice going, Ramzour!

I hear you. Some flexibility is definitely required. For that very reason I had already added this little caveat:

Ramzour wrote:
The DM doesn't have to follow this rule strictly and should feel free to level up the characters a session or two early or later, if that makes more sense. Also, those 8-hr marathon sessions might be worth 2 adventuring sessions, in terms of XP.

So feel free to deviate from the pattern as best fits your group! =)

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Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

I think this a wonderful idea and connection you made here, Ramzour. It's like a module built into the game accidentally. For those that wish to avoid the tedium of experience points, this seems pretty much perfect. Maybe change it so you level once for each of the first two sessions, but other than that I really like this advancement. Kudos!

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Interesting idea Ramzour.  For those wanting to use a session based approach it likely is a very good starting point.   I'm not sure on low level advancement.  I like 2 sessions per level but that is minor.  You could just add a column that says X sessions is how many needed to reach this level.   Course if using level draining monsters you could have them drain session(s).   

 

Personally I don't mind x.p.   I'm not sure what I'll do though with 5e.  I'm starting to think that monsters being killed is a poor way to award x.p.  I like a bit more granularity though than just sessions.  Still a good contribution to the community as I am sure many here want a session based system.

 

 

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Nice module. I'll probably stick with my XP that are nebulously rewarded for things that are achieved (not just killing), but I could see this as a decent outline for an advancement arc. If I saw this in the DMG under experience, I'd try it out.

Kind of a cool idea but what happens when the players blow a whole session shopping for new boots? Then you have to go back and reconfigure the graph.

Sorry I've only DMed Encounters sessions and have had a few go by without getting anything accomplished.

Gonchar wrote:

Kind of a cool idea but what happens when the players blow a whole session shopping for new boots? Then you have to go back and reconfigure the graph.

Sorry I've only DMed Encounters sessions and have had a few go by without getting anything accomplished.

You don't have to reconfigure anything. Use your best DM judgement. If the players spend 2 hours "shopping", then 2 hours of solid good play, then still count it as a session. Maybe next time you'll have an extra long session to balance it out. It's a rough guideline, not a hard-fast rule. Feel free to change the required number of gaming sessions in order to level up by +/- 1 session.

 

If the players were unproductive for the entire gaming session, then don't count it towards leveling up. Also, ask yourself why you guys wasted 2-4 hours shopping for boots. 

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Make 5e Saving Throws better using Ramzour's Six Ability Save System!

 

Lost Mine of Phandelver: || Problems and Ideas with the adventure ||  Finding the Ghost of Neverwinter Wood ||

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

pretty much any system at all requires the DM to stop it from being blind stupid.

CelticPaladin wrote:

I think this a wonderful idea and connection you made here, Ramzour. It's like a module built into the game accidentally. For those that wish to avoid the tedium of experience points, this seems pretty much perfect. Maybe change it so you level once for each of the first two sessions, but other than that I really like this advancement. Kudos!

Thanks!

 

Yeah, obviously the first couple levels are going to be the biggest point of contention. You can easily extend a level up by requiring an extra session...especially if the session ends in the middle of a dungeon. You might, therefore, require that they take a Long Rest before receiving the benefit of a level up. Kind of like restarting your computer to install an update.

 

The beauty of a system like this, though, is that you don't need to track your TOTAL number of adventures to date, nor do you have to track your total number of XP to date. Instead, the number you need is relative only to your current level. At any given level (1, 4, 14, whatever), there will be X number of gaming sessions required before a LevelUp. At MOST that number is 6 (at really high levels). So deviating from this pattern doesn't really "change the curve" or anything like that. The XP required to level isn't linear anyway.

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Lost Mine of Phandelver: || Problems and Ideas with the adventure ||  Finding the Ghost of Neverwinter Wood ||

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

lawrencehoy wrote:

Only those who are "intentionally ignorant" will refuse to acknowledge a connection/pattern that actually exists. This one is too close to ignore; even if the designers didn't make/use it, it shows that they know what they're doing despite all the nay-sayers out there.

 

I've done "deep" analysis into the math behind the XP and challenge system they presented in Next. It was all noise, zero signal. That's not surprising though because technically there are huge design errors in the challenge math of every edition of D&D, including 4e. For instance, I discovered when designing new monsters for both Pathfinder and 4e that the threat of monsters doesn't scale proportional to their XP budget value or Challenge Rating. Therefore, the "math" behind challenge building is often quite wrong. Almost any implementation of "bounded accuracy" means that the XP budgetting for Next will have even worse properties. "Knowing what they're doing" may be in the eye of the beholder. From where I'm standing, they didn't before and they probably dont' now.

Emerikol wrote:

Interesting idea Ramzour.  For those wanting to use a session based approach it likely is a very good starting point.   I'm not sure on low level advancement.  I like 2 sessions per level but that is minor.  You could just add a column that says X sessions is how many needed to reach this level.   Course if using level draining monsters you could have them drain session(s).   

 

Personally I don't mind x.p.   I'm not sure what I'll do though with 5e.  I'm starting to think that monsters being killed is a poor way to award x.p.  I like a bit more granularity though than just sessions.  Still a good contribution to the community as I am sure many here want a session based system.

Thankfully, I think they did away with Level Draining Monsters! =) That was always a poor design anyway. I'd much prefer some huge Condition penalty than trying to undo your character sheet. The reduction of MaxHP works pretty well I think.

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Make 5e Saving Throws better using Ramzour's Six Ability Save System!

 

Lost Mine of Phandelver: || Problems and Ideas with the adventure ||  Finding the Ghost of Neverwinter Wood ||

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

I'll definitely consider using that system, but with the bonus relating to adventures rather than sessions. Keeps with the slower advancement I prefer.

 

lawrencehoy wrote:

 

Reinhart wrote:
Qmark wrote:

Huh.

That's quite interesting.

 

This kinda implies that there may well be some "deep math" behind DDN.   Damn I'm gonna love reverse engineering it.

 

 

Apophenia

 

Ramzour's idea is excellent, and but let's not accredit anything deeper to the game's advancement system.

Only those who are "intentionally ignorant" will refuse to acknowledge a connection/pattern that actually exists. This one is too close to ignore; even if the designers didn't make/use it, it shows that they know what they're doing despite all the nay-sayers out there.

D&D doens't need a "grand unifying theory" connecting everything.  It just takes several tables reverse engineered and extrapolated.

 

Figuring out the underlying formula for XP progression is going to be independent of figuring out to-hit progression.

Sword_of_Spirit wrote:
I'll definitely consider using that system, but with the bonus relating to adventures rather than sessions. Keeps with the slower advancement I prefer.

Yeah, I'd say that's also a reasonable approach. 

 

Personally, I don't mind the quicker advancement. We have 20 whole fun levels to play with. Why not play with them all? =)

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Make 5e Saving Throws better using Ramzour's Six Ability Save System!

 

Lost Mine of Phandelver: || Problems and Ideas with the adventure ||  Finding the Ghost of Neverwinter Wood ||

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

Oh I want to play with them all. I just want it to last 10 years. :-)

While it sounds like an interesting system what I do not like is the high increase for levelup at higher levels. At our groups we generally even it, that the amount of sessions needed for 3->4 is the same like for 16->17. If we feel it goes too fast we just make it that on all levels it needs another session.  Also *very* povital story points might count for 2 (and maybe very minor plots might count for 0.5).

 

MagicSN wrote:
While it sounds like an interesting system what I do not like is the high increase for levelup at higher levels. At our groups we generally even it, that the amount of sessions needed for 3->4 is the same like for 16->17. If we feel it goes too fast we just make it that on all levels it needs another session.  Also *very* povital story points might count for 2 (and maybe very minor plots might count for 0.5).

Yes, the higher levels DO tend to take longer to level up. This is typical for most XP progression charts.

 

However, definitely feel free to modify the progression rate. Using the Proficiency Bonus is merely a way to easily track XP in a more abstract way. Like I said, an extra long session might count as 2 whole gaming sessions. Or perhaps an especially productive session could count as two.

 

As an alternative, you could also use the Proficiency Bonus to count "milestones" instead of "adventuring time". You can define a milestone however you'd like.

"When they find the kidnapped NPC"

"What they defeat the boss"

"When they make it out of the haunted forest"

"When they avenge the death of their fallen NPC ally"

 

So they might go 2 sessions without completing a milestone, and then complete all 4 the next session. This lets you link the progression directly to the plot and the story.

 

The reason I don't like using that method is that it unfairly rewards which players are at the table that day. If one player spent 3 adventures leading up to a milestone, but missed the session where they reached all the milestones (and thus gained the XP), then the missing player really falls behind. Do you still award him some of the XP Milestones? Does he get 80%? What about the player that was ONLY there for the last session but missed the 3 beforehand? He gets full XP for a fraction of the playing time.

 

Rewarding XP per game session is the only real way to properly reward a player for the time they spend playing, without relying on killing monsters and plot lines. You could easily pick a different progression rate though. A level up after every 3 gaming sessions works out to roughly the same total number of sessions but the lower levels are very slow.

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Make 5e Saving Throws better using Ramzour's Six Ability Save System!

 

Lost Mine of Phandelver: || Problems and Ideas with the adventure ||  Finding the Ghost of Neverwinter Wood ||

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

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