Experience is your key to power, helping you to discover new abilities and reach higher peaks of strength. But you don't gain experience by staying in your comfort zone—the only way to grow is to push beyond your limits and brave the dangers of the world.
With Active XP, you don't gain experience for simply killing monsters—instead, you gain experience by being active in one of three fields of adventure: discovery, recovery, and adversity.
Recovery: Recover treasure and valuables from uncivilized, monstrous, or abandoned areas—gemstones from an ancient tomb, a dragon's hoard, a hidden chest of jewels.
You gain 10 XP per gold piece (1 XP per silver piece) of recovered treasure, making this the most efficient means of gaining experience.
Leave your comfort zone behind, go adventuring in the dangerous wilds, and get into trouble—take risks, overcome challenges, and reap the rewards.
Don't use the standard 5e leveling table with Active XP—instead, use the Character Advancement table listed below. This demonstrates the amount of experience a character needs to spend per level in order to level up.
When you gain XP, you can spend it to level up. If the Training rules () are in play, spend the XP after you have completed the required training time.
Valiant, a 1st-level cleric, returns to Darrowmore with 250 XP and a rare, golden goblet worth 10 GP. He donates the goblet to his church and gains 100 XP.
Now at 350 XP, Valiant has enough experience to level up. After a week of training, he spends 300 XP to advance to 2nd-level—leaving 50 XP remaining.
Use the following guides to determine the amount of XP a character should be awarded for their in-game actions.
Discovery and adversity rewards depend on two main factors: the Challenge Level of the area, and the Relative Difficulty experienced by the party. Follow the three steps below to determine the XP reward.
First, you must decide the Challenge Level—this is the minimum level characters are expected to be in this particular area or adventure. A higher CL implies more dangerous monsters, traps, and challenges.
Most civilized areas—villages, towns, cities—will be CL0. It's no challenge to live in a sanctuary.
As a starting point, you can base the Challenge Level on the average level of the adventure or current area being explored by the players.
Next, choose the Relative Difficulty—this describes how dangerous or difficult the event was for the party. Did they lose precious resources, or barely break a sweat?
A challenge is more rewarding the harder it is to overcome—trivial encounters are not rewarding at all.
|Trivial||x 0||The PCs were far overpowered|
|Easy||x 0.5||The task was no trouble at all|
|Normal||x 1||The task proved to be a minor inconvenience or obstacle|
|Hard||x 2||The party lost some precious resources and had a hard time|
|Extreme||x 4||The party lost nearly all their resources, or someone died|
|Insane||x 8||The PCs were underpowered and survived against all odds|
When you choose the Relative Difficulty, consider the number of resources the party expended. Hit points, hit dice, spell slots, valuable items, wealth—the more resources lost, the higher the relative difficulty.
Once you know the Challenge Level and the Relative Difficulty, you can calculate the experience gained as:
Character XP: Challenge Level x Relative Difficulty
Party XP: Character XP x Party Size
To demonstrate this, we see Chansi use lockpicking to avoid a dangerous fight. She gains some XP as a reward for using her skills to safely overcome a threatening situation.
Chansi is currently exploring the Vault of Sorrow, an area designed for 3rd-level characters. To hide from a patrol of skeletons, she quietly unpicks a locked door and slips out of sight—avoiding a dangerous fight.
The GM decides to award her some adversity XP for the effort. As the CL is 3 (6 XP) and the lock was of normal (x1) difficulty, Chansi receives 6 XP.
Next, we see Valiant and Clanda discover a hidden entrance to a secret dungeon. They barely manage to survive a battle against its dangerous guardians, and are rewarded with a sizable amount of XP for their efforts.
In the Nightless Forest, a dangerous area for 5th-level characters, Valiant and Clanda finally uncover a long-hidden entrance to the Shattered Underhall.
The GM awards some discovery XP. The CL is 5 (12 XP) and they had a hard (x2) time finding the entrance, so Valiant and Clanda each receive 24 XP.
Deep within the Underhall, they battle against the Court of Lies—though eventually victorious, they spend many resources and almost die in the process.
The GM awards some adversity XP for the battle. The Shattered Underhall is CL 5 (12 XP) and they nearly died fighting an extreme (x4) battle against the Court, so Valiant and Clanda each receive 48 XP.
Characters gain experience by recovering lost treasures and bringing them back to civilization, gaining 10 XP per gp of treasure—precious gems, priceless art, rare jewelry.
The amount of treasure found on an adventure depends on two primary factors: the Challenge Level of the area, and the Threat Rating of the treasure's guardians.
First, determine the Challenge Level of the area—this establishes the base amount of treasure (for one player) that should be found throughout the adventure.
The higher the CL, the bigger the danger—but the more treasure you are likely to find.
Next, determine the Threat Rating of the treasure's guardians. If there's no threat, there's no treasure—someone else will have looted anything of value long before the party arrive.
You'll need to find and face the biggest threats if you want to recover the rarest treasures—so be bold.
|None||x 0||A handful of weak opponents|
|Low||x 0.5||A band of badly organized foes|
|Average||x 1||A small force with one or more notable leaders|
|High||x 2||A well-armed force with several tiers of leadership|
|Extreme||x 4||A large force with formidable strength and influence|
|Legendary||x 8||A legendary monster such as a dragon, a beholder, or a lich.|
Once you know the Challenge Level and Threat Rating, you can calculate the amount of treasure to be recovered throughout the adventure:
Treasure: Challenge Level x Threat Rating
Hoard: Individual Treasure x Party Size
To demonstrate this in action, below is an outline for a 1st-level adventure—the Tomb of the Bone Prince.
The GM is building an adventure for four 1st-level characters, with a CL of 1 (7 gp) and an average (x1) threat rating. This means that the party should find around 28 gp (7 x 4) of actual treasure in the adventure (not including any random silver or gold).
The GM scatters the treasure across 7 encounters:
Here, Valiant and Chansi return to town with some recovered treasure in hand. Chansi sells her treasure for gold, while Valiant donates his treasure to his church.
Chansi and Valiant return to Darrowmore from their expedition into the Rat's Nest. Chansi carries a jade figurine worth 12 gp. She sells it to a local collector, exchanging the figurine for 12 gp and 120 XP.
Valiant also found some treasure—a rare book of holy scripture worth 12 gp. He donates the book to his local church, gaining 0 gp and 120 XP.
The experience gained from any treasure returned to civilization is split equally across everyone who helped obtain it—including helpers, followers, and henchmen.
Solo Treasure: Stealing or hiding treasure from the rest of the party doesn't grant you extra XP—when you gain XP for treasure, everyone gets an equal cut.
When the group wasn't looking, Clanda secretly palmed an extra ruby from the treasure pile—she later sells it to gain 7 gp and 70 XP. Clanda keeps the gold but shares the XP with the rest of the party.