What would different XP tracks look like in practice?
My last blog post looked at the idea of having characters level at different rates. I called this asymmetric at the time, but I’m not sure that’s quite right. I mean, they’re all getting XP for the same things, so it’s not truly asymmetry – it’s just they advance at different speeds.
I thought I’d throw out a worked example, to show what it might look like.
Take the D&D5 campaign, Curse of Strahd. The rear blurb announces this is for character levels 1-10. I immediately decide this means, by the end of the adventure:
- Adventurers will be around level 10
- Farmboys will reach level 12
- Veterans will reach level 9
- All characters will be equal level around level 7
So I create an XP table with the following key points in place
Then, it’s a relatively simple job of filling in the blanks. First I make a couple of general assumptions:
- I want Veterans to start at level 3, and to be ahead of the Adventurers at every level up til they hit 7 together.
- I want Farmboys to be around 1.5 levels behind Adventurers until 4th level, and to have a fairly even progression throughout
- I can broadly split the difference for Veteran level 8
- I want to share as few leveling milestones as possible, to increase the chance of characters leveling at different times (and sharing the joy this brings!)
Using those two assumptions, my modified table now looks like this:
Basically, the farmboy has progression increase by just 1k per level, with 2,000XP from 2nd to 3rd, 3,000 from 3rd to 4th. It takes a slight jump in the middle, to align with my desired parity level at 7th, but then resumes at 6,000 for 8th, 7,000 for 9th and jumps slightly at the end with 11,000XP for 11th to 12.
Other Considerations: Hit Points and Death Saves
As I said before, probably the main difference between levels if you’re not a spell-caster is just the number of hit points you have. I suggested you might tweak Death saves to even this out, but I think you can do a bit more than that just to even things out.
- Farmboy: you have to fail on 4 Death Saves to be killed. However, after the parity point, you get -2 HP per level
- Veteran: you have to fail on 2 Death saves to be killed. However, after the parity point, you get +3 HP per level.
I’m sure you could do a lot more to tweak this further, including reducing the number of skills Farmboys start with and even tinkering with Hit Dice. But for me, this does enough to make things interesting without introducing too many new rules (and possible imbalances!)