How to give XP to my players?

Hi guys!

I have found OL just a few days ago and I already love the system, of course, there are some things that are confusing to me, one of which is Awarding XP.

Don’t get me wrong I get that you award the XP however you like and that characters level up when they have 3 XP, and that you should not give XP willy-nilly, as characters are already strong at level 1, but I really think that there should be a real system to it.

One of the XP mechanics I like is in Dungeon World, which is a Powered by the Apocalypse system, where you “give” XP every time the character fails their roll and in that why they learn from their mistakes. That means that even though a character can never lose a fight, or never win one, they can learn and progress.

Now my “problem” with Awarding XP is I am extremely bad at it. I am one of those GMs that is always on players side and would like to award them a lot but do not think that all should level at the same time. And I know that there are Legend Points just made for that ( thank you @Great_Moustache for the guide how to deal with that), but then I will not know how to give XP, as I would give Legend Points a lot.

As I said I like the system in Dungeon World, and I was thinking of implementing something similar, and as I have never run OL, I need your opinion and suggestions.
There is only one rule:

  • GM gives XP everytime the action roll is less than the Challenge Rating

With all the exploding dice and the number of dice that increase through the game, this should not happen that often. If fails do happen a lot, alternatively, there could be 9 XP (9 failed rolls) per level, and characters get 1 attribute point per XP, and 1 feat point per 3 XP ( the same distribution as it is right now).

So what do you guys think does this sound ok, is it even plausible, or should I stick with Big Milestones and Time Player methods :grey_question:

I do not know if your method is good or bad. So I’ll just make comments on how to make it more balanced as I understand it.

  1. Rewarding failures will result in a lot of accruement of points (either xp or points to trade in for xp)
  2. Players should be rolling a lot in play, combat even more so
  3. If players must track the number of fails the have made, a level of complexity and room for error will arise.

Depending on how long your sessions are, I would suggest a point accrument rate of 1 point per hour with X amount of points = 1 XP where X = total hours of play.

In this way, you limit the max amount of xp gained to 1 or less xp per session, however, you reward players for their failures and give them a sense of progression.

Example: my sessions typically run 3 hours. I would require my players to accrue 3 failures in the session to earn 1 xp at end of session.

This raises a problem: in knowing what they need to do to accrue points and level, they may attempt things impossible for the sole purpose of acquiring points. Because of this, i would encourage the rewarding of points only for meaningful actions that come with meaningful consequences for failure. Simply trying to seduce an npc with no merit or point to it related to story would not be worthy of points even if the player failed.

This is going to send some of your players shooting up the levels extremely quickly, I would really not recommend it. XP is worth a LOT more in OL than in PbtA games, and you make a lot more rolls in general.

The dice rolls are also different, OL uses more dice and bigger dice, which increases the variation of results. There are more attributes, which would allow players to earn XP by rolling on low skills and then use that XP to level up their high skills; they could keep their Learning at 0 and keep trying to recall obscure bits of history, earning XP as fast as you let them. Also with Boon Focus, a very popular feat, you punish players for the bonus they receive of not having to roll for the boon.

If I were you I’d stick to milestones, both positive and negative. Whenever the party achieves something that matters to them, give them XP to boost the feeling of triumph, whenever something dreadful happens to them, give them XP to represent them learning and growing. The dreadful thing should be narratively important though, not an individual dice roll.


While I understand why rewards for failed rolls sounds good, remember that in OL there aren’t (or aren’t supposed to be) plain failures anyway, hence the Success with a Twist/Fail Forward mechanic. This mechanic is especially for important rolls, the ones you proposed to reward via XP or XP replacement.

Chapter 8 gives some basic outline on XP rewards, proposing to either give XP for milestones or per session. This however also depends on the type and targeted length of the campaign.

What I can recommend is to just try it out, see what happens. Play a test game/campaign and use whatever awarding system you feel is appropriate, make sure your players know this of course.

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It depends on how fast your looking to level them. If you’re long for a typical 1 to 20 D&D campaign kind of feel like I’m using I do their level as # of sessions to award XP. Example: level 1 1 xp per session, level 2 1 xp per 2 sessions, level 3 1xp per 3 sessions, etc. I think the whole thing takes about 2 1/2 years to go from 1 to 10.

Adjust for milestone feel. If you think at level 2 it will take them 6 sessions getting an XP every 2 (2 sessions to sneak in and infiltrate the cult, another 2 to find who on the council is a cult member an final 2 to defeat cult leader) to bring down the cult infiltrating the town and it takes them 7 that’s fine. If it takes them 10 you might want to throw another XP in there.

The are a several circumstances when you mark XP in Dungeon World. Other than rolling a 6-, you mark XP when you resolve a bond, play your alignment, or answer one of the three end of sessions affirmitively. I’m a fan of the latter (end of session questions). I’ve used it in other systems, and I plan on adapting it for Open Legend. Since answering three questions at the end of the session would level PCs very quickly in Open Legend, I’m going to break each XP into another currency that you use to buy XP (and idea that comes from Mage: The Awakening 2e and probably other Chronicles of Darkness games, which calls it beats). You can control how fast people gain XP by tweaking the cost. I posted some obsolete musings about it in another thread. The big difference is I decided to keep the legend point economy as-is. I want my players creating interesting situations by invoking their flaws. :smiley:


Thank you all for replying, this has given me new information in the OL and the levelling system, I will try and answer everyone.

1XP in OL is really more like 1 level in other RPG (if not even more than that, cause you get 3 attribute points per XP). A player can get a feat to fly just by getting a level in OL, which should not really be that easy.

It may seem like that at first but it usually does not, it is just one of the things that you do after a failed roll while the GM continues the story, or so it is like that in Dungeon World, here maybe it will be harder.

I wanted my players to get more XP per session, but that would not be a good thing as you all said they will level too quickly, way too quickly.

I do not really like metagaming, and I tell players that I do not like when they do that. If they try to abuse the system I would still use my power as a GM to not give anything (cause as the rules say GM gives XP however he wants), I would just say that they do not know something and that it would be redundant to roll for it. (Do not make players roll for traps if there are clearly none)
As for the Boon Focus, it is not punishment if they know already what they are doing, and they can not learn anything new. But I get what you are telling me.

I have tested " my system" on Roll20 with some pre-gen characters. The distribution of rolls was mostly as I expected, they failed only 3 times in 3 encounters, but as you all said and as I wrote in the beginning of this post even one XP is very strong in OL. So this will not work.

My problem is I suck at awarding my players, that is why I wanted a system that would do it instead of me, what can I say I am the lazy one. Session-based awarding seems like the most used, and maybe I should learn how to do it. :smiley:

It is good to see there are other people that like levelling in DW, so do not sound crazy to myself. :smiley:
The discussion in the other thread is very helpful.
I think that Legend points should not be substitution for XP parts (I will call them that) as they are points for good role play, such as using Perks and Flaws (or Insincts as you call them) and should not be in any way connected to levelling.
As I wrote in my main post, I do like the XP parts idea, but as @Novama pointed out maybe it can be too hard for players to keep track. So maybe only GM keeps track.

The questions at the end of the session sound awesome (I forgot about them), and I also like that if no questions are answered after few sessions something needs to change.

I think we should make a guide of how many XP parts would be needed for real XP per level, for GMs that are bad XP distribution like me. :upside_down_face:

XP as a reward for Roleplaying is not a bad thing in any way, and it makes sense for it to be related to leveling. Several systems do exactly that.

What do you want the players to do in the game you are running? If you want them to kill lots of creatures, you should award them for that. If you want them to roleplay their characters, reward them for that. If you want them to interact with each other’s characters, you reward them for that. If you want them to collect treasure and magical items, you reward them for that. If you want them to successfully run a business, you reward them for that.

What you reward a player for tells you what your game is about. This is why the way to give out XP isn’t not strictly defined, but left up to the GM “as they see fit”. It is because that helps reflect and inform the players what you want from them to a degree.

This is why I have defined my Legend Point system that was referenced the way I have. I want to encourage my players to think about what their Character wants (goals), what their characters believe in (beliefs),and I want to give my characters some free things (instincts). However, those only benefit them if they roleplay them in a meaningful way and/or a roll is involved (Goals & Beliefs), or if it gets them and/or the party into trouble of some sort (Instincts & flaws). All 4 of those are optional things though, but they are rewarded with the Legend Points.

You can do the same thing with XP, award the players based on what you want from them in the game, for the type of game you are running.

As far as XP per session, that is pretty straight forward, you give 1 XP per session, but how do you define a session. Is it 2 hours, is it 4 hours, is it 6 hours? So 1 XP for roughly every 3~4 hours.

If you are plalying 1x a week, with 27 XP to give out, 1 XP a session would take you about 6~8 months depending on Holidays and breaks.

So the other question you have to ask yourself is, how long is the campaign we are playing? Or we planning for X sessions? Are we planning to just keep going until we want to stop? etc etc.

The type of campaing you are playing and the length is important for you to determine how you want to give out XP.

You can simply give an XP after each “mission” or “arc” that they complete. Ok, right now they are trying to help this farmer. When they are finished with it, they get 1 XP.

They are trying to help the town stop the local raids of goblins. When they manage to finsih this it is worth 3 XP in total.

You can setup to link with the Legend Point system. Once you have earned 2 Legend Points from each category (Goals, Beliefs, Instincts, Flaws, & Group Goal), then you get 1 XP.

Note this wouldn’t be once you have earned 10 Legend Points. You might end up earning 15 Legend Points over the course of time before you accomplish all those things.

Personally I just do milestone like XP rewards. When I feel the players have accomplished enough, or worked towards the finishing of a mission, or done something significant in the game, I’ll award 1 to 3 XP. I ususally give out XP faster at the beginning levels, and then start to trickle it out.


I’m basing it on the maximum attribute score for the PC’s current level. That results in XP gain that is slightly faster than 1 XP per session at lower levels and slows down to 1 XP per several sessions at higher levels. The rule of thumb is to use enough parts to ensure PCs receive XP at the expected rate.

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