Modified XP/Leveling System

Hi all. I am brand new to the forum and haven’t tried OL yet! I’ve been pouring over the rules, compiling my own notes and just wrapping my mind around the system. I’ve played D&D 3.5, 5e, CoC and Tales from the Loop.

Anyhoo - I like how simple the XP system is for OL, but after reading a recent Angry GM article about XP, I thought I’d take a stab at modifying the system to better align with my preferences. I’d love to hear if anyone sees any foreseeable issues with this system, or think it’s absolute crap, etc! Any feedback is definitely welcome. Thank you.

Leveling: To level up, you must earn 100 XP. This is the same all the way up to Level 10.

To earn XP, you must successfully reach milestone goals or successfully complete encounters (not necessarily just killing enemies - striking truces, finding creative solutions, etc. are all considered successes).

XP rewards are assigned based on goal/encounter difficulty. You earn half the assigned XP for barely scraping through, suffering great losses, taking substantial damage, etc.

Easy - 3 XP
Medium - 6 XP
Hard - 9 XP
Deadly - 12 XP

An average adventuring day made up of different encounters should average out to 36 XP earned for each player. So they should reach a new level each 3-4 adventuring day.

Each time you level up, you gain 3 feat points and 9 attribute points to distribute.

Thoughts? :slight_smile:

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Honest personal opinion: it goes against the spirit of OL.

It’s just more to track. it’s like tracking bullets fired or spells allowed to be cast or XP totals… all against the idea that OL is meaningful, from the dice rolls to gaining XP.


That’s totally fair! I’ve actually used milestone-based leveling for most of my campaigns and not bothered tracking any XP - but I wanted to try something different, especially after reading that particular article ( He has some good points in favour of XP tracking that make a lot of sense to me.

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I have asked a similar question a couple of days ago, so maybe you will find some answers there.

Personally, I think that 100 XP parts are a lot to keep track of.

Thanks for sharing! I’ve never played Dungeon World but it sounds like it has quite an interesting XP mechanic. It’s one of those systems I keep meaning to look into!

Everyone has different thresholds for bookkeeping effort, and cutting down on the unnecessary stuff is always a good idea. I don’t foresee a big problem with GMing a session and keeping a tally of XP points, announcing them as they happen (“For striking a truce with the goblins, you all earn 3 XP!”) and adding them up at the end of the session so everyone can jot the number down on their sheet. But it’s definitely not for everyone. I like the hundreds because it seems like it’ll be very clear when you’re almost at a new level (“I have 293 XP - once I get to 300, I’ll level up!”)



1 XP = 1 feat point & 3 Attribute points

So if you have the 100 XP and you get 3 feat points & 9 attribute points, you are making it so your players aren’t getting as much, b/c you are doing a Level as 100 XP

as I mentioned in another post “Level” and “XP” are just terms. if you wanted to compare, really XP is a level, and Level is just a way to help the GM balance encounters (and a few Feat things).

in the article he is specifically addressing things for D&D, and D&D is built around leveling up by fighting (at least in more recent editions). So it’s important to remember that when considering trying to port it to another system.

Generally it is decent advise he is giving, but there are lots of things to consider.

you, as the GM, already control how the players earn XP. If you want to do a different tracking system, then create a different term.


Then 50 SKILL = 1 XP (so 150 = 1 level)

Personally I like just assigning it, but I do understand the feeling of a more concrete way of dishing out the XP.

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Plus, at least for Americans, there is the very needy reward systems. People don’t like waiting to get things, so there is always that “gimme gimme gimme” mentality that pervades things. It’s why there used to be very few belts in the Martial arts, and now there are many belts. They need to be rewarded to feel accomplished to keep going on.

So that’s certainly a factor as well. I guess it all depends on why you are playing the game, and who you are playing with.

When with friends/family you know pretty well, it is easier to not do as much rewards I think than other settings/people.

Sorry I haven’t quite figured out how to quote yet!

"1 XP = 1 feat point & 3 Attribute points

So if you have the 100 XP and you get 3 feat points & 9 attribute points, you are making it so your players aren’t getting as much, b/c you are doing a Level as 100 XP"

Am I getting my math wrong? In my proposed system, the players would each earn about 36 XP per adventuring day, so they’d reach the next level in 2.7 (round up to 3) adventuring days. So pretty much every 3 sessions.

In the OL rules, they suggest:
“Time Played. An easy way to schedule rewards is simply to give players 1 XP at the end of each session.”

So in the OL rules, they’d level up every third session. And that’s the same in my modified version. The only difference with my version is they have to wait to level up to receive the feat points and attribute points… Right?

OL Rules: 1 XP per session, 1 XP to gain 1 Feat pt + 3 Attribute pts, 3 XP to level up

My version: 36 XP per session, 100 XP (3 sessions) to gain 1 Level, 3 Feat pts, 9 Attribute pts

this is the part that I didn’t see anywhere.

You meantioned only getting stuff at a Level, not at the breaks between level.

You get the 1 feat point + 3 attribute points at each XP. But your breakdown of things didn’t mention anywhere about that, only at each Level getting 3 feat points and 9 attribute points. That’s what I was commenting on.

I also started thinking about applying Angry’s XP advice to Open Legend when I read that article. But first off, I haven’t run Open Legend at all yet, so I’m wary of modifying the rules without personal experience first.

That said, here’s some thoughts on how to do so. As others have said, each XP in OL is like a level in other RPGs, so I’d design the system to keep that in place. If we’re aiming to gain 1xp per session or 3xp per major milestone, you can tune the reward system to get close to that. The GM determines when to award XP, so all we’re really building is the GM’s rules for when to do that.

Angry’s advice is based around encounter difficulty, and we already have that in OL, we just have to extend it out to non-combat encounters. We don’t need a hard rule for this, just decent judgement. So we say we’ll award XP after the players earn some number of progress points, and they get specific numbers of points for completing meaningful encounters of each difficulty, plus they get points for completing milestones, plus you can award points for whatever actions you want to encourage such as exploration/discovery.

That last part is 100% my motivating interest in this system. And it’s also why, even though this is a rule the GM imposes on themself, it’s vital that the GM make these rules clear and open to the players. Because rewarding behavior you want to encourage only works if the players know about it.

So in my mind, we’re not changing the rules of OL, we’re just making up guidelines which GMs can use to design the reward structure of their games.

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Thank you, well said! I agree, my interest in a more in-depth XP system is being able to reward certain behaviours that you want to encourage. I think that avoiding combat creatively is worth just as much XP as fighting to the death.

From the OL rules: “Every XP that players receive grants them 1 feat point and 3 attribute points, and every 3 XP results in a new level.”

Do you think it would affect the game negatively if, instead of awarding 1 feat point and 3 attribute points per XP, the GM awards 3 feat points and 9 attribute points per 3 XP (level up)? Mechanically it’s the exact same thing, except you’re waiting longer to be able to use the feat points and attribute points.

One thing AngryGM mentions in a lot of articles is not to level too fast. Let your players get comfortable with their new abilities for a while before throwing a bunch of new ones at them. I feel like only gaining new stuff during a level up - as opposed to every XP - supports that logic.

Anyway - that’s what I’m trying to base my system around. Except 1 OL XP = approx. 36 Me XP. 3 OL XP = Level Up, 100 Me XP = Level up. Working with higher numbers allows more little rewards based on a difficulty scale.

I think giving out whole levels would actually have the opposite effect of what you intend on achieving, because lets say for example a novice firemage (Energy 1) could go in an instant to attribute score of 4 unlocking quite a few new options in one quick swoop. Same goes with feat points: Let’s say a player decided to save up a feat point during character creation, so after your level up the player has 4 feat points to spend and gets now access to the Attribute Substitution and Companion feat at the same time, which would make a potentially huge change to the character.

I would try to stay away from putting a formula onto this. If you want a slower progression, than just give the PCs an XP every time they reach a milestone. I used that method for a campaign I ran a while ago, so PCs got about every 3rd session an XP, so instead of rewarding every minutiae with a fraction of an XP, just reward them when they achieve something meaningful.

I don’t know who Angry GM is, but it sounds like the advice you’ve taken and tried to apply to OL, was generally meant for D&D systems and doesn’t seem to fit all that well on systems that don’t use that kind of progression.

Thanks VanGo, all good points. I haven’t actually PLAYED OL yet so it’s obviously very premature to mess with the rules too much. I’m honestly just looking for a system that’s SIMILAR to D&D, but more rules-light. OL seems appealing in that respect, and the classless system seems interesting to me. Shoe-horning D&D-type rules into this kind of system may not be wise, but I’m just trying to find a middle-ground system that my group and I would enjoy.

I definitely see what you mean about giving out a bunch of feat + attribute points at once - it could be overwhelming, especially for new players.

What I like about having a loose formula is that nothing feels ‘random’ or like a GM screwjob from the player’s perspective. It gives me a system to reference, instead of just randomly assigning XP. I don’t want a situation where I forget to give XP for a worthy achievement - where a similar achievement happened previously and the players WERE rewarded for it. It’s just something more for me to keep things straight in my mind and feel fair for the players.

I’ve used milestone leveling in many previous campaigns and I’m just starting to feel like it’s a bit lazy. I want players to feel like they’re getting rewarded for their smaller choices, not just getting a pat on the back for completing a major, pre-planned part of story, that was pretty much impossible to fail or avoid.

I tend to reward the smaller achievements, good roleplay or creative thinking with Legend Points instead of XP, so maybe you can factor that in.

Also why would you put in content that PCs can’t affect or fail and would reward them for it?

I was thinking about Legend Points, but they seem pretty similar to the Inspiration mechanic in D&D, and I absolutely sucked at remembering to dish out Inspiration in my campaigns. Just sticking to XP - which is core to progressing and unlocking new features - seems simpler and easier to remember, personally.

As for the second point… just look at the examples in the OL rules on milestone progression:

Level 2: The heroes thwart one of the three foes threatening Woodshold.
Level 3: The heroes discover the Cult of the Dragon.
Level 4: The heroes prevent the cult’s Ritual of Three from being completed.
Level 5: The heroes retrieve the treasure at the bottom of the Sunken Star.
Level 6: The heroes end the conflict between the barbarians and the Collectors.
Level 7: The heroes free the village of Hilltop from the grasp of the vampire Tessa.
Level 8: The heroes discover the secret of the Ruins of Mastika.
Level 9: The heroes find a way to weaken Dezzer Kai’s power over the land.
Level 10: The heroes defeat Dezzer Kai.

Those all sound like pretty important story beats, and if the players continually subvert from those plot points, then they’re not really playing your campaign as planned.

If they don’t thwart one of the three foes threatening Woodshold, do they not get to level up? Does Woodshold get burnt to the ground and the campaign ends?

Anyway - I’m getting off-topic here LOL. Maybe OL isn’t the right system for me and I should keep researching for my holy grail D&D alternative. :rofl:

Open Legend has a proposed solution for these “dead-end” scenarios and it’s called the Core Mechanic, which can come come in two different forms: Success with a Twist or Failure, but the Story Progresses.

You can read more about the Core Mechanic in Chapter 2 and Chapter 8.

Just one more general advice: I would avoid trying to “hack” a system before having any experience with it, or more precisely before having a decent grasp on the system and I would extend that advice to any system, not only Open Legend.

Just one more general advice: I would avoid trying to “hack” a system before having any experience with it, or more precisely before having a decent grasp on the system and I would extend that advice to any system, not only Open Legend.

Understandable sentiment. I am definitely a tinkerer by nature… hard to stop myself. Thanks for all the advice! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: