Please consider the following rule and share your feedback. It is intended for ACKS-Heroic Companion as an optional rule to allow for Conan to choke the King of Aquilonia to death on the throne, Beowulf/Hrothgar type, and similar situations, although it can be readily purposed for any campaign.
If more than half the XP a character earns at any given level of experience are from unadventurous sources, the character automatically rolls the minimum result on any hit dice gained when advancing to the next level of experience. For purposes of this rule, unadventurous sources of XP include:
- XP earned from ruling a domain that the character received from inheritance or gift, rather than settling or conquest
- XP earned from magic research performed as an assistant
- XP earned from hijinks performed for a boss
A character who is actively adventuring or on campaign may decline to accept experience points from unadventurous sources if desired in order to make sure he does not go over 50%.
EXAMPLE: Sedentavik is a 9th level fighter. He has reached 9th level entirely through managing the vast estate he inherited from his father, and has never adventured, gone to war, or conquered or founded new settlements. Born with STR 13, INT 12, WIS 9, DEX 11, CON 13, CHA 11, he is now middle-aged, reducing him to STR 11, DEX 9, CON 11. At 1st level, he rolled 5hp. Since then he has earned the minimum hp at each level, putting him at (5+8) 13hp. He has not lacked for training from the finest sword-masters, so his attack throw is 5+ and he deals 1d6+4 damage with his sword.
Meanwhile, Aektivar is a 4th level fighter who has adventured his entire career. He has STR 16, INT 11, WIS 10, DEX 10, CON 13, CHA 9 and 22 hit points. His attack throw is 6+ (base 8+, modified by 2) and he hits for 1d6+4 damage (+2 from class, +2 from STR) with his sword. Aektivar travels to Sedentavik’s great hall and challenges him to a duel for the throne, according to the traditions of these people I have invented for this example. Even though Sedentavik is many levels higher, Aektivar wins by virtue of his superior ability scores and hp.
After winning the throne, Aektivar retires from adventuring. He advances over the years to 9th level himself, all from unadventurous sources. When he hits middle age, his STR erodes to 14, his DEX to 8, and his CON to 11. He has only (22-4 from lowered CON) + (1/level from levels 5-9) 23hp. His attack throw is 4+ and he deals 1d6+5 damage. He is still a formidable combatant from the point of view of a normal man. But he is nowhere as mighty as he would have been had he continued adventuring and reached 9th level as a young man.