Rate of Progression

Preparing for my Barbarian Conqueror King campaign (starting August 13th, 2014!), I was asked by my players how quickly does one progress in levels. How many sessions per level (in 3.5E D&D this is about 4 per level IME), and how much in-game time, including downtime for a campaign? I do like the idea, though, of high-level play being somewhat slower in terms of game-world time, with players spending whole seasons setting up and running their strongholds…

Auran Empire, 14th level after 101 sessions = 7.2 sessions per level
Opelenean Nights, 9th level after 60 sessions = 6.67 sessions per level

Historically in my campaigns:
For the first 3 levels it’s about 1 level per 4 sessions (~12 sessions).
For the next 3 levels it’s about 1 level per 6 sessions (~ 18 sessions).
For levels 7+ it’s about 1 level per 8 sessions.

It’s been significantly slower in my game- I’d say roughly 1 per 12- but the players tend to double up on characters (one gets full xp, the other(s) get half) so I suspect it would be in line with the above if they just brought one dood each.


As another data point, I’ve run 6 ACKS sessions now without a single PC leveling up. However:

  • The characters were converted from Savage Worlds and all started at level 3-4.
  • None of my players have played pre-3e D&D before, so they tend to do things like focus on killing everything (even things that have no loot and don’t have to be fought) and then forget to look for treasure. Fortunately, last week they found their first real treasure and everyone got 1,100-1,200 XP instead of the 100-200 they’d been getting in previous sessions, so hopefully that will help them remember to go for less killing, more looting in the future.

I expect the advancement rate to pick up significantly once they start to internalize the “old school” playstyle and get more of a feel for where things are in the game world.

This is how it worked out in my defunct campaign, too. The PCs earned under 100xp each for the first 4 sessions. At that point, something clicked and their average haul shot up by an order of magnitude.