Wilderness Sandboxes and Experience

I’m curious how people handle the wilderness sandbox and the experience issue. Namely, if you don’t get experience until you get back to civilization, and if civilization is 100’s of miles away (and several sessions), what do you do?

While I can see a normal (4-6 hour) session with a stable group handling that fairly well (they are away for weeks of travel and adventure, and when they /finally/ return home, everyone dings). My play sessions are very short (we are lucky to get 3 hours of play) and other than two stable guys, I have a bunch of other players that have maybe a 50% hit rate…making a fair distribution from treasure alone difficult.

Any ideas on a way to tackle this? The simplest would be to give xp upon finding the treasure, so basically giving xp for everyone present on any given session. Any other ideas?

If you don't want to assign treasure immediately upon receipt, here's two ideas:

1. Dot your wilderness with "shelters" such as abandoned cabins, old Imperial watch towers, and run-down caravanserai. Reaching one of those qualifies as reaching civilization; or

2. As soon as the PCs enjoy a night's rest outside of the dungeon without interruption by a wandering encounter they get their XP.

I like both of those ideas. The next big sandbox they hit will be an ‘alien world’ so I’ll probably use #2. But if they sandbox in the ‘real world’, I think I’ll go with #1.


I’ve been playing it BTB, but I think for an alien world I’d use #2. Or maybe allow any village or camp of reasonably civilized monsters that the PCs can get along with to function (for example, a bandit camp, on a friendly reaction roll).