There are basically two "knobs" that will determine how much XP the adventurers earn. The first knob is how much treasure you give the monsters. The second knob is how much risk your players are willing to take.
For the treasure knob, in general, you should have 4gp of treasure per 1 XP of monsters in your dungeon/setting.
Haha. Gosh, my advancement is super sloooooow then.
We’re 13 sessions in and the thief hasn’t leveled yet… They’ve got about 6-700xp each. On the other hand, they’ve got 6+ hirelings, tend to spend one session out of the dungeon for every session spent in it, and haven’t yet located much in the way of loot from the monsters (it’s there, they’ve just not found it yet). The net result has been pretty slow advancement.
I think it depends on how long a “session” is, too. My campaigns tend to have 3 hour sessions. My impression of some of the story times posted on these forums is that they are (from my viewpoint) 5–8 hour epics.
I must admit, I would love to hear how many actual hours of play are involved in those level gains.
We have 5-8 hour sessions, plus one marathon all-weekend game that I recorded as three sessions. Total sessions is listed as 24 (as of last weekend) and average level is 10 (priest is level 11, mage is level 9).
There are a few cheats I’ve done, however, which roughly halved the total play time required. Without the cheats, I think it would have taken twice as many sessions (48) to get to level 10.
Skipped fights: When there were three ogre villages and plenty of time between each, we only actually played through the hardest village, and declared that the others played out similarly by Judge fiat.
I front-loaded the first two experience levels with treasure; and gave the players higher starting gold to let them take more risks earlier.
When they cleared Galaufabonne of lairs, I bumped the lowest to level 9 (I think that was the priest at level 8) and matched the XP amount for everyone else.
I occasionally give out a (small) amount of roleplaying XP when the group as a whole yields a particularly satisfying story feeling.
It’s also worth noting that the rate of level gain has been slowing dramatically. Getting from party-average 9 to party-average 10 took about six sessions. Getting to 11 may take even longer, because that shiny new level removed their ability to get XP from domain gold at the current earning rate.
We’ve also started a “Hench Spotlight” series which is taking time away from the PCs getting XP, but is a lot of fun.
"It's also worth noting that the rate of level gain has been slowing dramatically. Getting from party-average 9 to party-average 10 took about six sessions. Getting to 11 may take even longer, because that shiny new level removed their ability to get XP from domain gold at the current earning rate."
GP Threshold, working as intended! :D They'll need a bigger domain...
The original playtest camp took the players from level 1 to level 14. Their XP curve, based on my notes, was as follows:
Session 7: 8,000 XP (Fighter reached level 4) - avg 1 level per 2 sessions
Session 24: 50,000 XP (Cleric reached level 7) - avg 1 level per 4 sessions
Session 45: 200,000 XP (Cleric reached level 9) - avg 1 level per 5 sessions
Session 72: 500,000 XP (Mage reached level 11) - avg 1 level per 7 sessions
Session 96: 1,060,000 XP (Mage reached level 14) - avg 1 level per 7 sessions
I’m quite glad about the GP threshold. I was worried that the best part of the campaign so far - building a domain, was going to be over too quickly.
The GP threshold has made it much harder work to get up into those higher levels, however, and the fact that they are wiping out most of the wilderness lairs near their domain at an astonishing rate means they’re pretty much going to have to expand … or stagnate.
My idea, in designing the GP Threshold mechanic, was that most lords and nobles in civilized realms would not have considerable opportunity to destroy lairs, or expand, and thus the GP Threshold means that most lords and nobles will end up with a class level appropriate to the size of their realm.
I give 10% XP for escaping encounters (Seeing how a very old black dragon destroys part of a village was worth around 680 XP this way, seneaking away from a large bandit camp unseen around 150 XP)
There is also a XP reward for travel and exploration that I have totally stolen and modified from some blogpost I cant remember:
1 exp for every 6 miles travelled by the road or river
5 exp for every 6 miles travelled off-road or sea-travel
1 exp for every 6 miles of travel in settled terrain
5 exp for every 6 miles of travel in Grasslands or Scrub terrain
15 exp for every 6 miles of travel in Aerial, Hills, Ocean, Woods or River terrain
45 exp for every 6 miles of travel in Barren, Desert, Jungle, Mountains or Swamp terrain
Uncommon Locations 50xp (ie, a border fort deep in the woods, a shrine in the swamp)
Rarely Visited 400xp (ie, a far off mountain monastery, an Orc Fortress)
Unseen for Years 1000xp (ie, a far off kingdom across the sea)
Unseen for Generations 2000xp (ie, the lands of the kings behind the Burning Desert)
Of Questionable Veracity 5000xp (ie, uncovering Troy or Machu Picchu)
Fabled Locations 10,000xp (ie, finding El Dorado or Shangri-La)
Mythic Locations 50,000xp (ie, finding the Garden of Eden or Noah’s Ark)
James: 0.05, or 0.1 after lengthy out-of-dungeon time is accounted for.
Alex’ Original Playtest: 0.14.
Tywyll: 0.17. Sessions are 2.5–3.5
Alex’ Opelenean Nights: 0.31 (so far).
Cameron: 0.42. Sessions are 5–8 hours, and Judge “cheated” with extra XP.
Not accounted for in those averages is that Alex and Cameron both mentioned that their progression was faster at the early levels and slowed dramatically at the higher levels.
Tywyll and Cameron are almost identical, once hours-per-session is factored in (Cameron is slightly higher).
I think we’ve had ~15 sessions. The highest level yet achieved was by Baron Garwyn I the Bard, who reached 8th I think before being slain and then not resurrected. Most of his XP came from running a thieves’ guild in a town whose courts he controlled, which turns out to be quite lucrative. We also have a 7th level assassin (who just got there from 5th after taking the throne), a 6th level fighter who until recently held the honor of Adventuring Since the First Session and Not Dying (started as an L0 henchman, earned every XP to her name), 5th level mage, and everyone else down around 4th (another mage, cleric, lizardman, venturer, and fighter). I think things have slowed down recently because we now have six players, rather than the three to four we had per session during the summer. On the other hand, they’re finally starting to look at crushing humanoid wilderness lairs, which should yield decent returns.
Oh yeah - session length tends to be 4-6 hours. We’ve had a few run to 8, like our holiday game on the 4th of July (PCs: “We should have an extra-long game on 4th of July, and celebrate in the American tradition of lighting stuff on fire, killing things, and taking their stuff!” Me: “No, you should celebrate in the great American tradition of tax evasion… by which I mean evading monsters in a taxing fashion, ie running the hell away.”), but that’s the exception rather than the rule.