I have a completely hypothetical situation…
Lets say that the party thief has managed to find a valuable magic item worth, say, 15,000 gp.
Instead of using it, he decides to sell it and goes through the appropriate motions of finding a buyer.
However, he’s kept this all very quiet from the rest of the party.
Given the thief hasn’t used the item, he can benefit from the XP gained from selling it. Is this xp shared among the whole party (because they were all present when it was looted, and all contributed to the fight in which it was taken) or does the thief get it all, because he’s the one doing the selling?
I’m inclined to split it, but it leaves a question among the other players of where all this extra xp just came from (of course, the thief gets to keep all the money).
Any thoughts how to handle this better/differently?
I think the text as written indicates that xp is earned from treasure the group brings back from the wilds. Since it is part of the treasure the group brought back the other characters should got a share. If you don’t want to give it away you could fold it into their next reward or lie and say it was a story award or something. Or spread it over several adventures. Maybe just tell the players and expect them to keep ooc info out of character?
As Tywyll said, according to the rules as written, since its part of the treasure the group brought back, the other characters should all get a share. This is something of an event horizon where the "XP for treasure" abstraction starts to break down.
Leaving the text of the rules aside for the moment, I'd recommend that how you handle be determined by the social dynamics of your player group.
1) If your group has a "collective" dynamic, openly allocate the XP to the party and ask them to keep OOC knowledge separate from IC knowledge.
2) If they have an "individualist" dynamic, secretly give all the XP to the thief player.
3) If they have a "competitive-collective" dynamic, secretly allocate the XP to the party, using one of the techniques Tywyll suggested to conceal the cause of the XP.
When I say "collective" "individualist" and "competitive-collective" I'm refering to some ideas I sketched out in an article here:
Thanks both. Useful feedback!