Friday, March 6, 2015

5E Experience Point Progression

I'm just now really starting to dig into the rules of 5E as I am DMing for my daughter.  Typically, I play fast and loose with rules, but there are some things for which I would stick to the rules.  One example is the Experience Points progression for leveling up.

While looking at the Character Advancement table on pg 15 of the PHB, something really jumped out at me.  I'm sure it's been noticed by others before, but I just caught it.

Here is that table.  I've added one additional column (XP Delta), that shows the amount of XP necessary to advance to that level from the previous.

XP XP Delta Level
0 0 1
300 300 2
900 600 3
2,700 1,800 4
6,500 3,800 5
14,000 7,500 6
23,000 9,000 7
34,000 11,000 8
48,000 14,000 9
64,000 16,000 10
85,000 21,000 11
100,000 15,000 12
120,000 20,000 13
140,000 20,000 14
165,000 25,000 15
195,000 30,000 16
225,000 30,000 17
265,000 40,000 18
305,000 40,000 19
355,000 50,000 20

From previous editions, I am used to a character needing greater and greater amounts of XP to advance to each additional level.  That is NOT the case in 5E.  (Did I miss something?  Have earlier additions done this as well?)

One thing that jumps out at me is that there are a few progressions where the character needs the same xp for two levels in a row: to levels 13 & 14, to levels 16 & 17, and to levels 18 & 19.  That just seems off to me.  In the grand scheme, I'm sure it probably doesn't matter much, but it is striking in its difference.

Even more unusual is the progression from level 10 to 11 and then from level 11 to 12.  A player is required to earn 21,000xp to get to 11th level, but then is only required to earn 15,000xp to get to 12th.  But the strangeness continues: The player only needs 20,000xp to advance to 13th and then 14th levels--higher than the 15,000xp to get to 12th but still lower than the requirement to reach 11th.

Again, none of this might have much impact in the game, and I try not to be someone who finds little issues to nitpick to death--because frankly it isn't worth it.  But this tempts me to redo the Character Advancement table for play in my house.

Sitting back from this post for awhile before publishing it and having read page 15 again, it strikes me that perhaps the progression from 10th to 11th level was deemed special, because it is the dividing line between the so-called second and third tiers of play, and requires an extra challenge to make that jump.  But even that is unsatisfying to me.

Has anyone else noticed this and what are your thoughts on it? 


  1. It is a little strange. I understand the jump from 2 to 3, as the party goes from cowering and careful at level 1 to being able to engage more with another level of HD and a few more spells and abilities.

    I've read that the reasoning for the compressions at later levels were because many campaigns never go beyond 10 and the designers wanted to create pockets of momentum to keep progression exciting and less predictably drawn-out. I'm OK with that, still feels a bit odd though.

    My players are still low-level, but I anticipate higher level play being much more manageable in 5e than it was in say, 3e / PF or even 4e. It's not a time-sinking ordeal each time the characters level up to choose feats, abilities, powers, etc. And due to bounded accuracy, and the way abilities are doled out at certain levels, it may just be that some levels aren't as interesting as others later on, and the progression anticipates that. I'd have to look more carefully to see if there's any truth to that though.

  2. I hadn't considered the xp progression vs. the class features progression. Good point, and one that I will have to look at a little more closely. Apparently, more to it than I had initially considered. Thanks.