Optional Rule : Experience Based Levelling

Under the Experience based Levelling system characters are awarded Experience Points (XP) at the end of each session, based on the dangers and obstacles that they faced or overcame. When a character accumulates a sufficient number of XP they gain a Level. Under this system different characters can gain levels at different times, and Level progress is more closely linked to the small scale choices that the characters make. This system requires more book-keeping, and can lead to un-dramatic level gains. On the other hand some players enjoy the direct nature of Experience awards, and the excitement of seeing a new Level appraoch.

The cost to gain a new level of experience is equal to the new level times 500XP.

Level XP Cost Total XP Bonus CP
1 - - 8CP
2 1,000 1,000 8CP
3 1,500 2,500 8CP
4 2,000 4,500 8CP
5 2,500 7,000 8CP
6 3,000 10,000 8CP
7 3,500 13,500 8CP
8 4,000 17,500 8CP
9 4,500 22,000 8CP
10 10,000 32,000 8CP
11 10,500 42,500 8CP

Gaining Experience

Experience is awarded at the end of each session in which the characters defeated enemies, achieved goals, advanced the plot, overcame obstacles, or played their Flaws. Players should usually expect between 100xp and 300xp per session, depending on how significant their progress was. This means that new level one characters might expect to reach Level 2 between 4 and 10 sessions into the game. To work out how much XP to give for a session, total the experience due for survival, choices, goals, and extras given below. Everyone gets the same experience for survival and goals completed, with extra experience for choices and extras awarded individually at the end. If the party is split such that each part faces different threats for most of the session then evaluate these things separately. Ignore minor splits.


To determine experience for survival choose the major situations or obstacles faced and survived during play. Each obstacle is given a level from 1 to 10 to represent how severe they are. If the characters survived their experience with this threat (whether or not they defeated or overcame it) then they get XP for it, more XP for a higher level of threat.

Threat Level
Monsters Given in Bestiary, add 1 or more if the monsters out-level the PCs
Environment Twilight 2, Drylands, 3, Deadlands 6, Icelands 6. Add 1 for the Brilliance in Day, 1 for the Passing in Dark. Add 2 for bad storms anywhere.
Antagonists Character level of the NPC
Hunger and Thirst Minor deprivation 2, Major drought 4, Near death 6

Once you know the level of the threat, award 20xp per level to each player for surviving it. If there multiple threats were survived at once (fleeing from bandits, while crossing the Drylands, with no food) then the level of the threat is the worst thing that was happening, +1 for each other threat. Remember that the players get XP even if they lost a fight, fled the threat, avoided the antagonists, or fought, bribed, pleaded, or tricked their way out of danger. You should only ignore a threat if surviving it required no effort (e.g. you saw Heat Flyers in the distance and changed course to avoid them, but changing course lost you no time and caused no hardship), or it was so minor as to be irrelevant (your 9th level party is attacked by a level 1 monster).


An extra award of experience is made if the session saw the completion of a significant goal. This can either be a reward for completing multiple sessions of play focussed on a particular task, or the culmination of a recurring theme that has appeared in many sessions (not necessarily the most recent ones). Unlike the XP awards for survival, there is no experience given for failing goals.

XP Award Event
50xp Minor personal goals, a session devoted to a task, a minor stage in an ongoing task
100xp A major stage in an ongoing story, minor henchmen defeated
150xp End of a multi-session adventure, major henchmen defeated
200xp End of a plot arc, minor adversary defeated, a battle, a dungeon delved
250xp End of a major plot line, main adversary defeated, cities saved, wars won


Extra XP
The Hard Way 30xp
The Harder Way 50xp
Flaw 30xp
Downtime Play 30xp e.g. writing a character diary, session maps, weblog
Enhancing the Session 30xp e.g. providing food, bringing props

A group of characters (played by Alice, Bob and Carl) have found themselves in a Drylands village suffering from a severe drought. The only well has run dry and the people are desperate. The characters consult an old map that reveals another water source, a limpid pool some way into the desert that is the home of a Naga of Misty Winds. Alice proposes using Black Order magic to create new water, binding the spell to the population of the village after a suitable sacrifice. Bob suggests instead moving the village to the pool, if the Naga can be first defeated. Alice's Mage is obsessed with magic (a flaw) and fights the others, determined to have her way. After much argument Bob and Carl's characters travel to the pool and defeat the Naga, leaving Alice's Mage behind. While they are gone she casts her spell anyway, sacrificing an aged widow to enhance her magic. In the end the village has plenty of water available, though they have paid a harsh price for it.

The GM awards experience to Bob and Carl based on the level of the Naga (5), adding 1 for surviving the Drylands, giving each player 120xp for survival. Alice gains experience for a Major Drought (4) in the Drylands and gets 100xp for survival. Each player gets an additional 50xp for achieving a one session goal. Alice gets 30xp more for roleplaying her flaw, and another 20xp for making a hard choice. Bob and Carl each get 50xp more for choosing the harder choice (personal danger over sacrifice of another). Alice gets a further 30xp because she brought everyone food. Alice gets 230xp, Bob and Carl get 220xp.