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In Which We Discuss Experience Points

Welcome to the first installment of “Behind the Screen”, a series of weekly (or more often!) articles that I’ll be putting out. Some of these will be about League matters like new rules and such, and some will be about the ever-pesky DM Empowerment topic and how I apply it to my own tables. That said, let’s get down to business!

So, we recently had a brief post about using the checkmark/ checkpoint system (adapted and modified from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything). As we expected, there was a sudden and intense flurry of comments via Facebook for this, and there was a TON of guesswork being done by gamers everywhere. Heck, we like guesswork as much as the next table of dice-throwers, too!

But… as we’ve been saying since then, and what we’ll say again here, is this:

D&D isn’t going to fundamentally change – we’re simply adjusting the spotlight to really focus on what this edition really, truly spotlights: the story.

Yes, one of the changes that is coming soon is that we’re doing away with experience points for Adventurers League. This will be starting with season 8. We want to make the gaming experience simpler for people of all exposure levels and walks of life (gaming or otherwise). To that end, we routinely and regularly talk to players about the things they like and don’t like about the game; sometimes these discussions are open and obvious, and sometimes the data is pulled from conversations that unfold in our managed interfaces like Facebook and Twitter.

Tracking and reporting experience gains are never on the list of “things that people like”. However, these things are on the “things that people don’t like” lists time and time again; sometimes it’s in the vein of “I have a hard time with math”, or “I don’t care about experience points because the numbers don’t make sense”, or “level 1 is so fast but level 4 is so slow!”, or any number of other reasons. We’ve also found that tracking experience becomes a barrier for newer players in that they will see the tier 3 and 4 content, think it’s awesome and a cool goal, but then look at the ‘hundreds of thousands of experience points needed but I only got 300 for my tier 1 game so why bother’ and write off the entire thing.

Dungeons & Dragons has a story-first mentality, and if we’re being honest… experience points break that, ahem, experience for new players. It becomes a split focus of story + math (during the game, for attacks and such) + math (post-game, for experience and whatnot). This doesn’t leave a great “walk away glow”, and we – and we hope YOU, too! – really want people to revel in that warm glow of victory and the awesome shared story experience at the end of the game. Ride the wave into the next game, be heroic, and keep up the pace! Whether your story is the plot or your own character development, we want to bring that to the forefront.

The checkmark system for experience simplifies all of that and helps to keep us focused on the things that matter: story and player experience. These elements combine to create the epic experiences that will live for years to come!

And, to make a couple things clear:

  • if a character shows up but does not participate, they won’t get the reward
  • we’re still using rewards for objectives (“break into that place!”, “destroy the lich!”, etc)
  • the systems we’re going to be adopting are inspired by but not directly from XGE

We’ll be sharing the new logsheet and level progression system soon enough, but for now we want you all to have a little insight on where we’re coming from. To that end, in the coming weeks we’ll be talking about downtime activities (for real though, downtime is a thing!), gold, magic items, Fai Chen, DM Quests & Rewards, and all sorts of other stuff. None of this is going to be live until season 8 in September, and this isn’t going to be us simply “flipping a switch” – when the docs are ready, we’ll share them out.

Alan Patrick
Latest posts by Alan Patrick (see all)

Author: Alan Patrick

Hailing from the wilds of central Michigan, Alan has provided a warm home to a wife and two cats over the years. Of course, they all have to fight with the ever-expanding collection of beholder-related paraphernalia - and the recent arrival of his son.

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  1. Looking forward to seeing how the new checkmark system evolves! =)

  2. Any chance you can open the FaceBook group to be public or at least copy a digest of posts to some other platform or forum?

    I will never join FaceBook due to privacy concerns. Also many players are under 13 and cannot legitimately join FaceBook.

    On the topic of introducing players to AL… Any chance to allow players to have some sort of way to join higher tier content even if they are just joining AL play? The FLGS that I play at is nearing the end of season 7 and all tables are in tier 2+. My table is about to reach the Soul Monger and is legally the only table available for a new player to join (and that is no fun to be level 1 in the deeps on the Tomb.)

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