I’ve written a couple of articles about modifying the experience tables. In the most recent, I describe how I use a more elegant function to create a better progression for experience. I still love the concept but I’ve run into an issue that I want to smooth out.
In 4e, WotC introduced the idea that every ten encounters should gain you a level. It hadn’t occurred to me before to tie the experience tables to a set number of encounters like that. I think that is a marvelous idea.
As usual though, no one at WotC bothered to check their math and their experience tables didn’t actually match their plan very well. I corrected that when I came up with my own experience tables which I like very well.
However, this system has characters gaining levels much faster than they did in previous editions. 4e combat takes (most groups) much longer so they get through less encounters in an evening and the rapid leveling isn’t as noticeable. Since I run a heavily modified game with more 3e-like combat, this new experience table could easily result in some runaway leveling.
I want to continue to use Triangular Numbers (See Mike’s Progression) for basing my encounter experience table. This left me with quite a quandary.
What I came up with solves the problem for me while maintaining the elegance of the function used for the progression. At the same time, it is extremely simple.
|Level||Enc. Exp.||# Enc.||Goal|
Instead of having every ten encounters equate to a level, I created a progression where the experience needed to gain levels was equal to that gained from n encounters, where n increases with each level. I also reduced the number of encounters needed at the early levels.
So, as detailed in the chart, at first level a character needs six encounters to reach level two, eight for level three, ten for level four and so on. This will let low level characters level quickly, but slow them down through the levels at which the game works best.
What This Accomplishes
At ten encounters per level, a character will have completed 300 encounters by the end of level 30.
Under my new system, a character will have completed 300 encounters at the end of level 15. At the end of level 30, he will have completed over five times that many.
This doesn’t make level 30 unattainable, but it does make it far more difficult to reach. At the same time, it slows leveling down considerably at the levels that we have determined the game runs best for our group.
What’s Wrong with the Old System?
We’ve always viewed the D&D world as a living breathing world of its own. Characters come and go but the world persists. In 4e, the world exists solely for the benefit of the current group. That group levels from 1 to 30 and then the campaign ends, at which point the world dies. That’s not to say that all groups play 4e this way but that is the predominant attitude among the 4e DMs I have encountered.
Our group wants the world to be perpetual. It shouldn’t be filled with god-like characters and this system works towards that end. We don’t want our characters to have some arbitrary upper level limit that forces retirement. By making leveling progressively slower, we at least put off this possibility.