I was reading my new copy of The Hobbit this morning, and a paragraph of the good Professor really jumped out at me and said, "Hey, Bilbo just gained a level."
It's p. 144 of my edition, Chapter VIII Flies and Spiders:
There was the usual dim grey light of the forest-day about him when he came to his senses. The spider lay dead beside him, his sword-blade was stained black. Somehow the killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves or of anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath.
You never really see that in Conan stories, or the tales of Fafhrd and the Mouser. Sure, you see the pulp characters at various stages of their careers, having gained skill, confidence, and prowess from their previous exploits. But you rarely see that moment of epiphany or feeling of growth with them. It happens off stage.
Anyway, I wonder if I'd be able to reverse engineer how much XP the various challenges Bilbo and the Dwarves faced up to that point so that Bilbo's share of XP topped 2000 at that point (when a Halfling reaches level 2 in BX or BECMI). Maybe some day when I've got more time than I do now!