Wednesday, October 28, 2020

How I do Exploration XP

 I received this comment from Reese Laundry on my post about not dividing the XP

Like Daren, I do this in my BX/OSE games for monster XP only, but not treasure. IT's a minor boost and not unbalancing, I don't feel. I've considered the idea of exploration or mission XP, but haven't tried it yet. I'd be interested in seeing a post at some point on how you do it and how it's worked out for your table!

 Since I've got a bit of spare time today, might as well address it. 

When I started my West Marches game, one of the things I did was go back and read a post from Jeff Rients about exploration XP, and decided to work that into the game. 

Each hex that gets explored has a basic XP value. Any monster lair has a value for its discovery, as well. These values increase the farther the party gets from town. I've got bands 4 hexes deep (or about 1 day's travel) that set the value of these. 

Special locations, or performing certain actions at special locations, or encountering an iconic creature in a certain region, are all worth bonus XP. 

Originally, I set the game up for 5E because that's what all the players wanted to play. So the XP values were pretty small, especially in the initial band. When I switched to Classic D&D, I didn't shift the values right away, so they ended up being inconsequential. After a while, I upped them. 

One thing that I need to improve about my game, actually, is telegraphing where the special areas are that can earn bonus XP. For quite a while now, the group has been setting their own goals. And I've not found the right balance of throwing out rumors and keeping things mysterious. I'm working on it. 

I think I need to make a Google Docs with the rumors and just post the XP amounts on it if the rumor is successfully investigated. 

Anyway, here are the current values I'm using for exploration of a hex and discovery of a lair. The special area XP is pretty variable, but usually two to five times that of a lair discovery award, depending on how easy/hard or influential I think that special is. 

First Band (1 to 4 hexes from Silverwood): Hex 100xp, Lair 200xp

Second Band (5 to 8 hexes): Hex 200xp, Lair 500xp

Third Band (6 to 12 hexes): Hex 500xp, Lair 1000xp

Fourth Band (13 to 16 hexes): Hex 1000xp, Lair 2500xp

Fifth Band (17 to 20 hexes): Hex 2500xp, Lair 5000xp

Sixth Band (21 to 23 hexes): Hex 5000xp, Lair 10,000xp


  1. I do a similar thing for dungeon exploration: each new passage square (10')explored is worth 10xp. Each room is worth 50xp. This is multiplied by the dungeon level. Backtracking squares and rooms don't count. It encourages exploration.

    I've considered doing what you are doing for outdoors wilderness adventures, but using 6-mile hexes.

    1. I do use 6-mile hexes for my map. Classic works best that way. Never did understand why AD&D preferred 5-mile hexes.

      I haven't done this for dungeons, but I've considered something like you're suggesting before. Just never implemented it.

  2. I've done this for dungeon exploration, and it works good. 10xp per 10' square passage explored, and 50xp per room, multiplied by the dungeon level.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to write this up, Dennis, I appreciate it. I like the idea of the bands as you get further from the safety of civilization. That's a great idea.

  4. Hey Dennis, it's Brent from Japan. Just noticed one of your comments on Grognardia and I was like "I know that guy!" Will have to check out the rest of your blog!

    1. Hey, good to hear from you! I've got a Yamanashi Group tag for posts, probably something about your old Trinity game in there somewhere. Other than that, you'll find a lot of silliness and the occasional thoughtful post. :D

    2. This goes back a ways doesn't it? Anyway I'm thinking about running a west marches game after my current campaign so I'm gonna read up!

  5. Hmm. I like that a lot. I'll need to incorporate that into my next Western Marches campaign. Yoinked!