Leveling Up!

Monday, March 12, 2018

With the Pathfinder Playtest, we're looking to level up the entire Pathfinder game. And that means leveling up... leveling up! Gaining new levels and the toys that come with them is a core part of Pathfinder First Edition, and we want to make it more rewarding in the new edition. So how do you level up?

Well, first you're going to need some Experience Points. You can get those XP by fighting monsters, encountering traps, solving puzzles, and accomplishing goals. Once you hit 1,000 XP, you level up! (That's for every level, so whenever you have 500 XP, you'll always know you're halfway to leveling up again! And if you have any extra Experience Points after leveling up, they count toward the next level.)

Once you have enough Experience Points to level up, you'll increase your proficiencies, then get some more Hit Points (8 + Constitution modifier for a cleric, for example), and then get to make the choices for your new level. What choices? Those are all covered on your class's class advancement table. For instance, at 2nd and 3rd levels, the cleric gets the following:

2Cleric feat, skill feat
32nd-level spells, general feat, skill increase

(Wait... what if I multiclass? We'll cover that in a future blog, but let's just say you'll still be referencing only one advancement table.)

One thing we knew we wanted to include in the new edition was a good number of choices for all characters. In first edition, this could be pretty unequal. Even though over time, the game incorporated more ways to customize any type of character, we wanted to build in more robust customization into the structure of every class. That's why every class gets specific class talents (which include spells for spellcasters) at 1st level and every other level thereafter, increases to skills every other level, and feats at every level!

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Feats Feats Feats!

How does gaining feats at every level shake out? Every class has special feats just for them, which you gain every other level. When your cleric hits 2nd level and gets that cleric feat, do you want to become a better healer? Learn another of your deity's domains? Turn undead away from you? Your class feats give you these options, so you're not locked into the same path as every other cleric.

On any level when you don't gain a class feat, you gain a skill feat to change the ways you can use skills, a general feat that's useful to any character regardless of class, or an ancestry feat that reflects the training or advantages of your people. Skill feats are part of the general feat category, too, so if you really want to invest in your skills, you can drop 15 feats on improving them!

Many of your feats—especially class feats—give you new actions, activities, and so on that you can use. They have a special format to tell you how they work with your three actions and one reaction. Formatting them this way means that it's easier to tell whether a feat is something you can always do or a special action you can take. In Pathfinder First Edition terms, this would be like the difference between Weapon Focus and Vital Strike.

One of our goals with feats was to make them easier to choose and to use. Most feats require very few prerequisites, so you won't need to worry about picking a feat you really don't want in order to eventually get one you do. Any prerequisites build off your level, your proficiency, and any previous feats the new feat builds onto.

The Best of Your Ability

You'll also amp up several of your ability scores every 5 levels. The process might be familiar to those of you who've been playing Starfinder for the last several months! There are, of course, a few tweaks, and we made all ability boosts work the same way instead of being different at 1st level. Learn it once, use it in perpetuity.

Second Chances

So you get all these choices. Let's say you make a few bad ones. It happens!

Retraining your abilities is now in the game from the get-go, covered by the downtime system. You can spend your downtime to swap out choices you made for other ones. (Though you can't swap out ones that are a core part of your character, like your ancestry, unless you work out a way to do so with your GM.

Some classes give you ways to retrain your choices automatically. For instance, some spells get less useful as you go up in level, so spontaneous spellcasters get to replace some of the spells they know with other ones when they get new spells.

Leveling in the Playtest

The playtest adventure will have you playing characters at various levels, and tells you when to level them up (or tells you to create new characters for certain chapters). Our goal has been to make your options expansive and satisfying, but not overwhelming. We look forward to you telling us which decisions you're making, trading tips with fellow players, and agonizing over two feats when you really want them both.

Logan Bonner
Designer

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Matthias W wrote:
Essentials makes classes more differentiated, and later bestiaries - I believe MM3 and Monster Vault - fixed the math so fights were quicker, so you may be in luck.

Yeah, I'm definitely a fan of essentials. It was a shame that it got so little run amongst the 4e fan base before D&D Next was announced at the time.

Perhaps Paizo could consider a slogan: "4e Thrives!" /jk

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RE: Hit points, it's a very small thing, but I like that it means you can just multiply hit dice by a set amount rather than considering the value of the full hit die at 1st level.

RE: XP, if an encounter with a CR equal to the party's APL is worth 50 XP, the default advancement is the same as the current medium advancement track.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Can we call them something other "feats" such as talents, boons, legacies, powers, etc.?

Shadow Lodge

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Boon sounds good to me.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Just saw Mark had replied on UP while I made my previous post: You got me. It's not quite double. Why is NO increasing by 40%? We've had HP remain fairly consistent from 3.0 to Pathfinder 1st ed (with only slight bumps). 40% is a big bump. Why?
In general it will help you perform awesome feats and avoid rocket tag situations where the bad guys one-shot you with regular attacks (especially if your character couldn't afford to pump Con). I still strongly recommend raising your Con, but the less you do, the more this is going to help you survive and flourish (for instance, at 10 Con, it basically does double your HP, but the higher you go, the less of a percentage more this gives you). Ask anyone about the stats for Reiko, the iconic ninja, and the first thing you usually hear is "I wish she didn't have 10 Con." The way the math worked, those first few points in Con had an outsizedly big impact (raising your HP by nearly ~30% for going from 10 up to 12 on a low HD class). And it was sort of a secret hidden feature that many newbies learned at the end of a killing blow before making their second character (before someone mentions, yes, in PF1 you can focus on various defenses heavily enough to try to avoid taking HP damage in the first place and survive just fine on 10 Con, but you have to be experienced enough to get that up and running).

While I am cautiously optimistic about PF2's development and am following it with great interest, I'd like to point out that 4E D&D used the same rationale for similarly inflated HP numbers. This HP inflation was largely responsible for the "every combat is a 4 hour slog" criticism that gets levelled against 4e so frequently.

Is this on your radar and are you taking steps to ensure you don't make the same mistake?


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Personally I am interested in what are the starting stats for a character and how many(if any) stat points you get for leveling?


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My one big hope - which is only partly concerned with this thread - is that there isn't a "hard cap at 20 levels". I don't wants hard caps like that. It's why I don't play 4e, and it's why I don't play 5e.

With the rules for higher than 20 levels in the core PF book, I was perfectly fine adding a touch of homebrew to fix some numbers and continue into the thirties quite easily. My players enjoyed it.

It doesn't have to be "epic" or "mythic" - just not "stop here and go no further". Especially with so many options available to the characters - this means you could go past 20 into 30 and further customize your characters the way you want.


Quote:
Once you hit 1,000 XP, you level up! (That's for every level, so whenever you have 500 XP, you'll always know you're halfway to leveling up again! And if you have any extra Experience Points after leveling up, they count toward the next level.)

So, I'm assuming less experience will be awarded? Small things in PF1 can be worth about 1,000 XP.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like Starfinder's ability increase system and I am glad it is being brought into Pathfinder.


Fuzzypaws wrote:
As to the people having a problem calling everything feats: remember that they said characters of every class would be able to pick up stuff like Attack of Opportunity, which seems to be a fighter schtick this time. What I feel like this likely means is that you can spend your General feat on /any/ kind of feat you qualify for, including feats from other classes that don't depend on ability chains you don't possess. So you could use your General feat as an Elf Wizard for the AoO "Fighter feat", another "Wizard feat" from your own class, another Elven "Ancestry feat," a bonus "Skill feat", or one of the (probably much smaller) selection of truly universal feats.

This^

Why go trying to rename something when they haven't explained how it will work, or if/when characters of other classes might get them? And frankly, I'm really hoping Fuzzypaws is right about how they plan to do it, because I would hate for a massive portion of the feats list to be locked off by class.

That said, the fact they're moving character level based stuff into the class level tables makes me concerned they're planning to use something like the variant multiclassing rules from Unchained. That would make me very sad, because those rules were a complete non-starter for me. Sure, situationally some of them might be okay, but we're talking a multiclass ruleset where if you want to multiclass as a wizard you don't get spellcasting until 11th level, and even then it's one cantrip. At 11th level. And you had to give up almost all of your build's flexibility (in the form of feats) to do it.
I'm sure it could be improved to a playable level, but it doesn't strike me as a fun option.

That's really my only major concern so far though, everything else they've said about p2e sounds pretty awesome.


Mark Seifter wrote:
In general it will help you perform awesome feats and avoid rocket tag situations where the bad guys one-shot you with regular attacks (especially if your character couldn't afford to pump Con).

Fair enough. Thanks for the information. I'll be very interested to see how it works out in actual play :)

Matthias W wrote:
Essentials makes classes more differentiated, and later bestiaries - I believe MM3 and Monster Vault - fixed the math so fights were quicker, so you may be in luck.

MM3 was a significant improvement for monsters, yes. Unfortunately 4th ed ended in August 2010 and I took break from WotC games until 5th edition so I'm not sure what this Essentials you're talking about is. Pretty sure it wasn't 4th ed though ;) (I was not a fan of how Essentials changed 4th ed and never used the content).


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Mark the Wise and Powerful wrote:


So, I'm assuming less experience will be awarded? Small things in PF1 can be worth about 1,000 XP.

I'd guess it would be a system very similar to how MMOs handle things. As you get higher level compared to the critter you're killing the xp goes down until that thing is worth nothing at all to kill.


Hythlodeus wrote:
The Dandy Lion wrote:
My expectation is that exp gain will be based on the encounter's CR relative to your current APL.
sooo much easier and not complicated at all /sarcasm

Much much easier, yes. I've played games where the rule was "roughly even fight gets you 2X xp, easy fight gets you X xp, hard fight gets you 3X xp, scale other xp gains accordingly, level up every time you accumulate 10X xp", and the value of X in there can be one or a thousand; only benefit I see to 1000 xp per level is allowing finer granularity. (This sort of thing does work better with limits like "mowing through minions more than N levels lower than you gets you no XP because you learn nothing from it." Also if you want faster or slower levelling you can change the value of 10.)


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Thebazilly wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:
every 1000 XP, huh? so a CR 19 monster grants you the same XP as a CR 4 monster? Or will you just jump 7-8 levels by killing a monster with higher CR?
Maybe encounter XP scales based on what is "CR Appropriate"? So a CR=APL encounter has a fixed amount of XP, no matter what level the party is.

Few pages late commenting off this, but if they do wind up going this way I hope there's some guideline for how to approximate CR for encounters with multiples of smaller creatures. In PF1e you could use the XP-by-CR chart to do so, but if XP is entirely dependent on CR compared to APL that would make that system nonfunctional.


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Dragon78 wrote:
Can we call them something other "feats" such as talents, boons, legacies, powers, etc.?

I guess the question is whether you can take a class feat or an ancestry feat with a general feat. If you can, then it makes sense to call them all feats.

Since "class feat" being a subset of "feat" would be self-evident, but "class talent" or "ancestry boon" would not.


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Hythlodeus wrote:
the call it a Do (doesn't mean anything, but is short), every two levels you gain a Class Do. With the space you save in that book, you can include all Dune novels in the appendix

Including all Dune novels in the appendix is one way for Paizo to absolutely guarantee I would not buy a book.


Fuzzypaws wrote:
As to the people having a problem calling everything feats: remember that they said characters of every class would be able to pick up stuff like Attack of Opportunity, which seems to be a fighter schtick this time.

Oh, I'd not seen that; if so, excellent.


Great Blog post! It was a lot of what many of us already had figured out, so it's nice to have a confirmation.

Am a bit worried though, that if many of the old Combat Feats become Fighter feats then that will meannobody else can take them, which would be kinda lame. If things like fighting styles and other cool combat tactics are locked behind one specific class, then you really can't build the character in your mind... Like think of some Cleric of Irori using one of the monk combat styles, or a brawly mutagen alchemist using reach weapon for AOO party.


Part of me wonders if you won't be able to take a general feat to count as a class to gain their feats... *shrugs* Time will tell.


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ChibiNyan wrote:
Am a bit worried though, that if many of the old Combat Feats become Fighter feats then that will meannobody else can take them, which would be kinda lame. If things like fighting styles and other cool combat tactics are locked behind one specific class, then you really can't build the character in your mind... Like think of some Cleric of Irori using one of the monk combat styles, or a brawly mutagen alchemist using reach weapon for AOO party.

I guess the question will be if certain class feats will appear on multiple lists (like how spells do), or if certain archetypes will allow for access to feats from different classes.


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I'd personally like to see a better version of variant multiclassing. Either through feat trees or archetypes.


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Dragon78 wrote:
Can we call them something other "feats" such as talents, boons, legacies, powers, etc.?

I agree. Saga Edition's talent+feat system worked well (though feat support lagged far behind talent support, especially as all of the better feats became talents), but calling both features "feats" will be stupidly confusing.


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I have no objection to everything being called a feat, but I do prefer that things from different sources are called different things. That is likely where my feedback will go.

Class Talents
Skill Masteries
General Feats

That sort of thing.


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Shinigami02 wrote:
Thebazilly wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:
every 1000 XP, huh? so a CR 19 monster grants you the same XP as a CR 4 monster? Or will you just jump 7-8 levels by killing a monster with higher CR?
Maybe encounter XP scales based on what is "CR Appropriate"? So a CR=APL encounter has a fixed amount of XP, no matter what level the party is.
Few pages late commenting off this, but if they do wind up going this way I hope there's some guideline for how to approximate CR for encounters with multiples of smaller creatures. In PF1e you could use the XP-by-CR chart to do so, but if XP is entirely dependent on CR compared to APL that would make that system nonfunctional.

I'm assuming this will go off APL vs the encounter's CR with something like 100xp for an APL = CR encounter, then adding 25xp for every CR over APL or subtracting 25xp for every CR under APL.


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McBugman wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
Thebazilly wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:
every 1000 XP, huh? so a CR 19 monster grants you the same XP as a CR 4 monster? Or will you just jump 7-8 levels by killing a monster with higher CR?
Maybe encounter XP scales based on what is "CR Appropriate"? So a CR=APL encounter has a fixed amount of XP, no matter what level the party is.
Few pages late commenting off this, but if they do wind up going this way I hope there's some guideline for how to approximate CR for encounters with multiples of smaller creatures. In PF1e you could use the XP-by-CR chart to do so, but if XP is entirely dependent on CR compared to APL that would make that system nonfunctional.

I'm assuming this will go off APL vs the encounter's CR with something like 100xp for an APL = CR encounter, then adding 25xp for every CR over APL or subtracting 25xp for every CR under APL.

Giving relative XP based on encounter difficulty depending on party level will require way more robust rules for calculating encounter levels. The current PF method is very simplistic and inaccurate, specially when enemy groups get large. 3.5 had a very powerful one, but it could get pretty complicated.

Silver Crusade

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If classes are going to be modular what is the purpose of archetypes?

Not bashing, just curious.


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Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Please tell me there are multiple exp track options. I never was a fan of the fast xp progression track.


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Laird IceCubez wrote:

If classes are going to be modular what is the purpose of archetypes?

Not bashing, just curious.

One: just because there is a lot of modularity doesn’t mean there aren’t some fixed points.

Two: an archetype might swap out packets of modules you can choose from.

Shadow Lodge

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Are basic uses of skills going to get shrunk as new skill feats get released?

Silver Crusade

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BigNorseWolf wrote:

Are basic uses of skills going to get shrunk as new skill feats get released?

I share this concern.


ThePuppyTurtle wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

Are basic uses of skills going to get shrunk as new skill feats get released?

I share this concern.

I do too!


Chaotic_Blues wrote:
Please tell me there are multiple exp track options. I never was a fan of the fast xp progression track.

Here is +1 hoping that the 1K xp per level winds up being a nice, moderate pace.


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A dev (Seifter?) mentioned being able to make a functional Magus from the playtest materials, which could in principle be done through enough bespoke feats dedicated to that concept, but would be even more modular if it was an archetype that swapped out feats to add some extra arcane casting to any class: trade out some feats to turn a fighter into a magus, or rogue into an arcane scoundrel, or cleric into a mystic theurge, or uh I guess a wizard into a double wizard, &c. They haven't exactly said this is how it's going to work but there are a number of reasons that lead me to believe that it is.

(This points to one possible advantage of feats being feats being feats: what you swap out can just be feats simpliciter swapped out over some number of levels, without requiring that you swap out class feats (or whatever) specifically. And having global archetypes, which allows for a lot more modularity and options out the gate, is enabled by giving all classes common-denominated currency.)


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This approach of picking your advancement by feats reminds me of lego, and I'm saying it as a very good thing, makes things easier to learn, to balance, and to pick.

I also think that keep the name of 'feat' and some prefige is better.

Grand Lodge

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Chaotic_Blues wrote:
Please tell me there are multiple exp track options. I never was a fan of the fast xp progression track.

it sepulchre be very easy to cater to your desired rate of advancement, just change the retired do per level from 1000. Level every 500, 600,...2000 xp. Changing it to 2000 means you know it will take twice as fast as normal. An advantage of the new xp system.


Whatever optional tracks there are is irrelevant. We can all homebrew our own. What's important is what the AP's use (and if you don't use the AP than it doesn't matter what the official XP track is).

Shadow Lodge

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Matthias W wrote:
A dev (Seifter?) mentioned being able to make a functional Magus from the playtest materials,

In that you could attack with a weapon and cast a spell in the same round because of the new action system. That was it.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Subparhiggins wrote:
thflame wrote:
May I request that Feats be sorted in the final book based on what Classes/Ancestries/etc. they apply to as opposed to strictly alphabetical order?
I agree please put them in different sections. At the very least they'll be separated by charts, but having a 1, 2, 3 kind of set up with each type would definitely be easier for players to sort through.
We have some ideas about how to order things. My absolute favorite for ease of building was Jason's idea to put the class feats by level instead of alphabetically (with a sidebar giving them all alphabetically). That way you can directly compare the newest feats at your new level (not that you can't go back and take a lower-level one if you like) and that single change more than tripled the speed at which I can choose my class feats.

Yes, please! This would be SO much more user friendly.


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Chaotic_Blues wrote:
Please tell me there are multiple exp track options. I never was a fan of the fast xp progression track.

You don't need tracks. Just multiply 1000 (normal exp per level) by the amount you want to slow down progression.

1.5? 1500 exp per level

2? 2000 exp per level

4? 4000 exp per level

Etc


Laird IceCubez wrote:

If classes are going to be modular what is the purpose of archetypes?

Not bashing, just curious.

I feel the same...


Bruno Mares wrote:
Laird IceCubez wrote:

If classes are going to be modular what is the purpose of archetypes?

Not bashing, just curious.

I feel the same...

I could see it used in a number of ways-

A devout worhiper of a specific god replaces some abilities with things that fit that diety.

Perhaps that is a path to multiclass - you replace your normal class feats with a different class feat.

maybe come old prestige classes could be done that way - say a Pathfinder Society explorer as a template.


McBugman wrote:
Blog wrote:
"Once you hit 1,000 XP, you level up! (That's for every level, so whenever you have 500 XP, you'll always know you're halfway to leveling up again! And if you have any extra Experience Points after leveling up, they count toward the next level.)"
Interesting, so I'm assuming this will go off APL vs the encounter's CR? For example, 100xp for an APL = CR encounter, then adding 25xp for every CR over APL or subtracting 25xp for every CR under APL.

I guess it'd be 50xp for every CR over/under.


Out of curiosity;
What was wrong with skill ranks and th unlock system from Unchained? Adding confusion to the system with "skill feats" when you already have general feats, class feats, combat feats, etc just seems like continuing the problem we had previously over using the term "traits".

Paizo Employee Designer

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Bardic Dave wrote:
Is this on your radar and are you taking steps to ensure you don't make the same mistake?

It is on our radar. We're already considering some changes to monsters based on our playtests. (They're kind of the last thing scheduled to get done since the document doesn't need to be printed.) We'll also be closely monitoring people's satisfaction with combat speed and complexity during the playtest.


For starters the fast track levels up after at least 14 (might be more, not certain atm) CR appropriate encounters.

So CR = APL will yield significantly less than 100 exp unless Paizo wants to accelerate leveling (which would allow less content to complete an AP...)


Laird IceCubez wrote:

If classes are going to be modular what is the purpose of archetypes?

Not bashing, just curious.

Just for one of infinite possible examples, an archetype could trade out some of your modular feat choices for specific hardcoded abilities tied flavorfully to the archetype. Just for another, maybe a dinosaur-themed druid limits their wild shape, wild empathy and summon options in exchange for adding a few abilities at levels where there were none or just for gaining better HP and attacks.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Chaotic_Blues wrote:
Please tell me there are multiple exp track options. I never was a fan of the fast xp progression track.

It takes 1,000 XP to level, so you can just require 1,200 XP, 1,500 XP or whatever if you want it to be slower.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Dragonborn3 wrote:
Matthias W wrote:
A dev (Seifter?) mentioned being able to make a functional Magus from the playtest materials,
In that you could attack with a weapon and cast a spell in the same round because of the new action system. That was it.

There's at least a small amount of feat support for the build too.

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Logan Bonner wrote:
Chaotic_Blues wrote:
Please tell me there are multiple exp track options. I never was a fan of the fast xp progression track.
It takes 1,000 XP to level, so you can just require 1,200 XP, 1,500 XP or whatever if you want it to be slower.

I'm hoping that slow, medium and fast level progression is in the core book without just saying "you can just use more XP". To keep the cleaness of 1000XP, you could instead adjust XP awards, and say to advance slower reduce all XP awarded by 25%, and to make it faster increase by 25% (having a table would make it easier, so if it said an APL encounter gives 100XP, it could list 75XP and 125XP in appropriate slow and fast columns.


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Is rolling for hit points an option? (Or is it easy to just introduce - like do classes all have the same hit die?)

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