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DM'ing and the XP chart question


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


I wanted to run a game with four players around level 7 and the expected length would be around six months playing once a week for five or six hours. I took a look at the medium XP chart and noticed something a little odd I hope someone can clarify for me.

There's this weird jump in XP requirement at level 10. It also happens at level 16.

The boring math:
Level 8 (51,000 xp) to level 9 (75,000 xp) requires 24,000 xp.

Level 9 (75,000 xp) to level 10 (105,000 xp) requires 30,000 xp.
A marginal increase from the previous requirement of 6,000 xp.

Level 10 (105,000 xp) to level 11 (155,000 xp) requires 50,000 xp.
A marginal increase from the previous requirement of 20,000 xp.

Level 11 (155,000 xp) to level 12 (220,000 xp) requires 65,000 xp.
A marginal increase from the previous requirement of 15,000 xp.

Level 12 (220,000 xp) to level 13 (315,000 xp) requires 95,000 xp.
A marginal increase from the previous requirement of 30,000 xp.

Simple terms:
Additional marginal XP requirements go from 6,000 to 20,000 to 15,000 to 30,000.

It's like the XP chart wants the game to slow down at level 10, make level 11 easy, and continue on past level 12 per the norm. I took a look at the Experience Point Awards table and that's linear as far as the XP reward increases go (in fact, every other level the marginal gain doubles from the previous one. Long story short, it's linear looking).

It seems relatively harder to go from level 10 to level 11 than it would be from any other spot. I thought that maybe this would be because of prestige classes or some universal event (e.g. every class gets a huge ability around 10) but it is not always the case. Some prestige classes can start before 10 and finish in the late teens which means this "bump" happens right in the middle of everything.

Even the slow and fast charts have this "bump" at level 10; although, the slow chart had "bumps" at 8-9, 10-11, and 12-13. The fast chart had level 13 as an easy one.

The entire reason for me asking and noticing is that I'm allowing my players access to item creation feats and a decent amount of in-game downtime between sessions, so I spent the last few hours going over excel spreadsheets with magic items and formulas. The XP chart happened to make its way on there because I was bored. Maybe I am over thinking this entirely but I like number crunching and irregularities get me thinking a lot. I'm hoping my tiredness didn't cause me to miss some paragraph explaining this!

Too long, didn't read version: The XP chart seems to section off games at level 1-10, level 10-16, and level 16-20. Epic does not exist for us at the moment; it was imbalanced in 3.5ed and we tend to play for RP and flavor if games extend for years and hit that point. Anyway, am I crazy in this assumption? And if so, should I just start them at 10 instead?


I think you are spending too much time on it. Do what I do and don't bother with handing out xp. When I want my PC's to gain a level I just tell them at the end of an adventure they've all raised one level.

At the moment I'm giving them one level/adventure (full weekend of playing). When they reach level 5 I'll slow it down to giving out a level every two adventures, and I'm planning on at least three adventures to level when they hit level 10. Perhaps more.

There are other rewards for adventuring than leveling, and this allows you to keep them at certain power levels for as long as you need them to be there. Otherwise, for longer campaigns you'll end up being stuck messing with CR 20+ mobs when you aren't really to bring out the big guns, just to keep things challenging for them.

Scarab Sages

Not sure if this is in the correct thread as the Beginner Box only goes to Level 5.


My apologies, I did not read the forum description too well. First time on here. =(

Possible to move the thread then?

Belazoar wrote:

I think you are spending too much time on it. Do what I do and don't bother with handing out xp. When I want my PC's to gain a level I just tell them at the end of an adventure they've all raised one level.

I had not considered just pushing their XP to where I need it. I'm used to very structured xp rewards but giving them a large reward for completion a section would be a good idea!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Here's the formula for xp to be used on an excel spreadsheet:

=ROUND((2000 * (2^FLOOR(A3/2,1) - 1) + 3000 * (2^FLOOR((A3-1)/2,1) - 1))/10^(FLOOR(SQRT(A3-1),1)+1)*2,0)/2*10^(FLOOR(SQRT(A3-1),1)+1)

The character level is in the cell A3.

I realize that giving you the formula does not answer your question, but if you feel like diving into the math of it maybe you'll find some clues.

I think you've asked a great question, I wonder what the reasoning is behind making some levels last longer as more xp is required to advance.


A simpler formula to approximate things is:
=5000*(2^(A3/2)-1)

A3 is the current level, and it'll give the total XP needed to level.

Another approximation is to take 2000 XP needed to level, then it's 1.414 times that to get from 2 to 3. Then 1.414 times that to get from 3 to 4. Total those to get the total XP needed for a given level.


Brown dog wrote:
I had not considered just pushing their XP to where I need it. I'm used to very structured xp rewards but giving them a large reward for completion a section would be a good idea!

I prefer not having to track experience, especially not if I as a player do it, as it makes the game feel more like an MMO with quests that I need to complete to get a big rush of experience. The idea of a game of tabletop Diablo makes me shudder :O

That said, if you're going to do experience instead of just telling them they level when they level, I'd suggest not having them keep track of it, or even telling them about it.


revloc02 wrote:

Here's the formula for xp to be used on an excel spreadsheet:

=ROUND((2000 * (2^FLOOR(A3/2,1) - 1) + 3000 * (2^FLOOR((A3-1)/2,1) - 1))/10^(FLOOR(SQRT(A3-1),1)+1)*2,0)/2*10^(FLOOR(SQRT(A3-1),1)+1)

The character level is in the cell A3.

I realize that giving you the formula does not answer your question, but if you feel like diving into the math of it maybe you'll find some clues.

I think you've asked a great question, I wonder what the reasoning is behind making some levels last longer as more xp is required to advance.

Interesting. I found out of you ROUND to 1 instead of 0 the XP chart remains relatively the same and looks VERY linear without large marginal "bumps."

From level 1 to level 20, using ROUND 1, there is a total 55,000 difference. This means using ROUND 1 requires 55,000 less xp than using ROUND 0 (as the current formula does). Overall, considering level 20 is 3,600,000 xp, it is a very small difference.

There are still a few marginal "bumps" but they are very tiny and not as noticeable.

Chart using ROUND 0 (normal xp chart):

1 0
2 2000
3 5000
4 9000
5 15000
6 23000
7 35000
8 51000
9 75000
10 105000
11 155000
12 220000
13 315000
14 445000
15 635000
16 890000
17 1300000
18 1800000
19 2550000
20 3600000

Chart using ROUND 1:

1 0
2 2000
3 5000
4 9000
5 15000
6 23000
7 35000
8 51000
9 75000
10 107000
11 155000
12 219000
13 315000
14 443000
15 635000
16 891000
17 1275000
18 1785000
19 2555000
20 3580000

I do realize that overall this has little impact as the difference between the two charts is small and only really shows up at levels 16 to 20.

My math homework this week is finding if the Inquisitor's "burst" damage balances itself.


Wow, you're right. That's kinda interesting. Probably completely useless, but I can't help it, I found it interesting.

Also, kudos on finding that. It was pretty clever searching to uncover something rather obscure like that.

So makes me wonder when whomever was making the original chart if they had both formulae and chose the "odd" one, and what was their motivation in doing so.

Again, completely trivial, but I enjoy numbers.


No matter the level it takes about 20 CR appropriate encounters to advance a level. Even at the as you say "difficult" transition between 10-11 it only takes 22.9 encounters, so for all intents, each level is the same: about 20 CR appropriate encounters will get you to the next level no matter what level you are on.


Each level takes (square root of two) times as much XP as the previous level. Then they apply a lot of rounding. Pretty much everything else follows from there. (Actually, they probably started encounter XP and went from there, but it's the same idea.)

All the weird jumps come from rounding.

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