Slow, Medium and Fast progression - how often do they level up?


Rules Questions

Scarab Sages

Hey guys, I've just started a campaign and haven't decided on the level progression rate as yet.

I'm just curious how many "sessions" or "encounters" should a party face under each progression speed (Slow, Medium or Fast) before they gain a level?

Thanks in advance
Reebo


Reebo Kesh wrote:

Hey guys, I've just started a campaign and haven't decided on the level progression rate as yet.

I'm just curious how many "sessions" or "encounters" should a party face under each progression speed (Slow, Medium or Fast) before they gain a level?

Thanks in advance
Reebo

We play once a week in a 3-4 hour session and have leveled from 4 to 17 in 42 sessions by using medium progression. Seems about right.


Slow is about 28-30 same CR (as character level) encounters, Medium about 20, and Fast about 12-13 for a party of four.


Fast progression is like 3.5 progression, it takes about 9-12 hours per level, but there are many variables. Roleplaying slows things, many easy encounters take more time than a few difficult encounters.


My game masters and I when i am Game master mostly give a level when a adventure (part) is completed. Not minding the progression at all. Sometimes it means 4-5 sessions for an level and sometimes 1 session.

Most important is how are you and your players feeling about it. If the feal it is fine to level very slow, then np, but if they feel that their character is not advancing at all and get bored because its always the same, you should give faster xp.

Scarab Sages

PathfinderEspañol wrote:
Fast progression is like 3.5 progression, it takes about 9-12 hours per level, but there are many variables. Roleplaying slows things, many easy encounters take more time than a few difficult encounters.

Thanks guys,

I was thinking Medium progression and PathfinderEspañol hours per level sound about right as the PCs are about to hit 2nd level after 8+ hours of play

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Reebo Kesh wrote:
PathfinderEspañol wrote:
Fast progression is like 3.5 progression, it takes about 9-12 hours per level, but there are many variables. Roleplaying slows things, many easy encounters take more time than a few difficult encounters.

Thanks guys,

I was thinking Medium progression and PathfinderEspañol hours per level sound about right as the PCs are about to hit 2nd level after 8+ hours of play

Honestly, I'd avoid talking in terms of "hours" or "sessions" and stick with the "encounters" units. Never, in my decade of playing 3.5 have I leveled in 9-12 hours. Heck in my current game we've had 4 six hour sessions of ALL dungeon crawling and combat and still haven't leveled.

I think Leonal has it though for medium progression wrote:
Slow is about 28-30 same CR (as character level) encounters, Medium about 20, and Fast about 12-13 for a party of four.

Personally I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of "you'll level when I tell you" instead of dishing out XP. It lets leveling fit the power curve of the adventure, and it lets the GM keep a pace of the adventure that everybody at the table (including the GM) is happy with.


Usually go with the idea that new players need more time at low levels to get a feel for the powers the characters have, b/4 they have to select new feats or gain new abilities.....(several games at 1st-2nd level)...

usually end up in game terms of one game to 2nd, 3-4, to 3rd, about 3-4 games for most levels until about 9th. Then slow down a little more.....


Leonal wrote:
Slow is about 28-30 same CR (as character level) encounters, Medium about 20, and Fast about 12-13 for a party of four.

What he said.

MisterSlanky wrote:
Personally I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of "you'll level when I tell you" instead of dishing out XP. It lets leveling fit the power curve of the adventure, and it lets the GM keep a pace of the adventure that everybody at the table (including the GM) is happy with.

What he said.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
MisterSlanky wrote:
Personally I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of "you'll level when I tell you" instead of dishing out XP. It lets leveling fit the power curve of the adventure, and it lets the GM keep a pace of the adventure that everybody at the table (including the GM) is happy with.

That's how it's always ended up in any game I've played -- sure, you get XP, but the GM always decides when that XP gets applied to induce a level up.


Gotta say, I started the campaign on Medium and we've been finding it slow.

It's worth comparing the Pathfinder grades to that of 3.5. PF Fast is...not so fast, there. Medium drags its heels. Slow isn't joking.

I'm all for gradual advancement, but was caught slightly off guard by not having realised what a considerable difference there is between 3.5 standard and PF Medium xp rates. If you want something akin to 3.5, go with Fast - and even then you'll be progressing more slowly.

(CR awards may offset this slightly, not sure. They haven't seemed to in my game).

Difference between PF Fast and 3.5 at 2nd: PF +30%

PF Fast and 3.5 at 5th: +0%

PF Fast and 3.5 at 9th: +about 48%

PF Fast and 3.5 at 14th: I dunno, my maths is terrible - about 200%?

There must be some CR bonus offsetting that - haven't checked - but as I say, I'm not noticing it as yet (early days, pushing 4th). Medium is significantly slower than 3.5 in my play experience.


porpentine wrote:

Gotta say, I started the campaign on Medium and we've been finding it slow.

It's worth comparing the Pathfinder grades to that of 3.5. PF Fast is...not so fast, there. Medium drags its heels. Slow isn't joking.

I'm all for gradual advancement, but was caught slightly off guard by not having realised what a considerable difference there is between 3.5 standard and PF Medium xp rates. If you want something akin to 3.5, go with Fast - and even then you'll be progressing more slowly.

(CR awards may offset this slightly, not sure. They haven't seemed to in my game).

Difference between PF Fast and 3.5 at 2nd: PF +30%

PF Fast and 3.5 at 5th: +0%

PF Fast and 3.5 at 9th: +about 48%

PF Fast and 3.5 at 14th: I dunno, my maths is terrible - about 200%?

There must be some CR bonus offsetting that - haven't checked - but as I say, I'm not noticing it as yet (early days, pushing 4th). Medium is significantly slower than 3.5 in my play experience.

Sorry but I have to disagree. If you compare strictly the numbers of XP required to be of a particular level, sure, Pathfinder requires a HUGE amount of XP compared to 3.5.

14th level: 3.5= 91.000 xp , PF (Fast): 295.000 xp

A huge increase, right? Well, no.

Because of an important difference, XP gained from encounters have changed, too.

Let's make a calculation.

Spoiler:

A 3.5 character of 10th level has 45.000 xp. He needs to reach 55.000 xp to become an 11th level character. Needed xp = 10.000
According to 3.5 Xp tables, a 4-group characters would need exactly 13,33 periodic CR 10 encounters to gain 10.000 xp and thus level up.
One CR 10 encounter for a 10th level character = 3000 xp
13,33 encounters x 3000 xp = 39.999,9999 xp - or rather, 40.000 xp
40.000 xp to a 4-group characters = 10.000 xp each

Now, let's see a 10th level PF Fast character.
At 10th level, he has 71.000 xp. To reach 11th level (105.000 xp) he needs 34.000 xp.
One CR 10 encounter gives 9600 xp. For a 4-group character, this means 2400 xp.
How many 2400 xp encounters such a character would need to gain 34.000 xp ?
34.000 / 2400 = 14,16 encounters, just slightly more than in 3.5

Now, lets see a 15th level character.
3.5: 105.000 xp, required 15.000 xp to reach 16th level (120.000 xp).
One CR 15 encounter = 4500 xp. For a 4-group party, it means 1.125 xp each character.
Number of 1.125 xp encounters to gain 15.000 xp. 15.000/ 1.125 = 13.333 (again)
PF: 425.000 xp. required 175.000 xp to reach 16th level (600.000 xp).
One CR 15 encounter = 51.200 xp. For a 4-group party, it means 12.800 xp each character.
Number of 12.800 xp encounters to gain 175.000 xp: 175.000/12.800 = 13,67 (again, just slightly more than in 3.5)

I could go on for each level, but it would be tedious. Basically, you can say (if you want) that you suffer an average increase of +5% encounters with Fast Progression than in 3.5. This doesn't take in consideration, however, that at some levels the xp progression is slightly lower than in 3.5 (at level 1, for example, you need EXACTLY 13 CR 1 encounters to rise to level 2, not 13,33). So, it can be easily said that Fast Progression and 3.5 progression are more or less equivalent.

Now, for Medium Progression being around 20 encounters and Slow Progression being around 30 encounters, this is true - but I'm too lazy to make the calculations... However, it's true that Medium Progression is significantly slower than 3.5 - it requires about +54% encounters, in fact (20 encounters vs 13).


MisterSlanky wrote:
Reebo Kesh wrote:


Honestly, I'd avoid talking in terms of "hours" or "sessions" and stick with the "encounters" units. Never, in my decade of playing 3.5 have I leveled in 9-12 hours. Heck in my current game we've had 4 six hour sessions of ALL dungeon crawling and combat and still haven't leveled.

Personally I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of "you'll level when I tell you" instead of dishing out XP. It lets leveling fit the power curve of the adventure, and it lets the GM keep a pace of the adventure that everybody at the table (including the GM) is happy with.

Encounter is a terrible time measuring unit too, some encounters take half an hour, others take hours, the ammount of encounters needed depends of its CR (you can get a level playing just 3-4 encounters using the Fast progression) and more players = more time per encounter.

Atm I'm giving levels and treasure when I feel that we had done enough to gain a level, because any adjudication of xp is always arbitrary, however I calculate the xps to check out how are the new rules.


Personally, my players all wanted to stay with 3.5 XP. As long as they have the encounters rated by CR, it's easy. I just keep a old DMG for the XP chart, and everyone knows what XP they need for next level (1000 X the level you are at). What makes it interesting is that we are finishing our third AP, and the level brackets have worked out exactly for each AP. I do realize that the Runelords and other early APs were written for 3.5, we'll see how it works when we get to Kingmaker. But for now, we're staying with the simple XP chart.


Thanks, Wraith - I knew there had to be something making up the difference, to a degree, but hadn't bothered to do the comparison fully.

Still, your better analysis does show that Pathfinder Fast starts out a fraction faster than 3.5, then falls farther and farther behind, right? So that even the Fast setting is significantly slower than 3.5 over 20 levels.

Medium does feel a good deal slower, certainly, and your figures bear that out.

In any case, even with Medium, the +50% encounter time between levels is fine, as long as the DM is aware and planning for it, and the players are aware of it too. I simply assumed Medium equalled vanilla base rate (ie close to 3.5-led expectation), when in fact it plays rather differently.

I assume Pathfinder *had* to change the tables anyway - I don't think the 3.5 xp rate was/is open-content - but it seems to me 'Fast' is a shade misleading for a rate which is, over 20 levels, slower than 3.5. Not a big quibble, more an observation from a briefly wrongfooted DM.


porpentine wrote:

Thanks, Wraith - I knew there had to be something making up the difference, to a degree, but hadn't bothered to do the comparison fully.

Still, your better analysis does show that Pathfinder Fast starts out a fraction faster than 3.5, then falls farther and farther behind, right?

No, there's not really a pattern to it; the variation is due to the whimsical rounding in the level and encounter XP charts. But it's always around 13-and-a-bit.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
PathfinderEspañol wrote:

Encounter is a terrible time measuring unit too, some encounters take half an hour, others take hours, the ammount of encounters needed depends of its CR (you can get a level playing just 3-4 encounters using the Fast progression) and more players = more time per encounter.

Atm I'm giving levels and treasure when I feel that we had done enough to gain a level, because any adjudication of xp is always arbitrary, however I calculate the xps to check out how are the new rules.

But per encounter is how the XP tables were developed. They're developed to account for equal CR encounters by a 4 person group. You're trying to mix the encounters and time units and frankly it's going to be completely different for each group depending on their playstyle, their classes, their numbers, and tons of other factors.

So back to the original question: How often do you level up?

Under medium XP progression you level every 20 equal CR encounters. Faster if you're fighting higher CR encounters, slower if you're fighting lower CR encounters. If you can play through five encounters in every five hour play session (which seems common since that's what we can do in PFS), you should level every 20 hours of playtime give or take. That number though could fluctuate from 10 to 80 though depending on how your group plays.


In my game I don't pay attention to things like CR and such. In fact, for the most part, we don't track XP. Whenever the GM(in this caseme) feel slike the players have done enough to gain a level they gain a level.

As for my personal style, players tend to level up to the lvl 5 range pretty quickly as I simply find running for players in that level range are much more interesting than lower levels. It tends to be a steady level gain until 12+ at which is slows up a great deal.

I try and keep my players focused on accomplishing goals rather than gaining levels.

Scarab Sages

I'm currently running a pretty combat-heavy campaign. *brain needed a break from politics*

We're running on the fast xp chart, and the players level a bit more often than every other session. I'd say it's closer to every 1.5 or 1.7 sessions. Which is fine for me.

We get together once every three or four weeks and play from about two pm until midnight, with an hour or so off for lunch :P


I give them "you level when I say so"...

but I try to define their leveling event in an obvious way. Usually toward the beginning of the adventure, the plot hook will drop, and I actually tell them "you level when you accomplish x".

Pathfinder #3 spoiler example:

Spoiler:
The moment they were sent to investigate For Rannick, they knew that retaking the fort would get them a level. I told them as much.

This works really well, keeps the party on track, and encourages them to bypass unnecessary combat when it furthers their goals. That last point is a big deal for me.

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