After examining Alexis’ system (as mentioned last post) and crunching some numbers in 5e I have a surprising conclusion. I actually have to reduce the XP award to bring it from a 1e based game and into the realm of 5e.
I was originally thinking that I might have to boost the award for the “big creatures” but based on Deva (CR10) and a Solar (CR20) the XP reward based on damage dealt and damage received (plus bonuses for defeating the creature and total party damage, both to be split evenly across characters) the 10XP/20XP award came to just over double the CR10 XP for the Deva and just under triple the CR20 XP for the Solar.
So, I’m cutting the awards in half – which also make the awards for low CR creatures less egregiously high compared to their nominal CR XP value. Characters get 5XP per point of damage that they deal in combat (spell-casters get the “best ” result from area effect spells, but not XP for every creature damaged), and then if the party defeats the creature there is a bonus split amongst the participating characters equal to 5XP per HP of the creature. Similarly, characters gain 10XP per point of damage that they take, and at the end of combat the total damage that the party has taken is totaled and multiplied by 10XP with all the characters who participated in the combat splitting that total as well.
Yes, this generally awards more experience than normal for 5e system. But it has the benefit that it is more closely tied to character risk and actually experience. Quick fights where the players outclass a target or mob it with little damage to themselves result in less experience while fights where characters are brought near death (even when fighting “little monsters”) while slaying mobs of creatures result in more experience. It also closely links character XP to character behavior – while still providing a group bonus for those characters who hang back. Characters which prefer to play support and avoid getting “skin in the game” still advance, but slower than those who are “stuck in” while hitting and getting hit.
And, frankly, I don’t care if the players are advancing “quicker” than normal 5e – I’m confident of my ability to give my players a good game, and I tend to load my games with “lower CR” creatures in 5e terms. I’m guessing that, looking at the XP tables, characters will naturally slow down a bit around 5th or 6th level unless they start seeking out “higher CR” creatures – and in my game those are pretty nasty in combat. I’d expect to start seeing characters dropping if that was the plan.
In normal 5e I have to start “stocking the dungeons” with higher and higher CR creatures to building those “average adventuring day” encounters. Now, I just have to make encounters that make sense in terms of Gygaxian Naturalism, trust that I can run them in an enjoyable way, and let the players decide what an “average adventuring day” looks like.
Plus, I can run NPC’s with character classes as opponents now and don’t have to try and figure out what their CR is!