Rewards

Player characters can receive three kinds of rewards for their heroic deeds: Hero Points, which they can use to get out of sticky situations; Experience Points, which they’ll use to level up; and treasure, including powerful magic items.

Hero Points

Unlike Experience Points and treasure, which stay with a character, Hero Points are granted and used on a per session basis. At the start of a game session, you give out 1 Hero Point to each player character. You can also give out more Hero Points during the game, typically after a heroic moment or accomplishment (see below). A player can spend 1 Hero Point for a reroll, or they can spend all their Hero Points to recover when near death.

In a typical game, you’ll hand out about 1 Hero Point during each hour of play after the first (for example, 3 extra points in a 4-hour session). If you want a more over-the-top game, or if your group is up against incredible odds and showing immense bravery, you might give them out at a faster rate, like 1 every 30 minutes (6 over a 4-hour session). Try to ensure each PC has opportunities to earn Hero Points, and avoid granting all of the Hero Points to a single character.

Brave last stands, protecting innocents, and using a smart strategy or spell to save the day could all earn a character a Hero Point. Look for those moments when everybody at the table celebrates or sits back in awe of a character’s accomplishments; that’s your cue to issue that character a Hero Point.

The party could also gain Hero Points for their accomplishments throughout the game. For a moderate or major accomplishment, consider giving out a Hero Point as well. This point typically goes to a PC who was instrumental in attaining that accomplishment.

Experience Points

As characters adventure, they earn Experience Points (XP).

These awards come from achieving goals, completing social encounters, exploring new places, fighting monsters, overcoming hazards, and other sorts of deeds. You have a great deal of control over when the characters gain XP, though the following guidelines are what you’re expected to give out in a standard campaign.

Normally, when a player character reaches 1,000 XP or more, they level up, reduce their XP by 1,000, and start progressing toward the next level. Other means of advancement are described in the Advancement Speeds sidebar.

XP Awards

Experience Points are awarded for encounters, exploration, and progress in an adventure. When the PCs face direct opposition, such as a fight or a social conflict, the XP earned is based on the level of the challenge the party overcame. Characters can also gain XP from exploration, such as finding secret areas, locating a hideout, enduring a dangerous environment, or mapping an entire dungeon.

Any XP awarded goes to all members of the group. For instance, if the party wins a battle worth 100 XP, they each get 100 XP, even if the party’s rogue was off in a vault stealing treasure during the battle. But if the rogue collected a splendid and famous gemstone, which you’ve decided was a moderate accomplishment worth 30 XP, each member of the party gets 30 XP, too.

Adversaries and Hazards

Encounters with adversaries and hazards grant a set amount of XP. When the group overcomes an encounter with creatures or hazards, each character gains XP equal to the total XP of the creatures and hazards in the encounter (this excludes XP adjustments for different party sizes; see Party Size for details).

Trivial encounters don’t normally grant any XP, but you might decide to award the same XP as for a minor or moderate accomplishment for a trivial encounter that was important to the story, or for an encounter that became trivial because of the order in which the PCs encountered it in a nonlinear adventure.

Accomplishments

Characters’ actions that move the story forward—like securing a major alliance, establishing an organization, or causing an NPC to have a change of heart—are considered accomplishments and should be rewarded with XP. Their significance determines the size of the XP award. Determine whether the achievement was a minor, moderate, or major accomplishment, and refer to Table 10–8: XP Awards to award an appropriate amount of XP. Minor accomplishments include all sorts of significant, memorable, or surprising moments in the game. A moderate accomplishment typically represents a goal that takes most of a session to complete, and a major accomplishment is usually the culmination of the characters’ efforts across many sessions. Moderate and major accomplishments usually come after heroic effort, so that’s an ideal time to also give a Hero Point to one or more of the characters involved.

As mentioned earlier, it’s up to you how much XP to give out for accomplishments. As a general guideline, in a given game session, you’ll typically give several minor awards, one or two moderate awards, and only one major award, if any.

Table 10–8: XP Awards
Accomplishment XP Award
Minor 10 XP
Moderate* 30 XP
Major* 80 XP

* Typically earns a Hero Point as well.

Adversary Level XP Award
Party level – 4 10 XP
Party level – 3 15 XP
Party level – 2 20 XP
Party level – 1 30 XP
Party level 40 XP
Party level + 1 60 XP
Party level + 2 80 XP
Party level + 3 120 XP
Party level + 4 160 XP
Hazard Level XP Award
Simple Hazard Complex Hazard
Party level – 4 2 XP 10 XP
Party level – 3 3 XP 15 XP
Party level – 2 4 XP 20 XP
Party level – 1 6 XP 30 XP
Party level 8 XP 40 XP
Party level + 1 12 XP 60 XP
Party level + 2 16 XP 80 XP
Party level + 3 24 XP 120 XP
Party level + 4 32 XP 160 XP

Party Size

The rules for advancement assume a group of four PCs.

The rules for encounters describe how to accommodate groups of a different size, but the XP awards don’t change—always award the amount of XP listed for a group of four characters. You usually won’t need to make many adjustments for a differently sized group outside of encounters. Be careful of providing too many ways to get accomplishment XP when you have a large group, though, since they can pursue multiple accomplishments at once, which can lead to the PCs leveling up too fast.

Group Parity and Party Level

It’s recommended that you keep all the player characters at the same XP total. This makes it much easier to know what challenges are suitable for your players. Having characters at different levels can mean weaker characters die more easily and their players feel less effective, which in turn makes the game less fun for those players.

If you choose not to keep the whole group at the same character level, you’ll need to select a party level to determine your XP budget for encounters. Choose the level you think best represents the party’s ability as a whole. Use the highest level if only one or two characters are behind, or an average if everyone is at a different level. If only one character is two or more levels ahead, use a party level suitable for the lower-level characters, and adjust the encounters as if there were one additional PC for every 2 levels the higher-level character has beyond the rest of the party.

Party members who are behind the party level gain double the XP other characters do until they reach the party’s level. When tracking individually, you’ll need to decide whether party members get XP for missed sessions.

Treasure

As the GM, it’s your job to distribute treasure to the player characters. Treasure appears throughout an adventure, and the PCs obtain it by raiding treasure hoards, defeating foes who carry valuable items or currency, getting paid for successful quests, and any other way you can imagine.

This section provides guidelines for distributing treasure in a typical the game campaign, but you always have the freedom to assign extra treasure for a high?powered game, less treasure for a gritty survival horror adventure, or any amount in between.

Treasure By Level

Table 10–9: Party Treasure by Level on the next page shows how much treasure you should give out over the course of a level for a group of four PCs. The Total Value column gives an approximate total value of all the treasure, in case you want to spend it like a budget. The next several columns provide suggestions for breaking down that total into permanent items, which the PCs keep and use for a long time; consumables, which are destroyed after being used once; and currency, which includes coins, gems, and other valuables primarily spent to acquire items or services. The final column gives the amount of currency to add for each PC beyond four in the group; use this only if you have more than four characters in the game. (Different Party Sizes provides more guidance on this.) For instance, between the time your PCs reach 3rd level and the time they reach 4th level, you should give them the treasure listed in the table for 3rd level, worth approximately 500 gp: two 4th-level permanent items, two 3rd-level permanent items, two 4th-level consumables, two 3rd-level consumables, two 2nd-level consumables, and 120 gp worth of currency.

When assigning 1st-level permanent items, your best options are armor, weapons, and other gear from Chapter 6 worth between 10 and 20 gp. The treasure listed in the row for 20th level represents a full level’s worth of adventures, even though there is no way to reach 21st level.

Some creature entries list treasure that can be gained by defeating an individual creature; this counts toward the treasure for any given level.

Published adventures include a suitable amount of treasure throughout the adventure, though you should still monitor the party’s capabilities as the PCs progress through the adventure to make sure they don’t end up behind.

Currency

A party will find money and other treasure that isn’t useful on its own but that can be sold or spent on other things. The gp values in the Party Currency column don’t refer only to coins. Gems, art objects, crafting materials (including Precious materials), jewelry, and even items of much lower level than the party’s level can all be more interesting than a pile of gold.

If you include a lower-level permanent item as part of a currency reward, count only half the item’s Price toward the gp amount, assuming the party will sell the item or use it as crafting material. But lower-level consumables might still be useful, particularly scrolls, and if you think your party will use them, count those items at their full Price.

Other Types of Treasure

Not all treasure has to be items or currency. Crafters can use the Crafting skill to turn raw materials directly into items instead of buying those items with coins. Knowledge can expand a character’s abilities, and formulas make good treasure for item-crafting characters. A spellcaster might get access to new spells from an enemy’s spellbook or an ancient scholar, while a monk might retrain techniques with rarer ones learned from a master on a remote mountaintop.

Treasure and Rarity

Giving out uncommon and rare items and formulas can get players more interested in treasure. It’s best to introduce uncommon items as a reward fairly regularly but rare items only occasionally. These rewards are especially compelling when the adventurers get the item by defeating or outsmarting an enemy who carries an item that fits their backstory or theme.

Uncommon and rare formulas make great treasure for a character who Crafts items. Note that if an uncommon or rare formula is broadly disseminated, it eventually becomes more common. This can take months or years, but the item might start showing up in shops all around the world.

Table 10–9: Party Treasure By Level
Level Total Value Permanent Items (By Item Level) Consumables (By Item Level) Party Currency Currency per Additional PC
1 175 gp 2nd: 2, 1st: 2* 2nd: 2, 1st: 3 40 gp 10 gp
2 300 gp 3rd: 2, 2nd: 2 3rd: 2, 2nd: 2, 1st: 2 70 gp 18 gp
3 500 gp 4th: 2, 3rd: 2 4th: 2, 3rd: 2, 2nd: 2 120 gp 30 gp
4 850 gp 5th: 2, 4th: 2 5th: 2, 4th: 2, 3rd: 2 200 gp 50 gp
5 1,350 gp 6th: 2, 5th: 2 6th: 2, 5th: 2, 4th: 2 320 gp 80 gp
6 2,000 gp 7th: 2, 6th: 2 7th: 2, 6th: 2, 5th: 2 500 gp 125 gp
7 2,900 gp 8th: 2, 7th: 2 8th: 2, 7th: 2, 6th: 2 720 gp 180 gp
8 4,000 gp 9th: 2, 8th: 2 9th: 2, 8th: 2, 7th: 2 1,000 gp 250 gp
9 5,700 gp 10th: 2, 9th: 2 10th: 2, 9th: 2, 8th: 2 1,400 gp 350 gp
10 8,000 gp 11th: 2, 10th: 2 11th: 2, 10th: 2, 9th: 2 2,000 gp 500 gp
11 11,500 gp 12th: 2, 11th: 2 12th: 2, 11th: 2, 10th: 2 2,800 gp 700 gp
12 16,500 gp 13th: 2, 12th: 2 13th: 2, 12th: 2, 11th: 2 4,000 gp 1,000 gp
13 25,000 gp 14th: 2, 13th: 2 14th: 2, 13th: 2, 12th: 2 6,000 gp 1,500 gp
14 36,500 gp 15th: 2, 14th: 2 15th: 2, 14th: 2, 13th: 2 9,000 gp 2,250 gp
15 54,500 gp 16th: 2, 15th: 2 16th: 2, 15th: 2, 14th: 2 13,000 gp 3,250 gp
16 82,500 gp 17th: 2, 16th: 2 17th: 2, 16th: 2, 15th: 2 20,000 gp 5,000 gp
17 128,000 gp 18th: 2, 17th: 2 18th: 2, 17th: 2, 16th: 2 30,000 gp 7,500 gp
18 208,000 gp 19th: 2, 18th: 2 19th: 2, 18th: 2, 17th: 2 48,000 gp 12,000 gp
19 355,000 gp 20th: 2, 19th: 2 20th: 2, 19th: 2, 18th: 2 80,000 gp 20,000 gp
20 490,000 gp 20th: 4 20th: 4, 19th: 2 140,000 gp 35,000 gp

* Many 1st-level permanent items should be items from Chapter 6 instead of magic items.

Different Item Levels

The levels listed for items on Table 10–9: Party Treasure by Level aren’t set in stone. You can provide items of slightly higher or lower level as long as you take into account the value of the items you hand out. For instance, suppose you were considering giving a party of 11th-level PCs a Runestone with a fortification Rune (with a Price of 2,000 gp) as one of their 12th-level items, but you realize they’ve had trouble finding armor in their recent adventures, so you instead decide to give them a suit of 11th-level +2 Resilient armor (1,400 gp) instead. Since the armor has a lower Price than the Rune, you might also add a 9th-level shadow Rune (650 gp) to make up the difference. The total isn’t exactly the same, but that’s all right.

However, if you wanted to place a 13th-level permanent item in a treasure hoard, you could remove two 11th-level permanent items to make a roughly equivalent exchange. When you make an exchange upward like this, be cautious: not only might you introduce an item with effects that are disruptive at the party’s current level of play, but you also might give an amazing item to one PC while other characters don’t gain any new items at all!

If you’re playing in a long-term campaign, you can spread out the treasure over time. A major milestone can give extra treasure at one level, followed by a tougher dungeon with fewer new items at the next level. Check back occasionally to see whether each PC’s treasure is comparable to the amount they’d get if they created a new character at their current level, as described under Treasure for New Characters below. They should be a bit higher. but if there’s a significant discrepancy, adjust the adventure’s upcoming treasure rewards accordingly.

Different Party Sizes

If a party has more than four characters, add the following for each additional character:

  • One permanent item of the party’s level or 1 level higher
  • Two consumables, usually one of the party’s level and one of 1 level higher
  • Currency equal to the value in the Currency per Additional PC column of Table 10–9

If the party has fewer than four characters, you can subtract the same amount for each missing character, but since the game is inherently more challenging with a smaller group that can’t cover all roles as efficiently, you might consider subtracting less treasure and allowing the extra gear help compensate for the smaller group size.

Treasure For New Characters

When your new campaign starts at a higher level, a new player joins an existing group, or a current player’s character dies and they need a new one, your campaign will have one or more PCs who don’t start at 1st level. In these cases, refer to Table 10–10: Character Wealth on the next page, which shows how many common permanent items of various levels the PC should have, in addition to currency. A single item on this table is always a baseline item. If the player wants armor or a weapon with property Runes, they must buy the property Runes separately, and for armor or a weapon made of a Precious material, they must pay for the Precious material separately as well.

These values are for a PC just starting out at the given level. If the PC is joining a party that has already made progress toward the next level, consider giving the new character an additional item of their current level. If your party has kept the treasure of dead or retired PCs and passed it on to new characters, you might need to give the new character less than the values on the table or reduce some of the treasure rewards of the next few adventures.

Item Selection

You should work with the new character’s player to decide which items their character has. Allow the player to make suggestions, and if they know what items they want their character to have, respect their choices unless you believe those choices will have a negative impact on your game.

At your discretion, you can grant the player character uncommon or rare items that fit their backstory and concept, keeping in mind how many items of those rarities you have introduced into your game. The player can also spend currency on consumables or lower-level permanent items, keeping the rest as coinage. As usual, you determine which items the character can find for purchase.

A PC can voluntarily choose an item that has a lower level than any or all of the listed items, but they don’t gain any more currency by doing so.

If you choose, you can allow the player to instead start with a lump sum of currency and buy whatever common items they want, with a maximum item level of 1 lower than the character’s level. This has a lower total value than the normal allotment of permanent items and currency, since the player can select a higher ratio of high-level items.

Table 10–10: Character Wealth
Level Permanent Items Currency Lump Sum
1 15 gp 15 gp
2 1st: 1 20 gp 30 gp
3 2nd: 1, 1st: 2 25 gp 75 gp
4 3rd: 1, 2nd: 2, 1st: 1 30 gp 140 gp
5 4th: 1, 3rd: 2, 2nd: 1, 1st: 2 50 gp 270 gp
6 5th: 1, 4th: 2, 3rd: 1, 2nd: 2 80 gp 450 gp
7 6th: 1, 5th: 2, 4th: 1, 3rd: 2 125 gp 720 gp
8 7th: 1, 6th: 2, 5th: 1, 4th: 2 180 gp 1,100 gp
9 8th: 1, 7th: 2, 6th: 1, 5th: 2 250 gp 1,600 gp
10 9th: 1, 8th: 2, 7th: 1, 6th: 2 350 gp 2,300 gp
11 10th: 1, 9th: 2, 8th: 1, 7th: 2 500 gp 3,200 gp
12 11th: 1, 10th: 2, 9th: 1, 8th: 2 700 gp 4,500 gp
13 12th: 1, 11th: 2, 10th: 1, 9th: 2 1,000 gp 6,400 gp
14 13th: 1, 12th: 2, 11th: 1, 10th: 2 1,500 gp 9,300 gp
15 14th: 1, 13th: 2, 12th: 1, 11th: 2 2,250 gp 13,500 gp
16 15th: 1, 14th: 2, 13th: 1, 12th: 2 3,250 gp 20,000 gp
17 16th: 1, 15th: 2, 14th: 1, 13th: 2 5,000 gp 30,000 gp
18 17th: 1, 16th: 2, 15th: 1, 14th: 2 7,500 gp 45,000 gp
19 18th: 1, 17th: 2, 16th: 1, 15th: 2 12,000 gp 69,000 gp
20 19th: 1, 18th: 2, 17th: 1, 16th: 2 20,000 gp 112,000 gp

Buying and Selling Items

Characters can usually buy and sell items only during downtime. An item can typically be sold for only half its Price, though art objects, gems, and raw materials can be sold for their full Price.

Each of the environments presented in this section uses the terrain rules in different ways, so be sure to familiarize yourself with those rules before reading this section. Some environments refer to the rules for climate and natural disasters. Many places have the traits of multiple environments; a snow-covered mountain might use both the arctic and mountain environments, for example. For environmental features with effects based on how tall or deep they are, those effects vary further based on a creature’s size. For instance, a shallow bog for a Medium creature might be a deep bog for smaller creatures, and a deep bog for a Medium creature could be only a shallow bog for a larger creature (and so insignificant for a truly massive creature that it isn’t even difficult terrain).

Table 10–12 lists the features of various environments alphabetically for quick reference. The Proficiency DC Band entry indicates a range of appropriate simple DCs for that environmental feature, while also providing a rough estimate of the danger or complexity of the feature.