Character progression in recent editions of D&D is just too fast.
Most adventure paths for Pathfinder or D&D5 have the PCs go up 10 to 20 levels in a matter of months, if not weeks. I prefer a more “realistic” progression rate, where a young character just out of his studies can’t just become a world-class expert in his field in a year or less.
In My Next Campaign (yeah, whatever), I think training will take time, as it used to do in older editions. I don’t want to make it strictly downtime as this does not have a big influence in actual play; I’m thinking more of setting a minimal time to level.
Say a character earns XP normally, but has to “spend” them to actually gain levels. So at 1st level, you may earn, say, 1000 XP, but you won’t get to level 2 before you spend 300 of them on training. A character can’t spend more than 100 XP per (current) level per week. There is no downtime involved, characters are just assumed to keep training in their spare time even when adventuring.
Basically, assuming a freshly started 1st level PC gaining XP at a sufficient rate, he will reach level 2 after 3 weeks, level 3 after 3 more, level 4 after 6 more weeks and so on.
|Target level||total XP||XP difference||weeks training|
With these rules, a beginning adventurer will need at least 303 weeks before reaching level 20. That is a little short of 6 years. I have not yet playtested this, but I expect to see actual durations in a range closer to 10-20 years.
This means a hero of the kingdom who has reached level 10 or 15 has had time to make himself known, to build connections and probably to make enemies. High-level characters don’t exist in a vacuum, they are supposed to be movers and shakers.
I guess this has a potential to make high-level PCs actual important characters, not just heavy hitters. Something I would like to see much more than yet another “save the world and get to level 20” adventure path.