Look, I’m not going to lie to you all. When other GMs and players used to talk about how much better milestone leveling was I rolled my eyes. I’ll stick with good old experience points, thank you very much! However, in the middle of my last campaign I started to get tired of tracking XP for every encounter. So I gave milestone leveling a try. And guess what? It turns out that I was wrong all along! Here are three reasons to use milestone leveling.
No More Murder Hoboes
Like feral cats, RPG characters present an ecological nightmare to experience based campaign worlds. In their quest for precious XP they will lay waste to any creature they fumblingly stumble upon. Bugbear out taking a stroll? Kill it. Slightly evil-looking informant? Kill them. Kindly old shopkeeper? Oh, they’re gonna die.
With milestone leveling the players no longer feel that pressure to decimate everything that they encounter. Knowing that their character will level up without having to reach some arbitrary number of kills lets the players focus on roleplaying. They may even start avoiding encounters that they know they can’t win and, gasp, retreating occasionally.
Planning for the Future
We all know that players exist solely to ruin your careful GM planning. When I design a campaign I like to work backward from the final objective and build the story that leads to that point. Part of this process is making sure that the characters will advance from yokels to bad-ass adventurers by the time they reach that end goal.
Milestone leveling makes this process much simpler. I no longer have to worry whether the players will hit all of their XP goals during each arc of the campaign. I can even adjust encounter difficulty on the fly without concern for how that will affect leveling down the road.
Do you know what the single best part of milestone leveling is? You don’t have to spend the last fifteen minutes of every game session adding up experience points for the night! No more furiously flipping through your notes counting up how many kobolds were killed. No more arguments about whether the wizard should get equal XP since they were unconscious most of the night.
The goal of every RPG should be to reduce the amount of math involved in the game. Milestone leveling achieves this goal. No matter how many enemies were killed or how many or how many princes were rescued at the appropriate point in the story everyone gains a level.
In conclusion, milestone leveling takes the cake. It simplifies things for the GM and the game. If you haven’t given this method a try I highly suggest that you open your mind to it. If I could be wrong about it maybe you could be too.