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Checks & Interaction » Miscellanous Rules » Encounters » Rewards
Experience points, treasure, and more intangible rewards keep characters moving on from encounter to encounter, level to level, and adventure to adventure. Small rewards come frequently, while large rewards provide a big boost once in a while. Both are important. Without frequent small rewards, players begin to feel like their efforts aren't paying off. They're doing a lot of work with nothing to show for it. Without occasional large rewards, encounters feel like pushing a button to get a morsel of food - a repetitive grind with no meaningful variation.
Experience points are the fundamental reward of the game, just as encounters are the building blocks of adventures and campaigns. Every encounter comes with an experience reward to match its difficulty.
Every monster has its own XP value, specified with the rest of its statistics. An encounter is worth XP equal to the sum of all the monsters and other threats that make up the encounter. When characters overcome an encounter - typically by killing, routing, or capturing the opponents in a combat encounter - they divide the total XP value of the encounter evenly among them.
XP for Noncombat Encounters: It's up to you to decide whether to award XP to characters for overcoming challenges outside of combat. If characters successfully complete a tense negotiation with a baron, forge a trade agreement with the surly dwarves, or navigate their way across the Chasm of a Thousand Deeps, you might decide that's an encounter worth an XP reward. Don't award XP, though, unless there was a meaningful risk of failure.
As a rule of thumb, gauge the difficulty of the encounter (easy, average, or tough) and award the characters XP as if it had been a combat encounter of the same difficulty.
You can also award XP when characters complete significant adventure objectives. You can treat major objectives as average encounters, and minor objectives as easy encounters.
There's no assumed amount of gold, jewels, magic items, and other treasure for D&D adventures. You can give out as many or as few rewards as you like, though you might want to adjust the adventure difficulty to compensate for the level of the rewards you provide. You can also use the following guidelines for a more "middle of the road" amount of treasure offered.
You can think of treasure on an encounter-by-encounter basis. By this way of thinking, a good target is 12.5 gp per character per level for an average encounter. (So a party of four 3rd-level characters who overcome an average encounter might expect about 150 gp as a reward.) For an easy encounter, use about 7.5 gp per character per level. For a tough encounter, you can give out about 25 gp per character per level.
Alternatively, you can think about treasure spread out over an adventuring day, using the abstract measurement of a day discussed earlier. A good target for an adventuring day is about 50 gp per character per level. You can spread that treasure out over combat encounters as well as secret vaults, ancient chests, and at the bottom of spiked pits.
Whichever approach you choose, break up the treasure value into coins, gemstones, art objects, and other valuable but nonmagic items. Here are some suggested items to fill out your treasure hoards.
|01-25||4d4 gp||10 gp||Banded, eye, or moss agate; azurite; blue quartz; hematite; lapis lazuli; malachite; obsidian; rhodochrosite; tiger eye; turquoise; freshwater (irregular) pearl|
|26-50||2d4x10 gp||50 gp||Bloodstone; carnelian; chalcedony; chrysoprase; citrine; iolite; jasper; moonstone; onyx; peridot; rock crystal (clear quartz); sard; sardonyx; rose, smoky, or star rose quartz; zircon|
|51-70||4d4x10 gp||100 gp||Amber; amethyst; chrysoberyl; coral; red or brown-green garnet; jade; jet; white, golden, pink, or silver pearl; red, red-brown or deep green spinel; tourmaline|
|71-90||2d4x100 gp||500 gp||Alexandrite; aquamarine; violet garnet; black pearl; deep blue spinel; golden yellow topaz|
|91-99||4d4x100 gp||1,000 gp||Emerald; white, black, or fire opal; blue sapphire; fiery yellow or rich purple corundum; blue or black star sapphire; star ruby|
|100||2d4x1,000 gp||5,000 gp||Clearest bright green emerald; blue-white, canary, pink, brown, or blue diamond; jacinth|
|01-10||1d10x10 gp||55 gp||Silver ewer; carved bone or ivory statuette; finely wrought small gold bracelet|
|11-25||3d6x10 gp||105 gp||Cloth of gold vestments; black velvet mask with numerous citrines; silver chalice with lapis lazuli gems|
|26-40||1d6x100 gp||350 gp||Large well-done wool tapestry; brass mug with jade inlays|
|41-50||1d10x100 gp||550 gp||Silver comb with moonstones; silver-plated steel longsword with jet jewel in hilt|
|51-60||2d6x100 gp||700 gp||Carved harp of exotic wood with ivory inlay and zircon gems; solid gold idol (10 lb.)|
|61-70||3d6x100 gp||1,050 gp||Gold dragon comb with red garnet eye; gold and topaz bottle stopper cork; ceremonial electrum dagger with a star ruby in the pommel|
|71-80||4d6x100 gp||1,400 gp||Eye patch with mock eye of sapphire and moonstone; fire opal pendant on a fine gold chain; old masterpiece painting|
|81-85||5d6x100 gp||1,750 gp||Embroidered silk and velvet mantle with numerous moonstones; sapphire pendant on gold chain|
|86-90||1d4x1,000 gp||2,500 gp||Embroidered and bejeweled glove; jeweled anklet; gold music box|
|91-95||1d6x1,000 gp||3,500 gp||Golden circlet with four aquamarines; a string of small pink pearls (necklace)|
|96-99||2d4x1,000 gp||5,000 gp||Jeweled gold crown; jeweled electrum ring|
|100||2d6x1,000 gp||7,000 gp||Gold and ruby ring; gold cup set with emeralds|
You determine how many magic items characters can find in your adventures. The game does not assume that characters need them to succeed. Magic items, when found at all, simply make PCs better.
Thus, you can add or withhold magic items in your adventures as you see fit. Being somewhat stingy with magic item placement, especially at lower levels, means that players will appreciate such items all the more when they find some. If you populate your tougher dungeon levels and adventures with more magic items, then players can influence the kind of magic items they obtain by accepting greater risks.
You can find more information on using and awarding magic items on the Magic Item pages.