What is Adjusted XP in DnD 5e?


It’s important to understand the difference between Regular XP; and Adjusted XP in DnD 5e.
The reason for this is that they are not interchangeable. What this means is that you cannot use the same system when calculating experience rewards at the end of an encounter.

In a previous article, we looked at how to be a Dungeon Master. So in this article, we will be looking at one of the things a DM has to consider when shaping an encounter.
No two encounters are the same. As such, you have to be careful when performing calculations for each one.

But first, let’s answer the most important question of today.

What is Adjusted XP in DnD 5e?

Adjusted XP is called that because. Unlike Regular XP or “true” XP. Adjusted XP changes based on the number of creatures there are in an encounter.
In essence, this mechanic serves to increase the rewards that players get correlating to the increase in the difficulty of an encounter.

This whole mechanic is closely tied to the process of Building a Combat Encounter as explained on page 165 of the Basic Rules for DnD.

Today, we will only be looking at Adjusted XP specifically. So for a full guide on how to build a combat encounter consult the Basic Rules for DnD – or another article on our site.

But, before we can get into the specifics for Adjusted XP. Let’s first take a look at the XP system.

The XP system in DnD 5e

The XP system – at least in regards to encounters works like this.
Each encounter has a difficulty rating. This difficulty rating determines how much experience the DM will hand out upon completion.
The players, on the other hand, receive experience based on their level’s threshold.
What this means is that, if you’re a Level 1 character; and you finish an encounter that is considered Deadly for your level. In that case, you only receive experience up to the amount of 100. The reason for this is that the experience thresholds are hard-capped at certain numbers, in regards to character level.

Now. Before the start of an encounter, a DM should calculate the total experience earned upon completion. The factors that determine this are most often based on the number of creatures in the encounter. And other mechanics that the DM might opt to use – like Quests for example.

Each creature has an XP reward tied to it upon vanquishing it. For reference, consult the Basic Rules that we aforementioned.
Adjusted XP on the other hand – serves to reward you for vanquishing multiple creatures in an encounter. And the multiplier is based on the number of creatures.
Consult the following table for reference.

How this works is as follows.
Say you encounter an orc. Orcs are creatures with a challenge rating of 1/2, therefore they give 100XP upon killing them. If, on the other hand, you encounter 5 orcs. Then the encounter will be worth 500XP. But, because there are multiple creatures in the encounter; we multiply the previous number by x2. Thus, we get an encounter value of 1000XP.
This system is in place to reward corresponding increases in difficulty.

Of course, there are a few other notable things to be mentioned. So let’s answer them in a FAQs section.

FAQs About Adjusted XP

X encounter is more difficult than X encounter but they give the same experience?

The reason for this is that Adjusted XP is simply not a perfect system. Its goal is to reward difficulty increase – not to reward specific difficulties. What this means is that. Say in the previous example, the 5 orcs are worth 1000XP. A ghost is worth 1100XP – yet might not be as difficult to beat as the 5 orcs, as they have more chances to attack the player.

Is adjusted XP calculated per creature type or the total number of creatures?

Adjusted XP is calculated based on the total number of creatures, multiplied by their total experience award pool. What this means is that, say in an encounter there are 6 zombies and 2 thugs. You calculate the total amount of XP that each creature gives which is 500XP and multiply it by the number of creatures. So, 500xp x 2,5 modifier gives 1250XP.

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