Experience point

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An experience point (often abbreviated to exp or XP) is a unit of measurement used in tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) and role-playing video games to quantify a player character's progression through the game. Experience points are generally awarded for the completion of missions, overcoming obstacles and opponents, and for successful role-playing.[ citation needed ]

Role-playing game Game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting

A role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making regarding character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

Player character fictional character in a role-playing or video game that can be played or controlled by a real-world person

A player character is a fictional character in a role-playing game or video game whose actions are directly controlled by a player of the game rather than the rules of the game. The characters that are not controlled by a player are called non-player characters (NPCs). The actions of non-player characters are typically handled by the game itself in video games, or according to rules followed by a gamemaster refereeing tabletop role-playing games. The player character functions as a fictional, alternate body for the player controlling the character.


In many RPGs, characters start as fairly weak and untrained. When a sufficient amount of experience is obtained, the character "levels up", achieving the next stage of character development. Such an event usually increases the character's statistics, such as maximum health, magic and strength, and may permit the character to acquire abilities or improve existing ones. Leveling up may also give the character access to more areas or items.

Health (gaming) gaming-related attribute

Health or vitality is an attribute assigned to entities such as characters or objects within role-playing games and video games, that indicates their continued ability to function. Health is usually measured in hit points or health points, shortened to HP which lowers by set amounts when the entity is attacked or injured. When the HP of a player character or non-player character reaches zero, that character is incapacitated and barred from taking further action. In some games, such as those with cooperative multiplayer and party based role playing games, it may be possible for an ally to revive a character who has reached 0 hit points. In single player games, running out of health usually equates to "dying" and losing a life or receiving a Game Over.

Magic (gaming) attribute assigned to characters within a game

Magic or mana is an attribute assigned to characters within a role-playing or video game that indicates their power to use special abilities or "spells". Magic is usually measured in magic points or mana points, shortened as MP. Different abilities will use up different amounts of MP. When the MP of a character reaches zero, the character won't be able to use special abilities until some of their MP is recovered.

In some role-playing games, particularly those derived from Dungeons & Dragons , experience points are used to improve characters in discrete experience levels; in other games, such as GURPS and the World of Darkness games, experience points are spent on specific abilities or attributes chosen by the player.

<i>Dungeons & Dragons</i> Fantasy role-playing game

Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. It was first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). The game has been published by Wizards of the Coast since 1997. It was derived from miniature wargames, with a variation of the 1971 game Chainmail serving as the initial rule system. D&D's publication is commonly recognized as the beginning of modern role-playing games and the role-playing game industry.

<i>GURPS</i> role playing game system

The Generic Universal RolePlaying System, or GURPS, is a tabletop role-playing game system designed to allow for play in any game setting. It was created by Steve Jackson Games and first published in 1986 at a time when most such systems were story- or genre-specific.

World of Darkness Role-playing game universes

World of Darkness is the name given to three related but distinct fictional universes created as settings for supernatural horror themed role-playing games. The first was conceived by Mark Rein-Hagen, while the second was designed by several people at White Wolf Gaming Studio, which Rein-Hagen helped to found. The first two World of Darkness settings have been used for several horror-themed role-playing games that make use of White Wolf's storyteller/storytelling system, as well as Mind's Eye Theatre, a live-action roleplaying game based on the core games. The third, Monte Cook's World of Darkness, created by Monte Cook based on the first two World of Darkness settings, includes only a single product.

In most games, as the difficulty of the challenge increases, the experience rewarded for overcoming it also increases. As players gain more experience points, the amount of experience needed to gain abilities typically increases. Alternatively, games keep the amount of experience points per level constant, but progressively lower the experience gained for the same tasks as the character's level increases. Thus, as the player character strengthens from gaining experience, they are encouraged to accept tasks that are commensurate with their improved abilities in order to advance.


Level-based progression

In games derived from Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), an accumulation of a sufficient number of experience points (XP) increases a character's "level", a number that represents a character's overall skill and experience. To "level" or "level up" means to gain enough XP to reach the next level. By gaining a level, a character's abilities or stats will increase, making the character stronger and able to accomplish more difficult tasks, including safely battling stronger enemies, gaining access to more powerful abilities (such as spells or combat techniques), and to make, fix or disable more complex mechanical devices, or resolve increasingly difficult social challenges.

Typically levels are associated with a character class, and many systems will allow combinations of classes, allowing a player to customize how their character develops.

In role-playing games (RPG), a character class is a job or profession commonly used to differentiate the abilities of different game characters. A character class aggregates several abilities and aptitudes, and may also detail aspects of background and social standing, or impose behavior restrictions. Classes may be considered to represent archetypes, or specific careers. RPG systems that employ character classes often subdivide them into levels of accomplishment, to be attained by players during the course of the game. It is common for a character to remain in the same class for its lifetime; although some games allow characters to change class, or attain multiple classes. Some systems eschew the use of classes and levels entirely; others hybridise them with skill-based systems or emulate them with character templates.

Some systems that use a level-based experience system also incorporate the ability to purchase specific traits with a set amount of experience; for example, D&D 3rd Edition bases the creation of magical items around a system of experience expenditure (known as burning xp) and also uses a system of feat selection which closely matches the advantages of systems such as GURPS or the Hero System . The d20 System also introduced the concept of prestige classes which bundle sets of mechanics, character development and requirements into a package which can be "leveled" like an ordinary class.

Some games have a level cap, or a limit of levels available. For example, in the online game RuneScape , no player can currently get higher than level 120 which needs a combined 104,273,167 experience points to gain, nor can any one skill gain more than 200 million experience. Some games have a dynamic level cap, where the level cap is dependent upon the levels of the average player (so it gradually increases).

Activity-based progression

In some systems, such as the classic tabletop role-playing games Traveller , Call of Cthulhu and Basic Role-Playing , and the role-playing video games Final Fantasy II , The Elder Scrolls , [1] and the SaGa [2] and Grandia [3] series progression is based on increasing individual statistics (skills, rank and other features) of the character, and is not driven by the acquisition of (general) experience points. The skills and attributes are made to grow through exercised use. Some authors believe that activity-based progression encourages tedious grinding processes, like intentionally taking damage and attacking allied characters to increase health in Final Fantasy II, or forcing player to jump constantly to increase acrobatics skill in The Elder Scrolls series. [4] [5] [6] [7]

Free-form advancement

Free-form advancement is used by many role-playing systems including GURPS , Hero System or the World of Darkness series. It allows the player to select which skills to advance by allocating "points". Each character attribute is assigned a price to improve, so for example it might cost a character 2 points to raise an archery skill one notch, 10 points to raise overall dexterity by one, or it might cost 20 points to learn a new magic spell.

Players are typically free to spend points however they choose, which greatly increases the control that a player has over the character's development, but also usually causes players to find that complexity increases as well. Some games therefore simplify character creation and advancement by suggesting packages or templates of pre-selected ability sets, so for example a player could have their character become an "investigator" by purchasing a package deal which includes many skills and abilities, rather than buying them each separately.

Cash-in advancement

A cash-in experience advancement system uses experience points to "purchase" such character advancements as class levels, skill points, new skills, feats or increasing saving throw bonuses or base attribute points each of which has a set cost in experience points with set limits on the maximum bonuses that can be purchased at a given time usually once per game session. Once experience points are used thus they are "spent" and are erased from the character record or marked as spent and cannot be used again. Final Fantasy XIII and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay are examples of games that use a cash-in advancement system.

Hybrid systems

Some games use advancement systems which combine elements from two or more of the above types. For example, in the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons , whenever a level is gained in a character class, it provides a number of skill points (the exact number is calculated based on the class and the character's intelligence statistic), which can be spent to raise various skills. Character level (generally the sum of a character's total levels in all classes) is used to calculate how high skills can be raised, when an ability score can be raised and when a character can gain new feats (a class of special abilities which include special attacks, proficiencies in various weapons and bonuses on the dice rolls used to determine the outcome of various actions) and how many experience points are needed to advance in level. In Ragnarok Online , experience points are divided into two categories: base experience and job experience. Gaining base experience increases a character's base level, which is used to calculate a character's maximum HP and SP, increasing base level also provides points which can be spent to increase stats such as strength, agility and intelligence. Gaining job experience increases a character's job level, each job level provides a skill point which can be spent in the job's skill tree to gain a new ability, such as a spell, special attack or passive bonus, or improve an existing ability.

Video games

Since many early role-playing video games are derived from Dungeons & Dragons , [8] most use a level-based experience system.

In many games, characters must obtain a minimum level to perform certain actions, such as wielding a particular weapon, entering a restricted area, or earning the respect of a non-player character. Some games use a system of "character levels", where higher-level characters hold an absolute advantage over those of lower level. In these games, statistical character management is usually kept to a minimum. Other games use a system of "skill levels" to measure advantages in terms of specific aptitudes, such as weapon handling, spell-casting proficiency, and stealthiness. These games allow the players to customize their characters to a greater extent.

Some games, particularly among MUDs and MMORPGs, place a limit on the experience a character gains from a single encounter or challenge, to reduce the effectiveness of power-leveling.

Remorting is another technique that, while encouraging power-leveling, alleviates its ill effects by giving the player a sense of achievement as it maintains balance with other characters of lower level within the game.


"Perks" are special bonuses that video game players can add to their characters to give special abilities. The term refers to the general usage of "perk" as an abbreviation of "perquisite". Perks are a variation of the power-up mechanic, [9] but are permanent rather than temporary and are progressively unlocked through experience points.

The concept of permanent power-ups that are progressively unlocked dates back to the early NES action RPGs, Deadly Towers (1986) and Rygar (1987), which blurred the line between the power-ups used in action-adventures and the experience points used in role-playing video games. [10] The first video game to use the term "perks" to refer to such a mechanic was possibly the 1997 role-playing video game Fallout . Perks have been used in various other video games in recent times, including first-person shooters such as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007), [9] Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009), and Killing Floor (2009), as well as action games such as Metal Gear Online (2008).


"Remorting" (also known as "rebirth", "ascending/ascension", "reincarnating", or "new game plus") is a game mechanic in some role-playing games whereby, once the player character reaches a specified level limit, the player can elect to start over with a new version of his or her character. The bonuses that are given are dependent on several factors, which generally involve the stats of the character before the reincarnation occurs. The remorting character generally loses all levels, but gains an advantage that was previously unavailable, usually access to different races, avatars, classes, skills, or otherwise inaccessible play areas within the game. A symbol often identifies a remorted character.

The term "remort" comes from MUDs, [11] in some of which players may become immortal characters—administrative staff—simply by advancing to the maximum level. These users are generally expected to distance themselves from gameplay, and interaction with players may be severely limited. When an immortal chooses to vacate his or her position to resume playing the game—usually from level one just as with any new character—he or she is said to have remorted, "becoming mortal again". [12] [13] A MUD called Arcane Nites, formerly Nitemare, claims to have created the first remort system and coined the term. [14] [ unreliable source ]


Grinding refers to the process of repeating one specific activity over and over. This is done, for example, by repeatedly participating in challenges, quests, tasks and events which reward experience points for performing repetitive, often menial challenges. This definition can also be used in multi-player games, but it is typically displaced by a much more charged meaning. A term intended to describe this style of play without pejorative connotation is optimization, also known as "XP farming".


Power-leveling is using the help of another, stronger player to level a character more quickly than is possible alone.

One kind of power-leveling refers to an experienced character assisting a character of much lower power (who is often controlled by the experienced character's controller as an assistant character or improved future main character in training) in defeating enemies that would normally be too powerful for the inexperienced character but are easily and quickly killed by the more powerful character or, in games in which experience points or "credits" are distributed in proportion to group members' levels, weakened almost to the point of death by the more powerful character, who is not grouped with the inexperienced character. In the latter case, once an enemy is weakened to the point at which the lower-level character can safely finish the kill (usually with the more powerful character's use of healing spells/effects as a backup), the more powerful character uses a spell or effect to stop battle or, if the lower-level character's skills permit, allows itself to be "rescued" by the lower-level character, who then finishes the kill and gets all of the associated experience points. Defeating high-level enemies rewards the lower level character with more experience points than it could otherwise achieve.

A second kind of power-leveling refers to a player paying a company or individual to play and level-up their character. The customer provides the company with the username and password for their account, and the company assigns an employee to play the character for the customer until a desired level is reached. This is against the terms of service of many games and, if caught, may result in the character being banned. There are also risks involved, as an unscrupulous service may "steal" the character, for later resale to another customer.

Power-leveling increased in EverQuest as it became more common to sell characters through the Internet. Techniques of kill stealing and power-gaming would make this pursuit considerably more attractive.

To combat power-leveling and leeching, some game designers have devised better means of rewarding a player based on their actual contribution to the completion of the task. Another method used is to cap how much experience a character can gain at any single moment. For example, the game might not allow a character to gain more than 20% of the experience they need to level up by defeating an enemy. This is controversial in that it also punishes players who are skilled enough to face challenges more difficult than regular players or that band together with other players to face more difficult challenges.

Another anti-power-leveling method, popularized through widespread adoption of the CircleMUD code base, is to distribute experience points from an enemy across a party pro rata by level, such that each party member gains a fraction of the enemy's experience points corresponding to the fraction of a party's total level ownership possessed by that character. For example, after any given battle, a level-30 character in a party would earn twice as much experience as would a level-15 character. Power-levelers sometimes circumvent this provision by what could be called "passive power-leveling", where a high level character who has access to healing abilities does not formally join the lower-level character's party, instead a) healing and/or "powering up" the lower-level character, b) targeting the enemy with spells or effects that do not involve joining the battle, and/or c) fighting alongside the lower-level character until the enemy is nearly defeated and then pausing the battle (e.g., through use of "calm" or a similar command) and allowing the lower-level character to resume, finish, and claim all the experience points for itself.

Finally, power-leveling may be rendered more difficult by having very large jumps between experience points required for each subsequent level of experience. It is common practice to have experience needed increasing in a non-linear way relative to experience levels to push players to the next town or land, but it can also reduce the opportunities for power-leveling as a player would be forced to find a different power-leveling technique for every couple of experience levels and move and do that technique.


Games, that allow several characters participating in a single event (such as battle or quest completion), implement various methods of determining how and when experience gets shared between participants. These methods include: only last-hitting character, whose hit killed the enemy, getting experience (as in Fire Emblem series); unconditionally sharing experience among characters (as in D&D system ); and giving experience based on each character's actions (as in Final Fantasy Tactics ). In some online games, it is possible to join a group and gain experience, loot or other rewards, while providing little or no contribution to the group. This type of behaviour is referred to as leeching, particularly when it is done without the permission of other group members. In games which allow players to gain rewards by kill stealing, this is also considered a form of leeching. This is extremely common in games such as Dungeon Defenders , in which all players receive the same rewards regardless of their contributions.


Some players of online games use automated programs known as bots to grind or leech for them in order to progress with minimal effort. [15] This practice often violates the terms of service. Bots are also commonly used in commercial operations in order to powerlevel a character, either to increase the sale value of the account, or to allow the character to be used for commercial gold farming.

See also

Related Research Articles

Hero System role-playing game system

The Hero System is a generic role-playing game system that was developed from the superhero RPG Champions. After Champions fourth edition was released in 1989, a stripped-down version of its ruleset with no superhero or other genre elements was released as The Hero System Rulesbook in 1990. As a spinoff of Champions, the Hero System is considered to have started with 4th edition, rather than on its own with a 1st edition. However, the first three editions of the game are typically referred to as Champions, rather than the Hero System, as the game for its first three editions was not sold as a universal toolkit, instead largely focusing on superheroes.

In video games, a power-up is an object that adds temporarily benefits or extra abilities to the player character as a game mechanic. This is in contrast to an item, which may or may not have a permanent benefit that can be used at any time chosen by the player. Although often collected directly through touch, power-ups can sometimes only be gained by collecting several related items, such as the floating letters of the word 'EXTEND' in Bubble Bobble. Well known examples of power-ups that have entered popular culture include the power pellets from Pac-Man and the Super Mushroom from Super Mario Bros., which ranked first in UGO Networks' Top 11 Video Game Powerups.

Twinking is a type of behavior in role-playing games which involves deceiving other players about one's playing abilities or achievements in the game. A player who engages in such behavior is known as a twink. The precise definition of twinking varies depending on the variety of role-playing game:

The Storytelling System is a role-playing game system created by White Wolf, Inc. for the Chronicles of Darkness, a game world with several pen and paper games tied in. The Storytelling System is largely based on the Storyteller System, the rule set used for White Wolf's other, older game setting, the World of Darkness.

<i>Discworld MUD</i> video game

Discworld MUD is a popular MUD, a text-based online role-playing game, set in the Discworld as depicted in the Discworld series of books by Terry Pratchett.

Player(s) versus player(s), better known as PvP, is a type of multiplayer interactive conflict within a game between two or more live participants. This is in contrast to games where players compete against computer-controlled opponents and/or players, which is referred to as player versus environment (PvE). The terms are most often used in games where both activities exist, particularly MMORPGs, MUDs, and other role-playing video games. PvP can be broadly used to describe any game, or aspect of a game, where players compete against each other. PvP is often controversial when used in role-playing games. In most cases, there are vast differences in abilities between experienced and novice players. PvP can even encourage experienced players to immediately attack and kill inexperienced players. PvP is sometimes called player killing.

<i>Champions of Norrath</i> 2004 video game

Champions of Norrath: Realms of EverQuest is an action role-playing video game for the PlayStation 2, set in the EverQuest universe. It is playable with one single player or cooperative for up to four players. However, with a Network Adapter, players can take the game online with others and kill others or join to form groups of adventurers. The game uses a re-worked and expanded Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance game engine. A sequel was created called Champions: Return to Arms which was released in February 2005.

A tank is a style of character in gaming, often associated with a character class. A common convention in real-time strategy games, role-playing games, fighting games, multiplayer online battle arenas and MUDs, tanks redirect enemy attacks or attention toward themselves in order to protect other characters or units. Since this role often requires them to suffer large amounts of damage, they rely on large amounts of vitality or armor, healing by other party members, evasiveness and misdirection, or self regeneration.

Tri-Stat dX TTRPG system

Tri-Stat dX is a generic role-playing game system developed and published by Guardians of Order in 2003. Like other generic role-playing game systems, Tri-Stat dX has adaptable rules that can be applied to many genres and settings.

In video gaming, grinding is performing repetitive tasks, usually for a gameplay advantage or loot but in some cases for purely aesthetic or cosmetic benefits. Many video games use different tactics to implement, or reduce the amount of grinding in play. The general use of grinding is for "experience points", or to improve a character's level. However, the behavior is sometimes referred to as pushing the bar, farming, or catassing.

<i>Champions: Return to Arms</i> 2005 video game

Champions: Return to Arms is an action role-playing set in the EverQuest universe. It is the sequel to Champions of Norrath and was developed by Snowblind Studios.

The rogue or thief is one of the standard playable character classes in most editions of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. A rogue is a versatile character, capable of sneaky combat and nimble tricks. The rogue is stealthy and dexterous, and in early editions was the only official base class from the Player's Handbook capable of finding and disarming traps and picking locks. The rogue also has the ability to "sneak attack" enemies who are caught off-guard or taken by surprise, inflicting extra damage.

An attribute is a piece of data that describes to what extent a fictional character in a role-playing game possesses a specific natural, in-born characteristic common to all characters in the game. That piece of data is usually an abstract number or, in some cases, a set of dice. Some games use different terms to refer to an attribute, such as statistic, (primary) characteristic or ability. A number of role-playing games like Fate do not use attributes at all.

Character creation process of defining a game character

Character creation is the process of defining a game character or other character. Typically, a character's individual strengths and weaknesses are represented by a set of statistics. Games with a largely fictional setting may include traits such as race and class. Games with a more contemporary or narrower setting may limit customization to physical and personality traits.

The Wizard is a type of magical character class in certain role-playing games, including role-playing video games. Wizards are considered to be spellcasters who wield powerful spells, but are often physically weak as a trade-off. Wizards are commonly confused with similar offensive spellcasting classes such as the Warlock and the Necromancer. However, a Wizard's power is based on the arcane and a Warlock or Necromancer's power is based on darkness or death. Wizards are primarily based on wizards from assorted fantasy literature. Other terms used to describe the classification include Mage, Magician, and Magic User.

Buffyverse role-playing games

The Buffyverse role-playing games - the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel role-playing games - are complementary, officially licensed role-playing games (RPGs) published by Eden Studios, Inc. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Core Rulebook was published in 2002, while the Angel Corebook followed in 2003. Both games use a streamlined version of Eden Studios' popular Unisystem game engine, also featured in CJ Carella's WitchCraft and All Flesh Must Be Eaten, two of Eden's better-known original product lines. In both games, players are able to take on the roles of characters from the respective television series or create wholly original characters as they and their group see fit, effectively building their own Buffyverse series in the process.

Statistic (role-playing games) piece of data representing a particular aspect of a fictional character

A statistic in role-playing games is a piece of data that represents a particular aspect of a fictional character. That piece of data is usually a (unitless) integer or, in some cases, a set of dice.

This list includes terms used in video games and the video game industry, as well as slang used by players.


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