Experience points, important to have different levelling totals per class? Balance?

One of the things some later D&D editions “simplified” is that each class needs the same XP totals to reach the next level. I find this results in a whole host of other problems, such as relative (disparate) power levels between the classes, needing to tweak the abilities and perks of each class at each level and possibly having to mess and scale monster XP awards as you go in order to compensate etc.

Ben/Questing Beast argues in Youtube vid that XP for Gold is an elegant mechanism that was unfortunately mostly abandoned. Abandoned, despite it having really good implications for adventuring/player motivation. XP being different for every class might not have as strong a correlation with desirable outcomes, but it seems to make sense it was done for a reason.

For instance, it tweaks the power levels. If a Wizard levels as fast a Thief, from a power level/game mechanics point of view a 5th level Wizard will always be way more powerful and versatile than a 5th level Thief. Such a Wizard can likely replicate and even improve on every skill the Thief has acquired, by using spells. While if a Thief is always leveling faster than the Wizard the classes become a lot more balanced in relation to one another, because in this case at very least the thief will have a lot more HP, more skill at thief skills and the Wizard will have to use his finite spells to also stay alive, can’t just simply use all his spells to be a proto thief as well as a Wizard.

Of course the problem is not only to do with leveling XP required but also with a bunch of overpowered or broken spells, but that is another topic.

It simply seems that the most powerful way and simple way you can instantly change balance of the classes is by having different leveling requirements, you could even change those requirements (hopefully only once or twice!) if you find a class is becoming way too powerful or alternatively lagging too much. That seems less “painful” than giving players different XP rewards every session, and also seems less arbitrary and complicated for the the GM, I never want to give the players the impression that I am doing things willy nilly or engaging in favoritism and am being unfair.
I am tempted to adopt a system in which characters classes have different leveling XP requirements and combine that with what I have always been doing, rarely get above 5th level and make leveling very slow in general. For instance: the fastest class needs 2 sessions at least to get to 2nd, to get to 3rd requires 4 additional sessions to get to 4th requires 8 additional sessions, 5th perhaps 12 to 16 sessions etc.

And that I would give between 300 to 1000 to max 3000 xp for each character, per session.

How do you handle levelling speed, XP required per class and the rest?

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From what I played: Old School Essentials and Whitehack do that. Having different XP per level is a very good way to balance out classes. I would do that if I were to play with XP.

BUT, (I will be the devil’s advocate here) there is this special feeling when the party gains a level at the same time. Everyone shows off their new abilities, rolls up HP. It is just one of those moments that players enjoy to share, which would rarely happen with different XP/lvl.

Sidenote: 5th level is the lowest cap I’ve seen. What’s your motivation behind that? What system are you running?

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A few GMs and system creators I admire cap at around 5th level. Or, if they don’t formally cap at 5th, I often find plenty of GMs, and even gaming groups, end up starting new characters from scratch, by choice. Because they enjoy the first levels the most.

Tbh, I think I would be willing to go to 9th providing I was also playing a low HP / Hit Dice game. The problem with say 6th and especially 11th level, is that if a player rolls hit points quite high and/or has constitution bonuses or magic available, or if whole party has some of those perks combat tends to become long/tedious and a good proportion of the iconic yet common monsters are no longer a challenge or danger at all unless you throw hordes of them at the party, which once again leads to long/stale/lots of bookkeeping type combat. Other challenges besides combat can also become rather easy to overcome.

Now I think on it more, I figure leveling a few levels past 5 is fine if those higher levels take very long to attain and require remarkable deeds or sacrifices of on the PCs part.

You are certainly right, it is easier, more efficient and more fun for the entire party to level at the same time and share in that experience,… it is a conundrum.

There is an old analysis (last updated in 2012) floating around in the Internet about the different stats compared to XPs and not to level in B/X.

It seems that at least part of it was carefully constructed, but some of the results (especially on Saving Throws) seem to contradict it.