Leveling Up Without Leveling Up

Thoughts on replacing standard leveling procedures in ttrpgs

I haven’t written a post in a while and folks on Discord were talking about leveling up. Typically in ttrpgs you gain experience points from playing the game and then at a certain point, sometimes after every session, you can spend those points and level up your character. This usually grants your character some extra HP, stat increases, and new abilities.

For this design exercise I’m going to try to:


  • Numbers/tracking XP
  • Stat increases
  • New abilities


  • Closure
  • Sense of achievement
  • Break in the action

I’m not as interested in the mechanical side of leveling up. I think there’s been some good discussion on diegetic advancement, having your characters change, etc. I’m more interested in that feeling of leveling up at the end of a session and try to capture that in a different way by having the players make camp and change the pace of the game at the end of a session.

Make a Campfire

If the session is winding down, 15 minutes left, try making a campfire.

Roll a d6:

  1. A small fire that flickers out half-way through the night. You will get little rest.
  2. It is an ok fire.
  3. A perfectly fine fire.
  4. A good fire. You will feel better in the morning.
  5. One might worry about waking up on fire.
  6. A very large and bright fire. Maybe a bit too visible.

Tell Stories by the Fire

Each player takes turns discussing:

  1. What your favorite part of the session was.
  2. If your character has changed (mentally, physically, beliefs, etc).
  3. What you hope for in the days to come.

Sleep and Dream

At the beginning of the next session each player rolls a d6. Tell them what they dream:

  1. Portents.
  2. Clues.
  3. Strange and confusing.
  4. Something from the past.
  5. Nightmares.
  6. You can’t remember.

Weave these into the fiction. If you need a spark of inspiration, use the following tables:

  1. Crows
  2. Crowns
  3. Death
  4. Blood
  5. Bones
  6. Darkness

  1. Treasure
  2. Snake
  3. Sword
  4. Poison
  5. Heart
  6. Sun

  1. Wind
  2. Family
  3. Chains
  4. Bridge
  5. Peace
  6. War

Final Thoughts

The intent is to allow for players to reflect on the session and allow for feedback. Also allowing for some potential direction the players may be interested in that the GM doesn’t know about. This change of pace allows for a break in the action and to keep things fresh.