I remember back in my High School years, my friend Andrew B. was THE D&D expert among my friends. He had the original White Box and has been playing for years. Well, longer than me in any case.
Andrew's words of wisdom was that experience points were a pain to tally for the DM and a pain to keep track of for the players. When he DM'ed, he awarded a level at the end of the module. Everyone was on the same page. It sounded great in theory. The reality is it ramped the Monte Haulism to Eleven. Sadly, it took me over a year to figure out it's shortcomings, and I even infected my summertime group in the Poconos with the mis-thought simplification of experience awards.
That being said, I don't think I've ever awarded experience strictly "by the book" in the years since. Even in my current AD&D / OSRIC game, I don't award expo for magic found, but I do give a bonus when the party finishes a dungeon level or a story arc. Much of my expo awards for the party are "by feel" - awesome play and a fun time had by all earns everyone a tad extra.
Because in the end, the best reward for a great session of D&D is the actual session that was played - but a little extra XP doesn't hurt either (and is a bit more tangible a reward).
Do you stray from "by the book" XP awards, and if so in what ways?
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