Per this thread in TRS, Easy EXP is split into two tropes. This is one of them. Up for Grabs, but please keep up with the TRS thread if you're going to take this trope.
Indices: Role-Playing Game, ?
It's a simple fact of most Role-Playing Games that some amount of Level Grinding will be required. Gaining Experience Points often requires several hours of killing mooks or otherwise going on a spree of mass-murder and terrorism in the streets.
Some games, however, give you experience for activities completely unrelated to fighting enemies. Craft a sword? Gain EXP! Run a mile? Gain EXP! Collect your three hundred rat tails and give them to the witch who needs them? Get EXP for that, too!
This can be justified; just as it doesn't make sense for reading a book to improve your combat parameters, it also doesn't make sense that killing a thousand Red Shirts improves your ability to use a compass or forging theInfinity+1 Sword. Instead, you gain proficiency in item crafting by doing so repeatedly, and so on. This is more common in recent RPGs.
This trope is NOT about items which give you free experience or stats. For that, see Rare Candy. It's also not for gaining experience for mundane tasks such as talking to random NPCs. For that, see Mundane EXP (name to be decided via a separate YKTTW). This trope is for when EXP is gained for things such as training, completing sidequests, and advancing the plot, whether those things involve defeating monsters or not. It is a specific way to avert RPGs Equal Combat.
The variant regarding getting better at a particular skill by doing so repeatedly is Truth in Television. However, since this trope requires that some sort of level-and-experience based system be in place, No Real Life Examples, Please! (They're not possible in Real Life.)
Type A - EXP gained applies to a character's general level
In the Baldur's Gate series, particularly the second installment, the most XP was gained from completing major quests rather than combat encounters.
In the multiplayer for Call of Duty, players have levels. They must gain XP to level up, which allows them access to new weapons. You mainly get XP through kills, but the game liberally dishes out XP for getting kills in special ways, such as revenge kills ("Payback!") or killing an enemy immediately after they killed a teammate ("Avenged!"). You can also get lots of bonus XP for certain achievements, like getting a certain number of headshots with a weapon, or using a perk a certain number of times. In objective-based gamemodes you also will get XP for capturing objectives.
Red Alert 2: Sneaking an Allied Spy to the enemy Barracks or War Factory gives that unit instant veteran level without combat, but works only for the kind of units produced in said building. Taking one spy to said point is quite difficult though, and it only works once per building.
Red Alert 3: Veteran Academies are tech buildings that, if captured, will grant most (if not all) units veteran levels equal to the amount of Academies owned by the player. It goes all the way up to Elite.
In the first Deus Ex, exploring nooks and crannies of the various maps not only netted you more inventory, some additional lore and bonus scenes, but every so often also gave you "Exploration Bonuses" in EXP.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution hands out XP for a variety of non-combat tasks. Players receive XP every time they successfully hack computers, complete missions, or win a "social battle" (i.e. convince someone to do something for you by choosing the right dialogue options). You also can get a huge amount of XP for going through an entire level without being seen.
Fallout and its sequels all award XP for doing non-combat related things, which may bypass combat altogether, such as lockpicking, hacking and persuasion.
In Final Fantasy XIII-2, you can get CP (the game's form of EXP) from finding fragments throughout every area, which are obtained by completing sidequests or main missions.
Because of the unique mechanics of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, each unit has a separate amount of currency, and characters will not give money to others. However, thief units (Dew and Patty or her replacement) can, and they gain EXP for giving their money to another unit.
In both ''Tellius games, Bonus EXP is awarded for completing maps, doing so quickly, leaving certain units alive, and other tasks, which can be given to different units to build them up.
The Mass Effect series, despite relying heavily on combat, did away with XP-for-kills starting with part two, instead handing it out for quests and some item pickups. Even Mass Effect 1, some XP was gained upon unlocking each Codex entry, i.e. from simple exploration and interacting with the environment.
In Minecraft, since the Release Version 1.3 [[note]]To be specific, it started in pre-release version 12w22a. 1.3 has not yet been released, but it is assumed that this will be included in it.[[/note]] you can gain experience from mining certain elements, smelting some minerals, and other stuff as well.
In addition to Quest EXP, Neverwinter Nights and its sequels include a few instances of xp beyond combat. Some conversations have bonus xp nestled in them for "roleplaying" options, there are times where avoiding the combat encounter will grant as much or more xp than fighting through it (if you're over-leveled for the fight). In Neverwinter Nights 2, a later expansion even gave xp for opening locks and disabling traps.
Planescape: Torment became a cult classic largely because of this trope. Whereas most CRPG at the time were heavily into hack'n'slash, Torment gave the best rewards (including experience) for dialog-based solutions to problems.
Rebel Star : Tactical Command: Using the Medic and Psionics (non combat and more in mind screw) commands grant exp.
In ''Star Ocean: The Last Hope, finishing mini quests gives you exp and the skill points to acquire skills. Also you get that by farming and or mining items at certain spots (the only way to finish some of said quests as well as getting certain crafting materials).
Xenoblade awards the player EXP for simply exploring the world map, by discovering landmarks and hidden areas. It also awards EXP for successfully completing sidequests and completing key points (called "Chapters") in the game's story. Being that it's easily over 80 hours in length (up to 100, or more, including sidequests) it's not hard to see why that is.
Valkyrie Profile has Event Experience, which is received at the ends of dungeons and after triggering events while exploring dungeons. It's usually pretty meager in comparison with the experience you get from killing all the stuff in the dungeons, but has the advantage of being able to be divided as you wish among your characters, allowing you to stockpile it and level up weak characters who'd have a difficult time surviving combat.
Dungeons & Dragons has various rules for GM's to give out EXP for completing tasks outside of combat, such as talking one's way out of a fight or for superb roleplaying.
FATAL manages to use this trope to limit the poor, deformed, psychotic pc's that get created. Each class has a specific action that grants it EXP. No more needs to be stated.
Iron Crown Enterprises' games (Rolemaster, Space Master, Cyberspace, etc.) often gave experience points for non-combat actions, such as coming up with useful ideas, performing movement maneuvers (e.g. running), traveling (5 xp per kilometer), using spells or psionic powers, performing research and building or repairing items.
Teenagers from Outer Space works on a voting method: the other players at a session make secret votes to decide if a player gets 1, 2 or 3 XP. The average is rewarded.
The World of Darkness series, being a storytelling system, mainly grants EXP through non-combat means. One point for showing up, one point if the character learned something, and so on. EXP can be gained through combat, though it's not the primary method.
Spoofed in Culture Shock in this strip - You can get EXP for quite literally anything - kicking trash cans, beating up nerds, popping bubble wrap, opening bags of chips, and using the restroom, among others.
Goblins features one conversation between two city guards in Brassmoon City about a time when a DM granted someone roleplaying xp for taking a dump. This granted him just enough xp to level up. Needless to say, things got crappy real fast.
In Order Of The Stick, the first time the Order levels up on-screen, Belkar, their psychotic evil halfling ranger, was a mere handful of xp shy from leveling up with everyone else. When killing rats proved to not grant xp and party kills were banned from him, he resorted to pulling out a sob story for roleplaying xp.
Type B - EXP applies only to a particular skill or attribute.
The Elder Scrolls series uses a levelling system which gives the player experience for doing a given task (so you level up in sneak if you sneak, destruction magic for killing things with magic and so on) and awards levels (with respective stat increases, as well as perks in Skyrim) every 10 ranks (so you could become quite high level by doing nothing but sneaking, smithing and learning to talk really well).
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (and more friends of mineral town): You get experience on using the tools by using the tools.
In Quest 64, while you gain HP, MP, and defense by performing tasks in battle, you gain agility by walking. Including running around in circles for hours.
The videogame franchise Ultima utilizes this mechanic in its games. Instead of a class or level system, the core mechanics are an attribute system and a skill system. Players gain more powerful at their skills by using them repeatedly. ''Ultima Online', the MMORPG version, is probably the most popular game in the franchise.
Mixed Type - Contains both Type A and Type B variants
Perfect World: When obtaining materials and crafting you get a small dose of experience. Obtaining materials affects one's overall level (Type A), while crafting only affects one's crafting ability (Type B)
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