[[quoteright:279:[[VideoGame/FinalFantasyXI http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/pld-rdm-75-small_3397.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:279:Now I can finally [[TookALevelInBadass take a level in badass]]! \\
...and gain the [[YouHaveResearchedBreathing ability to sit]]?]]

->''"Wow! I feel as if I've passed some arbitrary experience value and gained more power!"''
-->-- '''Marcus''', '''''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}'''''

The concept of "experience", in the RolePlayingGame, is based off the idea that people get better at what they do the more they use their abilities. This is quantified by ExperiencePoints, but is usually rewarded by an increase in character level.

In most games with Character Levels, the main character starts off fairly weak with a low "level", usually described in single digits (e.g. "Lv.1"). When they defeat an enemy, they receive ExperiencePoints, and each time their experience reaches a designated threshold, the character "levels up": Their stats increase by a small amount, they may learn new skills and abilities, and they may [[LevelUpFillUp recover]] lost health and or mana. Over time the character becomes stronger allowing the player to successfully take down [[SortingAlgorithmOfEvil tougher foes]] (with higher yields of experience).

Generally speaking, monsters do not "level up" with the player; monsters are usually assigned a fixed experience level which remains the same for the entire game (although it may vary from one area to the next). [[LevelScaling There are exceptions]], however (e.g. ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII''), but this can lead to a phenomenon known as EmptyLevels.

Depending on the game, the increase in level may either have a predetermined effect, [[CharacterCustomization allow the player to invest into new abilities and stats]], or a combination of the two. Some games even tried to make the process more logical by [[StatGrinding increasing the attributes the character has used most]].

Like many RolePlayingGame tropes, this comes directly from ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons''. It occasionally [[RPGElements shows up in other genres as well]].

Finally, some games may actually use levels to restrict options. For instance, that InfinityPlusOneSword may [[LevelLockedLoot require you to reach, say, Level 50]] before you're allowed to even lay eyes on it, [[OnlyTheChosenMayWield let alone pick it up]]. This comes up in games where it's feasible for a level 1 character to get his or her hands on that sword somehow; typically, this would be an online multiplayer system.

See also LevelGrinding, AbsurdlyHighLevelCap, AbsurdlyLowLevelCap, ClassAndLevelSystem, LevelLockedLoot, LevelScaling, SpellLevels, StatGrinding and SuperWeight. If a game is said to have RPGElements, then people usually mean that it incorporates a Character Leveling system into its gameplay in addition to whatever is expected from the genre.

Oh, and if you're looking for the game called ''Level Up!'', that's [[VideoGame/LevelUp here]], and if you are looking for the show called ''Level Up'', that's [[Series/LevelUp here]].


* ''VideoGame/TheMatrixPathOfNeo'' has both in-game leveling up, when you learn a new move and get more [[BulletTime focus]] and regular screen leveling up.

[[folder: Action Adventure ]]

* ''VideoGame/{{Iji}}'' has levels for your Nanofield, but all a level does is allow you to get a 1-point increase to one stat. Interestingly, this isn't automatic - you have to find a special station to spend your available point on one of the seven stats. You can also get extra points by picking up special powerups.
* Played for laughs in ''Film/XMenOriginsWolverine'', where levelling up would make Logan glow brightly and let out a primal roar.
* In ''VideoGame/MarvelUltimateAlliance,'' SelfDemonstrating/{{Deadpool}} gets the best level up lines. "[[NoFourthWall I gained enough experience points, and I leveled up!]]" "Now ''I'm'' the best at doing whatever it is ComicBook/{{Wolverine}} does!" (As one of Wolverine's post-{{Mook}}-kill phrases, as well as one of the character's signature phrases, is "I'm the best at what I do.")


[[folder: Beat Em Up ]]

* The NES version of the first ''VideoGame/{{Double Dragon|1}}'' game added a leveling mechanic - you start the game with only basic punches and kicks (and a headbutt), gradually giving Billy access to the rest of his moves as he levels-up.
* The Capcom game ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheRound'' had this system, where EXP was gained from defeating enemies and picking up things; basically, it's through the score system that the character you play as gets more elaborate weapons and armor as they level up.
* Used A LOT in IGS' games:
** The whole ''Knights of Valour'' series had this via the score meter leveling up your character when a certain amount of points are achieved; leveling up was less subtle and was only at the end of each stage in the second installment. Level 70 was the max level to reach in the third game's HD installment.
** Paving way for the third installment of the above series, ''Oriental Legend 2'' also had this by proxy, only it could go up to Level 100; new moves could be unlocked per set level for all characters.
*** All the later games with this form of system could have main character(s) selected + current level saved onto an IC card for the arcade machines.


[[folder: First Person Shooter ]]

* ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty 4: VideoGame/ModernWarfare''[='=]s multiplayer not only has character levels, topping out at 55, but once you do get to the highest level you can then go for Prestige -- resetting your character level to 1 so you can go through it again, this time [[CosmeticAward with a special icon to let others know]] how many times you've done this (up to 10). Later games add various other bonuses for prestiging - ''Modern Warfare 3'' gives you "Prestige tokens" every time you prestige, which can be spent on bonuses such as extra Create-a-Class slots or having a specific weapon or gadget unlocked indefinitely, even if you prestige again.
* Uniquely done in ''VideoGame/Titanfall2'': of the playable "[[HumongousMecha Titans]]" in multiplayer, the "Monarch" can activate its "Upgrade Core" as its form of a LimitBreak during combat, upwards to three tier levels. These tiers consist of active or passive abilities unlocked for the Monarch (and designated by players in the menu) and will last for as long as the Titan remains on the battlefield, ranging from [[MoreDakka increased firing rate]] and shortening reload time for its primary weapon, [[SupportPartyMember supporting allied Titans by transferring its shield to them]] and [[MacrossMissileMassacre launching more missiles from its ordinance]].


[[folder: Hack And Slash ]]

* The only thing that increases when Caim levels up in ''VideoGame/{{Drakengard}}'' is the amount of HitPoints he has. In order to increase his damage or his magic meter, you have to level up the various weapons that are found in the game.
* As of ''[[VideoGame/SamuraiWarriors Samurai Warriors 2]]'', a more clear-cut level-up system was used for unlocking character move lists and the like, where as previous games merely used a ranking point system. By that proxy, battlefield drops that increased individual stats were abandoned in later ''Warriors/Musou'' games in favor of said stats grow per level instead.


[[folder: Mecha Game ]]

* In ''VideoGame/ZoneOfTheEnders 2'', if you defeat enough enemies, your health bar will increase slightly. But since you gain no other attributes upon "leveling up", you will still die fairly quickly if you let your guard down (especially against the BigBad)


[[folder: Miscellaneous Games ]]

* In the DS ''VideoGame/DinosaurKing'' game, the level(s) of your opponent's dinosaurs determine how much EXP you obtain by beating them. Also, as they level up, dinosaurs produce Move Cards, which can be equipped on any dinosaur regardless of their level.
* In ''VideoGame/AngryBirds2'', you can earn colored feathers that increase the damage your birds will do and unlock levels of the arena once all the birds reach a certain number of feathers. They are earned in the bonus chests you get every few levels and as prizes in the arena.


[[folder: [=MMORPG=]s ]]

* An interesting usage of this trope involves the MMO Sports game ''ShotOnline'', a golf game where you start as a Level 1 golfer, slicing and hooking the ball like mad, driving off the tee barely 150 yards. The more you play, the more experience you earn, gaining levels, and placing points to stats to straighten and lengthen those shots...
* ''VideoGame/BattleStations'' - [[RPGElements levelling up]] gives you stat points that can be used to boost your abilities, and allows access to better ships and equipment.
* Largely averted in ''VideoGame/{{Runescape}}''. Although there's a combat and skill total levels, the levels have to be gained for [[StatGrinding every skill separately]].
* ''Dark Ages'' handled character levels in the usual way, but it called them "insights", which at least added some flavor and an explanation as to why your character was suddenly better at something: he or she was said to have "gained a flash of insight". Later updates to the game ruined this flavor, though, by implementing a [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks "Level Up" graphic above the character's head]].
* ''VideoGame/GuildWars'' had the usual level up system for an MMO. However, an interesting difference to other games is that enemies can also level up by killing players, and this was originally the only way to get an achievement in the first area.


[[folder: Platform Game ]]

* The ''Franchise/RatchetAndClank'' games feature this, generally in increasingly extreme forms as the series progresses, but for your weapons; Each time you kill something with any particular weapon, the WEAPON earns experience. When it gets enough, it levels up. Later games allow it to become a new, more powerful type of weapon at the end of a multi-step leveling sequence. Most of the games have a cap on the level you can reach, but in the NewGamePlus you can use the money you've acquired to buy the upgraded form, which will put the weapon at the next level, as well as allow you to get more experience for your weapon until you reach the ''second'' level cap.
* ''VideoGame/{{Faxanadu}}'' has character levels, but they only determine the amount of XP and money retained by the player when they die and resurrect.
** And the character levels are, in fact, counter-intuitive. Rather than leveling up as soon as you get enough experience, you have to get enough experience, and then make your way to a church and speak to the priest, who gives you a new title (and effectively the level). If you die before you manage to make it to the church (a frequent occurrence), then your experience points are reset to your previous title, making leveling a grueling and ''entirely unnecessary'' aspect of the game.
*** And in fact, being at high levels will actually ''hurt'' your chances of winning the game, as levels actually ''shorten'' the duration of the items that you use.


[[folder: Racing Game ]]

* ''{{VideoGame/Blur}}'' has Fan Levels. As your fan level increases, you unlock new cars and new mods. In single player this is capped at 25. In multiplayer this is capped at 50 with the option to enter Legend Mode, similar to Prestige in ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty: VideoGame/ModernWarfare'' in that your level resets to 1 and you can go through the progression again (up to 10 times), except each Legend Mode unlocks another new car.


[[folder: Role Playing Game ]]

* ''VideoGame/DragonFable'' plays it straight. Due to the [[NoFourthWall self-referential nature of the game,]] it's often used for meta jokes.
--->'''Dragon:''' I should probably just eat this hero now. [[GenreSavvy It will save me a lot of trouble in 30 levels or so.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{New Worlds Ateraan}}'' has a simple level-up system with main levels adding new abilities to the character, while smaller skills make those abilities better. Players can choose which to allocate experience and coins to. {{NPC}}s don't level up, though, and level has no affect on usable gear.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' series has a fairly generic level-up system similar to ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'' (which it was originally slated to use), in which each level-up is primarily focused on allocating skill points. Base attributes do not change upon level-up, but every third level grants a perk for further customization of the player character. Your {{NPC}}s level up as well, and, as the page quote shows, they will throw in some funny lines when they do. Fallout's level system is notable for not holding the player back from wielding powerful weapons in an open game, allowing people in later playthroughs to pick up [[GameBreaker devastating weapons and armor]] early on with the proper know-how. This is marginally balanced by the fact that most low-level characters won't be able to pick up enough ammo or even hit anything with an energy weapon at 20% skill with it.
* Despite being a card game, some {{Genre Shift}}ing ''Franchise/YuGiOh'' video games do this, preventing you from using stronger cards until you "level up" to their caliber. This has sometimes gone to the extreme, not only preventing you from using cards higher than your current level, but whose collective experience point total is higher than yours, as well, essentially forcing you to play with lackluster cards until you're more than halfway through the game.
** The card game itself has "Level Monsters", monsters that are capable of Leveling up and becoming stronger. Lower level monsters usually just need to survive a turn to level up, but destroying a monster in battle is also typical. Higher leveled monsters usually get some benefit from being leveled up from their previous level, while the highest leveled monsters typically cannot be summoned by any way but by leveling up the previous leveled monster.
*** The card Level Up can also be used to bypass any leveling conditions; it tends to be abused.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls''
** Played straight in ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsArena Arena]]'', which uses standard levels.
** Starting with ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIDaggerfall Daggerfall]]'' (and continuing into ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind Morrowind]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]''), individual skills increase in level (rather than levels leading to new ones). Every 10-15 increases of a Primary/Major/Minor skill (designated by class when creating a new character or selected yourself if you create a custom class) results in a new character level, with the option of increasing your Attributes (Strength, Intelligence, etc.) upon leveling up. The Attributes which govern the skills you increased in order to increase in level will get multipliers based on the amount of skill increases. (So if you increase Heavy Armor 10 times, Endurance will get a x5 multiplier.) This can also eventually lead to EmptyLevels or a ParabolicPowerCurve if you level inefficiently. ''Oblivion'' also includes the series' first attempt at perks, which come into play every 25 skill levels on a 5-100 scale.
** ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'' does away with classes and attributes, in favor of pure skill-leveling with perks. Increasing any combination of skills enough (with higher skills being harder to raise, but being worth more than increasing lower ones) will allow you to level-up, with the option of increasing your Health, [[{{Mana}} Magicka]], or Stamina by 10. Additionally, you can choose one perk with every level gained in one of the skill trees. The higher the skill, the more perks there are available to you.
* In the ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' games, traded Pokémon may not listen to your commands if their level becomes too high, since you haven't "earned" the right to command it. Defeating Gym Leaders and earning their badges raised the maximum level that such Pokémon would obey your commands, with a complete collection of badges allowing you to easily control any Pokémon regardless of its level.
** In the ''{{Anime/Pokemon}}'' anime, this phenomenon was depicted by Ash's Charizard, who cheerfully obeyed him as a Charmander, but ignored him more and more as it evolved. It ''almost'' followed the games rules: the Charmander wasn't his to begin with (it was a castoff from some other trainer who was never heard from again) and quickly became his most powerful Pokemon (thus higher level), but the anime failed to account for the badges, which are the sign of "earning the right" to command traded Pokemon.
* In ''VideoGame/LostKingdoms'', you would only level up with the storyline. This wouldn't stop the player from using powerful cards, since you'd [[CastFromHitPoints use HP instead of rune stones]] when you ran out of them (and your HP wouldn't drop to 0 from this, and exploitation fixed in the sequel).
* In ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'', you and your partner go up a level as soon as you gain enough experience. The beam of light that accompanies this phenomenon has been observed to damage enemies. Notably, leveling only increases your HP and bravery[[note]]items require you to have a minimum amount of bravery to equip them[[/note]],; attack and defense can only be permanently increased by eating food. You can also lower your effective level in the menu (only affecting HP, not bravery) to raise your drop rate multiplier.
* The first two ''VideoGame/PaperMario'' games also take a somewhat different direction. When Mario levels, he can choose between more HitPoints, Flower Points (used for special attacks) and Badge Points (which can be used to equip badges with a variety of effects). His offense on the other hand is upgraded by finding better hammers and boots, and the Star powers are plot-related. His partners don't level at all but can be upgraded twice, resulting in more hitpoints (in the second game), offense and a new move.
** ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiSuperstarSaga Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga]]'' and sequels have a different, albeit slightly similar variation. As well as the standard leveling up, a bonus slot machine type wheel appears and you can choose any stat to add a few more points to each time. The latest game also adds ranks which are gotten by {{Character Level}}s, each enabling you to equip more items/gear.
* Averted (for the most part) in ''VideoGame/MonsterHunter'', which is a bit of a surprise given its MMO-like structure. The character's abilities depend directly on two factors: player skill and gear. Played straight in some versions where you can recruit NPC companions who do indeed level up.
* ''[[VideoGame/DotHackGU .hack//G.U.]]'' uses your character level to lock you out of higher level equipment till you hit that level.
* In ''VideoGame/DragonQuestIX'', every character in your party caps each job at level 99. However, once you complete the main plot, you can reset a job's level to 1 after it reaches level 99. This allows you to perform StatGrinding to get all of the many job-specific and weapons skills to their maximum.
* Inverted in the first two ''Rockman.EXE / VideoGame/MegaManBattleNetwork'' games, the first ''Ryuusei no Rockman / VideoGame/MegaManStarForce'' game, and ''Rockman.EXE: Operate Shooting Star'', their {{Crossover}}. Instead of having to level up in order to increase your abilities, your level is calculated based on the upgrades you've acquired (although ''Star Force'' and ''Operate Shooting Star'' add levels for certain postgame achievements, to round out the max to 100). There are no experience points whatsoever, and the level itself is mostly cosmetic, which may explain why most sequels dropped them altogether.
* The NES/Famicom (along with its {{Updated Rerelease}}s) game ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyII'' went the "level up only what you've been using" route, and applied it to weapons and spells as well as stats (for example, your maximum HP would increase if you got hurt a lot). Needless to say, it didn't last, although its remakes have made it less grindy and more generous and balanced, along with removing the occasional stat decreases from the NES/Famicom version.
* In ''VideoGame/InfiniteSpace'', only assigned crew members will gain experience points from battle, and when they level up, the stat required by their post will go up faster than other stats. The assignment and command skills owned by your crews will level up for each twenty levels.
* ''VideoGame/{{Freelancer}}'' levels are based on ''money'', except if you're still playing through the story, in which case every other level requires you to complete a storyline mission. These levels allow you to purchase mightier ships, which in turn have better armor, shields, armament capacity, and cargo space.
** The "money levels" in ''Freelancer'' are also a form of GoWaitOutside because generally your allies are getting plot-important stuff done while you go raise some cash and spruce up the ship for the next mission. It's always set at a certain amount above your current value, so you can't just grind up extra money ahead of time and skip those levels.
* ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' naturally does this. It's a good idea to wait until low on health before spending the experience points, as this will fully heal your character. In the first game, it is also advisable to stop at level 4 of your initial class and spend the rest of the Taris section as TheLoad, so you gain the most bonuses from your base class ''and'' are able take four Jedi levels at once after making it to Dantooine.
* Averted in ''VideoGame/CrimsonShroud'', where your party's stats are determined by the gear they have equipped, and otherwise remain constant throughout the campaign.
* Averted in ''VideoGame/ThreeTheHardWay'', which is very unusual for an VideoGame/RPGMaker game. Characters' stats are are increased only if they are victorious in a "challenging" battle.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Gyromancer}}'' (an [=RPG=]/[[PuzzleGame puzzle]] hybrid), players have a level, and so do monsters (whether they belong to the player or are enemies). Monsters advance in level along with the player, except that they have level caps which will eventually prevent them from advancing further. This has the effect of requiring players to trade in their monsters from time to time rather than sticking with the same set throughout the game.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}'', levels, abbreviated as LV, are called LOVE. As is typical for this trope, you increase your LOVE by gaining EXP from killing enemies. [[spoiler: At the end of the game, it is revealed that EXP and LOVE are acronyms; [[WhamLine EXP stands for "EXecution Points"]] and is a way of measuring how much of a [[YouBastard ruthless murderer you've been]] while [[KarmaMeter LOVE stands for "Level Of ViolencE"]] and is a way of measuring how much of an [[VillainProtagonist unfeeling sociopath]] you've become. [[ItGetsEasier The more you kill, the easier it becomes to distance yourself.]] [[DeconstructedTrope The more you distance yourself, the less you will hurt.]] [[GainingTheWillToKill The more easily you can bring yourself to hurt others]].]]
* In ''VideoGame/GemsOfWar'' (well, the RPGElements thereof), player characters have levels, with increases providing boosts to stats like health and attack. Experience is gained from battles (including defeats, albeit in different quantities). However, other troops also have their own levels, and they work differently they have to be specifically levelled up by spending Souls, which can be obtained from battles and other places. You'll generally have more troops than Souls to level them, so you have to choose which ones to focus on.
* In ''VideoGame/CapellasPromise'', characters will gain a distribution of 20 stat points upon leveling up according to their equipped Megaloma. If no Megaloma is equipped, the distribution of the 20 points is random.
* ''VideoGame/{{Postknight}}'': You gather Experience Points, and after getting a certain number of them, you can increase your stats.
* In ''VideoGame/ShopHeroes'', there are several kinds of character level. The player character has a level as a shopkeeper; you increase this by selling things, and it unlocks things such as hiring more employees (who make the stuff you sell). Each of these employees has their own separate level, which increases as they make things. Each hero who frequents your shop has a level as well; this is increased by successful questing, and determines what sort of equipment the hero needs.

[[folder: Shoot Em Up ]]

* ''VideoGame/BubbleTanks'' has your "levels" in an evolution tree- when you collect enough bubbles from defeated enemies, you "level up" and choose a next evolution for your tank. Careful though, getting hit by enemies causes you to ''lose'' experience points, and you can go back down a level if you are not careful!


[[folder: Stealth Based Game ]]

* The early ''Franchise/MetalGear'' had leveling systems. In the first ''[[VideoGame/MetalGear1 Metal Gear]]'' (and ''VideoGame/SnakesRevenge''), Snake is promoted in rank as he rescues hostages, increasing not only his maximum health, but also the maximum capacity of items and ammo he can carry. In ''VideoGame/MetalGear2SolidSnake'' and ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'', Snake's level increases after defeating a boss.


[[folder: Survival Horror ]]

* ''VideoGame/DeadRising'' uses a basic form of this: you kill zombies and take pictures to gain experience, and each level gained results in either a stat boost (Speed, Power, Inventory, etc.) or a new move (Double Lariat, Disembowel).


[[folder: Turn Based Strategy ]]

* ''VideoGame/{{Jagged Alliance}}'' has an "Experience Level" that increases slowly whenever the character's attributes or skills go up (no matter which skills...). It increases performance in nearly every aspect of gameplay, but does not increase the level of challenge (that's based on another, character-irrelevant value). However, more experienced characters do cost more to hire, which means that you need to watch out not to train your characters beyond your financial means.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Final Fantasy Tactics}}'' characters get experience and ability points for every successful action taken (meaning attacks that ''hit'' not missed etc.), which could result in possible grinding by hitting your ''allies'', while having some unfortunate enemy surrounded or running off to the distant corners of the field.


!!Non-video game examples:

[[folder: Film ]]
* In ''Film/TheGamersDorknessRising'', which is, after all, about ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', the characters are explicitly stated to be level 9. Which, considering their abilities, seems about right.

[[folder: Literature ]]
* ''Literature/TheGam3'': Each player in the Game has a level, gaining levels grants points to spend on abilities or stats. The main character's starting level is 3. The average and median levels of publicly listed players is given as 3460 and 1337. There is no level cap.
* ''Literature/TheWanderingInn'':A mechanic built into the world in which Erin, Ryoka, and the rest of the Otherworlders find themselves. Every intelligent being gains Classes, Levels, and Skills based on what they do, how they do it, and how they are perceived by themselves and others.

* ''Pinball/StarWarsEpisodeI'': You go through the Jedi ranks by spelling J-E-D-I and fighting Darth Maul.
* In ''VideoGame/PinballQuest,'' your pinball levels up by destroying monsters to gain Attack Strength.

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]
* As mentioned in the introduction, ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' is the TropeMaker and hasn't changed much over the years in this respect either. The one significant change that did happen was the switch from second to third edition, when class-specific XP tables were abolished in favor of the same XP progression for everyone and the new multiclassing rules made the difference between "class level" and "character level" more significant while 3E lasted.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' returns to {{Character Level}}s, sort of. It uses the WW system and allows you to buy what you want, but a character's meterstick for power is their Essence stat.
** All of the TabletopGame/NewWorldOfDarkness games feature a meterstick for power (Blood Potency for Vampires, Primal Urge for Werewolves, Wyrd for Changelings and Gnosis for Mages). In most cases, however, this doesn't limit what powers you can buy (save for mages, where Gnosis determines just how many levels a mage can buy in their ranked Arcana).
** ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' Third Edition plays this much straighter. Now, rather than purchasing Essence with experience points, it will rise for free once you've spent enough on ''other'' traits.
* Two of the first tabletop [=RPGs=] not to use levels at all were ''TabletopGame/{{Traveller}}'' and ''TabletopGame/RuneQuest'', which relied on skill and stat advancement entirely.
* Averted in ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}''. Characters slowly gain Character Points that are used to improve skills, powers or stats. Theoretically a character built on more points is more powerful but the system explicitly notes that even a discrepancy of 25 points is fairly minor. Given the number and variety of ways you can invest those points, it's also entirely possible to have a high-point character be "weaker" than a low-point one in terms of combat power. You could build a 1000 point super-chef with no combat skills who would be swiftly trounced by a 100 point character who put that into hitting things. Of course, not all games are based on combat and what is "powerful" depends on the game at hand.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Fatal}}'' apparently has levels too...although your character is supposed to die before level 20. The author considers this a ''good thing''.
* Dwellers in ''TabletopGame/FateOfTheNornsRagnarok'' earn whole levels, usually one per campaign, that allow them to draw a new rune of power from their pool during combat, or gain a new rune imbued with more powers in said pool.
* HERO System games like ''TabletopGame/{{Champions}}'' don't use Character Levels or even a typical class progression. Rather, your {{Experience Points}} function in a manner identical to the points given at character creation, creating a smoother curve of progression than the typical "staircase" style of level-based systems. (In other words, characters tend to end up improving more often but in correspondingly smaller steps...barring cases like saving up to buy a complete new major superpower or the like.)
* ''TabletopGame/MutantsAndMasterminds'': First edition had levels the character earned after every 15 power points. These levels in turn acted as a cap on how much a character could invest in certain attributes. Second edition loosened this up a bit, and level simply became a cap on all players power point expenditures (the cap only applies to certain categories) that could be changed any time the GM felt like it.
* ''TabletopGame/PoniesAndParasprites'' averts this in much the same way [[TabletopGame/OldWorldofDarkness the World of Darkness]] does. It allows players to improve certain aspects of their characters with experience points instead of giving them a rigid 'class' to play as.
* Subverted in ''TabletopGame/{{Torchbearer}}'': characters do level up but the only way to advance skills and abilities is logging tests, traits advance every Winter phase with the help of the other players and new Wises also are acquired during Winter, all independently of the character's level.
* The German tabletop [=RPG=] ''TabletopGame/{{Midgard}}'' somewhat inverts the usual progression: while it by and large ''is'' a traditional {{class and level system}}, going up in level requires actually improving individual skills by investing {{experience points}}, money, and training time into doing so ''first''. The levelup happens after doing enough of that and mainly serves to raise assorted caps (most notably on stamina points, combat skills, and spellcasting) so that the character can now improve beyond the limits imposed by their earlier lower level.
* ''{{TabletopGame/Forsooth}}'' has Fate score that can be used to resolve character conflicts in those rare instances when players don't agree on the outcome. Players usually have multiple characters, the highest Fate character being the Protagonist.
* The old superhero game ''TabletopGame/VillainsAndVigilantes'' has a leveling system in place, but somewhat oddly, as-is the system doesn't address characters becoming significantly more powerful the more they're played (Since most superheroes' powers don't become stronger the more experienced they are). It offers some minor stat or skill-based enhancements based on what stat or skill the character was "training" during that level, and mostly reflects the character's degree of combat experience. That is, a 1st level character will find it much harder to hit and avoid being hit by a 10th level character, then that same character will at 5th level.
* The UrExamples: when a pawn reaches the eighth rank in {{Chess}} it is promoted to a queen (or, rarely, another officer). When a piece in {{Checkers}} reaches the eighth rank, it is promoted to a king and gains the ability move backwards.
* ''TabletopGame/PokemonTabletopAdventures'' not only has the traditional ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' leveling from 1 to 100, but Trainers also go from level 0 to 50.

[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* Apparently gaining a level in ''Webcomic/{{Goblins}}'' [[http://www.goblinscomic.com/07162006/ feels like a glow inside]]... and can be the result of roleplaying at the last moment to have just enough [[http://goblinscomic.com/01202007.html experience]].
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', Levelling up is representing by an audible "Ding". Roleplaying for experience is also what comes to mind when you've just been denied [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0125.html killing your party's scrappy for the level]]
** In ''On the Origin of [=PCs=], Haley convinces Vaarsuvius to leave his academic studies of magic behind and join an adventuring party by telling him that [[RPGMechanicsVerse you gain much more XP through adventuring than you do through studying the skills you're actually interested in improving.]]
-->'''Haley:''' Like two weeks ago, I'm on an adventure where we're fighting kobolds. Nothing but kobolds as far as the eye can see, in dark little cramped caves. We get back to town, and BAM! I'm better at picking locks. I didn't even see a lock during the entire trip!
* As ''Webcomic/GoldCoinComics'' shows, [[http://gcc.goldcoincomics.com/?page=13 lower character levels]] often mean you get the lower end of the equipment list.
* Red Mage of ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'' lets out a barbaric howl of DING! when he "[[CloudCuckoolander levels up]]".
* Played straight in ''Webcomic/{{Our Little Adventure}}''. The group even get a fanfare filled panel when they do level up.
** When the characters leveled up in the Rosoro Underground, not all the characters leveled up at the same time. Lenny leveled up first ''accidentally'' in [[http://danielscreations.com/ola/comics/ep0158.html this comic here.]]
* Parodied in [[http://xkcd.com/189/ this]] Webcomic/{{XKCD}}.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', each main character has an "echeladder" that they climb as they gain experience. Rather than numbered levels, each "rung" on the ladder has a different silly name. It also parodies the concept by giving the same echeladder system to inanimate objects and having them "level up" upon being used as tools to defeat enemies. Jane once gained a level both for herself and for her hat by throwing it forcefully onto the ground, which is apparently worth a tiny amount of experience.
* Fern Green from ''Webcomic/AwfulHospital'' levels up after defeating enemies in or around the titular hospital.


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* The serial ''Memetic Narration'' ([[http://writetocreate.tumblr.com/ found here]]) features a third-person narrator whom the main character can hear. Said narrator informs the main character that as he builds relationships with his friends he will be alerted when the relationships "level up," a la ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'' and ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}.''
* In the first ''WebAnimation/ASDFMovie'' a character levels up after randomly punching another character in the face.
* ''Roleplay/MallFight'''s perception of a Character Level is absolutely distorted into oblivion. One fighter has some set stats (Attack, Defense, etc.) while another has totally different stats (Strength, Perception, etc) while another doesn't even care about it at all.


[[folder: Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/MiraculousLadybug'': When Max gets akumatized into a villain called "Gamer", he turns into a video game character and destroys people in order to gain XP and level up.