->''"You can get experience points for roleplaying?"''
-->-- '''Jim''', ''Webcomic/DarthsAndDroids''

In many [=RPGs=], dating to the original ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' (see its entry below), the only mechanically supported way for a character to gain experience and grow stronger is [[RPGsEqualCombat to kill enemies]]. It's a simple fact of most role-playing games that some amount of LevelGrinding will be required. Gaining ExperiencePoints often requires several hours of [[RandomEncounters 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. Craft a sword? Gain EXP! Run a mile? Gain EXP! Collect your [[TwentyBearAsses 300 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 Shirt}}s improves your ability to use a compass or [[ItemCrafting forge the]] InfinityPlusOneSword. Instead, you gain proficiency in item crafting by doing so repeatedly, and so on. This is more common in recent [=RPGs=]. This is also easier to justify in games where the characters can do more than just fight, and especially in games where experience points can be used to improve a character's noncombat capabilities.

This trope is ''not'' about items which give you free experience or stats. For that, see RareCandy. It's also not for gaining experience for mundane tasks such as talking to random {{N|onPlayerCharacter}}PCs. For that, see EasyEXP. 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 RPGsEqualCombat.

Contrast NoExperiencePointsForMedic.


!!EXP gained applies to a character's general level

* In the ''VideoGame/BaldursGate'' series, particularly the second installment, the most XP is gained from completing major quests rather than combat encounters. Picking locks, disabling traps and memorizing spells will also give XP.
** This is necessary because Baldur's Gate uses the 2nd edition AD&D ruleset, in which most XP was normally earned for treasure and magic loot, at a scale of 1 GP = 1 XP. Since that was not implemented in Baldur's Gate, without quest XP it would take comically long to level up in the first game, and be impossible in the second game (where you quickly reach the point where each new level takes hundreds of thousands of XP but dangerous monsters only give thousands).
* ''VideoGame/PillarsOfEternity'', being a SpiritualSuccessor to ''BG'', follows suit: you get (small) amounts of XP for picking locks and disabling traps and substantial boosts for completing quests. Even the "combat EXP" is given not for killing enemies, but for completing the MonsterCompendium: every monster entry is worth a finite XP total, which you gain in chunks every time you kill a monster of that type. The size of these chunks depends on how many you must defeat to complete their entry, at which point you [[AntiGrinding no longer gain any XP from fighting them]].
* ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquer'' series:
** ''Red Alert 2'': Sneaking an Allied Spy to the enemy Barracks or War Factory allows any units produced from your equivalent production structure to start off with one level of veterancy. However, 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.
* ''VideoGame/DeusEx'' series:
** In the first ''VideoGame/DeusEx'', exploring nooks and crannies of the various maps not only nets you more inventory, some additional lore and bonus scenes, but every so often also gives you "Exploration Bonuses" in EXP.
** ''VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution'' 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., persuade 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 and/or setting off an alarm.
** Both games (''Invisible War'' has no XP system) also award the ''vast'' majority of points simply for progressing in the story: it's certainly possible to max out all the skills a player is likely to actually want without doing anything optional.
* ''VideoGame/EvilIslands'' gives you experience points for each completed quest. Note that you only need to do the quest rather than return to the quest-giver to gain exp.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' series awards XP for doing non-combat related things, which may bypass combat altogether, such as lockpicking, hacking and persuasion.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII2'', 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. However, the CP gained from fragments not directly related to killing things tends to be pretty poor.
** In ''VideoGame/LightningReturnsFinalFantasyXIII'', you don't get CP from killing enemies, instead you must complete side quests to level up Lightning.
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblem'' series:
** Staff users gain EXP whenever they use a staff. Similarly, in ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn]]'', [[MysticalWaif Micaiah]] gains experience whenever she uses her "Sacrifice" skill.
** Because of the unique mechanics of ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemJugdral 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 ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius 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.
* In ''VideoGame/KingsQuestMaskOfEternity'', you gain experience for solving puzzles, apart from killing enemies.
* The ''Franchise/MassEffect'' 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 ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'', some XP was gained upon unlocking each Codex entry, i.e. from simple exploration and interacting with the environment.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Minecraft}}'', since version 1.3 you can gain experience from mining and smelting -- specifically, you get experience for mining anything that drops a usable block (diamond, coal, redstone, lapis lazuli, emerald) and experience for smelting raw blocks (iron, gold) into usable blocks (iron ingots, gold ingots). Breeding animals also nets experience, as well as trading with Villagers as of the 1.8 update.
* In addition to Quest EXP, ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights'' 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 ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'', a later expansion even gave XP for opening locks and disabling traps.
* ''VideoGame/ADanceWithRogues'' basically showers you with non-combat XP: picking locks, disarming traps, solving puzzles, completing quests all bring you hefty chunks, while "rewards" from killing enemies and monsters range from nada to single-digit amounts (except for some bosses, beating whom essentially counts as a mini-quest, anyway). This is done to facilitate a sneaky SkillMonkey gameplay of the eponymous class that is the focus of the module: you're expected to avoid trouble you can see coming with strategic application of quick wits and manual dexterity.
* ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'' became a cult classic largely because of this trope. Whereas most [=CRPGs=] at the time were heavily into hack'n'slash, ''Torment'' gave the best rewards (including experience) for dialog-based solutions to problems.
* ''VideoGame/RebelStar: Tactical Command'': Using the Medic and Psionics (non combat and more in mind screw) commands grant exp.
* In ''VideoGame/StarOceanTheLastHope'', 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).
* ''VideoGame/{{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) [[AntiGrinding it's not hard to see why that is.]]
* ''VideoGame/XenobladeChroniclesX'' expands on the original by also awarding EXP for launching data probes to mine resources in each area of Planet Mira.
* ''ValkyrieProfile'' 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.
* ''VideoGame/{{Gothic}}'' gives you experience points for each completed quest.
* ''VideoGame/{{Elvira}} 2: Jaws of Cerberus'' grants you experience for going into unexplored map squares and casting spells. Technically, you could get unlimited experience by preparing and casting a lot of free spells (but you'd have to wait for your Power Points to regenerate, so it would take a ''long'' time.)
* Most Nippon Ichi games give the healer classes EXP for healing others, and also, the Merchant class (appearing in ''Makai Kingdom'' and ''Phantom Brave'') can gain experience and level up just by buying things from her (in addition to killing things, of course).
* ''VideoGame/VampireTheMasqueradeBloodlines'' gives experience ''only'' for quests completed through any means, making verbal conflict resolution and full stealth runs a completely viable way of playing without gimping your character - right up until the last part of the plot where the whole thing [[CosmicDeadline devolves into dungeons upon dungeons with very little stealth or social options.]] Hope you spent some XP on weapon skills after all...
* ''VideoGame/SuperheroLeagueOfHoboken'' gives bonus XP for discovering every area on a map (how hard this is varies, since different terrain types have different requirements for being passable) and for completing missions.
* ''VideoGame/GuardianHeroes'' gives players EXP for casting spells, including ones defensive ones like Nicole's healing spell (unless [[ReviveKillsZombie the enemy is weak to Light-elemental magic]]) or the Barrier spell will give EXP.
* In the ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}}'' series, building a Barracks in a city generally gives each land unit built in that city one additional level of experience; before ''Civilization IV'', all units operated on a single general "experience" system, but afterwards this gave a certain number of experience points that could be used to "buy" promotions for that unit, allowing the unit to get stronger or (most often) to specialize in something like fighting against infantry or being a medic. Also, different games have additional things that would allow units to be built with free experience points from the beginning, ranging from "traits" of the civilization itself to additional buildings.
* In ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep'' and ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance'', the EXP Walker ability will grant 1 point of experience for every step taken by the PlayerCharacter.

* ''VideoGame/GuildWars2'' gives experience for almost everything, from harvesting materials in the world, to crafting to exploration.
* ''VideoGame/{{Mabinogi}}'' has lots of ways to get XP from crafting and other non-combat activities.
** The two skills for [[ItemCrafting crafting finished adventuring gear]], Tailoring and Blacksmithing, give some of the easiest XP in the game, especially if you take part-time jobs or process your own raw materials.
** Additionally, the Merchant Destiny give you more than double XP for crafting stuff for as long as you keep it.
** There is also Exploration XP, which is basically an entire second XP-and-level system, fueled entirely by [[MetalDetectorPuzzle tracking down Irian artifacts with an L-rod]].
** Mabinogi is one of the few combat-oriented games where you can make a respectable character who never fights.
* ''TricksterOnline'' gives the player experience from various activities, namely drilling and playing cards.
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' gives experience the first time a significant landmark is visited. 4.1 also made it so that gathering nodes like ore or plants give XP when gathered.
** There are also plenty of quests that don't necessarily require combat. Some of them are just to get you to the next quest in the story train but others like the repeatable quests relating to professions or those involving major world events give an amount of experience that scales with your level and can add up a bit after a while (assuming you haven't hit the current level cap).
* ''VideoGame/PlanetSide'' gives you a small amount of Combat Experience Points for completing tutorial missions. Using an [=ANT=] truck to recharge a base's generator will grant you [=BEP=]. Taking over an enemy base while commanding a squad will grant you Command Experience Points, regardless of whether you were actively engaging in combat or simply giving orders.
* ''VideoGame/UrbanDead'' allows human players to gain experience by healing damage with First Aid Kits and by DNA scanning and revivifying zombies, while zombie players can gain small amounts of experience for smashing barricades.

* ''TabletopGame/{{Space 1889}}'' has an unusual version with close combat and other experience points in parallell and completely separated. You get one skill point for every major event or episode, these point may not be used to purchase close combat skills. You also get one for every time you participated in close combat, those can only be used on close combat skills.
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' has various rules for [=GMs=] to give out EXP for completing tasks outside combat, such as talking one's way out of a fight or for superb roleplaying. Also, long before there were official rules for it, this was a very popular house rule.
** Even in the earliest D&D sets [=PC=]s got 1 xp for every gp of treasure found. Getting treasure by avoiding combat with monsters was actively encouraged.
** 4th edition added the "skill challenge" mechanic which was a method for designing encounters around a series of non combat skill checks and setting standard experience point awards for those tasks. A few of the examples were even about using non combat skills to circumvent or reduce the difficulty of combats.
** The 2nd Edition rules were very specific that the listed XP rewards for monsters were awarded for ''defeating'' them, not necessary ''killing'' them, and thus could be awarded for intimidating them into surrender or retreat, tricking or outsmarting them, or otherwise defeating them without combat.
* ''TabletopGame/{{FATAL}}'' manages to use this trope to limit the poor, deformed, psychotic [=PCs=] that get created. Each class has a specific action that grants it EXP. All classes have the same EXP requirement to reach new levels, but the actual EXP gained varies tremendously by class: an accountant (yes, that's an actual class), who gains EXP for each month they work, must work for ''eighty years'' to gain a level.
* Iron Crown Enterprises' games (''TabletopGame/{{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.
* ''TabletopGame/TeenagersFromOuterSpace'' 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 ''TabletopGame/WorldOfDarkness'' 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.
* Games based on the Hero System (''{{Champions}}'', ''Danger International'') gave experience points for things like good role playing, how outnumbered the {{PC}}s were and how successful the adventure was. The {{PC}}s did not gain XP just for defeating opponents.
* ''TabletopGame/DCHeroes''. {{PC}}s can receive Hero Points for participating in the adventure, roleplaying well, saving innocent bystanders and subplots (activities unrelated to the main adventure).
* MutantsAndMasterminds is entirely divorced from combat experience instead awarding build points on a per game session basis which can be spent to acquire or improve any sort of power or ability you can think of.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Barbarians of Lemuria}}'' is interesting in that it technically doesn't give out XP for what the player characters did ''in play'' at all. Instead, points are awarded purely on the basis of how entertainingly the players describe squandering away their characters' acquired treasures ''between'' the last scenario and the upcoming next one.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Ironclaw}}'' EXP is completely based on roleplaying. Combat only figures in when it accomplishes one of the characters' Goals.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Numenera}}'' encourages exploration, so the XP is mainly awarded for discovering ancient mysteries and figuring out how to use them. There is also the "GM Intrusion" mechanic, wherein the GM can do something mean to a character but offer 2 XP to their player in return (one of which they must then give away to another PC). The player can refuse the XP, however, and thus negate the negative effect, but it costs them 1 already earned XP.
* In ''TabletopGame/ApocalypseWorld'' and games running on the same engine, e.g. ''TabletopGame/MonsterOfTheWeek'', your most common source of XP is botched skill rolls: the GM gets to do something nasty to your character, but you get an XP for it.

* Spoofed in ''Webcomic/CultureShock'' in [[http://www.drunkduck.com/Culture_Shock/4797330/ this strip]] - You can get EXP for quite literally anything - kicking trash cans, beating up {{nerd}}s, popping bubble wrap, opening bags of chips, and using the restroom, among others.
* Discussed by the [[LightIsNotGood Light Warriors]] in ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'' - Apparently, [[http://www.nuklearpower.com/2002/08/02/episode-180-headin-to-pravoka/ sidequests are the primary source]] of an adventurer's EXP gain, and are what separates noble adventurers from roaming bands of thugs.
* ''Webcomic/{{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 [[{{Pun}} crappy]] real fast.
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', the first time the Order levels up on-screen, Belkar, their [[HeroicComedicSociopath 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 [[AssPull sob story]] for roleplaying XP.
* In ''Webcomic/DarthsAndDroids'', Jim is actually surprised that XP can be gained from roleplaying, rather than just fighting.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', characters level up for things like completing a StableTimeLoop by accident, or even throwing their hat in frustration.
* Played straight for Peganone and Jordie in ''Webcomic/OurLittleAdventure'', who both gained their character levels doing non-combat things.
* In ''Webcomic/KnightsOfBuenaVista'' the game [[ShowWithinAShow FantasiaLand]] offers this in large amounts to encourage roleplaying instead of just raw combat. Even Mary, TheRealMan player, gets into it for that reason.

* ''Franchise/{{Noob}}'' has shown experience points to be gained by exploration and completing quests. In the webseries, a semi-RunningGag has one of the characters try to level up on exploration alone [[spoiler:; while it didn't actually work, he still reached level 100 with the EXP gained by discovering a new place]]. The comic has short story in which he actually gains a level by exploring; the puchline reveals that it took about four months and hints that his teammates have been waiting for him to finish all that time.

!!EXP applies only to a particular skill or attribute.

* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' 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 ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'') every 10 ranks (so you could become quite high level by doing nothing but sneaking, smithing and [[TalkingTheMonsterToDeath learning to talk really well]]).
** Though this often leads to people focusing on non-combat less in the early stages of the game, especially in Oblivion. Enemies will scale with your level, so if you do the various guild sidequests and others which focus less on combat skills before the main story line, you can find yourself facing very high leveled enemies, despite still having weak combat skills.
* ''VideoGame/HarvestMoon: Friends of Mineral Town'' (and more friends of mineral town): You get experience on using the tools by using the tools.
* In ''VideoGame/{{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.
* ''VideoGame/RecettearAnItemShopsTale'': You get Merchant Exp by haggling in your shop. Vending Machines do not count.
* The ''VideoGame/QuestForGlory'' saga lacks experience levels, the skills are improved by performing them.
* Besides an initial PointBuildSystem, both attributes and skills in ''VideoGame/DwarfFortress'' are increased only by using them and each action has one or more attributes and sometimes a skill tied to it. This means while you can only raise combat ''skill'' by fighting conscious opponents, you can improve physical and mental ability by doing things like sharping rocks, swimming a lot, walking on crutches (even if you don't need to), and sneaking around (even if there's nobody around to hide from). It works the same in Fortress Mode (which has many more non-combat skills usable), but since that's a SpaceManagementGame rather than an RPG it's not exactly this trope.
* The video game franchise ''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.

[[AC:Tabletop Games]]
* Basic Roleplaying and it's descendants (Call of Cthulhu and Runequest being the most famous) doesn't have experience points. Instead they have a system where you get a chance to increase a skill if you used it. Realistic in that you get better at doing stuff by actually doint it, unrealistic in the amount of increase a single use can get and unrealistic in that it causes player to use skills for little or no reason other than to increase it.

!! Mixed Type - Contains both variants

* ''VideoGame/PerfectWorld'': When obtaining materials and crafting, you get a small dose of experience. Obtaining materials affects one's overall level, while crafting only affects one's crafting ability.

* ''{{Elona}}'': Using any skill exercises the skill and the skill's associated attribute, ''and'' gives you experience towards raising your level. And when you gain a level you get a few points [[PointBuildSystem you can spend to advance any skill you feel like]].

* ''VideoGame/RuneFactory3'': You have to develop skills to increase your stats, which can be anything from finding hidden items, to running, to fishing, as well as to unlock new recipes for the extensive ItemCrafting system. This is combined with your standard 'waltz through dungeons killing everything forever' shtick for your actual level EXP, which seems to mostly be good for raising your raw [[HitPoints HP]] and [[MagicPoints RP]]. Of course, the limited time constraints typical to Harvest Moon games means you can't really farm anything but the crafting skills effectively, which keeps you from reaching Game Breaking levels by spring.
* In ''VideoGame/FantasyLife'', doing non-combat tasks will give experience for the general character level (that raises HP and unlocks new armour), but will also level up the task in question. For example, both making a dagger and using it will give you general experience, but you'll be better at fighting than forging if you've spent more time on the battlefield than in the forge.