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Experience Penalty

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An item, ability, debuff, or situation that causes the player character to gain less or no Experience Points. May be a trait of the Infinity -1 Sword to balance it out or when a high-level character fights lower-leveled enemies for Level Grinding.

Contrast Experience Booster. Compare Cast from Experience Points, Level Drain, and Anti-Grinding.


Examples:

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    Tabletop Games 

  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • In the 3rd edition, multiclassing incurred an XP penalty unless one of the character's classes was their race's "favored class". Humans got to choose their favored class.
    • 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide, If a party of PCs has 10 times (or more) the hit dice/Character Levels of the monsters they're facing, the Dungeon Master should at least halve the Experience Points they receive for defeating the monsters.
  • DC Heroes: Hero Points are the game's version of Experience Points (they can be used to improve the character).
    • If a PC initiates Killing Combat (tries to kill an opponent), they lose all Hero Points they normally would receive for the adventure. If they enter Killing Combat only after an opponent initiates Killing Combat with them, they only lose half of the possible Hero Points.
    • If a player doesn't roleplay their PC properly (e.g. violating their character's Motivations or displaying sudden personality shifts) then the PC will forfeit the standard Role-Playing Hero Point award.
  • Champions: PCs can be penalized Experience Points if they roleplay poorly or the adventure is a terrible failure.

    Video Games 

  • Starcraft II: During multiplayer matches, the amount of experience given for killing and building units drops to a third after a certain amount of time has passed.
  • Warcraft III: In the Frozen Throne expansion, heroes gain experience for killing creeps up to level 5, after which only enemy units give experience (creeps can still be killed for gold and items).
  • Dragon Quest VI: Gaining levels in classes is determined by the number of battles fought against sufficiently strong enemies. If the character's level is too high for the area, battles fought in that area no longer count (the Spiegelspire is the first area with no level cap, making it a Peninsula of Power Leveling despite the enemies not being endgame-difficult).
  • Dragon Quest IX: Experience is split by the number of characters in the party. Metal Slime runs can be very rewarding with only the main character, but very easy to lose in the higher level grottoes.
  • In Pokémon, higher level Pokemon gain less experience defeating lower level Pokemon in Black and White, Black 2 and White 2, and Sun and Moon.
  • In Undertale, if you reduce Napstablook's HP to 0, he reveals he was lowering his HP on purpose to make you feel better, since he can't die on account of already being a ghost. At the end of the fight, you lose 1 experience point. Persnickety players may check their stats and find that they didn't lose any EXP — all the way at the other end of the game, this turns out to be because "EXP" isn't short for "experience points", but "execution points".
  • In Stellaris, leaders can get the Arrested Development trait, which prevents them from gaining experience and subsequently from leveling up. The Stubborn and Slow Learner traits both reduce experience, with the first being a personality trait and the second one being a biological trait. The Conservative biological trait gives a experience penalty, while giving a starting level boost for new leaders.
  • In World of Tanks platoons are penalized if there is more than one tier difference between the tanks in the platoon to a maximum of 50% for Tier I tanks platooned up with Tier X tanks. This is to discourage "fail platoons".
  • Neverwinter Nights:
    • A Multiclassed character receives a 20% exp penalty if the levels of their individual classes are apart by more than one (for instance, a 3rd-level Wizard/5th-level Rogue).
    • When travelling with companions, experience gains percentages are reduced depending on how many characters are in the party. (This is balanced out by the fact that the game will spawn more enemies, and therefore a higher base exp, for larger parties.
  • In City of Heroes, the penalty for dying was gaining "Experience Debt". While in debt, half of the XP you earned would instead go toward working it off.
  • Overwatch: players that constantly leave in-progress matches will gain reduced experience from matches they complete. The penalty is removed once the player has played enough matches without leaving.
  • In the Disgaea series, the "Depraved" status effect prevents a character from gaining XP, and may also prevent one from giving XP when killed.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The EXP Zero ability first introduced in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix prevents experience from being gained for as long as it's active.
    • Using the Warp spell causes enemies to disappear without leaving any experience.
  • In Mass Effect, killing enemies while riding the Mako cuts experience gain by 60%. Thankfully, attacking enemies with the Mako doesn't instantly qualify for a penalty, so you can whittle an enemy down to a few hit-points with the Mako's weapons, get out of the tank and kill the enemy with your own guns for full experience gain.
  • Tools in Minecraft can be enchanted with "mending", which makes any experience you gain while holding or wearing them go into repairing them rather than your experience bar.
  • Each of the Celestial Weapons in Final Fantasy X will deny the user of Ability Points until its full power is unlocked through sidequests.
  • Many food and booze items in Kingdom of Loathing will cause you to gain experience. A few will cause you to lose some, notably the cursed food from Hey Deze. If your Clan is fortunate enough to have a hot dog stand, eating too many hot dogs will cause you to lose exponential amounts of experience points.
  • Using a Ridiculous Hat in Fallen London will clobber your hard-earned attributes, as it's hard to seem particularly imposing when you're dressed like The Cat in the Hat. It can also be merely equipped to reduce attributes temporarily.
  • Super Paper Mario has this trope in its most literal form: Killing a Cragnon while he's Brainwashed and Crazy will deduct from the team's accumulated experience points. As they spawn infinitely, killing enough Cragnons can actually make you level down.
  • Overwatch players who repeatedly quit games earlynote  will be slapped with a 75% penalty to EXP gains. The penalty persists until the offender completes a set number of games. Fortunately, levels are only needed to unlock Competitive Mode (at level 25) and to earn Loot Boxes for strictly-cosmetic items, but quitting in Competitive Mode carries more serious consequences than just a reduced rate of Loot Box gain.
  • The Logomancer: Monsters give progressively less experience with each level when the character that fights them gets to a certain level, different for each monster, and stops at 1 EXP per monster, and it takes 1000 EXP for every level.
  • The Wild ARMs series has the "Amnesia" status effect, which persists until cured and prevents the afflicted character from gaining any experience points after battle.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has the option of applying the "Skilled" trait at character creation: all your skills start off with an extra 5 points, but you suffer a -10% penalty to experience rewards.

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