Rules Index


Rewards

Source Core Rulebook pg. 507
In Pathfinder, player characters can receive three kinds of rewards for their heroic deeds: Hero Points, which they can use to get out of sticky situations; Experience Points, which they’ll use to level up; and treasure, including powerful magic items.

Hero Points

Source Core Rulebook pg. 507
Unlike Experience Points and treasure, which stay with a character, Hero Points are granted and used on a per-session basis. At the start of a game session, you give out 1 Hero Point to each player character. You can also give out more Hero Points during the game, typically after a heroic moment or accomplishment (see below). As noted on page 467, a player can spend 1 Hero Point for a reroll, or they can spend all their Hero Points to recover when near death.

In a typical game, you’ll hand out about 1 Hero Point during each hour of play after the first (for example, 3 extra points in a 4-hour session). If you want a more over-the-top game, or if your group is up against incredible odds and showing immense bravery, you might give them out at a faster rate, like 1 every 30 minutes (6 over a 4-hour session). Try to ensure each PC has opportunities to earn Hero Points, and avoid granting all of the Hero Points to a single character.

Brave last stands, protecting innocents, and using a smart strategy or spell to save the day could all earn a character a Hero Point. Look for those moments when everybody at the table celebrates or sits back in awe of a character’s accomplishments; that’s your cue to issue that character a Hero Point.

The party could also gain Hero Points for their accomplishments throughout the game. For a moderate or major accomplishment, consider giving out a Hero Point as well. This point typically goes to a PC who was instrumental in attaining that accomplishment.

Experience Points

Source Core Rulebook pg. 507
As characters adventure, they earn Experience Points (XP). These awards come from achieving goals, completing social encounters, exploring new places, fighting monsters, overcoming hazards, and other sorts of deeds. You have a great deal of control over when the characters gain XP, though the following guidelines are what you’re expected to give out in a standard campaign.

Normally, when a player character reaches 1,000 XP or more, they level up, reduce their XP by 1,000, and start progressing toward the next level. Other means of advancement are described in the Advancement Speeds sidebar on page 509.

XP Awards

Source Core Rulebook pg. 507
Experience Points are awarded for encounters, exploration, and progress in an adventure. When the PCs face direct opposition, such as a fight or a social conflict, the XP earned is based on the level of the challenge the party overcame. Characters can also gain XP from exploration, such as finding secret areas, locating a hideout, enduring a dangerous environment, or mapping an entire dungeon.

Any XP awarded goes to all members of the group. For instance, if the party wins a battle worth 100 XP, they each get 100 XP, even if the party’s rogue was off in a vault stealing treasure during the battle. But if the rogue collected a splendid and famous gemstone, which you’ve decided was a moderate accomplishment worth 30 XP, each member of the party gets 30 XP, too.

Table 10-8: XP Awards

AccomplishmentXP Award
Minor10 XP
Moderate*30 XP
Major*80 XP
*Typically earns a Hero Point as well.
Adversary LevelXP Award
Party level -410 XP
Party level -315 XP
Party level -220 XP
Party level -130 XP
Party level40 XP
Party level +160 XP
Party level +280 XP
Party level +3120 XP
Party level +4160 XP
XP Award
LevelSimple HazardComplex Hazard
Party level -42 XP10 XP
Party level -33 XP15 XP
Party level -24 XP20 XP
Party level -16 XP30 XP
Party level8 XP40 XP
Party level +112 XP60 XP
Party level +216 XP80 XP
Party level +324 XP120 XP
Party level +43 XP160 XP

Adversaries and Hazards

Source Core Rulebook pg. 507
Encounters with adversaries and hazards grant a set amount of XP. When the group overcomes an encounter with creatures or hazards, each character gains XP equal to the total XP of the creatures and hazards in the encounter (this excludes XP adjustments for different party sizes; see Party Size on page 508 for details).

Trivial encounters don’t normally grant any XP, but you might decide to award the same XP as for a minor or moderate accomplishment for a trivial encounter that was important to the story, or for an encounter that became trivial because of the order in which the PCs encountered it in a nonlinear adventure.

Accomplishments

Source Core Rulebook pg. 507
Characters’ actions that move the story forward—like securing a major alliance, establishing an organization, or causing an NPC to have a change of heart—are considered accomplishments and should be rewarded with XP. Their significance determines the size of the XP award. Determine whether the achievement was a minor, moderate, or major accomplishment, and refer to Table 10–8: XP Awards on page 508 to award an appropriate amount of XP. Minor accomplishments include all sorts of significant, memorable, or surprising moments in the game. A moderate accomplishment typically represents a goal that takes most of a session to complete, and a major accomplishment is usually the culmination of the characters’ efforts across many sessions. Moderate and major accomplishments usually come after heroic effort, so that’s an ideal time to also give a Hero Point to one or more of the characters involved.

As mentioned earlier, it’s up to you how much XP to give out for accomplishments. As a general guideline, in a given game session, you’ll typically give several minor awards, one or two moderate awards, and only one major award, if any.

Party Size

Source Core Rulebook pg. 508
The rules for advancement assume a group of four PCs. The rules for encounters (page 489) describe how to accommodate groups of a different size, but the XP awards don’t change—always award the amount of XP listed for a group of four characters. You usually won’t need to make many adjustments for a differently sized group outside of encounters. Be careful of providing too many ways to get accomplishment XP when you have a large group, though, since they can pursue multiple accomplishments at once, which can lead to the PCs leveling up too fast.

Group Party and Party Level

Source Core Rulebook pg. 508
It’s recommended that you keep all the player characters at the same XP total. This makes it much easier to know what challenges are suitable for your players. Having characters at different levels can mean weaker characters die more easily and their players feel less effective, which in turn makes the game less fun for those players.

If you choose not to keep the whole group at the same character level, you’ll need to select a party level to determine your XP budget for encounters. Choose the level you think best represents the party’s ability as a whole. Use the highest level if only one or two characters are behind, or an average if everyone is at a different level. If only one character is two or more levels ahead, use a party level suitable for the lower-level characters, and adjust the encounters as if there were one additional PC for every 2 levels the higher-level character has beyond the rest of the party.

Party members who are behind the party level gain double the XP other characters do until they reach the party’s level. When tracking individually, you’ll need to decide whether party members get XP for missed sessions.

Treasure

Source Core Rulebook pg. 508
As the GM, it’s your job to distribute treasure to the player characters. Treasure appears throughout an adventure, and the PCs obtain it by raiding treasure hoards, defeating foes who carry valuable items or currency, getting paid for successful quests, and any other way you can imagine.

This section provides guidelines for distributing treasure in a typical Pathfinder campaign, but you always have the freedom to assign extra treasure for a high-powered game, less treasure for a gritty survival horror adventure, or any amount in between.

Treasure by Level

Source Core Rulebook pg. 508
Table 10–9: Party Treasure by Level on the next page shows how much treasure you should give out over the course of a level for a group of four PCs. The Total Value column gives an approximate total value of all the treasure, in case you want to spend it like a budget. The next several columns provide suggestions for breaking down that total into permanent items, which the PCs keep and use for a long time; consumables, which are destroyed after being used once; and currency, which includes coins, gems, and other valuables primarily spent to acquire items or services. The final column gives the amount of currency to add for each PC beyond four in the group; use this only if you have more than four characters in the game. (Different Party Sizes on page 510 provides more guidance on this.)

For instance, between the time your PCs reach 3rd level and the time they reach 4th level, you should give them the treasure listed in the table for 3rd level, worth approximately 500 gp: two 4th-level permanent items, two 3rd-level permanent items, two 4th-level consumables, two 3rd-level consumables, two 2nd-level consumables, and 120 gp worth of currency.

When assigning 1st-level permanent items, your best options are armor, weapons, and other gear from Chapter 6 worth between 10 and 20 gp. The treasure listed in the row for 20th level represents a full level’s worth of adventures, even though there is no way to reach 21st level.

Some creature entries in the Pathfinder Bestiary list treasure that can be gained by defeating an individual creature; this counts toward the treasure for any given level. Published adventures include a suitable amount of treasure throughout the adventure, though you should still monitor the party’s capabilities as the PCs progress through the adventure to make sure they don’t end up behind.

Table 10-9: Party Treasure by Level

LevelTotal ValuePermanent Items (By Item Level)Consumables (By Item Level)Party CurrencyCurrency per Additional PC
1175 gp2nd: 2, 1st: 22nd: 2, 1st: 340 gp10 gp
2300 gp3rd: 2, 2nd: 23rd: 2, 2nd: 2, 1st: 270 gp18 gp
3500 gp4th: 2, 3rd: 24th: 2, 3rd: 2, 2nd: 2120 gp30 gp
4860 gp5th: 2, 4th: 25th: 2, 4th: 2, 3rd: 2200 gp50 gp
51,350 gp6th: 2, 5th: 26th: 2, 5th: 2, 4th: 2320 gp80 gp
62,000 gp7th: 2, 6th: 27th: 2, 6th: 2, 5th: 2500 gp125 gp
72,900 gp8th: 2, 7th: 28th: 2, 7th: 2, 6th: 2720 gp180 gp
84,000 gp9th: 2, 8th: 29th: 2, 8th: 2, 7th: 21,000 gp250 gp
95,700 gp10th: 2, 9th: 210th: 2, 9th: 2, 8th: 21,400 gp350 gp
108,000 gp11th: 2, 10th: 211th: 2, 10th: 2, 9th: 22,000 gp500 gp
1111,500 gp12th: 2, 11th: 212th: 2, 11th: 2, 10th: 22,800 gp700 gp
1216,500 gp13th: 2, 12th: 213th: 2, 12th: 2, 11th: 24,000 gp1,000 gp
1325,000 gp14th: 2, 13th: 214th: 2, 13th: 2, 12th: 26,000 gp1,500 gp
1436,500 gp15th: 2, 14th: 215th: 2, 14th: 2, 13th: 29,000 gp2,250 gp
1554,500 gp16th: 2, 15th: 216th: 2, 15th: 2, 14th: 213,000 gp3,250 gp
1682,500 gp17th: 2, 16th: 217th: 2, 16th: 2, 15th: 220,000 gp5,000 gp
17128,000 gp18th: 2, 17th: 218th: 2, 17th: 2, 16th: 230,000 gp7,500 gp
18208,000 gp19th: 2, 18th: 219th: 2, 18th: 2, 17th: 248,000 gp12,000 gp
19355,000 gp20th: 2, 19th: 220th: 2, 19th: 2, 18th: 280,000 gp20,000 gp
20490,000 gp20th: 420th: 4, 19th: 2140,000 gp35,000 gp

Currency

Source Core Rulebook pg. 509
A party will find money and other treasure that isn’t useful on its own but that can be sold or spent on other things. The gp values in the Party Currency column don’t refer only to coins. Gems, art objects, crafting materials (including precious materials), jewelry, and even items of much lower level than the party’s level can all be more interesting than a pile of gold.

If you include a lower-level permanent item as part of a currency reward, count only half the item’s Price toward the gp amount, assuming the party will sell the item or use it as crafting material. But lower-level consumables might still be useful, particularly scrolls, and if you think your party will use them, count those items at their full Price.

Other Types of Treasure

Source Core Rulebook pg. 509
Not all treasure has to be items or currency. Crafters can use the Crafting skill to turn raw materials directly into items instead of buying those items with coins. Knowledge can expand a character’s abilities, and formulas make good treasure for item-crafting characters. A spellcaster might get access to new spells from an enemy’s spellbook or an ancient scholar, while a monk might retrain techniques with rarer ones learned from a master on a remote mountaintop.

Treasure and Rarity

Source Core Rulebook pg. 509
Giving out uncommon and rare items and formulas can get players more interested in treasure. It’s best to introduce uncommon items as a reward fairly regularly but rare items only occasionally. These rewards are especially compelling when the adventurers get the item by defeating or outsmarting an enemy who carries an item that fits their backstory or theme.

Uncommon and rare formulas make great treasure for a character who Crafts items. Note that if an uncommon or rare formula is broadly disseminated, it eventually becomes more common. This can take months or years, but the item might start showing up in shops all around the world.

Different Item Levels

Source Core Rulebook pg. 510
The levels listed for items on Table 10–9: Party Treasure by Level aren’t set in stone. You can provide items of slightly higher or lower level as long as you take into account the value of the items you hand out. For instance, suppose you were considering giving a party of 11th-level PCs a runestone with a fortification rune (with a Price of 2,000 gp) as one of their 12th-level items, but you realize they’ve had trouble finding armor in their recent adventures, so you instead decide to give them a suit of 11th-level +2 resilient armor (1,400 gp) instead. Since the armor has a lower Price than the rune, you might also add a 9th-level shadow rune (650 gp) to make up the difference. The total isn’t exactly the same, but that’s all right.

However, if you wanted to place a 13th-level permanent item in a treasure hoard, you could remove two 11th-level permanent items to make a roughly equivalent exchange. When you make an exchange upward like this, be cautious: not only might you introduce an item with effects that are disruptive at the party’s current level of play, but you also might give an amazing item to one PC while other characters don’t gain any new items at all!

If you’re playing in a long-term campaign, you can spread out the treasure over time. A major milestone can give extra treasure at one level, followed by a tougher dungeon with fewer new items at the next level. Check back occasionally to see whether each PC’s treasure is comparable to the amount they’d get if they created a new character at their current level, as described under Treasure for New Characters below. They should be a bit higher. but if there’s a significant discrepancy, adjust the adventure’s upcoming treasure rewards accordingly.

Different Party Sizes

Source Core Rulebook pg. 510
If a party has more than four characters, add the following for each additional character:
  • One permanent item of the party’s level or 1 level higher
  • Two consumables, usually one of the party’s level and one of 1 level higher
  • Currency equal to the value in the Currency per Additional PC column of Table 10–9
If the party has fewer than four characters, you can subtract the same amount for each missing character, but since the game is inherently more challenging with a smaller group that can’t cover all roles as efficiently, you might consider subtracting less treasure and allowing the extra gear help compensate for the smaller group size.

Treasure for New Characters

Source Core Rulebook pg. 510
When your new campaign starts at a higher level, a new player joins an existing group, or a current player’s character dies and they need a new one, your campaign will have one or more PCs who don’t start at 1st level. In these cases, refer to Table 10–10: Character Wealth on the next page, which shows how many common permanent items of various levels the PC should have, in addition to currency. A single item on this table is always a baseline item. If the player wants armor or a weapon with property runes, they must buy the property runes separately, and for armor or a weapon made of a precious material, they must pay for the precious material separately as well.

These values are for a PC just starting out at the given level. If the PC is joining a party that has already made progress toward the next level, consider giving the new character an additional item of their current level. If your party has kept the treasure of dead or retired PCs and passed it on to new characters, you might need to give the new character less than the values on the table or reduce some of the treasure rewards of the next few adventures.

Table 10-10: Character Wealth

LevelPermanent ItemsCurrencyLump Sum
1-15 gp15 gp
21st: 120 gp30 gp
32nd: 1, 1st: 225 gp75 gp
43rd: 1, 2nd: 2, 1st: 130 gp140 gp
54th: 1, 3rd: 2, 2nd: 1, 1st: 250 gp270 gp
65th: 1, 4th: 2, 3rd: 1, 2nd: 280 gp450 gp
76th: 1, 5th: 2, 4th: 1, 3rd: 2125 gp720 gp
87th: 1, 6th: 2, 5th: 1, 4th: 2180 gp1,100 gp
98th: 1, 7th: 2, 6th: 1, 5th: 2250 gp1,600 gp
109th: 1, 8th: 2, 7th: 1, 6th: 2350 gp2,300 gp
1110th: 1, 9th: 2, 8th: 1, 7th: 2500 gp3,200 gp
1211th: 1, 10th: 2, 9th: 1, 8th: 2700 gp4,500 gp
1312th: 1, 11th: 2, 10th: 1, 9th: 21,000 gp6,400 gp
1413th: 1, 12th: 2, 11th: 1, 10th: 21,500 gp9,300 gp
1514th: 1, 13th: 2, 12th: 1, 11th: 22,250 gp13,500 gp
1615th: 1, 14th: 2, 13th: 1, 12th: 23,250 gp20,000 gp
1716th: 1, 15th: 2, 14th: 1, 13th: 25,000 gp30,000 gp
1817th: 1, 16th: 2, 15th: 1, 14th: 27,500 gp45,000 gp
1918th: 1, 17th: 2, 16th: 1, 15th: 212,000 gp69,000 gp
2019th: 1, 18th: 2, 17th: 1, 16th: 220,000 gp112,000 gp

Item Selection

Source Core Rulebook pg. 511
You should work with the new character’s player to decide which items their character has. Allow the player to make suggestions, and if they know what items they want their character to have, respect their choices unless you believe those choices will have a negative impact on your game. At your discretion, you can grant the player character uncommon or rare items that fit their backstory and concept, keeping in mind how many items of those rarities you have introduced into your game. The player can also spend currency on consumables or lower-level permanent items, keeping the rest as coinage. As usual, you determine which items the character can find for purchase.

A PC can voluntarily choose an item that has a lower level than any or all of the listed items, but they don’t gain any more currency by doing so.

If you choose, you can allow the player to instead start with a lump sum of currency and buy whatever common items they want, with a maximum item level of 1 lower than the character’s level. This has a lower total value than the normal allotment of permanent items and currency, since the player can select a higher ratio of high-level items.

Buying and Selling Items

Source Core Rulebook pg. 511
Characters can usually buy and sell items only during downtime. An item can typically be sold for only half its Price, though art objects, gems, and raw materials can be sold for their full Price (page 271).