Easy Exp

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In most roleplaying games, gaining Experience Points is an arduous task that represents your character's mastery of previously insurmountable obstacles, concepts and techniques. Typically they involve long hours of mass murder in the great outdoors, fetching granny's dentures from the dungeon next door, or combining the two (by committing mass murder on the way TO the dentures).

Some games, however, hand you this precious resource on a platter, for doing the most mundane activities imaginable. Travel somewhere new? Have some exp! Talk to an NPC? Have some exp! Talk to someone in your party more than once? Have some exp! Read a book? Have some exp! Look at something interesting (or not)? Have some exp! Pop a pill? Have some exp! Gain some exp? Have some exp! Own the game at all? Have some exp!

These games never quite make the connection between performing these mundane tasks and getting better at killing things. This connection is tenuous enough even when actually killing things IS the reason for leveling up, but this trope removes even that flimsy justification.

Typically, in a token concession to realism, such activities grant your character less experience than the mass murder and questing that RPGs usually rely on—implying (rightfully) that fighting for your life is a bit more educational than glancing at a computer screen or road sign while strolling merrily through the game. However, games that include this form of experience tend to include so many ways to gain it, that you can often gain a few levels simply by running around and doing all of them. This can result in the highly rare RPG phenomenon of "leveling in town."

This may be the videogame justification for Hard Work Hardly Works. Abusing this system can be key to unlocking the Magikarp Power. If this takes the form of a consumable item, it is typically a Rare Candy. See also Peninsula of Power Leveling, though implemented more skillfully, this can avert RPGs Equal Combat.

Examples of Easy Exp include:

Video Game Examples

  • The greatest example would be EVE Online, which gives you free exp without playing, so long as you merely get skill packages and inject them into your Player Character's Upgrade Artifact. The downside to this is that there's very little one can do to accelerate exp accumulation beyond a certain constant rate (installing cybernetics can help, to an degree), meaning that certain things you might want to do require the completion of truly, immensely long training sequences. These can range in duration from a few days to improve your skill with a certain ship's system to well over a year to become a competent pilot of a large, advanced starship.
  • Sonic Chronicles grants the party extra exp for completing sidequests. Aside from the basic fetch quests, these include chopping wood, rescuing people, solving a mystery and puzzle solving. Handy in that the amount of exp gained remains constant throughout multiple playthroughs when the amount of bad guy exp runs smack into the Anti-Grinding feature.
  • The World Ends With You has three types of EXP. You get one type of them by not playing the game for a while (although there is a limit as to how much of this type you can get at one time).
  • World of Warcraft's primary sources of experience are slaughter, quests, and quests involving slaughter. However, it is also possible to gain substantial experience simply by walking to a new area and recording it on your world map. This "exploration exp" is available in sufficient quantities to cause well-travelled explorers to gain levels early on even without battling a single monster. Certain high-leveled areas present substantial sums of exp to more advanced characters as well.
    • It was later expanded to giving experience for mining ore, gathering herbs or digging up archaeological artefacts. Coupled with the games vast array of experience-enhancing items and perks, leveling can become extremely fast.
  • In Mass Effect, the standard ways of gaining exp are killing and questing, as above. However, you can gain substantial amounts by talking to people, repeatedly talking to your party members between missions, and even just looking at things, like the computers on your ship.
    • The sequel inverted this so that you don't get any XP from fighting either, only quests.
  • The Elder Scrolls games contain books that boost your skills when read. Finding books that boost your primary skills can cause rapid level gains if the player isn't careful.
    • Since you have total freedom over what your primary skills are in Morrowind and Oblivion, you can set them to activities that you perform regularly, such as running, jumping and swimming. This is ill-advised however, because doing so will usually cause you to gain levels far faster than you like, and enemies' levels scale up with yours (in Oblivion).
      • On the other hand, since Major (primary) skills train up faster than Minor (secondary) skills, it is generally advisable to set Athletics (running & swimming) as a Major skill, or else you'll be running at a snail's pace for the entire duration of the game.
  • Pokémon has the item equivalent (for which it is the trope namer) Later installments have variations on this.
  • Dragon Age: Origins lets you gain XP from reading random books, as does Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire. Sure, it's only granules of XP when you consider how much you need to level up, but you're still gaining XP for bugger-all.
    • More notably, you can gain experience from donating elfroot (and other things, but elfroot is the cheapest). Extremely abusable, since it gives a decent amount of exp, there's no limit to this, and there's a vendor that sells infinite elfroot in the game.
  • In the Fallout series, you can gain experience for hacking computers, picking locks, picking pockets, healing wounds (with a skill, not a Stimpak), discovering new map locations, and giving specific junk items to NPCs who want them. Many quests also have solutions that require a high Speech skill; these often give more experience than wholesale slaughter.
    • In fact, it's entirely possible to get through the first two games with very little death. It's also entirely possible to start the game with a very high speech skill, talk your way through several experience levels, and suddenly become a murderous deathbeast expert of guns without ever having fired one before.
  • In Nethack, the primary ways of getting experience is by killing monsters; in the middle of all that is a unique NPC monster called the Oracle that has a definite chance of spawning. Each time you pay for a consultation with the Oracle, you receive a random rumor (or a truth if you pay for a major consultation) and some experience. It's "easy" in the sense that you can stand around and don't need to kill many things; getting all the money you need, however ...
  • Campaign Ops in Final Fantasy XI can descend into this. Getting additional XP for offensive or defensive battles because you happen to be on an op at the time? OK. Getting XP for training soldiers or craftsmen or planting a bomb on an enemy stronghold? Er, all right. Getting XP for just delivering supplies, escorting a soldier, or sweeping the city for suspicious objects? Um...
    • Considering how hard XP is (used to be) to get in that game, and how you get punished for dying with XP loss, most players consider it an acceptable break from the rest of the game.
    • Even worse with a semi-broken feature in Final Fantasy X. Characters can be tuned to gain overdrive} for damage taken by other party members, overdrive meter charge is cheaply accelerated threefold by customizing equipment. Now, the actual fun part is when the equipment is also customized with a feature that transforms all overdrive charge to AP and the player goes face some really nasty boss in the monster arena. One character gets punched, two gain experience.
  • A Good Bad Bug in Neverwinter Nights 2 causes this. You get experience for turning a cultist's journal in to Lord Nasher. You can then pickpcket the journal from him and turn it in again to get the reward again. There's no penalty for failing a pickpocket attempt, so you can repeat this as long as you need experience until act 3 begins.
  • In spades in La Tale, where you can get exp just for sitting in a spa. You can also earn special exp potions for doing guild crops, and certain special events give even more experience. And of course you get a nice chunk of experience the first time you save at each Iris stone as well.
  • The Command Board from Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. Playing it earns you commands and Exp for your commands, which makes up the vast majority of attacks in the game. You don't even have to win the game to get the prizes.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic V, when a monster doesn't want to fight you, you have two choices: 1.fight it anyway 2.let it run away. If you let it run away you still get XP, for doing absolutely nothing. You get less XP for letting them run away then actually fighting them, BUT STILL!
    • This is so that you don't have to waste time on obviously one-sided battles.
    • This does not apply when fighting monsters in certain locations or plot-critical battles, though. The second expansion added an auto-battle option to save time, though.**
  • Atlantica Online does this a lot, especially when you play in a guild that owns a town. New citizens arrive? Free Exp. Completed a Guildcraft? Free Exp. There are also several objectives that grant bonus experience a few times per day.
    • And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Merely participate in a tournament? Free exp, thrice a day. Craft items? Free exp. Sending your mercenaries on their own adventure? Free exp for them, free loot for you. Want some more exp? Just buy it from Lorenzo De' Medici.Even plain old combat experience is plentiful, since each and every hit any of your mercenaries land earns them experience. This is an essential mechanic since all of them join at level 1, and leveling them up would be a chore otherwise.
  • Fossil Fighters has fossil cleaning, on the grounds that a higher-quality fossil means a stronger dinosaur revived from it. With a little luck and skill, your dinos can actually reach level 10 of 12 just from this.
  • Alpha Protocol has a variation of this: Perks For Everything! Performing just about any kind of action (even dialogue-based ones) will grant the main character some sort of bonus, such as increased Endurance, faster cooldown times for his abilities, and so on. Some perks exist only to give you extra EXP or AP.
  • One of the stats in Brave Fencer Musashi levels up by walking. This meant you could level grind by walking around in circles.
  • The Intelligence score in Ultima VIII was increased by casting spells or reading. You could max out the Int score fairly rapidly by reading the same two page book over and over again.
  • Mother 3 has a dung beetle that will give you EXP in return for dung, which you get from defeating enemies from around that area. This comes in handy because the character you play as at that point happens to be pathetically weak.
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online has Wilderness Areas that, when explored, give you experience for finding certain objects/locations, beating a certain number of enemies, or fighting Rare Encounter bosses. There are also a handful of quests that are very short and only have a small number of enemies.
  • In Diablo III, getting a Kill Streak, killing multiple enemies in a single attack, or simply destroying many objects at one go will net you experience.
  • Due to the unique system of character advancement in Quest 64, gaining experience for your AGL stat occurs in this manner. You gain HP by using your staff, MP by using magic, and DEF by taking damage. You gain AGL by walking. Including running around in circles for a few days.

Non-Video Game Examples

Tabletop RPG

  • This is not only possible, but actively encouraged in Tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons. Stellar acting by the players can result in awards of "roleplay exp" from the GM, even if their characters haven't done a thing mechanically. Which naturally created a niche for the "Roleplaying Munchkin" subspecies (i.e. "I'm being a Drama Queen, now gimme XP")
  • Iron Crown Enterprise's Role Master had this in spades. PCs could get XP for performing maneuvers (e.g. sneaking across a clearing or hiding behind a tree), casting spells out of combat, being hit in battle, receiving a mortal wound, and for traveling in an unfamiliar area (1 xp/mile on land, 1 xp/10 miles while flying or on water).