Fans of the tabletop rpgs know there are many ways to level up. Sometimes you gain experience points to a certain value then you expend them to achieve a new level. Other games this progress is controlled by the GM and the players level at their discretion. How you level up depends on the nature of your table’s game.
Most adventure paths allow for either method to be used. They design adventures to give enough experience to have characters level on the normal course and recommend to GMs what level players should be to face the challenges of a given area. This gives groups flexibility to enjoy the material at their own pace.
For our game we stick to the experience points provided in the adventure path but track them out of game. Experience is won in several ways but popping in with, “You gain 15 experience” gets a little bit repetitive and it also focuses the player on trying to get experience rewards. Gaining a level is awesome enough that the players should not need to be remined after every encounter.
My experience of leveling in DnD 3.0 and 3.5 was like trying to maximize a numbers equation to output the most damage, status effects, and mobility. Now years on later I want my players to choose effective options when leveling but maximums are less important. In some games where the world is actively trying to eat the players, knowing optimal leveling paths is important. When you are trying to tell a story or explore a different array of options, fun and wacky choices are just as good.
Leveling in Pathfinder 2nd Edition is much more focused on choices than maximizing numbers. The mechanic that accomplishes this is proficiency. This mechanic has 2 components, the level of training as well as their level. What is great about this idea is that everything you are trained in goes up when ever you level. As our players level, if they stay alive that is, their modifiers will continue to grow. At level 20 some of their modifiers can get upwards towards +28 or higher. It becomes difficult to miss the normal targets when your modifiers are that high. That is why at high levels players are not dealing with “normal” problems. Gaining a level is representative of the cumulative experience of a character as well as their power and threat level. I hope we get to grow with these characters for as long as their luck holds out. At some point the team will come across a fight tougher than they thought or they may make a critical mistake in judgement. No matter what their level is we can guarantee there are challenges waiting for them in dark halls, strange locals and behind closed doors. Until they roll the dice we wont learn how the chips fall.