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Skip Navigation LinksHero System>Meta Concepts >GM Hold-back HERO

GM Hold-back HERO

This document describes an alternate method of character rewards that introduces periodic "power-ups" for characters as opposed to the normal gradual but constant growth of standard XP awarding.


Under this method XP is awarded normally in the standard fashion, save that the GM holds back some of the XP they are awarding for each character and tracks it in a separate tally (either secretly or not, as preferred, though being transparent about it avoids later feelings of inequality). This might be a constants amount, such as 1 point per XP award, or it might vary such as 2 points one time, and 3 points the next and so forth.

At various points in the campaign on a character by character basis, when the story / events in play are auspicious the GM awards a given character the XP that they've been holding back for that character, as one lump sum of XP. This allows the character to undergo significant growth, generally in ways that are relevant to the story / the trigger that moved the GM to award the XP.


This method is dirt simple, and allows periodic "power ups" with a minimum of fuss.


  • This method requires extra tracking by the GM.
  • Some players don't want periodic power ups, they'd rather have a reliable constant progression.
  • This method really just takes management of a character's XP fund partially out of a players hands. Some players have "XP burning a hole in my pocket" issues and spend XP as fast as they get it and lack the ability to save up points for a big-bang addition, and this method can be helpful to them in the long run. But other players are able to plan their XP expenditures with a long view and might find this approach to be meddlesome.

Incentivized Opt-In Variant

A GM could put more XP into the hold back than they would have awarded in the first place if they had just given it out. This would also allow a mixed-method approach where some players could opt in to this approach and others could opt out and there are good reasons for doing either based on the player's preference.

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