I guess If I were to go back in time and teach myself some things I learned as I grew up, it would be that there is a way to measure work and not feel insecure about it. I can understand the taboo in measuring work and productivity, people can get really sensitive about their work ethic being under a microscope. I'm still not one to judge... until all the facts are in I guess.
So what is the XP value of a given adventure? The solution can be as simple as a number of questions,
- "what has the character experience for the first time" and
- "how much time has the character invested in X kind of experience?".
This becomes a Role-playing and Character reflection paper, which is not a bad exercise but leaves out the shy and awkward gamers. One doesnt have to go so far as the reflection paper, they can just look at the character journal or the player journal (if the player i juggling more than one character).
Answer those questions and you have your basis for xp, unfortunately that is not enough. Now you need benchmarks:
- How much XP is enough to improve one's wholistic view of their characer: what is enough for levels?
- How much XP is enough to improve one's abilities?
Now this is a fun mathematical challenge for non-mathematicians, like myself. These questions all depend on game system, system assumption, style of play circumstance. All of which will take volumes to cover but the short of it is that: declare your assumptions and run with what feels best.
If you heard that it takes 2 years to make a professional roman soldier, and you find out what a soldier does in those two years, then you can use that as a bench mark for a fighter. Of course you have to set some assumptions like, what Level or Skillset a "professional" soldier has as to varying degrees of experience (from green to veteran).
If you are in a field of research, in a technical profession, work in a bureaucracy then you can use your company's HR or professional practice data to plot the advancement.
The bottom line is that you just get the data of how much work it takes to advance in skill and experience (which is survival skill in today's world) and apply to your game. I think self education and one's own skill and understanding how to keep up with the job market and the changing needs of the world will find developing a metric to measure character XP and advancement to be easy and fun (not to mention an exercise of understanding and the ability to compare and contrast with peers).
I guess if my son is finally old enough to play I don't want him playing a system designed to incentive's murder and killing. I just now realize that I've basically ruined every dungeon delving game with pacifistic game style (which is why I prefer sandbox settings/organic games), I guess you really can't please everyone.