[RPG] Should PCs receive XP for enemies that die to friendly fire


Should player characters receive XP for enemies they're in combat with who die to friendly fire?

For example, say an archmage and two berserkers are fighting a party of three. The archmage casts fireball into combat with their friendly two berserkers and ends up killing them. Would the PCs receive XP for those two berserkers, even though they didn't kill them?

Best Answer

Experience is awarded for winning the encounter, whatever that looks like.

The guidance for experience points in the Dungeon Master's Guide (pg. 260) states:

Each monster has an XP value based on its challenge rating. When adventurers defeat one or more monsters — typically by killing, routing, or capturing them — they divide the total XP value of the monsters evenly among themselves.

This guidance suggests that the party be awarded the experience even if the enemies retreat. If we're giving experience for the enemies running away, we should be giving experience for the enemies accidentally killing themselves. Now, the very next sentence does address NPC assistance:

If the party received substantial assistance from one or more NPCs, count those NPCs as party members when dividing up the XP. (Because the NPCs made the fight easier, individual characters receive fewer XP.)

But this guidance is definitely referring an ally or other third party assisting the party with defeating the enemies, not the enemies falling victim to their own poor decision making.