Just an idea to generally test the actual combat abilities without having to go into actual combat to do so - scattered around various ruins are target wheels. These magic devices helped train soldiers when the ruins were fortifications and by their nature were very heavy or magically fixed. Now adventurers often find them and attempt their skills at the wheels. For ranged it's simply a target. For melee, it magically spins and one must hit the right spot with a weapon when it pulses at a certain moment with dim magical light!
An adventurer can learn a thing or two from these wheels, but not consistantly - perhaps they worked better in the old days, but now generally each adventurer can only use a wheel once. After that maybe in days or weeks they can use it again, perhaps after years (and since they tend to aid only those of level 1 to 2, they are probably no use after that). It's up to the DM! As best you can make them feel like they might never find another and this is a special moment!
Players can roll to hit with their weapon - if they hit and do 4 or more damage, they gain 10 XP! If they miss they can try again, but there is a 50% chance they will get no XP from it. You really want to hit on the first go. Also the devices give nothing to those who recieve help - they were made to resist cheats!
These wheels can be found in various ruins, so they become a kind of treasure to discover!
A note on XP - I'm planning for all non violent activies to grant XP. It depends - you may feel PC's have to have survived an actual combat to be worthy of getting to level 2 (if you're fine with it, no need to read this paragraph!). Ask your players if they think so to. If so, then set up a combat or three they could choose from and if they never go into any, perhaps they stay 1 XP short of level two in perpetuity! If they are okay with leveling without ever facing combat but you wish they had, atleast you now know that these are combatless level 2 characters - and so a different thing than those who survived combat to get to level 2! Possibly no one else but myself might be bothered by this - so just indulge this inclusion! :)
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