The way I’ve always played it, characters in my games never got XP for getting a magic item. In my Rules Cyclopedia games, players can sell it for gold, if they can find a buyer, and gain the XP from that, but only if they sell it right away.
In my 3e days XP came from defeating monsters and completing quests. Gold was just used to buy stuff. My 4e game is pretty much exactly the same way.
But Nick the Pike has played in a several different 1e games, and in those games he has acquired magical items, and XP for retaining them! This has been backed up by the AD&D Players Handbook which states:
“Magic items gained and retained have only a low experience point value, for they benefit the character through their use.” AD&D PHB pg. 106
This is further reinforced explicitly in the random determination of treasure section of the DMG, pg 121.
The suggested experience point values are for characters who keep the items.
Immediately following this are the magic item lists that contain the XP value of items kept, and the GP value of items sold.
The first time a character of mine was handed XP for getting a magic item my mind was blown. I’m pretty sure I questioned the DM about it, and his response was “This is AD&D.” It was this that caused me to hunt down a copy of the 1st edition DMG. I’d read a copy of it many years ago, and hadn’t really thought I was missing anything not having it in my collection. Well, it seems I was wrong!
I do find it curious that XP for magic items seems to appear in AD&D, and then disappears. I certainly don’t remember it from 2nd edition. So I’m curious how many of you give XP for magic items. Poll is off to the right!