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warchild1x

XP for Missing Players?

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Just looking for a general opinion on how everyone handles xp for players that intermittently miss play sessions.

In every campaign that I've played in, the missing player was handwaved to be not in the scene for the night and if need be (and the story called for it), the GM would make a basic roll for their relevant skills. At the end of the session, they'd get the same XP as everyone else.

Recently, I had a new player join my crew and in his previous campaigns, his GM stated that if you missed a session, you didn't get XP. He seemed somewhat shocked that my players got xp not even for showing up.

I understand the gist as to why you could punish absentee players this way, but in my mind it leads to disparity and eventually a player may not show up at all.

 

What are everyone else's thoughts? How do you handle it?

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I just award the xp and everyone active in the campaign gets whatever for each session regardless of whether they miss a week.  I've had players bow out for a few months and I put them on hold but when they show up I just grab their sheets and give them a handful of relevant ranks in Talents and Skills so it's still somewhat organic when they rejoin play.

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5 hours ago, warchild1x said:

I understand the gist as to why you could punish absentee players this way, but in my mind it leads to disparity and eventually a player may not show up at all.

Yeah, I think the question is why would on earth would you want to punish absentee players? Either they have a perfectly reasonable reason, in which case punishing them is a jerk move, or they've prioritised something else over the game, and a petty 'Well you don't get 15XP' response isn't exactly encouraging them to come back.

It's just a hangover from the old days of competitive GM-vs-Players RPGs where XP was a scoring mechanism.

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I never understood why people don't hand out XP for absent players. I suppose they want to discourage players from skipping sessions, but it has the potential of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Miss too many and they're not going to want to continue a campaign because their characters are too far behind. If the campaign or adventures are fun enough, The simple fact they are missing a session should be enough of a discouragement.

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I would absolutely withhold the xp from a missing player, since I give xp personally anyway (+/- 5 for hilarious ideas, or RP). It's a reward mechanism too, if you hand out free, the others won't feel it meaningful. Obviously only My Opinion.

But I would give them the option, to get it separately, for example a write up about the missing timeframe. So everyone gets xp who adds to the story.

Edited by Rimsen

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If the character didn’t take part in the shenanigans, they don’t get the XP. It’s not a punishment...they just didn’t do the things that earned the other characters that XP.

I was going to make a comparison to a paycheck - if you don’t work on a given day, you don’t get paid. But, most jobs have PTO to cover that, so unless you’re out of PTO, you still get paid. Not a great example, but it’s got me thinking (which is always dangerous)....

What about offering a player who missed a session the XP they missed...with the flip of a Destiny point (per session missed)? Just as I burn x hours of PTO to make up for time missed on my paycheck, the player burns a Destiny point to get that XP.

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4 hours ago, kaosoe said:

Miss too many and they're not going to want to continue a campaign because their characters are too far behind.

I had no idea just how anomalous my players were until I read this thread.  Between people joining the campaign late, switched characters, and missed sessions; my PCs' XP totals are all over the place, and no one has ever expressed the slightest discontentment.  

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It's been my experience that this system isn't hampered greatly by disparity in earned XP.  If a new player joins or an existing player wants to change up, I will often take the group average and present that.  However, XP is for those that show up.  Everyone has RL commitments and hey that's fine, so do I.  I tend to hand out about 5 XP per hour of play, with various boons for notetakers, initiative keepers, and excellent RP as decided by the group.  The disparity doesn't really grow beyond 5-10 XP points for the average campaign. 

 

 

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8 hours ago, kaosoe said:

I never understood why people don't hand out XP for absent players. I suppose they want to discourage players from skipping sessions, but it has the potential of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Miss too many and they're not going to want to continue a campaign because their characters are too far behind. If the campaign or adventures are fun enough, The simple fact they are missing a session should be enough of a discouragement.

Well I don't award it (when they don't play) only because they didn't play, as I thought that was the mechanism for awarding XP. If awarding XP isn't about what the characters do in play then might as well call it "power points" or "Ease of Winning" points. 

Progression in most games leads to the scenario of existence being easier and safer except for very difficult opponents. Player Characters eventually find their job to be more and more pedestrian as they go except for the instances when they run into enemies powered up like they are, which ends up being the only thing that really challenges them combat-wise. The Zero-Sum Power Game.

If XP is only there to advance the power of the characters regardless of whether or not they do anything in play, then it seems to me that it should be informed by the story not some external and disconnected mechanic. 

Edited by Archlyte

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Honestly?

Until this thread, going all the way back some 30-35 years to the first time I played an RPG, over a variety of systems, I’ve never heard of players receiving XP for a session they weren’t at.

Even this system suggests x points per hours of play. If a player misses a session, how many hours did they play? And I’m not sure how their not getting XP they weren’t there for is a “punishment.”

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1 hour ago, Archlyte said:

Well I don't award it just because they didn't play, as I thought that was the mechanism for awarding XP. If awarding XP isn't about what the characters do in play then might as well call it "power points" or "Ease of Winning" points. 

Progression in most games leads to the scenario of existence being easier and safer except for very difficult opponents. Player Characters eventually find their job to be more and more pedestrian as they go except for the instances when they run into enemies powered up like they are, which ends up being the only thing that really challenges them combat-wise. The Zero-Sum Power Game.

If XP is only there to advance the power of the characters regardless of whether or not they do anything in play, then it seems to me that it should be informed by the story not some external and disconnected mechanic. 

But... XP gain is only informed by the story. This isn't OD&D, there are no rules for how much XP you get for killing a Rancor, or looting 1000 credits. It's handed out purely on the basis of 'how much the GM wants to give'. XP are power points, and the rate at which you award them just functions to determine the speed at which the scale of encounters the players can handle changes (e.g. graduating from tussling with street thugs, to stormtroopers, to death troopers). They're not an objective measure of how much 'stuff' the PCs have experienced in-world, that's just legacy naming (and as someone who's played a lot of old systems, it's unsurprising that's what you're used to).

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6 hours ago, kaosoe said:

I never understood why people don't hand out XP for absent players. I suppose they want to discourage players from skipping sessions, but it has the potential of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Miss too many and they're not going to want to continue a campaign because their characters are too far behind. If the campaign or adventures are fun enough, The simple fact they are missing a session should be enough of a discouragement.

The math alone makes me nauseous. Turns into an accounting homework assignment, blech....?

I'm a year into Genesys/fantasy campaign, probably north  of 60 sessions and 1000ish+ xp awarded. I've got zero interest in adding an auditing task to my GM 'to do' list. I'd rather spend my efforts on content creation.

I agree, to each their own, but with PCs being such glass cannons in this game hawking xp isn't needed imo.

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2 hours ago, kaosoe said:

I suppose everyone has different ideas what XP means and how it should be used.

I suppose in this wide world there's room for multiple interpretations, but as a lowest-common-denominator, XP = experience points, and they are used to improve the character. 

 

I'm not going to be one to advocate for participation trophies but if it really rubs a table wrong, I don't see much harm in handing out fake points for people that missed out on the good time.  There is a saying that old dudes like me are particularly fond of saying: "It's better to be happy than to be right" and this is one of those circumstances.  Every table will have its own dynamic and either way is acceptable until the accounting means more, like an Adventurer's League equivalent. 

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1 hour ago, Talkie Toaster said:

But... XP gain is only informed by the story. This isn't OD&D, there are no rules for how much XP you get for killing a Rancor, or looting 1000 credits. It's handed out purely on the basis of 'how much the GM wants to give'. XP are power points, and the rate at which you award them just functions to determine the speed at which the scale of encounters the players can handle changes (e.g. graduating from tussling with street thugs, to stormtroopers, to death troopers). They're not an objective measure of how much 'stuff' the PCs have experienced in-world, that's just legacy naming (and as someone who's played a lot of old systems, it's unsurprising that's what you're used to).

Hey don't get me wrong, I'm all for handing out or not handing out XP as I feel it is needed. The convention of the hobby though is for players to get their treat after the game, so they are conditioned to expect it. The pretty trees are designed to make you want to have the XP to work your way through them, so the progression expectation is endemic to the activity. 

But going along with the spirit of this game as its written I didn't give out XP to characters who were sick that day of adventuring. But my objection wasn't rally about whether or not a character being there merits XP so much as the inexorable push to high XP and High Power level gaming. 

My guess is that the XP schedule for most games is simply done on the basis of the convention rather than any story-based capability of the characters. Characters are able to fight a Rancor --> now introduce a Rancor, isn't story to me, that's just the predictable TTRPG progression trope. I expected to get there, the GM hands out XP each week. It was only a matter of time before we fought the Rancor. Hey look, a Rancor. 

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2 hours ago, Nytwyng said:

Honestly?

Until this thread, going all the way back some 30-35 years to the first time I played an RPG, over a variety of systems, I’ve never heard of players receiving XP for a session they weren’t at.

Even this system suggests x points per hours of play. If a player misses a session, how many hours did they play? And I’m not sure how their not getting XP they weren’t there for is a “punishment.”

This isn't the first time I've seen it, but this is my first opportunity to dig into the nitty gritty and see why people feel like they need to do that.  If you have a poker night, do you set aside an equal cash sum for absent players?   I mean sure, I get it, the real reward is spending time with your friends telling stories. 

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2 hours ago, 2P51 said:

The math alone makes me nauseous. Turns into an accounting homework assignment, blech....?

 

This is why I keep my character in a spreadsheet and you're darned right about there being math homework.  Totally not hard but still, not my idea of fun. 

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3 minutes ago, themensch said:

This isn't the first time I've seen it, but this is my first opportunity to dig into the nitty gritty and see why people feel like they need to do that.  If you have a poker night, do you set aside an equal cash sum for absent players?   I mean sure, I get it, the real reward is spending time with your friends telling stories. 

That’s what’a interesting me most, too: the “why” of it.

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7 minutes ago, Nytwyng said:

That’s what’a interesting me most, too: the “why” of it.

Because for me, the motivation to play is intrinsic. I play to have a good time with my friends, to tell a story, to overcome obstacles, to dive into another world. Playing is (hopefully) not some kind of chore that you endure to get at the XP so you can endure even more play to get more XP. So if playing is not a chore, it doesn't need XP to be given out as a reward. That frees up XP to be given to advance the player characters to where they need to be to believably tell the current story. And that in turn means that having too little XP can actually be detrimental for the story. When I want to GM a story about a daring exploration of an ancient Sith tomb full of lore, it sucks when the Sage can barely reliably make a Hard Lore check. It gets even worse when two characters have a similar focus, but different XP levels: A newbie Mercenary Soldier won't have much fun in combat when they kill two guys in the time it takes the veteran Assassin to take out five.

A group that steadily rises in XP at a common pace allows for better adventures. And if I have to sacrifice an arbitrary incentive system that should ideally reward players for stuff they want to do anyway (aka "play"), that's not exactly a tough choice.

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22 minutes ago, Cifer said:

Because for me, the motivation to play is intrinsic. I play to have a good time with my friends, to tell a story, to overcome obstacles, to dive into another world. Playing is (hopefully) not some kind of chore that you endure to get at the XP so you can endure even more play to get more XP. So if playing is not a chore, it doesn't need XP to be given out as a reward. That frees up XP to be given to advance the player characters to where they need to be to believably tell the current story. And that in turn means that having too little XP can actually be detrimental for the story. When I want to GM a story about a daring exploration of an ancient Sith tomb full of lore, it sucks when the Sage can barely reliably make a Hard Lore check. It gets even worse when two characters have a similar focus, but different XP levels: A newbie Mercenary Soldier won't have much fun in combat when they kill two guys in the time it takes the veteran Assassin to take out five.

A group that steadily rises in XP at a common pace allows for better adventures. And if I have to sacrifice an arbitrary incentive system that should ideally reward players for stuff they want to do anyway (aka "play"), that's not exactly a tough choice.

I agree with this.  It really boils down to scaling opponents.  The system is mostly offensive not defensive.  It's easy to kill, for everyone, so when someone falls behind in xp their ability to survive is very much impacted to a greater degree than their ability to kill.  You need to put a lot of xp effort into being survivable.

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