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XP for Missing Players?

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22 hours ago, Archlyte said:

I think you are right about the perspective thing. My personal response to this is to get people on the same page. For me it's about building a culture in the group that devalues XP gain and progression so that this is not such an issue. 

As for the whole limiting the ability to shine thing I just think that isn't as much of an issue in this game as it is in say D&D where if a player is levels ahead of his compatriots you have an issue, as the whole system is built on the zero-sum game of progression for PCs met with progressively more mechanically advanced foes. I have had players be more than a hundred XP behind other PCs in the group in EotE and it was only even apparent in like two situations over a number of sessions. 

Also the ego monster is a bit to blame as well because in reality if you have a tough teammate you should be happy about that rather than bitter. A good GM is going to give everyone their chance to shine regardless of whether or not the character has YYYYG in a skill or has the Succeed Like a Boss talent. The story should not be built around successful checks alone.

I think a good idea or well executed action as described by the player should get them boosts to help reflect that the proposed action is heroic. A check made every time and without any chance of failure is not heroic, it's just easy.

 

Also in this thread the missing player seems to be always depicted as the hapless misfortunate player who wants to play more than anything but cannot make it to this seminal event in his/her life. Sometimes players just blow off the game or choose to do something else. Let's face it, TTRPGs have a lot to compete with in today's world of short attention spans and high value of time.

 

No/Low XP is only a punishment if the player characterizes it that way. Players should be dissuaded from seeing it as the point of the exercise in my opinion. 

 

Beautiful response all around.

As for the missing players, my take is that if a player is missing just because they are a jerk that blows things off...I would talk to them about it and/or just remove them from the group.  I'm not saying the game group is top priority, but if we have a set plan, a set schedule, and you don't show because you took a nap and overslept, or you didn't feel like it, or you forgot...then you don't care about the GM, the other players, or the activity, and we're better off without you. 

I think ultimately you have a GM perspective issue here also.

I don't let people that flake out for no reason continue to participate.  It drags down the enjoyment of all.  I'm more than willing to accommodate real life issues though.  I see no reason to make that person fall behind because they have a realistic grasp on life priorities.  Had they been able to make it, they would have, and they would have contributed, so they get the XP.

The other side continues to let people be in the group even when they flake out all the time (after all, if they don't allow this, then they don't have an argument to make).  So they 'punish' that person by not letting them have that xp.  They didn't put in the work, they don't deserve it.  I see and understand that, I just don't let it fly in my groups.

I don't allow players to sit like a lump and do nothing in the adventure.  Those people don't get invited back for future adventures.  Everyone that shows up, shows up to play and participate.  That being said, I have people that have been playing RPGs for 30 years and have experience with dozens of systems both as a player and a GM, and I also have people that have only played 1 or 2 systems, as a player only, and only for a year or two.  The difference in player capability here is HUGE.  The more experienced player is going to outshine the rookie 9 times out of 10.  But the rookie isn't phoning it in, he just doesn't have the wellspring of experience to draw upon.  I see no reason to 'punish' that rookie player by giving the experienced players even more advantages over them.  The rookie and the veteran are both playing to their best ability.  They are both making the experience a positive one.  No reason for individual rewards that could be seen as a slight against anyone.

If you allow players to sit like a lump and do nothing, then I guess I see the reasoning behind rewards for the participating players.  They carried the group and the adventure, they should be rewarded.

The thing that gets me though is that if you reward the group, the reward may or may not encourage participation, but there isn't a downside.  If you give XP to people that miss a session, there is no downside.

However, if you give bonus xp, or withhold xp for missing a session, you risk negative reactions.  On top of that, have you ever had a success story from this?  Has any lump that failed to participate just up and said "Oh ****, I get it, if I actually participate I can get a bonus too!" and then start doing stuff?  Has the slob that can't be bothered to show up for sessions finally changed their ways?  These people don't care about the game by default.  The lack of rewards (which they will perceive as a punishment or personal slight) will only encourage their negative behavior.  "I'm so far behind in XP, it won't matter if I show up this week or not, so F'it."  The people lacking enough interest to become involved one way or the other won't be persuaded by xp rewards, however they may be even further dissuaded by lack of xp rewards.

It almost seems like the people giving bonus xp, or not giving xp to people aren't actually trying to improve their behavior.  It's the excuse behind the behavior, but in reality they are trying to dissuade that person from playing at all.  It's a somewhat cowardly way to deal with a problematic person.  Instead of confronting them "Dude, you need to start showing up, or we're just gonna cut you out of the group because it's disruptive."  It's more of a passive aggressive thing that they can pitch to themselves as positive reinforcement.  "Why does everyone have 2 full spec trees and I don't even have 1 yet"  Because you never show up to adventures you tool (although they don't say that last part to maintain the positive reinforcement angle).

Bad players are bad players.  They aren't looking to improve.  Inexperienced players however aren't encouraged by other people getting rewards.

Flaky players are flaky players.  They aren't looking to show up more often.  A player that had an emergency however isn't going to be encouraged to skip the birth of their child in order to keep up with other players.

The good players play well because of their attitude towards the game, not for the bonus XP.  The players that show up, show up to play the game, not to get ahead of other people in xp.  

The rewards don't actually encourage the behavior you want.  While they do punish the behaviors you don't want, they don't actually encourage them to change the behavior.  They are in effect, pointless.

19 hours ago, Vorzakk said:

I wonder... if a player didn't know that they were behind in XP (and assuming that they weren't sticking their noses in other people's character sheets), how much of a disparity would there need to be before they actually felt it?  

This seems even more dangerous.  And it defeats the encouragement aspect that people are defending.  If you don't show the bad players that the good players are getting rewards, whats to encourage the bad players?  But, what happens when Player Z finds out that Player X and Y both have 200 xp more?  Why the **** is the GM giving you guys all this bonus stuff?  Do they hate me?  Screw this, I'm not playing anymore. 

20 hours ago, Stan Fresh said:

A GM using it as a punishment contributes to that perception.

That's not even a necessity.  If player Z is not just sitting on their hands and rolling the dice when told to, it's a punishment.  If Player Z is trying as hard as they can to participate, but gets outshined, then he will punished as the GM recognizes the activities of the other players but ignores his contributions.  The GM sees it at rewarding activity.  Here's some actual scenarios I've seen.

Player Z is a quiet person, but smart.  He comes up with the plan almost every time, but player X who is loud and boisterous listens just long enough to understand the plan then talks over Z and takes over command of the operation using Z's plan.  X gets bonus xp every time.  Z feels slighted and grows upset at X and the GM, but bottles it up.  Eventually they quit showing up because they don't enjoy it anymore.

Player Z is a thinker.  They tend to plan out things and consider consequences before acting.  I'm not talking AP level game slowing stuff, just that they take 5-10 seconds to consider major actions (should we try stealth, or go in shooting).  Player Y just fires from the hip and does things based on instinct and split second decision making.  Player Z is left to just follow along with everything happening even if they would do things differently.  Y gets rewarded for his actions and role playing while Z never even gets a chance to do anything.

Player Z attempts to role play constantly, but the GM never really runs with it as it's not the RP that the GM favors.  Z likes background RP that establishes characters while the GM really only likes RP with major story characters.  How you interact with the bartender doesn't matter to him.  Z never gets rewarded for his behavior, but the guy that acts as the 'face' for the party with major story characters is constantly rewarded.

In each of these cases I was neither Z nor the GM, but I got to casually observe the situation.  Each time Z shrugs it off after a couple times.  Then it starts to bug Z.  In the cases where Z raises a complaint about it, the GM or other players fail to understand the issue.  Z eventually comes up with some reason to leave the group.

No mater how it shakes out, GM rewards are subjective, not arbitrary.  Depending on the day of the week, how much sleep they got, the last time they ate, how work was that day, what their parents/significant other said to them before leaving the house, the weather, the time of year, etc...the players may agree or disagree with that subjective rewarding of points.  One disagreement can sour a game.  I've never seen or experienced anyone getting miffed because everyone got the same experience, even if someone was phoning it in.

------

XP isn't a real life commodity.  It's a subjective reward handed out by the GM.  Interestingly enough, this means it DOESN'T work like currency in exchange for work.

If 2 people work at the same place of employment and one watches youtube all day and the other actually works.  The one that works will get bitter when the lazy slob gets paid the same.  This is because the industrial person feels cheated, they put in effort and should reap more of the reward, while the other person shouldn't receive any reward.  When it comes to XP though, if everyone gets the same amount regardless of effort, no one feels cheated because there is no actual value in the reward.  The industrial player doesn't hold a grudge about getting the same XP, they are simply happy and are thinking about how they can apply the XP to their character.  However an interesting thing happens when you shortchange someone.  In real life, the slob recognizes why he's getting paid less and honestly doesn't care (he may want more, but he's not going to work any harder to get it).  He realizes he doesn't put in any effort, so he gets paid less.  When it comes to XP though, since it has no value, and you can give it out freely, the shortchanged person (even if they don't 'deserve' it) can feel like it's a personal slight against them.  It has no value, so why give more to someone else just to spite me.

This isn't an opinion, it's an observable, testable, fact of human psychology and sociology.

Interestingly enough, another issue can come into play even if everything is even, but rewards are handed out subjectively.  Confirmation bias.  What happens is even if the rewards and the difference between two players is minimal or even non-existent, confirmation bias can rear it's ugly head.  People, when rewarded, seldom remember the event, as it's to be expected.  But when people are shortchanged, punished, etc, this event will stick out.  When it happens again, it creates an idea in their head that they never get rewarded.  When it happens yet again, it confirms their believed bias of the situation.  So you can have situations where the player that is rewarded the most is under the misconception that they are rewarded the least simply due to confirmation bias.

Player Z gets 5 bonus xp.  This is to be expected as Z did something interesting.  Next session X and Y get 5 xp.  Z wonders why he didn't, but lets it slide.  Next session X and Z get 5 XP.  Next session Y gets 5xp.  Z again notices this and thinks it's odd.  Next session Y and Z get 5 xp.  Next session X and Y get 5xp.  Z thinks to himself 'Of course not, I never get bonus xp'.  Next session, Z predicts that he won't get XP as he never gets bonus xp, and no one gets bonus XP.  Z has now confirmed that he never gets bonus XP.  In reality, X and Z have the same amount and Y only has 5 more xp.  But in Z's mind, the difference is much greater and he has convinced himself that he doesn't get rewarded as much as the other players.

Confirmation bias can carry over into gameplay also and then have a bounce back effect.  I'm not going to be successful on this attack because I've missed out on so much experience.  Rolls and fails, this confirms that the reason they failed is the missed experience which would have been directed at that skill.  This becomes yet another point of confirmation bias confirming that they don't receive any bonus xp.

-----

I'm not going to change anyone's mind.  This is simply my take on the issue.  If you want to reward or withhold experience for various reasons, have at it.  It's your game after all.  Your experience handling has no effect on me whatsoever.  You're also not going to change my mind.  So game on and have fun!

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@kmanweiss Thank you, and I have to agree and say well done on the longest post I have ever seen lol. I think that two things stand out as your best points:

  • Talk to your players
  • Using individual experience is not a good way to incentivise improved performance. 

On the second one I have had success stories with that, but in one case the person was just worried about losing the rate of advancement they wanted and therefore it was not a heartfelt response. In the other cases as I recall it worked but I think I could have just said Do it this way and I would have had the same result because the players wanted to make an effort to have a game that was not just the same old. I'm just going to say that on the whole you are right about this one though, and it's not an effective tool on its own. 

One thing that I do with my games is insist that we try to be better as the game proceeds. Mistakes and screw ups will happen, and we will evaluate it and strategize as a team as to how to do it better next time. If I address a deficiency (mine or someone else's) in my game then it almost always something that goes away. This is the power of Talk to Your Players. Sometimes it's tempting to just try and indirect method but you are right that this is generally not that effective.  

If you have something like confirmation bias or a distortion you can confront that distortion in a tactful and friendly manner. New information is useless unless it's palatable to the individual who is intended to consume it, so there is an art to that that requires having that positive relationship with your players. In the situation where you have someone who simply refuses then it may come to ultimatums and parting ways, but in my experience there is usually a lot of room to work with the situation. 

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@kmanweiss

I rather not quote everything from you, because you make valid point, but mainly I see 1 big theme of your post which I don't agree.

You seem to assume, that GMs, who doesn't hand out equal XP are trying to punish the missing player, trying to change them.

But you misunderstood us.

We are all about the good players, and rewarding effort. It's not about punishing someone who doesn't show up, or trying to passive agressivly chase away a lump, but acknowledging effort to contribute to the game. I don't want to change bad behaviour*, I just think that good behaivour* is more important to reward then consoling those who missed opportunities.

(*Definition of this definitely varies from table to table)

I also don't agree you with assuming participation rewards has no downside. Equal rewards can always make those who contributed more, feel put aside, and vice versa, performance based rewards (not the best choice of words, but you get it) can discourage people, who doesn't agree with the assesment, or just feel it unfair. 

Neither way is infallible, but I think if these things are clear when you sit down to the table, both can work, regardless of the playerbase. 

 

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On 5/17/2019 at 4:04 PM, kmanweiss said:

XP isn't a real life commodity.  It's a subjective reward handed out by the GM.  Interestingly enough, this means it DOESN'T work like currency in exchange for work.

If 2 people work at the same place of employment and one watches youtube all day and the other actually works.  The one that works will get bitter when the lazy slob gets paid the same.  This is because the industrial person feels cheated, they put in effort and should reap more of the reward, while the other person shouldn't receive any reward.  When it comes to XP though, if everyone gets the same amount regardless of effort, no one feels cheated because there is no actual value in the reward.  The industrial player doesn't hold a grudge about getting the same XP, they are simply happy and are thinking about how they can apply the XP to their character.  However an interesting thing happens when you shortchange someone.  In real life, the slob recognizes why he's getting paid less and honestly doesn't care (he may want more, but he's not going to work any harder to get it).  He realizes he doesn't put in any effort, so he gets paid less.  When it comes to XP though, since it has no value, and you can give it out freely, the shortchanged person (even if they don't 'deserve' it) can feel like it's a personal slight against them.  It has no value, so why give more to someone else just to spite me.

This isn't an opinion, it's an observable, testable, fact of human psychology and sociology.

Bolded for emphasis.  Your argument only works if people truly feel that XP holds absolutely no value to a player.  However it's an observable, testable fact of human psychology and sociology that it is quite valuable to a player.  In fact, many players covet XP dearly.  It's how their characters advance, how they get better, how they grow to overcome challenges that were once beyond them.  If Luke never learned to be a Jedi, Ep 6 would have ended very differently.  The industrial player is going to hold a grudge or at least they're going to realize that they don't have to put in near as much effort to get the exact same in game reward.  There are intrinsic rewards of having fun with your friends but when the beer and pretzels guy who's on his phone most of the night gets just as much XP as the industrial player they stop being as industrious.

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14 minutes ago, Ahrimon said:

However it's an observable, testable fact of human psychology and sociology that it is quite valuable to a player

I'm pretty sure the other poster is talking about the difference between the various kinds of value. Sure, you can buy up your character's skills and talents with it, but you can't use it to pay for pizza, and it doesn't cost the GM anything to hand it out.

XP has absolutely no real-world value, but it has value to the participants of of a game. It doesn't have value like money, or even like points scored in sports.

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8 hours ago, Ahrimon said:

Bolded for emphasis.  Your argument only works if people truly feel that XP holds absolutely no value to a player.  However it's an observable, testable fact of human psychology and sociology that it is quite valuable to a player.  In fact, many players covet XP dearly.  It's how their characters advance, how they get better, how they grow to overcome challenges that were once beyond them.  If Luke never learned to be a Jedi, Ep 6 would have ended very differently.  The industrial player is going to hold a grudge or at least they're going to realize that they don't have to put in near as much effort to get the exact same in game reward.  There are intrinsic rewards of having fun with your friends but when the beer and pretzels guy who's on his phone most of the night gets just as much XP as the industrial player they stop being as industrious.

Good stuff this. I agree that it is functionally valuable to the player, and as you said is a reinforcer. The reinforcer need not be paired with a certain type of behavior it can simply have an antecedent in the form of the end of the session. GM ends the session, the bell rings, the subject experiences anticipation. 

This is the functional heart of hobby's dark underbelly, the industrial experience point complex. 

See my thing is that I feel like the mechanical aspects of play are just one part of playing these games, and if behavior toward XP gain and progression becomes maladaptive and/or disproportionately the focus of the whole activity, it needs to be addressed. Failure to do so out of a sense of keeping it casual and letting the beer & pretzels flow or seeing it as a constitutional right seems to lead to things like people going into sulk spirals because XP was not awarded exactly the same. 

The driving force behind this is Progression. How did Luke learn to be a Jedi? Well at some point his abilities did indeed progress. We are given a glimpse at some of this in training sessions with Yoda, also he does a few things that would have been learning experiences. Progression of a character's abilities is something that can make a character more interesting or less interesting. When a character walks through every challenge and is not threatened by anything the character has been rendered narratively inert. Any character can reach this state if progression is not tethered to the story and circumstances of the character. If Luke would have shown up in RotJ and was pulling Star Destroyers out of the sky while blaster cannon rounds bounced off of him the movie and franchise would have been ruined. Might have been cool for superman fans and cartoon lovers, but it would not be Star Wars. It's not just Star Wars that functions this way either, if you give John Wick laser eyes and flight powers you do the same thing. 

These are exaggerated examples, but there are grades of overdoing it even within the range of the what is close to the normal range of power for the character in the context of the setting and story. 

Do people actually think about progression in this way? I would say no. 

Progression is always seen as only a positive thing; to some people it is **** near the only reason they play. XP is the fuel that feeds it, so getting your XP is absolutely essential if you are gonna get your progression. To be denied it is to deny the fun. 

Only what if XP and Progression are actually not necessary for every session of the game? What if you could advance as it makes sense for the character's story and context in the setting? What if that progression seemed largely unseen and seamless instead of being the build-a-bear minigame used to close each session? Probably then players would have other priorities and not get petulant over XP. Maybe feel like other things were more important on the whole. 

 

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3 hours ago, Archlyte said:

Progression is always seen as only a positive thing; to some people it is **** near the only reason they play. XP is the fuel that feeds it, so getting your XP is absolutely essential if you are gonna get your progression. To be denied it is to deny the fun. 

You realize there are RPG games that don't even have progression in that sense?

 

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7 hours ago, Stan Fresh said:

You realize there are RPG games that don't even have progression in that sense?

 

I do. I'm not against progression but I would say I am against obnoxious desire for it. 

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It's been so long since I actually GM'd FFG's SW games that I don't remember the criteria for XP gains, but in the game I most recently GM'd (Mutant: Year Zero, the Swedish version) the way you get XP is dependent on a yes or no answer to a certain set of questions.

They are something along the lines of:

1: Did you participate in the session?
2: Did you do something to fulfill your great dream?
3: Did you do something to help the PC/NPC you admire?
4: Did you do something to hinder the PC/NPC you hate?
5: Did you risk your life for the group?

Each yes on these give 1 XP (roughly equal to 3 points in FFG's system, I suppose).

As you can see, if the answer to the first question is No, then you most likely won't get any points (unless you were played by the GM or another player).

That said, I would definitely give some XP to someone who misses several sessions in a row for some reason, just so they can keep up with the group.

But I also find that usually my groups have everyone missing a few sessions here and there, so the XP amongst the players is usually pretty level.

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These threads often amaze me. So many people write from their point of view as if another way of doing things was offending their ancestors. There are many ways of handling progression and none have to be wrong or right all the time. Also, arguments along the line of "I have been doing things only one way for X years, and everybody I know is the same" are weird. I get that they are meant to produce an air of expertise, but to me this always sounds exactly the other way; not having experience with other ways of handling a part of gaming is actually not a ringing endorsement of expertise.

I have tried pretty much everything with many different systems. In some systems, being there is baked into the awards. In others it is not. Some have clear progressions, others are much more muddy or focussed on other parts. In the end, when it is not intrinsic to the system, it is just a matter of taste.

For me personally, it is easy: I will try to reduce my workload as a GM. If playing something with levels, I will most likely do milestone levelling, because frak me if I calculate XP for each slain half-goblin, looted gold piece or mile travelled. For XP-based systems, I will probably keep players on the same level, because it just makes things easier for me as a GM. But that is just the point to which I gravitate, not some hard rule; in our SW campaign I keep everybody on the same XP level, in our TOR campaign it is based on playing time, and both is fine and neither causes any troubles. As an aside, in my longest running campaign, which had its 20th anniversary recently, I have moved away from that stuff completely, because after hundreds of sessions, it is really not important anymore - they can do crazy stuff and are hilariously powerful anyway. I gave my players some limits and told them to fill out the dots until they felt their characters were how they envision them.

In my experience, most players are OK with pretty much anything, as long as it is clearly communicated and feels fair, i.e. the rules apply to everybody. This is Session Zero stuff, talk to your players about it. If you have a preference, tell them so and explain it. There is no right or wrong, and in the end, the success of any RPG campaign hinges on very different things - this is just window dressing.

Rewarding or punishing my friends using some in-game stuff sounds weird. If there are problems, we talk about them and find a way, or, if they are too severe or irreconcilable, I do not game with the player in question. If they have cool ideas, or show some great roleplaying, that is obviously the reward in itself. And if they miss a session, why punish them? They missed spending time with friends, doing what they love, why would you punish that.

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3 hours ago, Franigo said:

These threads often amaze me. So many people write from their point of view as if another way of doing things was offending their ancestors. There are many ways of handling progression and none have to be wrong or right all the time. Also, arguments along the line of "I have been doing things only one way for X years, and everybody I know is the same" are weird. I get that they are meant to produce an air of expertise, but to me this always sounds exactly the other way; not having experience with other ways of handling a part of gaming is actually not a ringing endorsement of expertise.

I have tried pretty much everything with many different systems. In some systems, being there is baked into the awards. In others it is not. Some have clear progressions, others are much more muddy or focussed on other parts. In the end, when it is not intrinsic to the system, it is just a matter of taste.

For me personally, it is easy: I will try to reduce my workload as a GM. If playing something with levels, I will most likely do milestone levelling, because frak me if I calculate XP for each slain half-goblin, looted gold piece or mile travelled. For XP-based systems, I will probably keep players on the same level, because it just makes things easier for me as a GM. But that is just the point to which I gravitate, not some hard rule; in our SW campaign I keep everybody on the same XP level, in our TOR campaign it is based on playing time, and both is fine and neither causes any troubles. As an aside, in my longest running campaign, which had its 20th anniversary recently, I have moved away from that stuff completely, because after hundreds of sessions, it is really not important anymore - they can do crazy stuff and are hilariously powerful anyway. I gave my players some limits and told them to fill out the dots until they felt their characters were how they envision them.

In my experience, most players are OK with pretty much anything, as long as it is clearly communicated and feels fair, i.e. the rules apply to everybody. This is Session Zero stuff, talk to your players about it. If you have a preference, tell them so and explain it. There is no right or wrong, and in the end, the success of any RPG campaign hinges on very different things - this is just window dressing.

Rewarding or punishing my friends using some in-game stuff sounds weird. If there are problems, we talk about them and find a way, or, if they are too severe or irreconcilable, I do not game with the player in question. If they have cool ideas, or show some great roleplaying, that is obviously the reward in itself. And if they miss a session, why punish them? They missed spending time with friends, doing what they love, why would you punish that.

Again with the punishment. I didn't go to work yesterday and didn't get paid. Why am I being punished? 

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49 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

Again with the punishment. I didn't go to work yesterday and didn't get paid. Why am I being punished? 

Even when I'd say that comparing XP rewards with salary is probably the worst anyone can do - what is with sick leave or paid vacation?! :D

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6 minutes ago, Malashim said:

Even when I'd say that comparing XP rewards with salary is probably the worst anyone can do - what is with sick leave or paid vacation?! :D

Well it gets treated more like it's a disability check in this thread so I guess I was off on that one. If you don't give it that emotional and mental value you won't be concerned when you don't get XP for whatever reason. The purported whinging that is described over not getting an XP is amazing to me outside of playing with children and tweens. 

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On 5/18/2019 at 12:44 AM, Rimsen said:

@kmanweiss

I rather not quote everything from you, because you make valid point, but mainly I see 1 big theme of your post which I don't agree.

You seem to assume, that GMs, who doesn't hand out equal XP are trying to punish the missing player, trying to change them.

But you misunderstood us.

We are all about the good players, and rewarding effort. It's not about punishing someone who doesn't show up, or trying to passive agressivly chase away a lump, but acknowledging effort to contribute to the game. I don't want to change bad behaviour*, I just think that good behaivour* is more important to reward then consoling those who missed opportunities.

(*Definition of this definitely varies from table to table)

I also don't agree you with assuming participation rewards has no downside. Equal rewards can always make those who contributed more, feel put aside, and vice versa, performance based rewards (not the best choice of words, but you get it) can discourage people, who doesn't agree with the assesment, or just feel it unfair. 

Neither way is infallible, but I think if these things are clear when you sit down to the table, both can work, regardless of the playerbase. 

 

It doesn't matter what the GM's intention is.  I'm not arguing with the fact that the GM is trying to reward behavior.  The fact of the matter is though that players may not see it that way.  Just because you intend it as a reward to Player X doesn't mean player Z won't view it as a punishment.

Again, if everyone gets a fair share of the fake currency, everyone is happy.  If some people get more of the fake currency, the people that didn't get as much feel cheated because it has no value, so why short me?

Lets say you have a family of 5.  You have a reward chart on the wall where you stick stars next to people who help out.  You ask 2 children to set the table.  The older child sets 3 spots and the younger child sets 2.  Give them both 2 stars for helping out and they are both happy.  Give the older child 3 stars and the younger child 2 stars, the younger child will be discouraged and start to resent the system.  It doesn't matter how many times you remind them that you give stars based on accomplishments and the older child accomplished more, the younger child will start to despise the older child and the parent.  It's human nature, it's part of our psychology.

Individual rewards may work well for some people, and even some groups will enjoy them.  But the people that don't will just stew silently growing more and more disgusted with the system so as not to rock the boat.  I originally thought individual XP rewards were the bomb 20 years ago...then I started seeing how they could be rewarded and what they could do to the group dynamic and saw the damage they could do.  I saw how it could fester just under the surface.  I saw how a GM could favor one thing over another, or subconsciously reward one player more than another.

The person that contributed more will NOT despise the others.  If anything, they'll feel proud for helping the group as a whole achieve the allotted xp.  Sure, if the bad player is on their phone the entire time and doesn't know what to roll, or needs people to constantly repeat things because they aren't paying attention, this will be different....but that's a behavior issue that needs to be dealt with with in a more direct way than lack of xp.

Every system is perfectly fine.  Play the way you want to.  Play the way your group wants to.  But straight up, simply, human psychology supports one system over the other.  One system has basically no risk, while encouraging good behavior, while the other has a high risk of problems with little productive change in behavior.  It doesn't matter if it's children, teens, or adults.

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I want to make one thing clear here.

If you want to give out individual xp rewards and withhold xp from people that don't show up for a session.

GO TO TOWN!  It's your game, play your way.  Seriously, have fun with it.  It's a game after all.

I'm just trying to make it clear that there may be hidden consequences to those decisions.

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Posted (edited)

My group is all of an age to have seen the original movies in theaters the first time around.  We are past the whole reward/punishment model for anything and just thrilled when everyone's kids are well enough they can get away from the family for "poker night".  

I'm awarding XP to the entire group equally and if someone joins they start at the group XP level.  I also asked my group and they think this is fair.  Honestly, I'll get bored if they aren't advancing into more interesting social and combat levels.

However, for narrative reasons, I don't drop loot and credits as group resources.  Whoever is present decides how to distribute resources.  If someone wants to set aside a Geonosian Blaster Rifle for a missing crewmate because it will help the team, that is on them.  I don't even know how much wealth they each have right now.  I only really care since they ran into a situation where nobody could afford a bribe (and it would really have been more fun if they had).

Edited by RecklessFable

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, kmanweiss said:

I want to make one thing clear here.

If you want to give out individual xp rewards and withhold xp from people that don't show up for a session.

GO TO TOWN!  It's your game, play your way.  Seriously, have fun with it.  It's a game after all.

I'm just trying to make it clear that there may be hidden consequences to those decisions.

I understand that, but somehow you seem to assume, the other way doesn't have any downside, which is simply not universally true.

Also for me you apparently contradict yourself, by stating the XP holds no value. If it holds no value, then why the fuss? Shouldn't cause disparity either way. But it definitely does and as a GM our task to find the right amount of balance based on our group. 

Edited by Rimsen

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41 minutes ago, Rimsen said:

I understand that, but somehow you seem to assume, the other way doesn't have any downside, which is simply not universally true.

Also for me you apparently contradict yourself, by stating the XP holds no value. If it holds no value, then why the fuss? Shouldn't cause disparity either way. But it definitely does and as a GM our task to find the right amount of balance based on our group. 

It holds no real world value. But it can hold value in the eyes of the players. It can show them that the GM likes another person better, because that person can apparently hit all the right emotional notes the GM likes, they hog all the limelight in social situations and planning situations and they overachive in bringing extra stuff to the games. Other people might want to but unlike the player constantly getting lavished with praise, they haven't known the GM for 15 years and played with him before during those 15 years, they didn't attend theater school and they don't have a job or family lives that allow them the amount of free time needed to plow into the game. They're doing the best they can but apparently that's not good enough.

 

Blatant favoritism can get the people who are not being favored to decide to not bother any more. After all, it's not like they can compete, so why even bother?

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5 minutes ago, Darth Revenant said:

It holds no real world value. But it can hold value in the eyes of the players. It can show them that the GM likes another person better, because that person can apparently hit all the right emotional notes the GM likes, they hog all the limelight in social situations and planning situations and they overachive in bringing extra stuff to the games. Other people might want to but unlike the player constantly getting lavished with praise, they haven't known the GM for 15 years and played with him before during those 15 years, they didn't attend theater school and they don't have a job or family lives that allow them the amount of free time needed to plow into the game. They're doing the best they can but apparently that's not good enough.

 

Blatant favoritism can get the people who are not being favored to decide to not bother any more. After all, it's not like they can compete, so why even bother?

This is true but the catalyst for this is the situation where strangers are playing together or the players know each other but there is external relationship issues. Anytime the GM is playing favorites (not rewarding on merit of something accomplished) the GM is wrong. If someone is mistaking genuine achievement for favoritism they are wrong. Easier to see one's shortcomings as someone else's fault. 

My first Rule of Play is that the real world relationships come first. That means that real world values come first and if something in the game or about the game is inflicting bu**hurt or envy or jealousy it gets addressed. 

If there are differences in ability, then it is an absolute responsibility of the proficient to help the less proficient and help them to look good and have fun. The Group is more important than just your character. That rule is what I use to deal with new people who try to skulk and betray, and for players who try to act like Alpha Players. 

ON another note, there's Two things I can't stand: people who are intolerant of other people's playstyles, and Gamists. :)

 

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