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XP for Missing Players?

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1 hour ago, Nytwyng said:

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

It's interesting to watch this discussion, that's for sure.  The "follow the rules" camp and "do what you want" camp are coming up on different lines than we usually do when it comes to rules discussions.  I'm sure there's no wrong way to play make-believe as long as it's enjoyable.  This seems to represent yet another facet in our many-faceted hobby and certainly food for thought. 

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46 minutes ago, Cifer said:

t 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.

I agree with the spirit of your argument, but to me this sounds like the GM failing to accommodate the varied power levels.  It's not hard but it does require consideration - although some might wish to argue the point.  If we were to poll the disparate power levels of our main characters in the movies, we would certainly not find parity but what works in a movie isn't always equitable at an rpg table.  This is an age-old argument however and I don't see us solving it here, it's just more food for thought.  At the end of the day, many people are playing this game to have the movie experience, which is probably different for everyone anyway. 

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1 hour 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 like the sentiments expressed about the reason to play, and I agree.

When it comes to balancing the party out with a mean level of power/capability, I feel like the need to win all the time isn't a great thing. The Sage needing to make the Lore check or the game comes to a halt isn't a good thing, and to me would be like having an adventure hinge on the players making sure they bring a shovel to the dungeon. Not enough ways to explore the problem if it stops/ruins the game because of that one thing. 

Failure is interesting. The Fate system has this as core principle and I believe it to be a truly important thing: embracing negative situations and outcomes ooc. When you succeed the tension is gone and it's time for a new problem, but when you fail you may need to have things go in an unexpected direction. I love the dice in this game because they give such interesting fail conditions (example: Triumph 2 Threat and Check Failed). 

Too much success can be detrimental to the story as well in my opinion, especially when there is an entitlement factor. I'm a veteran Assassin I shouldn't be failing. I would prefer that the Assassin should be aware that Mr. Murphy can come along for the ride, and that maybe the world isn't populated with the character's power level in mind, but simply is the way it is regardless.

If the NPCs and Creatures can vary in power levels why cant the PCs? Especially if it makes sense for the story: Mentor and Callow Youth hanging with an Old Wookiee and an experienced smuggler, Master Jedi and Apprentice, etc. I've done this a few times now by letting characters start at varying XP totals in the same group with about 300 points being the biggest variance between two characters. The adventures they played in were not about PCs being thrown into combat with a tuned group of bad guys to kill. They were about overcoming problems, sometimes with bad guys that were certain death to face for any of them.  

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I've dealt with this issue as a GM and tried all sorts of different solutions. The best advice I can give is to discuss it with your group. And, if possible, discuss during a session zero. Work together to find a solution that best fits your own group.   

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I skipped providing different amounts of XP to players around 30 years ago.

Not all players are equally talkative or gain the initiative the same manner. Some are more withdrawn some more extroverted and I won´t punish the withdrawn guy with less XP than the talker, it´s unfair.

The same goes for players which can´t attent a session. In most cases the Char will be handled by another player or by me.

The Char will get the same amount XP as the others, because the Char is there, the Player isn´t.

Besides, it´s  double frustrating for the player because he is punished twice. He can´t attend and have fun and his Char is left behind the others.

I handle the XP theme this way all this time and every player ever was fine with this.

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37 minutes ago, dreenan said:

I skipped providing different amounts of XP to players around 30 years ago.

Not all players are equally talkative or gain the initiative the same manner. Some are more withdrawn some more extroverted and I won´t punish the withdrawn guy with less XP than the talker, it´s unfair.

The same goes for players which can´t attent a session. In most cases the Char will be handled by another player or by me.

The Char will get the same amount XP as the others, because the Char is there, the Player isn´t.

Besides, it´s  double frustrating for the player because he is punished twice. He can´t attend and have fun and his Char is left behind the others.

I handle the XP theme this way all this time and every player ever was fine with this.

Yeah, it's interesting because it really means the XP and progression are about the game as a whole and not the players or the characters. Any sort of rate of advancement will do for such a group as long as it meets the needs of the group: same rate every game, story goals for the group, or some other way of disbursing it so that it keeps pace with what the group wants. 

An interesting thing is this view that not giving XP is a punishment. This implies that XP is a reward, which means that it acts as a reinforcer. That means you are playing with a reward system whether you withhold the reinforcer or not. The qualifier for getting the reward is being involved in the campaign, and it sounds like the campaign will be characterized by a linear progression that is disbursed equally and independent of any factors of performance or involvement and is based on how many sessions are held. This would give you a fairly steady and easy to predict level of advancement for the players. They know how much XP they will have in a month if there are no cancelled sessions (assuming you don't give XP for cancelled sessions). 

Edited by Archlyte

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Yeah, it's interesting because it really means the XP and progression are about the game as a whole and not the players or the characters. Any sort of rate of advancement will do as long as it meets the needs of the group: same rate every game, story goals for the group, or some other way of disbursing it so that it keeps pace with what the group wants. 

Well, to put it in soccer terms, we win or lose as a team. It does not matter who came up with the brilliant plan, because it can only be carried out by the whole group. The amount of XP varies to the achievements they gained the current session, so it is not the same amount every time we meet to play. The Group advances as a team and that´s perfectly ok, to me. I handle this the same with every RPG System. It seems that all Chars are satisfied with this approach. I have never heard any complaints from a player that everbody gets the same amout of XP. Discussions and complains come only with your approach.

And generally, the reward is money, XP, gimmicks, the good felling to have solved an issue or have conquered an enemy. And the development of your Charakter. For this, you do not need to get more XP that the colleague next to you.

 

 

 

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Then why bother with xp? Let them simply choose a new skill everytime they complete a session. 

Differences in xp in this system are not so dramatic, you can still be good at your field, but you will be a bit less well-rounded, the world won't stop if you are 20 - 30 xp behind...

While it's true, that not giving extra xp for being introvert is not fair, in this case don't award the exceptional roleplay. The fact that they steer the story more to their taste is enough reward. 

But still find the idea of not playing and getting the xp unfair for those who attended.

Edited by Rimsen

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Then why bother with xp? Let them simply choose a new skill everytime they complete a session. 

Simply, because everybody WANTS to get xp. It is a good feeling and you can not only chose new talents you can also put some of it in skill advantiges. On the contrary, up to now, I can´t see the advantage of different xp rewards for the Players.

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But still find the idea of not playing and getting the xp unfair for those who attended.

I can´t remember a player with the same opinion.

 

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18 minutes ago, Rimsen said:

But still find the idea of not playing and getting the xp unfair for those who attended.

Unless the ones that attended this week are the ones that don't attend next week, bet they'll think it's fair next week............

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Just now, dreenan said:

It does not matter who came up with the brilliant plan, because it can only be carried out by the whole group.

Yeah, but... what if the brilliant plan crashes because half the group doesn't show up for whatever good or terrible reason?

Translate that to a gaming group of five players, where two or three don't attend. The GM then decides to do a little side quest (just before the main quest, and the side quest target area is only two meters wide!). Should the players who didn't attend the game be 'penalised' for not showing up? Should 'to punish or not to punish' depend on the reasons for not showing up? And who decides whether the reasons given are valid enough?

In one of my old D&D campaigns there never was a true problem in not giving XP to player characters from players that didn't show up. We made that agreement beforehand, everybody could have spoken up if they didn't agree, and truth be told, a couple of times a few different players fell ill, or had family obligations such as a birthday on our regular game night. Overall, it didn't matter much. By the end of the campaign, two out of five (unlucky) players' characters were 1 (one!) level behind the other three.

Currently, we have one friend who is terribly busy. If he were to play in such a campaign, I wouldn't be surprised he would start to lag behind real soon. His choice is to not participate in our monthly game night because he 'knows' he can't show the commitment to do so. We're not even talking about incidental illness, bad luck, accidents and what ever, this is a choice of prioritising other planned activities over game night. And I both respect and applaude him for that. This way, there can be no ill will towards him for skipping game night (again!?), and we enjoy the times he can be with up (in board games, paintball, cinema, or one-shot single night adventures, just whatever we feel like doing to have fun). If he were to join the game, and his lack of commitment to it did cause him to have a far less experienced character, that would be the consquence of choice. And yes, that might demotivate him. But I have also seen plenty of demotivation in players that did show up for every game (skipping out on parties, cinema nights and such) who were forced to see the characters of the no-shows grow as fast as their own.

 

And then we come to FFG Star Wars, where every ten or twenty XP not received translate into a skill or talent advancement less. Again, to each their own, and I do think this is one of those Session-0 subjects to discuss. When all agree that "absentees don't get Expees", that is what happens. If the agreement is to always provide every character (present or not) with the same Session-XP for story progression (assuming the character did usefull stuff in the background) that is completely valid too. But in my opinion it should always be one of those things decided upon before the game starts proper.

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 I feel like punishing a player through XP is not a good thing to do unless it's done because the Player didn't do a good job and it was obviously willful. It does always amaze me how much like oxygen progression is to people. You can kill their character but don't you dare give them less XP than Bill. A man-tantrum is sure to ensue. 

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Yeah, but... what if the brilliant plan crashes because half the group doesn't show up for whatever good or terrible reason?

Well, as stated before, if a player is missing, in most cases the Char will be handled by another player.

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Translate that to a gaming group of five players, where two or three don't attend. The GM then decides to do a little side quest (just before the main quest, and the side quest target area is only two meters wide!). Should the players who didn't attend the game be 'penalised' for not showing up? Should 'to punish or not to punish' depend on the reasons for not showing up? And who decides whether the reasons given are valid enough?

I don´t see the issue, here. If the mission can´t go on, due to abscence of more players and you do a side quest to pass the time, you can either provide the missing player the xp, becauser their chars will certainly do "something" too, or you play with other Chars of our big number of available charakters.

Besides, in many cases a side quest is not an option, because the Chars are already engaged in something from the last session and can´t go on from another step out of the blue.

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In one of my old D&D campaigns there never was a true problem in not giving XP to player characters from players that didn't show up. We made that agreement beforehand, everybody could have spoken up if they didn't agree, and truth be told, a couple of times a few different players fell ill, or had family obligations such as a birthday on our regular game night. Overall, it didn't matter much. By the end of the campaign, two out of five (unlucky) players' characters were 1 (one!) level behind the other three.

If everybody is fine with this I do not see a problem either, it´s just not my approach.

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Currently, we have one friend who is terribly busy. If he were to play in such a campaign, I wouldn't be surprised he would start to lag behind real soon. His choice is to not participate in our monthly game night because he 'knows' he can't show the commitment to do so. We're not even talking about incidental illness, bad luck, accidents and what ever, this is a choice of prioritising other planned activities over game night. And I both respect and applaude him for that. This way, there can be no ill will towards him for skipping game night (again!?), and we enjoy the times he can be with up (in board games, paintball, cinema, or one-shot single night adventures, just whatever we feel like doing to have fun). If he were to join the game, and his lack of commitment to it did cause him to have a far less experienced character, that would be the consquence of choice. And yes, that might demotivate him. But I have also seen plenty of demotivation in players that did show up for every game (skipping out on parties, cinema nights and such) who were forced to see the characters of the no-shows grow as fast as their own.

Why not assume that his Char is on another quest and gains xp in the meantime? If you don´t want to demotivate him and everybody likes him around when he can attend I can´t see any reason why this shouldn´t be a option.

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But I have also seen plenty of demotivation in players that did show up for every game (skipping out on parties, cinema nights and such) who were forced to see the characters of the no-shows grow as fast as their own.

Can´t understand this. XP gaining in RPG is not a competition among the Players. The more if an abscent payers has very good reason I can´t stand any envy.

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Archlyte said:

I like the sentiments expressed about the reason to play, and I agree.

When it comes to balancing the party out with a mean level of power/capability, I feel like the need to win all the time isn't a great thing. The Sage needing to make the Lore check or the game comes to a halt isn't a good thing, and to me would be like having an adventure hinge on the players making sure they bring a shovel to the dungeon. Not enough ways to explore the problem if it stops/ruins the game because of that one thing. 

 

Oh, absolutely, bottlenecks are usually bad game design. But those Lore checks can still mean the difference between "we trudge through a dungeon, killing monsters and kicking in doors" and "we trudge through the tomb of Darth Calash, killing the alchemically reanimated remains of her favorite guardians that she had poisoned to watch over her in death, and going by the personal philosophy of her apprentice who built the tomb, *this* is the door that doesn't have a lethal trap behind it because the ornaments reference the straightforward Battle of Czulkin rather than the ambushes at Larn or Wessen".

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Failure is interesting. The Fate system has this as core principle and I believe it to be a truly important thing: embracing negative situations and outcomes ooc. When you succeed the tension is gone and it's time for a new problem, but when you fail you may need to have things go in an unexpected direction. I love the dice in this game because they give such interesting fail conditions (example: Triumph 2 Threat and Check Failed). 

Too much success can be detrimental to the story as well in my opinion, especially when there is an entitlement factor. I'm a veteran Assassin I shouldn't be failing. I would prefer that the Assassin should be aware that Mr. Murphy can come along for the ride, and that maybe the world isn't populated with the character's power level in mind, but simply is the way it is regardless.

No argument there.

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If the NPCs and Creatures can vary in power levels why cant the PCs? Especially if it makes sense for the story: Mentor and Callow Youth hanging with an Old Wookiee and an experienced smuggler, Master Jedi and Apprentice, etc. I've done this a few times now by letting characters start at varying XP totals in the same group with about 300 points being the biggest variance between two characters. The adventures they played in were not about PCs being thrown into combat with a tuned group of bad guys to kill. They were about overcoming problems, sometimes with bad guys that were certain death to face for any of them. 

Oh, different XP levels are completely fine (even though I would probably do a mentor+student couple by having the student be a newcomer from a different specialization, say a Thief+Force-Sensitive Emergent who will later take up Pathfinder/Soresu while his teacher starts out in Peacekeeper+Soresu). But those different XP levels should come about because the players want to explore just this dynamic - not because one has a crappy RL schedule and falls behind the rest.

 

1 hour ago, Rimsen said:

But still find the idea of not playing and getting the xp unfair for those who attended.

How would you create a character of a new player entering an established group that's already at, say, 400+ XP?

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2 hours ago, dreenan said:

Well, as stated before, if a player is missing, in most cases the Char will be handled by another player.

I have never experienced a group where, as a matter of routine, an absent player’s PC was used as an NPC.

Wait. I take that back. Back in our D6 Star Wars campaign some 20 years ago, a player’s slicer character was used as an NPC for 2-3 sessions he missed.

He was not happy.

He disagreed with the unilateral decisions that others made for his character with absolutely zero input from the PLAYER Character’s PLAYER. He abandoned the character, created a new one, who lasted 1-2 sessions before the player dropped out of the game.

In hindsight, those of us who’d GMed his character as an NPC understood his position.

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1 hour ago, Cifer said:

How would you create a character of a new player entering an established group that's already at, say, 400+ XP?

Depending on the character concept, there’s a few ways I could approach it—

If the character is supposed to be a fresh-faced, wet behind the ears newbie, standard starting XP.

If the character is supposed to be semi-experienced, Knight level.

If the character has been out and about in the galaxy for a while, do like my GM mentioned above did: give them around 50% of the earned XP of the highest XP character in the group.

There are other ways to go about it, too.

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I have never experienced a group where, as a matter of routine, an absent player’s PC was used as an NPC.

Wait. I take that back. Back in our D6 Star Wars campaign some 20 years ago, a player’s slicer character was used as an NPC for 2-3 sessions he missed.

He was not happy.

He disagreed with the unilateral decisions that others made for his character with absolutely zero input from the PLAYER Character’s PLAYER. He abandoned the character, created a new one, who lasted 1-2 sessions before the player dropped out of the game.

 

To me, it seems pretty obvious that first, the Player agrees on carried on by his co-players and Second, the other players have the meaning, skill and dignitiy to play him correct. If this could not be the case I wouldn´t allow it at all.  So, such an hillarous example as abouve never would occour in one of my groups.

If the players can´t actual roleplay, well, there´s not much you can do anyway.

 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, dreenan said:

To me, it seems pretty obvious that first, the Player agrees on carried on by his co-players and Second, the other players have the meaning, skill and dignitiy to play him correct. If this could not be the case I wouldn´t allow it at all.  So, such an hillarous example as abouve never would occour in one of my groups.

If the players can´t actual roleplay, well, there´s not much you can do anyway.

And meanwhile, those of us who used the slicer PC as an NPC were certain we were (to borrow your phrase) playing him correctly.

So, I’m glad you find a player feeling that his character was co-opted by others, and unintentionally diverted to a path that he never had in mind for the character to the point that he had no interest in playing the character anymore to be “hilarious.” None of us did.

Even the best roleplayer can’t read another player’s mind. They may think they’re doing what the PC’s actual player would, but they’re as likely to be wrong about that as they are to be right.

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55 minutes ago, Nytwyng said:

I have never experienced a group where, as a matter of routine, an absent player’s PC was used as an NPC.

Same here.  When I have a missing player, their character goes into a Schrodinger Box off-screen; then when the player returns, we decide what they were up to.  

Edited by Vorzakk

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10 minutes ago, Vorzakk said:

Same here.  When I have a missing player, their character goes into a Schrodinger box off-screen; then when the player returns, we decide what they were up to.  

Likewise. Sometimes, knowing in advance that someone won’t be there, I can bake their absence into the setup. (“Oh, the bounty hunter is off on a private job.” “The smuggler Captain is off trying to line up more work.”)

But - especially after that previous experience - if I missed a session (or more) and walked in to the next to be told, “Last time, since you weren’t here, you did X, Y, and Z!” I’d just turn around and walk out. Why did I bother making a character to my liking, with plans and goals for where to take him, if just anyone will play him at a given session?

Well...maybe I wouldn’t walk out. Maybe I’d just grab someone else’s character sheet and play that character for the day. Only fair that I get to make someone else’s decisions since others made mine, right?

Edited by Nytwyng

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So, I’m glad you find a player feeling that his character was co-opted by others, and unintentionally diverted to a path that he never had in mind for the character to the point that he had no interest in playing the character anymore to be “hilarious.” None of us did.

Even the best roleplayer can’t read another player’s mind. They may think they’re doing what the PC’s actual player would, but they’re as likely to be wrong about that as they are to be right.

 

so you are saying that after dozens of sessions you don´t have a feeling for the other characters? And mind you, we are not talking about method acting or crucial character concept decisions here. But whatever, if you don´t want this for whatever reason - fine, it was only one approach to keep the mission going/not punishing a player with denied xp for abscense.

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Same here.  When I have a missing player, their character goes into a Schrodinger Box off-screen; then when the player returns, we decide what they were up to. 

Very well. But the question is, does he receive xp for the missed time?

 

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On 8/29/2018 at 7:57 AM, dreenan said:

so you are saying that after dozens of sessions you don´t have a feeling for the other characters? And mind you, we are not talking about method acting or crucial character concept decisions here. But whatever, if you don´t want this for whatever reason - fine, it was only one approach to keep the mission going/not punishing a player with denied xp for abscense.

Of course you have “a feeling” for the other characters. But you’ll never be that character’s player. You’ll never be able to, with 100% accuracy, stick to the player’s vision for the character.

And characterizing the upset of a player who found their PC used improperly with no input (to the point that he abandoned the character and left the group) as “hilarious” is just kinda tacky.

You do bring up a point that I was going’s to make in a separate post, though. So I may as well bring it up now.

I keep seeing the word “punishment” used in reference to absent players not receiving XP for sessions they’ve missed. In the words of Inigo Montoya

tumblr_p9cubvILOa1rluoaco3_1280.jpg

How, exactly, is it a “punishment?”

If I’m invited to a cookout and can’t attend, am I being “punished” because I didn’t get a burger? A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were invited to a pool party, but couldn’t attend (coincidentally enough, because we’d already committed to a SWRPG game). Were we being “punished” by being unable to swim and not getting any of the food?

Or, in all of these cases, were people just not there?

I think this whole notion of describing this missed opportunity for XP as “punishment” is ascribing vengeful or punitive motive where there is none.

Edited by Nytwyng

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24 minutes ago, dreenan said:

Very well. But the question is, does he receive xp for the missed time?

No; and as I stated earlier, not one player has every expressed the slightest bit of discontentment over this fact.  I recently had a new player join our group and she's played with us for about 10 sessions now.  She never asked me about a starting XP boost, and in fact I had to reminder her twice about the 50XP and 2nd spec that I let everyone start with.  She's over 100 XP behind the character with the lowest total and just under 200 behind the character with the highest total.  Being a little concerned about this, I recently asked her about it; and she told me that she has had an amazing time so far and has never once felt that her character was inadequate.  

But like I said earlier, I'm willing to chalk this up to my group being anomalous and I by no means think that my way of doing things is appropriate for every group.  

Edited by Vorzakk

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