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XP for Missing Players?

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3 hours ago, Cifer said:

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

I would start a new game. Adding a new player to an established game frequently all that fair to the new player. Not because they lack XP or not, but because there is an established dynamic that they have to break into. 

What I dont understand is how not getting an award is a punishment. XP is an award for playing, not something you should just expect. Not that I think that many players would play a game for long if there were no XP awards. Not getting XP isnt a penalty, but the normal state of things when not playing. 

I can see keeping everyone at the same level in a level based system. Sometimes even a 1 level difference is a big change in character ability. Star Wars doesnt have that problem tho. Even 50 or 60 xp isnt all that big a difference in character ability. 

But then again, this is a classic 'your mileage may vary' sort of thing. This is something every group of players has to determine for themselves how it is done in there group, and arguing about it is one of the more pointless things one can do. I certainly wouldnt refuse to play because the rest of the group decided to do it the opposite way from what I thought

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28 minutes ago, korjik said:

Not that I think that many players would play a game for long if there were no XP awards.

I agree with you overall, but there are rare exceptions.  My girlfriend is so fluff-focused that she'll sometimes go for a dozen or more sessions without spending a single XP that she earns.  She just lets them accumulate until she eventually sits down with me to spend a bunch at once. 

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1 minute ago, Vorzakk said:

I agree with you overall, but there are rare exceptions.  My girlfriend is so fluff-focused that she'll sometimes go for a dozen or more sessions without spending a single XP that she earns.  She just lets them accumulate until she eventually sits down with me to spend a bunch at once. 

I don’t remember why or how I had so much XP to spend, but in a DC Heroes campaign many years ago, my character with light-based powers went from being something of the team’s weak link to being able to generate a glow (and flash) equivalent to a nuclear explosion. ?

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17 minutes ago, Nytwyng said:

I don’t remember why or how I had so much XP to spend, but in a DC Heroes campaign many years ago, my character with light-based powers went from being something of the team’s weak link to being able to generate a glow (and flash) equivalent to a nuclear explosion. ?

Yea, that's why I sit down with her when she does it:  to make sure that the expenditures are reasonably justified and that they don't result in a jarring leap of capability.  :)

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20 minutes ago, Vorzakk said:

Yea, that's why I sit down with her when she does it:  to make sure that the expenditures are reasonably justified and that they don't result in a jarring leap of capability.  :)

I think there was an explanation in there somewhere. I want to say that (since, despite the system we used, we were in a combined DC/Marvel universe) it was around the time of Marvel’s “Evolutionary War” storyline, and I tied the power boost into that. There were a few henchmen with melted eyes and permanent vision loss the first time or two I used the powers at that level. Afterwards, I dialed it back and rarely used them at their full level.

To be fair (to myself! ?), I didn’t have much to pump XP into without going outside the character concept. He had flash, flight, energy blast, and invisibility (with the limitation on that last that he couldn’t use any of his other powers while invisible). I added glow when it was introduced to the game, and some regeneration in that big bump, because I was tired of being knocked out right away.

Part of the issue was the power level system for the game. In order to accommodate characters like pre-Crisis Superman without having to use huge numbers, they used a geometric progression. So, a power/skill/attribute of 2 was twice as powerful as 1, 3 was twice as powerful as 2, and so on.

Edited by Nytwyng

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On 8/28/2018 at 1:08 AM, warchild1x said:

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

If you go by the book, they leave it vague on whether absent players should or shouldn't get xp. When I first started 3 years ago, I awarded the same xp to all, simply because it was easier to handle and I was the person concerned people would complain about varying amounts of xp.

 

Now, I award xp based on a number of factors, including: length of time, encounters resolved, whether your obligation came into play, whether you pursued your motivation in a meaningful or significant way, and multiply all of that by 5. So for a player that was in a session for 4 hrs and participated in resolving 3 encounters puts them at 35xp for the session. Another player that played for the same length of time, participated in 4 encounters and pursued their motivation would receive 45xp. If any player does anything especially spectacular in the session (funny, clever, cunning, dramatic) that was especially notable by the gm or other players, they will receive an additional 5xp. Sessions are usually 4-5 hrs with 2-3 encounters. Obviously this is a faster progression rate which is fine when you play once every two weeks to once every month. If you were'nt there, you didn't participate. If you didn't participate, you don't receive xp. Nobody has cared about any variance in xp amounts and only one player has missed a session so far, the same player that does not care about the game and is just there to roll dice and socialize. Newcomers get the same earned xp total as the member of the group with the lowest amount.

 

Also, I developed a houserule for discounting costs of force powers, talents and skills. You find a character (PC or NPC) that is willing to teach you and you make a relevant skill check. Success = 5xp less, success with triumph = free. failure means you still buy the upgrade, at full price, as you spent the time to train it up. This can be done once per in-game week, usually in the downtime during travel across the galaxy. The teacher has to actually have the relevant talent tree/force power/skill rank you are training to acquire.

An example would be if Jim wants to learn the 3rd rank of Lightsaber, he needs to find a teacher with at least 3 ranks in Lightsaber that is willing to teach him. Once he does, he spends the majority of an in-game week and makes a Lightsaber check with a difficulty equal to the skill rank. So that would be 3 difficulty. If he succeeds, it costs 10. If he succeeds with a triumph, it's free. If he fails, he still buys the skill rank at the end of the session, for the full cost. For talents or force powers, its the cost of the upgrade divided by 5. Gives the players a fun way to interact with NPCs or even each other (had players learn skills from each other recently which was pretty neat).

 

It's worked out well so far.

Edited by GroggyGolem

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5 minutes ago, korjik said:

I would start a new game. Adding a new player to an established game frequently all that fair to the new player. Not because they lack XP or not, but because there is an established dynamic that they have to break into. 

True, which is why it's certainly a good idea to make sure the new player has a role that will see them included in the group, not just as a fringe element. I think the social component should be regarded as similarly important as the mechanical parts when it comes to character generation.

6 minutes ago, korjik said:

What I dont understand is how not getting an award is a punishment. XP is an award for playing, not something you should just expect. Not that I think that many players would play a game for long if there were no XP awards. Not getting XP isnt a penalty, but the normal state of things when not playing. 

"XP as an award for playing" again sounds like playing is some kind of a chore that needs an extrinsic reward - and it's just not universally true anyway.
There are RPGs that flat-out don't have character development in a mechanical sense. Some of them focus on one-shots, others just don't have the mechanism. They're still being played - the play's the thing
Then there's the question of dead characters - if XP are a boon to the player, should they be transferred over from character to character or do they lose the "award" for letting a character die?
What about games where I want to start not with newbie characters, but with more experienced ones - knight-level play, as Star Wars calls it. Should that be allowed when the players haven't "earned" those XP?

Seeing XP simply as, as someone else put it, "progression points" just untangles a lot of assumptions. This is the kind of story I'd like to play with, this is how powerful your characters should be for it.

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4 minutes ago, Cifer said:

Seeing XP simply as, as someone else put it, "progression points" just untangles a lot of assumptions. This is the kind of story I'd like to play with, this is how powerful your characters should be for it.

Let’s use TV series as an example—

Using this approach, on CSI, Greg never should have left the DNA lab and become a field CSI. Langston should never have left academia to become a CSI. Both were, to draw a comparison, Knight level characters who joined an existing campaign with characters who had more XP. Over on NCIS, an argument could be made for Bishop being a starting or Knight level character joining a VERY long-running campaign alongside high-XP characters.

If we shift our gaze over to Buffy...there’s Dawn. Defintely a starting level character.

Are there also examples of new characters coming in at levels comparable to the existing characters? Sure. But one of the beauties of this system is that new characters joining an existing group aren’t really at much of a disadvantage.

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20 minutes ago, Nytwyng said:

Are there also examples of new characters coming in at levels comparable to the existing characters? Sure. But one of the beauties of this system is that new characters joining an existing group aren’t really at much of a disadvantage.

Is that so? I've recently played my somewhat kind of experienced politico in a one-shot group with a newbie scoundrel and when it came to social checks, he might as well not have been there.

And for those people who'd prefer not to play Dawn or Bishop and would rather go with Shaw or Toph, I just don't see a reason why one would want to start with half the XP. I mean, what's the point? To make sure the veteran players can feel good about having gotten in on the ground floor?

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17 minutes ago, Cifer said:

Is that so? I've recently played my somewhat kind of experienced politico in a one-shot group with a newbie scoundrel and when it came to social checks, he might as well not have been there.

Yes, that’s so. I’ve seen rolls of one or two green dice succeed when a handful of yellow and green fail.

 

19 minutes ago, Cifer said:

And for those people who'd prefer not to play Dawn or Bishop and would rather go with Shaw or Toph, I just don't see a reason why one would want to start with half the XP. I mean, what's the point? To make sure the veteran players can feel good about having gotten in on the ground floor?

While there’s certainly something to be said for the idea of not just handing the XP to a new player that the existing players earned, if everyone is good with a new character having the same level of XP as the rest, go to town. That’s a bit of a tangent from the original topic, but who am I to talk after ruminating about my old DCH character? ?

At the same time, there’s something to be said for learning what you/your character can do as you go, as opposed to diving in with a plethora of talents.

There’s plenty of ways to deal with introducing new characters to existing campaigns, and none of them are one-size-fits-all. As I said before, how to handle that new character depends largely on the character concept.

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2 minutes ago, Nytwyng said:

Yes, that’s so. I’ve seen rolls of one or two green dice succeed when a handful of yellow and green fail.

And I've seen scrawny elves lift big portcullis when barbarians failed, but add a few "I ignore all the black dice in the world" talents to the handful of yellow and green and the chances get fairly one-sided even in this system.

7 minutes ago, Nytwyng said:

At the same time, there’s something to be said for learning what you/your character can do as you go, as opposed to diving in with a plethora of talents.

That is indeed the only argument I've seen so far that does not rely on either the new player wanting to playing something more low-powered or seeing XP as something precious that must never be given out for free. And it's a pretty good argument - I have seen a few players struggle with effectively building a high-level character. That said, I'd be inclined to implement a catch-up mechanic in that case, perhaps starting off the new player at half XP and allowing them double XP until they're on a level with the others. Call it "having great teachers around" or something.

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8 minutes ago, Cifer said:

And I've seen scrawny elves lift big portcullis when barbarians failed, but add a few "I ignore all the black dice in the world" talents to the handful of yellow and green and the chances get fairly one-sided even in this system.

That is indeed the only argument I've seen so far that does not rely on either the new player wanting to playing something more low-powered or seeing XP as something precious that must never be given out for free. And it's a pretty good argument - I have seen a few players struggle with effectively building a high-level character. That said, I'd be inclined to implement a catch-up mechanic in that case, perhaps starting off the new player at half XP and allowing them double XP until they're on a level with the others. Call it "having great teachers around" or something.

Regarding new characters, I look at it this way:

Not everyone you meet and associate with is on the same (general) level of knowledge and skill. It applies to real life. It applies to PCs as compared to NPCs. And it applies to PCs as compared to one another. It’s why, in more than one campaign, I’ve given an arbitrary amount of post-starting XP (hi, random integer generator, set to select between 150 and 250) for character creation, particularly for characters that are supposed to have been together for some small time before we begin. (Ex: With the possible exceptions of Simon and River, the entire cast of Firefly weren’t starting characters. But, to look at things mechanically - no pun intended - I wouldn’t say Kaylee had as much XP as Mal or Inara. Truthfully, I’d say Jayne or Book probably had the highest XP total as of the first episode...Book just didn’t show it, and one or two of his specs were secret.) I find it adds a bit of variety and verisimilitude to groups like that. And, yes, I get my players’ buy-in when I do that. Not every character is - or necessarily should be - on equal footing, depending on character and campaign concept.

Going back to the main topic of XP to absent players, this may be the best way to explain it: that character wasn’t present when the rest of the group did the Big Amazing Thing. So, that character didn’t have the opportunity to learn anything or improve themselves through those circumstances. So, no XP. Now, if the GM and absent player(s) want to get together and have a session (or some other means of) covering what Other Big Amazing Thing they were doing in the meanwhile, have at it. But, by the same token, the group that did Big Amazing Thing isn’t present and doesn’t get XP for Other Big Amazing Thing.

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1 hour ago, Cifer said:

True, which is why it's certainly a good idea to make sure the new player has a role that will see them included in the group, not just as a fringe element. I think the social component should be regarded as similarly important as the mechanical parts when it comes to character generation.

"XP as an award for playing" again sounds like playing is some kind of a chore that needs an extrinsic reward - and it's just not universally true anyway.
There are RPGs that flat-out don't have character development in a mechanical sense. Some of them focus on one-shots, others just don't have the mechanism. They're still being played - the play's the thing
Then there's the question of dead characters - if XP are a boon to the player, should they be transferred over from character to character or do they lose the "award" for letting a character die?
What about games where I want to start not with newbie characters, but with more experienced ones - knight-level play, as Star Wars calls it. Should that be allowed when the players haven't "earned" those XP?

Seeing XP simply as, as someone else put it, "progression points" just untangles a lot of assumptions. This is the kind of story I'd like to play with, this is how powerful your characters should be for it.

Not actually what I was talking about and no offence, but a bit of a straw man. All I was saying is that I dont see why not getting XP for not playing is considered a punishment. I also very much said that this is the sort of thing that every group has to figure out for themselves, so what I would do is hardly relevant to anyone elses group. Quite frankly the only reason I remember to spend XP is that since I GM like 90% of the time, when I am playing I end up with a couple hours with nothing else to do.

As for a player getting added, to me having a role isnt the problem. If I am adding someone to a game that has been going on for a year, that is a year of backstory that the new player doesnt have. It means there is going to be several months at least before they are up to speed on the backstory of the campaign. Plus, since I sometimes plant hints and hooks years in advance, the established PCs may be in the spotlight as their plot hooks resolve and the new guy doesnt get much till the current stuff resolves. The couple times I have had that happen its bugged me enough to take alot of the fun out of running the game. Making a new campaign prevents that from happening.

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3 hours ago, korjik said:

 XP is an award for playing, not something you should just expect. Not that I think that many players would play a game for long if there were no XP awards. 

 

I think this is too bad. I remember a lot of games in the past where my friends and I would not use XP and just played for the story. We had a D&D game my friend ran that started at 4th level and stayed there. It was a fun game and we were focused on all the other elements of the game. Our rewards were other things besides constant advancement. 

To me progression is just one aspect of the game, and it doesn't have to be the main reason you are playing as a player. 

This game in particular is set up to very much use the advancement as a motivation to keep playing, and constant power building using a mechanic built on choice of colorful options is the nature of the system. But in TTRPGs there are games that don't rely on the power progression angle mechanic and they are fine to play. It can be a lot of fun to have the Horatio Alger effect with characters, but when progression becomes a right, and the XP is a matter of contention, then the wheels are coming off the cart in my opinion. 

Yeah yeah yeah how much XP do I get

Right now is suck, it's transitionary. I'll have fun when I'm at 800 xp. Lets get there fast. 

 

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2 hours ago, GroggyGolem said:

If you go by the book, they leave it vague on whether absent players should or shouldn't get xp. When I first started 3 years ago, I awarded the same xp to all, simply because it was easier to handle and I was the person concerned people would complain about varying amounts of xp.

 

Now, I award xp based on a number of factors, including: length of time, encounters resolved, whether your obligation came into play, whether you pursued your motivation in a meaningful or significant way, and multiply all of that by 5. So for a player that was in a session for 4 hrs and participated in resolving 3 encounters puts them at 35xp for the session. Another player that played for the same length of time, participated in 4 encounters and pursued their motivation would receive 45xp. If any player does anything especially spectacular in the session (funny, clever, cunning, dramatic) that was especially notable by the gm or other players, they will receive an additional 5xp. Sessions are usually 4-5 hrs with 2-3 encounters. Obviously this is a faster progression rate which is fine when you play once every two weeks to once every month. If you were'nt there, you didn't participate. If you didn't participate, you don't receive xp. Nobody has cared about any variance in xp amounts and only one player has missed a session so far, the same player that does not care about the game and is just there to roll dice and socialize. Newcomers get the same earned xp total as the member of the group with the lowest amount.

 

Also, I developed a houserule for discounting costs of force powers, talents and skills. You find a character (PC or NPC) that is willing to teach you and you make a relevant skill check. Success = 5xp less, success with triumph = free. failure means you still buy the upgrade, at full price, as you spent the time to train it up. This can be done once per in-game week, usually in the downtime during travel across the galaxy. The teacher has to actually have the relevant talent tree/force power/skill rank you are training to acquire.

An example would be if Jim wants to learn the 3rd rank of Lightsaber, he needs to find a teacher with at least 3 ranks in Lightsaber that is willing to teach him. Once he does, he spends the majority of an in-game week and makes a Lightsaber check with a difficulty equal to the skill rank. So that would be 3 difficulty. If he succeeds, it costs 10. If he succeeds with a triumph, it's free. If he fails, he still buys the skill rank at the end of the session, for the full cost. For talents or force powers, its the cost of the upgrade divided by 5. Gives the players a fun way to interact with NPCs or even each other (had players learn skills from each other recently which was pretty neat).

 

It's worked out well so far.

I liked the bit about the training house rule Grog. I am gonna borrow it somewhat without the chance for free and I'll make the discount less, but it's a cool idea. 

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4 hours ago, Nytwyng said:

I want to say your group isn’t anomalous, @Vorzakk, because it’s pretty indicative of every single group I’ve ever encountered, across a variety of systems, as player, GM, or observer.

But this thread has me wondering if I have somehow, against all odds, only encountered anomalies.

I was wondering the same thing, but no, I have played at hundreds of tables over the last...oh my that's a lot of years bit of time and I've seen it go both ways, but I've never once seen a player get upset that they didn't receive the same XP sum as another unless there was clear favoritism going on.  I've played at cons, flgs tables, gaming events with kids, but this is a big world.  I wonder if where and when someone got into the hobby has a bearing on this sentiment?  It doesn't appear so at first blush but to be honest I don't have real data on most of you posting in here. 

 

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Wow. Guys. You amaze me with the depth and genuine thoughtfulness of your feedback. Thanks!

I've purposely avoided looking at the thread until now just to see where the discussion would go. You guys did not disappoint.

I definitely like seeing that I'm not alone in giving out xp for absentee players but its cool to see other takes on the situation.  While I don't wholly agree that players who are absent should get less, I understand where you're coming from and as every table is different, if it works for you then go with it.

 

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4 hours ago, Archlyte said:

I liked the bit about the training house rule Grog. I am gonna borrow it somewhat without the chance for free and I'll make the discount less, but it's a cool idea. 

If you want to use the full text to work off of, it's in my houserules document in the compiled resources topic under the section "learning from a teacher". Advantage/threat don't do much except for narrative effects and additional success means you learn more quickly. The main reason I kept it at 5xp discount for success was for convenience, since every talent, skill rank or force power costs some multiple of 5xp.

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7 minutes ago, GroggyGolem said:

If you want to use the full text to work off of, it's in my houserules document in the compiled resources topic under the section "learning from a teacher". Advantage/threat don't do much except for narrative effects and additional success means you learn more quickly. The main reason I kept it at 5xp discount for success was for convenience, since every talent, skill rank or force power costs some multiple of 5xp.

I will check that out, thanks :) I think I might be willing to do the discount on a skill but on the other things as I don't prefer a fast rate of advancement. I do like story-driven advancement though and your system might be something I can use to get that feel. Thanks again

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I give the missing player xp, but only the basic amount, they miss out on any bonus xp obviously.

 

for new characters coming into an existing game I don’t give all the xp to them at the start. I’ll just give them extra each session until they catch up, how much extra would depend on the amount they need to make up. For 400xp I would probably give them 100-150 at creation, then 50 extra each session for five or six sessions.

I do this because it gives the player a chance to get into the character, find their niche in the group, and see what they could spend on to integrate best.

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19 hours ago, Cifer said:

 

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

That's a different question. I'm only arguing for occasional miss, resulting in 15-20 xp difference. Also I stated earlier that I would provide an opportunity to make up for that adventure, so the difference shouldn't build up in time.

 

I completely understand the arguements against me, even if I disagree. But we don't have to do everything the same way. As long as everyone has fun ofc. It's a game afterall.

Edited by Rimsen

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I award a small amount of XP to players who miss sessions.

As other people have mentioned, disparity between XP in this system is not really a problem - because XP doesn't generally affect things like wounds, strain, or even characteristics, the fact is that a 25XP Marauder is still going to be more effective in combat than a 600XP Scholar, and a 25XP Charmer is always going to be better in social situations than a 600XP Heavy.  So one character having less XP is not a big deal.

In addition, a lot of my players are inexperienced roleplayers.  So I like to make sure that if they get new talents or Force Powers or skills, they have a chance to get used to them.  If they miss a session or two, spend it on talents and suddenly have a load of extra stuff to think about, I feel it can be a bit overwhelming for them.  But that's just my take.

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8 hours ago, edwardavern said:

I award a small amount of XP to players who miss sessions.

As other people have mentioned, disparity between XP in this system is not really a problem - because XP doesn't generally affect things like wounds, strain, or even characteristics, the fact is that a 25XP Marauder is still going to be more effective in combat than a 600XP Scholar, and a 25XP Charmer is always going to be better in social situations than a 600XP Heavy.  So one character having less XP is not a big deal.

In addition, a lot of my players are inexperienced roleplayers.  So I like to make sure that if they get new talents or Force Powers or skills, they have a chance to get used to them.  If they miss a session or two, spend it on talents and suddenly have a load of extra stuff to think about, I feel it can be a bit overwhelming for them.  But that's just my take.

For me disparity between the characters is a challenging and fun aspect. I love to see how players work to accomplish their goals with more realistic differences in competence among team members. One time recently they had a character who was a fresh-faced Force Sensitive whom a group of near-criminal adventurers adopted into the group. They were in a combat and the player who was the kid knew he couldn't do much mechanically so he played it like someone seeing combat for the first time and the most significant thing he did was run a reload over to a character who was pinned down, but the scene was awesome. The thing that powered it was the player with the low XP character did not fall to the temptations of the bu**hurt.

Edited by Archlyte

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Disparity can be a great tool for a GM that is willing to deal with it. This one Star Wars D20 Saga game there were two players. One played an experienced Jedi, level 9 or 10 I believe. The other player also wanted to play a Jedi. Did the GM allow the second player to build a level 9 Jedi as well?

Of course not. Both players were willing to explore an interesting proposal. The second player made a level 1 Jedi, and that character was then assigned as a padawan to the experienced Jedi. in combat, the padawan was engaged by the mooks while the master took out the elite opponents, and out of combat there was a whole lot of inter-player interaction as the master taught the padawan. It worked, until such time where the master fell due to a couple of unlucky rolls (more like lucky, open rolls on the GM's side...), and the padawan had his own mooks and the (weakened, but still) elite opponent, and subsequently refused to surrender.

And that was in a system where difference in level often mattered a lot.

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