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warchild1x

XP for Missing Players?

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I understand that some of y'all are not surprised this debate has gone this many pages.

 

Well I sure as heck am!

 

I'm surprised that there are folks who would consider anything other than their players' personal feelings when making the call to give out XP for missed sessions.

I'm surprised that someone would use a rulebook reference (other than to "Rule Zero") in making this decision.

I'm surprised how political this is getting (though I shouldn't be).

I'm surprised that there are folks who even think there's a debate here.

Do.  What.  Makes.  Your.  Group.  Happy.

 

What makes my group happy is equity, not de jure fairness.  Once a character comes back in, I give them that night's session x2 and continue doubling their XP gain until that catches them up to the rest of the group.

 

But, man, y'all, this is starting to read like that classic bodybuilding forum thread about working out every other day.

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2 hours ago, BrickSteelhead said:

I understand that some of y'all are not surprised this debate has gone this many pages.

 

Well I sure as heck am!

 

I'm surprised that there are folks who would consider anything other than their players' personal feelings when making the call to give out XP for missed sessions.

I'm surprised that someone would use a rulebook reference (other than to "Rule Zero") in making this decision.

I'm surprised how political this is getting (though I shouldn't be).

I'm surprised that there are folks who even think there's a debate here.

Do.  What.  Makes.  Your.  Group.  Happy.

 

What makes my group happy is equity, not de jure fairness.  Once a character comes back in, I give them that night's session x2 and continue doubling their XP gain until that catches them up to the rest of the group.

 

But, man, y'all, this is starting to read like that classic bodybuilding forum thread about working out every other day.

I don't feel any tension in seeing different views posted and in reading and responding to them. I thought that was kind of the point here was to talk about this stuff and explore ideas. I may state what I will do or want to do but I have learned a lot from these forums and have changed my mind on a lot of things. 

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9 hours ago, pnewman15 said:

Yes, thank you for providing additional evidence for my statements. Doing it the way the rules specify prevents seething rage and resentment over unfairness when those who do not show up and who do nothing receive the same rewards as those who do show up and also prevent seething hatred of the cheating GM who has dared to alter the rules (at least without mentioning this before the campaign started). Thus it is clearly more fun.
 

Seething rage? Seething hatred? It's a game. Get mature players (including the GM) or walk away. BTW, doing the latter can be a growing experience (and certainly worth XP even when you're not at the session).

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@Archlyte, nothing wrong in being exposed to different ideas and opinions. Learning something new every day. Possibly often agreeing to disagree, and sometimes even having your own views put into new lights; adjusting them. Sometimes, however, even the adjusted gets adjusted again.

3 hours ago, BrickSteelhead said:

I'm surprised that there are folks who would consider anything other than their players' personal feelings when making the call to give out XP for missed sessions.

At the risk of stepping way out off topic, some personal feelings should always be respected. I never have **** play an important part of any story, if I mention it at all. In some fantasy campaigns set during war time it is assumed an invading army would stoop to certain lows, but never really brought up (seriously, read the history of Tanthalas, or Tanis Half-Elven, in the Dragonlance series if you hadn't; he isn't a Love-Child, so we know some characters are written with a background that involves unspeakable things). When a player insists on being there, at the table, to get his mind off things after suffering a death in the family, we try to wedge in a really light-hearted session with as little death as possible. Not primarily intended to cheer him up, but also not to press home the feeling of mortality. He had enough of that already.

However, some personal feelings stem from stuff like egoism, entitlement, or misinformation and miscommunication. Oddly fitting analogy; in a lot of schools in my area nowadays every child is a winner. They all get a medal, lovingly crafted by their teacher or bought with school funds, for participating in a sports event day, not just for winning first, second, or even third place. Then they enter real life, get a job, and their employer insists they perform better, for they are lacking (slacking? As they are winners anyways, regardless of efforts?). Suddenly, they're no winner anymore, and they crack, their personal feelings hurt, because they were not prepared. There's a reason why the words 'slacking' and 'lacking' look so much alike, I guess. I noticed a lot of people nowadays get offended easily. I feel for the player who skips a session because of a funeral. I laugh at the player who feels entitled to XP, after not getting any for not attending 'because he didn't feel like coming to play, and wanted to play an online game instead', only thinking of noticing the other players about that an hour after the sesion would have started! Who was inconsiderate in the first place?

Nowadays, especially when at the table with new players (as opposed to starting a new campaign with friends I've know for almost my entire life), I run through Session Zero first. What is, and what isn't desirable? Is something inappropriate to somebody? We even discuss dietary needs, as often we play, eat together, and play on for a time.

3 hours ago, BrickSteelhead said:

I'm surprised that someone would use a rulebook reference (other than to "Rule Zero") in making this decision.

I'm not. You may agree or disagree. But the rule is there. Somebody asked for written proof, and it is given (interpretations of definitions aside) page-referenced and all. Appearently, the designers felt the need to put it there; Rule Zero isn't the only rule in the book. Some groups ignore some of the other rules, as they disagree with them, other people love the R.A.W. of it, as it provides them with a means to not get into any discussions. "Just R.T.F.M." is not something I usually ascribe to, but at times it can be a time saver. Especially in those times where you haven't had the time to get to know those personal feelings of your (new?) players yet. One of the reasons I think not just Rule Zero is so important, but Session Zero as well.

3 hours ago, BrickSteelhead said:

I'm surprised how political this is getting (though I shouldn't be).

I'm not. But I agree that it shouldn't be. Next thing you know, whether handing out XP to non-attendees or not is a top-level decission by Trump in the White House. Please, Godess, no! ?

3 hours ago, BrickSteelhead said:

I'm surprised that there are folks who even think there's a debate here.

Appearently, those seven pages of debate disagree with you. ?

3 hours ago, BrickSteelhead said:

Do.  What.  Makes.  Your.  Group.  Happy.

Agree. I guess. Not sure entirely. If and when, during Session Zero, we all agree to not provide XP to the characters of players that skipped a session - for whatever reason! - and some twenty sessions into the campaign one player is threatening to rage-quit because he feels he is entitled to those XP from a session he skipped because of circumstances outside his control, then what? If it makes the group happy to not have the player rage-quit as his character is popular, and central to the current plot line, and what not, should he get the XP? Even if this goes against previously made agreements, and might hurt the feelings of other players who weren't given XP earlier, but who were also not threatening to rage-quit over that?

 

Needs of the many, needs of the few, needs of the one.

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On 8/27/2018 at 11:08 PM, warchild1x said:

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

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

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

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

 

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

I say it depends on the group, in my group of dedicated players that meets once a month to once every 2 months and we need doodle pools to pick the date that works for the most people, shorting anyone who can't make the date which works best for the most people is unfairly punitive.

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7 hours ago, 2P51 said:

Properly socialized grown adults are in charge of checking their own rage and resentment, not me the GM or the CRB.

Hiding, yes. Not feeling, no. The ones who don't feel things are not "properly socialized" they are "severely repressed."

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6 hours ago, Archlyte said:

Just out of curiosity, do you use any house rules? Also, can you tell me if you are you coming at this from a Gm or Player mindset (which do you do more often)? 

I don't give XP to absent players, so I am not really wondering about that issue as far as where you stand. I am wondering about when you would consider a house rule (if ever) to be ok and how must it be presented? 

In general I DM much more. For Star Wars I have played much more.

I do not use house rules as a DM. I do not like it when DM's use house rules. I believe that the implied social contract of a game is that we will play by the rules. Changing them is no more acceptable in an RPG than it would be in a board game.

Suppose someone asked you to play chess but they said that they would not use the bishops because they were an atheist, and that they would not use the Kings and the Queens because they don't believe in monarchy?
 

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31 minutes ago, pnewman15 said:

Hiding, yes. Not feeling, no. The ones who don't feel things are not "properly socialized" they are "severely repressed."

Trolling gibberish. Thread reported for closure. 8 year old avatar with less than 100 posts reported for trolling.

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1 hour ago, 2P51 said:

Trolling gibberish. Thread reported for closure. 8 year old avatar with less than 100 posts reported for trolling.

I think what he said made a lot of sense, and in terms of who's trolling, well "mister pot calling mister kettle"

Edited by EliasWindrider

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2 hours ago, pnewman15 said:

In general I DM much more. For Star Wars I have played much more.

I do not use house rules as a DM. I do not like it when DM's use house rules. I believe that the implied social contract of a game is that we will play by the rules. Changing them is no more acceptable in an RPG than it would be in a board game.

Suppose someone asked you to play chess but they said that they would not use the bishops because they were an atheist, and that they would not use the Kings and the Queens because they don't believe in monarchy?
 

Well I might not want to play, but of course those reasons wouldn't be compelling to me. I have never seen anyone as inflexible as you seem to be on house rules before, but I find that very interesting. Thank you for the reply. 

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6 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

I have never seen anyone as inflexible as you seem to be on house rules before, but I find that very interesting.

On another gaming related forum, I have. And oddly, it seems rather refreshing at times (though not always). Going back to the basics, back to R.A.W. with page numbered quotes, also means one might start to see ones own 'faults' and interpretations. I have seen games that rounded fractions up in one edition, and then rounded fractions down in the next. often, the R.A.W. players are the ones that are able to point out such differences. Stuff most people take for granted, being used to an older edition of a game.

it does make me wonder why somebody becomes hellbent on R.A.W. gaming? The other forum I mentioned is about Warhammer 40.000 (GW in general, actually), and the fellow there often seems to want to prove how badly the rules are written, and how the game cannot actually be played if the rules are followed to the letter. One of his examples is, that assault weapons have a rule that states they are -1 to hit with after the models armed with them has made an 'Advance Move'. The rule doesn't explicitly permit using the weapon after an Advance Move, it just mentions being at -1 to hit. Referring back to the base rules, no weapon can be fired by a model after making an Advance Move. The rules, being a permissive set, tell you what you can (or must) do. You must apply a -1 to your to hit rolls. However, you cannot make to hit rolls, as no rule is given allowing you to do so. That sort of R.A.W. stuff.

When mentioning the 'implied social contract of the game', @pnewman15 doesn't strike me as somebody who wants to prove something about this system, but who just wants everybody to be on the same page about the rules. And what can be easier to get that book, show a page reference where the rule is printed, for all to see and read, and stick to that?

But, wondering about that now, what happens when @pnewman15 has a rulebook, and decides to stick with it, and then a new player comes along with a second printing that has a (non-erratum) change in it? The 'same book', the old one didn't get an erratum, yet there is a difference in the write-up of a rule. Curious, for the sake of the discussion.

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I think Pg. V of the rulebook says "your #1 job is to make sure everyone has a good time. Fun first, rules 2nd." There is also some talk about thinking on your feet and adjusting the story to what happens. That sort of thing would seem to describe the GM job as involving interpreting situations using the rules as a secondary source of procedure.    

I feel it's important to note that these rules didn't come down from the heavens or arrive on a spaceship from a more advanced society. The guys who wrote the rules get up for work and tie their shoes like the rest of us.

I think that to spring house rules on someone without their knowledge or approval is not a good thing to do, and it would constitute a breach of the social contract. But I would also note that if that's enough reason to move on then you've done the right thing for yourself and the game by doing so, assuming of course that you haven't the necessary amount of forbearance for the house rules. 

Sometimes though it's best to try something and see if it's crap before just dismissing it. I have learned that many of the RAW systems are fantastically well designed just by seeing alternate ways of doing it tried. 

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12 hours ago, pnewman15 said:

Suppose someone asked you to play chess but they said that they would not use the bishops because they were an atheist, and that they would not use the Kings and the Queens because they don't believe in monarchy?
 

Your friends sound like jerks. 

I see the value of strict adherence in organized play, but a touch of cheese and a touch of fudge have always kept my table moving.  If this were a perfect simulation then we could expect RAW to cover all circumstances.  It is not. 

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9 hours ago, Archlyte said:

 

I think Pg. V of the rulebook says "your #1 job is to make sure everyone has a good time. Fun first, rules 2nd." There is also some talk about thinking on your feet and adjusting the story to what happens. That sort of thing would seem to describe the GM job as involving interpreting situations using the rules as a secondary source of procedure.    

I'm a rules-guy. I like to play other board-games too and usually I'm the one who knows the rulebook by heart (not infallible, mind you), but I like to know it well, and precisely. I came from TCG background, where knowing semantics and game mechanics means you have an edge in building, finding new comboes, more efficient plays. Similar in strategic board games, where the rules are extensive (Rebellion, Armada, Civilization being my favs).

In Edge, I maintain the samr mindset, because I'm used to it. I like to prepare a lot, reading the books, just to look up something csme in my mind and didn't know how it would played out by rules. Rules give frame to the game. They are (more or less -dependent on interpretation obv.) equal for both party. 

However as a GM, I really try my best everyone can have his/her fun. I stick to the rules, when I know them, and I interpret them on scene, when don't. I don't want to search for an outlying, once in a lifetime example, rather rule it on scene, and researching later. 

But always, always, rule it after I checked it, so my players have their consistency. (I let it last time, but from now on... You get it)

So where I'm heading is, I think players need to feel the games rules are a solid foundation for a game, not something that is bendable until you make it your way, because that's a straight way to chaos and arguing, which ruins everything in the end.

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12 minutes ago, Rimsen said:

So where I'm heading is, I think players need to feel the games rules are a solid foundation for a game, not something that is bendable until you make it your way, because that's a straight way to chaos and arguing, which ruins everything in the end.

But what if chaos and arguing are the narrative?

?

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I noticed that earlier in the thread XP was being handed out to other posters, but I feel I need to protest because I don't think they were in the thread long enough to receive those awards. Also, in order to get everyone back on level I'm giving 2000 XP to anyone not in this thread :)

 

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3 hours ago, Rimsen said:

I'm a rules-guy. I like to play other board-games too and usually I'm the one who knows the rulebook by heart (not infallible, mind you), but I like to know it well, and precisely. I came from TCG background, where knowing semantics and game mechanics means you have an edge in building, finding new comboes, more efficient plays. Similar in strategic board games, where the rules are extensive (Rebellion, Armada, Civilization being my favs).

In Edge, I maintain the samr mindset, because I'm used to it. I like to prepare a lot, reading the books, just to look up something csme in my mind and didn't know how it would played out by rules. Rules give frame to the game. They are (more or less -dependent on interpretation obv.) equal for both party. 

However as a GM, I really try my best everyone can have his/her fun. I stick to the rules, when I know them, and I interpret them on scene, when don't. I don't want to search for an outlying, once in a lifetime example, rather rule it on scene, and researching later. 

But always, always, rule it after I checked it, so my players have their consistency. (I let it last time, but from now on... You get it)

So where I'm heading is, I think players need to feel the games rules are a solid foundation for a game, not something that is bendable until you make it your way, because that's a straight way to chaos and arguing, which ruins everything in the end.

I think what you are saying makes sense, but I will say that in the old school TTRPGs there was not comprehensive rules for how to do everything in the game. The way things were handled in those old games was with Rulings, not Rules. I like rules and the consistency they bring, but the dark side of rules is actually that same thing: the expectation of consistency. 

Sometimes in life stuff happens in a way you don't expect, and we are all able to deal with that. Now I am not talking about letting go of something and having it drop up to the ceiling, but just things working out different than you thought. Old school players were much more tolerant of this than new school. I notice that if you have a situation that calls for the result to deviate from the expected result the New School player will balk: That's not in the Rule Book

Sometimes things should happen differently, and a good GM provides reliable physics but varying events and outcomes. To the rigid player these differences in what happens are perceived as 'just cheating.' But after so many years of these games I really appreciate when a Gm can bend things a bit and give a unique outcome to the players. Sometimes the anger over a ruling going against the player is just the irritation at an expectation not being realized, but I also think in its more insidious form it's the player rebelling against the GM's role. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Archlyte said:

Sometimes things should happen differently, and a good GM provides reliable physics but varying events and outcomes. To the rigid player these differences in what happens are perceived as 'just cheating.' But after so many years of these games I really appreciate when a Gm can bend things a bit and give a unique outcome to the players. Sometimes the anger over a ruling going against the player is just the irritation at an expectation not being realized, but I also think in its more insidious form it's the player rebelling against the GM's role.

Partially quoted for truth. I, too, think that players and GMs being too rigid in the game rules of games so complex such as a roleplaying game tend to take away fro fun sometimes. And I can clearly understand how a very rigid approach to (competitive?) gaming, such as in Card Games like Magic the Gathering, is sometimes needed as well. Being flexible as a GM, in a game that thrives on such flexibility, is a (rare?) asset. I love a consistent world in an RPG more than a consistent rules set, when those rules get in the way of fun.

However, once there is a rules debate at the table that threatens to stop the game from being fun, the GM should be able to say (regardless Rule Zero...) "this is how we'll do this in-game for now. At the end of the session we'll look it up in the rules, bedate unclarities, and that will be final from then on." Nothing wrong with that at all. Especially when things can be found in the rules.

 

Back to the topic of "XP for Missing Players"...

Is there a rule about this? That's debatable. There is no written rule that explicitly says "When a player skips a session, his or her character does not get the XP awarded for that session." On the other hand, so many things are implied yet never actually mentioned in the rules, so let's have an in-depth look at what the rules do say?

 

I have Age of Rebellion Core here, while typing this. Chapter The Game Master, page 316, heading Awarding Experience Points.

"The GM should award experience points after every session". That's is rather clear. Of course, in my opinion the word 'should' is weaker than the word 'must' would have been. 'Should' implies that it doesn't always go as planned. it sounds more like a guideline than an actual rule.

"The amount  awarded is typically 10 XP per player character for a session of two or three major encounters and a handful of minor ones." I actually think this is an unclear rule. Perhaps it stems from the fact that English isn't my native language, but hear me out on this. 10 XP per player character implies that each player character adds 10 XP tot the total award each character gets. That would mean that each player character gets 30 XP when there are 3 player characters; if there were five player characters, each character receives 50 XP. I know this was probably not intended, and I have never, ever seen a GM hand out XP like this. When we say "per person attending", things tend to add up fast, and transcribed from my native language, the (probably, assumedly?) intended rule could have been: "The amount awarded to each player character individually is typically 10 XP, for a session of... ...". Do you see the difference? But language barriers and interpretation aside, another gem here is mention of handing out XP per player character. What if the player didn't attend the session, but his character sheet was present, and the stats were used (so the player character participated in the story and actually impacted the results of the session)? On the other hand, what if the session started a new adventure, and neither player, nor her player character sheet were there, the session started, and finished, without the player character affecting the session in any way? Nothing about missing players, just about player characters receiving the rewards.

"An additional 5 XP bonus may be generated for reaching key milestones or completing story arcs." Now, my best guess is, that this bonus is added to the 10 XP each player character receives for a full session. But it doesn't actually say so. Again, intention and actual wording don't seem to match. In one very restrictive interpretation, the GM adds 5 XP to the total of the session, and it would appear to be up to the players to divide these amongst themselves? Folly, I know. But "At the GM's discretion, each player character gets an additional 5 XP for reaching... ..." might have been just a tad less open to debate.

"Playing to a PC's Motivation also grants 5 XP per session at the GM's discretion." Now it gets interesting. Language differences aside, we can safely assume this to be for each player character individually. If the player missed the session, and the character sheet was only used to roll a few checks, how would the part of playing to a PC's Motivation apply? If the PC's Motivation is Justice (AoR, Specific Beliefs page 105), and the player wasn't present but another player rolled some dice to avenge the PC's murdered parents, would the PC get those 5 XP? So, again, the rules have the GM award XP to the player character, and not to the player. So the player may have skipped the session, but if the player characte was still a part of the story, and other players and the GM keep that in mind, the player character might still get the rewards, right?

"The GM may consider rewarding an extra point or two of XP for exceptional roleplaying or highly clever thinking." This part of the text becomes a bit unclear again. To me, the roleplaying, and the clever thinking are done by the players. As they portray the characters. but should the PC's own player roleplay exceptionally? Or think highly cleverly? If and when I skip a session for whatever good or bad reason, yet my character sheet is present at thesession, and one of my fellow players says something along the lines of : "Xcapobl's character has Knowledge (Warfare) and Intellect X and ranks Y. Couldn't his character come up with a battle plan to include unit Z in a distraction so the player characters can infiltrate the base along entry point W?" I wasn't there myself. But here was definately some clever thinking, that allowed my PC to contribute to the success of the story, possibly reaching a key milestone or completing a story arc in the process.

 

In hindsight, after making this in-depth analysis, I would say that, by R.A.W., the player character should get XP even if the player wasn't attending the session.

As long as the player character contributed to the (progress of the) story!

But again, your mileage may vary, and your opinion may as well. Also, this analysis is based on my (first printing?) Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook. not on a second or third printing that may have different text for whatever reason, not on a Force and Destiny Core Rulebook that came out later and could have textual changes to prevent misinterpretation, and certainly not based on information from any completely different game system, that might have its own way of describing how XP (or other progression) is handled.

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