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XP for Missing Players?

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3 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

Ok @Xcapobl you got me I was off topic :) 

I like the Old School game tradition of giving XP mainly for treasure but there isn't any way to do that for this game that I can think of that wouldn't wreck the feel. 

You might have been off topic, but at least it was related to the topic at hand, in my opinion. You weren't mentioning a spring break with a trip to a sunny tropical island. Or one of the many thousands of other things that would have been totally unrelated. ?

XP For treasure. I recall the old Middle-Earth Role Play system from I.C.E. Those rules literally mentioned 1 XP (I believe, might have been 2 XP) for each mile traveled in unknown territory. Again, as long as the character made the trip, the character would be entitled to the XP for traveling through new lands. Just walking about was a new experience, literally. One could gain character levels by simply traveling the lands and avoiding encounters with monsters and NPCs.

My analysis of the Awarding Experience Rules, them focusing mostly on the player characters as opposed to the players' activity at the table, and your mentioning XP for treasure made me think about MERP again.

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15 hours ago, Xcapobl said:

You might have been off topic, but at least it was related to the topic at hand, in my opinion. You weren't mentioning a spring break with a trip to a sunny tropical island. Or one of the many thousands of other things that would have been totally unrelated. ?

XP For treasure. I recall the old Middle-Earth Role Play system from I.C.E. Those rules literally mentioned 1 XP (I believe, might have been 2 XP) for each mile traveled in unknown territory. Again, as long as the character made the trip, the character would be entitled to the XP for traveling through new lands. Just walking about was a new experience, literally. One could gain character levels by simply traveling the lands and avoiding encounters with monsters and NPCs.

My analysis of the Awarding Experience Rules, them focusing mostly on the player characters as opposed to the players' activity at the table, and your mentioning XP for treasure made me think about MERP again.

Yeah and it's quite true that it is a reinforcer to get XP, and if you turn that into something to incentivize certain behaviors you will see those behaviors increase. 

I think that the punishment argument is a bit weak though as the player will usually be amenable in my experience to losing XP for a session missed. The balance of the party thing is important if you run balanced encounters, but since I don't do that it's not a concern for me. 

I think the XP for new experiences thing makes sense, I also like the RuneQuest principle of getting XP for the skills you use during the session, particularly for any Fumbles. 

The idea of XP just to maintain a schedule of advancement is both cool and repellent to me at the same time. On the one hand it has certain mechanical elegance to it. Well we all know everyone is mainly here for advancement so let's just have a schedule and be done with it.

On the other hand the idea of playing a pen & paper game with your eyes permanently downrange bums me out.  

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21 hours ago, Xcapobl said:

I recall the old Middle-Earth Role Play system from I.C.E. Those rules literally mentioned 1 XP (I believe, might have been 2 XP) for each mile traveled in unknown territory. Again, as long as the character made the trip, the character would be entitled to the XP for traveling through new lands. Just walking about was a new experience, literally. One could gain character levels by simply traveling the lands and avoiding encounters with monsters and NPCs.

They used the same XP awards for traveling in Rolemaster and Spacemaster too. The award got smaller the more times you made a particular trip, so you learn the most the first time. Where it got really crazy was that you got full XP for travel in vehicles too (at least unless there was some hidden errata). While a trip on a wagon in Rolemaster didn't break this, in Spacemaster you gained a few levels the first time you orbited your home planet and then went to near-infinite level with any FTL travel.

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12 hours ago, HappyDaze said:

They used the same XP awards for traveling in Rolemaster and Spacemaster too. The award got smaller the more times you made a particular trip, so you learn the most the first time. Where it got really crazy was that you got full XP for travel in vehicles too (at least unless there was some hidden errata). While a trip on a wagon in Rolemaster didn't break this, in Spacemaster you gained a few levels the first time you orbited your home planet and then went to near-infinite level with any FTL travel.

Gotta luv them Old Times RPG systems!

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Wow, what a rollercoaster read this thread has been! 

Well, I'll throw my hat in the ring if no one minds. 

 

XP gain for absent players

In any system where xp is awarded out of play, I would generally err towards awarding xp to the team as a whole, and so also to absent players. Though I quite like to award bonus xp at the end of a scenario to worthy players but do this as a fun little thing with other players input. 

I do this as, as a player, I just find it nicer if the whole team advances together. Also, I will admit that, though I'd never complain about it or let it really bother me, I have felt the base sour feeling of being penalised by missing xp for a missed session. And so I treat others as I would like to be treated. Its really the only thing I'd house rule on generally speaking. 

However, with SWRPG, I award xp at the end of the episode or scenario, so a player missing a session never even comes up. It's more about what the team achieved in the episode. 

Use of the word Punishment

I saw some bitter back and forth on this topic and perhaps I'm a fool for opening my mouth, so to speak but... 

I agree that by the exact definition, missing xp for a missed session is not a punishment. But is do think it is closer to a punishment than many analogies used: As XP is a purely notional currency entirely siloed within the economy of the game you play as a group. Therefore, unlike a specific dessert at a missed meal, or a promotional offer at a convention, the actual distribution of XP is only determined by 1 thing. The GM. Ultimately, the GM makes a judgement call to award XP. Any amount of time can pass but xp will never go off, never get eaten and never run out of stock or be redistributed elsewhere in the economy.

Regardless, I think that whether it fits the actual definition is entirely academic. What actually matters is that it is close enough that it can feel like a punishment. Or even just that you are missing out. And even if that's not the reason you play, and even if you're having a great time, I know from experience that can be a little demoralising. 

It's probably not enough to cause most people to leave a group but, I guess what a lot of people here are saying just "why do something negative when you can do something positive?" 

I think it's a fair point (obviously) when I don't think it creates any mechanical issue - as the assignment of XP is in most games an external process.

 

However, I'd certainly never have sour grapes at the prospect of missing xp for a missing a session and I have only ever experienced one player who ever made a fuss.

So as I always seem to land on, ultimately, it's down to the group and what's the most fun for you. 

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1 hour ago, SanguineAngel said:

Wow, what a rollercoaster read this thread has been! 

Well, I'll throw my hat in the ring if no one minds. 

 

XP gain for absent players

In any system where xp is awarded out of play, I would generally err towards awarding xp to the team as a whole, and so also to absent players. Though I quite like to award bonus xp at the end of a scenario to worthy players but do this as a fun little thing with other players input. 

I do this as, as a player, I just find it nicer if the whole team advances together. Also, I will admit that, though I'd never complain about it or let it really bother me, I have felt the base sour feeling of being penalised by missing xp for a missed session. And so I treat others as I would like to be treated. Its really the only thing I'd house rule on generally speaking. 

However, with SWRPG, I award xp at the end of the episode or scenario, so a player missing a session never even comes up. It's more about what the team achieved in the episode. 

Use of the word Punishment

I saw some bitter back and forth on this topic and perhaps I'm a fool for opening my mouth, so to speak but... 

I agree that by the exact definition, missing xp for a missed session is not a punishment. But is do think it is closer to a punishment than many analogies used: As XP is a purely notional currency entirely siloed within the economy of the game you play as a group. Therefore, unlike a specific dessert at a missed meal, or a promotional offer at a convention, the actual distribution of XP is only determined by 1 thing. The GM. Ultimately, the GM makes a judgement call to award XP. Any amount of time can pass but xp will never go off, never get eaten and never run out of stock or be redistributed elsewhere in the economy.

Regardless, I think that whether it fits the actual definition is entirely academic. What actually matters is that it is close enough that it can feel like a punishment. Or even just that you are missing out. And even if that's not the reason you play, and even if you're having a great time, I know from experience that can be a little demoralising. 

It's probably not enough to cause most people to leave a group but, I guess what a lot of people here are saying just "why do something negative when you can do something positive?" 

I think it's a fair point (obviously) when I don't think it creates any mechanical issue - as the assignment of XP is in most games an external process.

 

However, I'd certainly never have sour grapes at the prospect of missing xp for a missing a session and I have only ever experienced one player who ever made a fuss.

So as I always seem to land on, ultimately, it's down to the group and what's the most fun for you. 

 

Well I think that it's an interesting point you make about the XP being currency of the Land. This always brings me back to the same question:

Are people by and large playing the game just for XP? Just for mechanical progression?

If not, what is the proportion? How much of why you play is your XP award and ability to apply it to your character sheet?

Story, Exploration, Finding Loot, Defeating Enemies, Furthering a Cause, etc. How much do these things weigh in the game if when you miss your 15-20 XP for a session you actually feel demonstrably bad about it? 

Are the games also kind of short in duration on average so that one session's worth of XP is a real blow to the overall progression profile of the character?

Player X misses a session because his Boss won't let him work the day shift on game night, so he has to miss the session. The next session the other characters have a new talent or maybe have gotten closer to a specialization or bought one. In the lives of the characters themselves, this seems like it would be a negligible change given the scale of what they average 800 XP character experiences in capability growth over that average lifespan. So it's purely a meta phenomenon that is not even an objection based on a significant loss of power in comparison to the group. It seems like an occasion to choose to feel bad about something that is eminently ignorable and minor. 

If you are giving power just to maintain a schedule of advancement then you really should just give it to the missing people as well cause the XP is completely disconnected with anything that has happened in play. The only time it would make sense to deny XP is if it is actually connected to events in game. If XP is tied to events or situations in game but you award it for the missing people then it's not the end of the world obviously, but it's an inconsistency (with all that that entails minor or no).

 

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18 hours ago, SanguineAngel said:

Use of the word Punishment

 

It's probably not enough to cause most people to leave a group but, I guess what a lot of people here are saying just "why do something negative when you can do something positive?" 

I get you here,  I think the fact that it is even being framed negatively speaks to the inherent issue regarding participation rewards and that it's a cultural issue among humans and not necessarily a problem we can solve with game mechanics.  It's preposterous to me that a person would get upset that they didn't get XP as much as it is preposterous to me to be mad that I am not accumulating points in the game I am not presently playing on my iPhone. 

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OKay to answer the poll.

As a player it is very important for me to received XP for a character so that the character can experience growth and improvement.

At the same time, it is equally important for me to have a good gaming experience and I value story progression and plot advancement.

So for me its about 50%/50% split between getting the XP & having a fun game to play.

 

At one point, I did have a campaign that I was involved with where the GM passed out zero XP so the characters all remained completely static and never improved.  However, the characters in question were sufficiently capable, that the GM did so out of self defense.  And that GM can be forgiven because he had a good story to facilitate.

 

The other issue to keep in mind that as a player, when the GM awards XP to an undeserving player I DO resent the other player for receiving an undeserved benefit.

It is common counsel among leadership and management circles that providing reward to someone who is undeserving, will negatively affect the morale of any group.

As a case in point, we had a game (Not Star Wars Not FFG) where one of the players started grandstanding in pursuit of the current objective, but did so with such persistent ineptitude that they shut off that adventure line of opportunity.

Meanwhile, my character kept to the periphery, and using class and character specific skills actually salvaged the mission and allowed that plot line to be developed.

The spotlight hog was awarded bonus XP for that session for the comedic series of errors that ensued for 'amusing the GM.'  (It may have also been awarded in part because the character took some very serious hits (not damage)).

But my character got nothing for singlehandedly salvaging the disaster?  And getting the group back on track?

Yep, I had resentment at that decision.

But I got my revenge!  The next session, spotlight hog got his character killed for stupidity.  Unfortunately, they also got other members of the party killed with them.  Okay so not revenge, per se.  Karma?

 

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58 minutes ago, Mark Caliber said:

OKay to answer the poll.

As a player it is very important for me to received XP for a character so that the character can experience growth and improvement.

At the same time, it is equally important for me to have a good gaming experience and I value story progression and plot advancement.

So for me its about 50%/50% split between getting the XP & having a fun game to play.

 

At one point, I did have a campaign that I was involved with where the GM passed out zero XP so the characters all remained completely static and never improved.  However, the characters in question were sufficiently capable, that the GM did so out of self defense.  And that GM can be forgiven because he had a good story to facilitate.

 

The other issue to keep in mind that as a player, when the GM awards XP to an undeserving player I DO resent the other player for receiving an undeserved benefit.

It is common counsel among leadership and management circles that providing reward to someone who is undeserving, will negatively affect the morale of any group.

As a case in point, we had a game (Not Star Wars Not FFG) where one of the players started grandstanding in pursuit of the current objective, but did so with such persistent ineptitude that they shut off that adventure line of opportunity.

Meanwhile, my character kept to the periphery, and using class and character specific skills actually salvaged the mission and allowed that plot line to be developed.

The spotlight hog was awarded bonus XP for that session for the comedic series of errors that ensued for 'amusing the GM.'  (It may have also been awarded in part because the character took some very serious hits (not damage)).

But my character got nothing for singlehandedly salvaging the disaster?  And getting the group back on track?

Yep, I had resentment at that decision.

But I got my revenge!  The next session, spotlight hog got his character killed for stupidity.  Unfortunately, they also got other members of the party killed with them.  Okay so not revenge, per se.  Karma?

 

Yeah I have played in games with no mechanical progression or very little and I didn't require therapy or medical attention afterward. It's an aspect of play to me, not THE reason to play. It's nice to play with the toys of the boxes further down the tree but to me the lives of the characters are far more important than their meta skeleton of numbers and capabilities. You can have a story arc and have that be a mode of progression, or you can use resources and loot as a progression. 

If you like the progression play then cool. 

But there are other ways to play a campaign without doing the thing where after a few months the characters ride around on clouds and throw lightning bolts at mortals. 

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1 hour ago, Archlyte said:

Yeah I have played in games with no mechanical progression or very little and I didn't require therapy or medical attention afterward. It's an aspect of play to me, not THE reason to play. It's nice to play with the toys of the boxes further down the tree but to me the lives of the characters are far more important than their meta skeleton of numbers and capabilities. You can have a story arc and have that be a mode of progression, or you can use resources and loot as a progression. 

If you like the progression play then cool. 

But there are other ways to play a campaign without doing the thing where after a few months the characters ride around on clouds and throw lightning bolts at mortals. 

I've always liked being on a curve.  Faster XP in the beginning and slowing down once you've had a couple of hundred XP under the belt.  That way I can establish my character's core abilities and then build from there.

I also think I would be annoyed if I did most of the heavy lifting on the plot, kept the group on track for a session, but another player spent the session hamming it up with outlandish actions that were constantly threatening to derail everything and then they received a bonus for it.  Unless that's the style of game everyone is going for though.  If not, I would consider starting to dial back and let the plot crash a little, or perhaps just joining it.  After all, if that is what the GM is rewarding players for, then why not.

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This is pretty much a hypothetical situation to me, as among the people I play with, we book a date when everyone can make it, and if someone has to cancel last minute, the rest of might get together anyway and do something else. If someone has to take an extended hiatus from a campaign, their character is written out or we put the campaign on hiatus until they get back. There's, after all, always something else we want to try, and usually someone else willing to jump in if we need to fill out that group.

Of course, it's happened that some has had to cancel or even leave the session on very short notice due to some unforeseen emergency and in a situation like that, I'd normally wrap up the session right then and there if possible and if the night is young, maybe we watch a movie, get a board game or just hang out.

That said, were someone to miss a session, I'd probably hand out xp to them anyway. After all, if someone jumps into the campaign at later point, I'd let their character start with the same total xp as the others, and use the same reasoning if a player retired their character or got it killed. The new character would have the same xp as the rest of the group (unless the player explicitly wants to play a rookie, and then I'd hand more xp to them until they caught up).

To me, it's the rule of fun that matters, and if your fun is ruined by someone getting the same amount of xp as you despite missing a few sessions, I'm not sure I'd want you in my gaming group.

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15 hours ago, Mark Caliber said:

Evening Everyone!

Nice session.  We went off the rails a bit so sorry for the tap dancing there, but we actually got to see some decent character development.

For those of you who didn't make it tonight, you all get 15 Exp as awarded.  Cheers!

Hey but I followed my Motivation of Goes off on Tangents. Taps foot

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2 minutes ago, Mark Caliber said:

As the GM, I never authorized that motivation.

And you're complaining about getting 15 Exp for not doing anything?!?!?

I'm contributing to the verisimilitude of you giving XP to players lol

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On 9/13/2018 at 10:48 AM, themensch said:

I get you here,  I think the fact that it is even being framed negatively speaks to the inherent issue regarding participation rewards and that it's a cultural issue among humans and not necessarily a problem we can solve with game mechanics.  It's preposterous to me that a person would get upset that they didn't get XP as much as it is preposterous to me to be mad that I am not accumulating points in the game I am not presently playing on my iPhone. 

What would you say about the situation where a group plays once a month to once every 3 months and they result to a doodle poll to pick the day that works best for the most people? (This is the situation with my group). When a day that person A can't make it is selected, they're also having to miss the game because of the particular choice of game day, wouldn't missing out on the XP as well feel a little like adding insult to injury?  Why should it be person A instead of person B that misses out on both the session and the xp.   I see the xp as a "consolation prize" from the GM for not picking a day that person A could make it.

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Quote

It's not "parody."  I'm using absurdity to make a point.

Well, it seems that you have failed.

Quote

What would you say about the situation where a group plays once a month to once every 3 months and they result to a doodle poll to pick the day that works best for the most people? (This is the situation with my group). When a day that person A can't make it is selected, they're also having to miss the game because of the particular choice of game day, wouldn't missing out on the XP as well feel a little like adding insult to injury?  Why should it be person A instead of person B that misses out on both the session and the xp.   I see the xp as a "consolation prize" from the GM for not picking a day that person A could make it.

Yepp, this situation seems familiar.

 

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On 9/23/2018 at 11:29 AM, EliasWindrider said:

What would you say about the situation where a group plays once a month to once every 3 months and they result to a doodle poll to pick the day that works best for the most people? (This is the situation with my group). When a day that person A can't make it is selected, they're also having to miss the game because of the particular choice of game day, wouldn't missing out on the XP as well feel a little like adding insult to injury?  Why should it be person A instead of person B that misses out on both the session and the xp.   I see the xp as a "consolation prize" from the GM for not picking a day that person A could make it.

Well, I play in three groups that do that right now.  Generally, if a person doesn't show up, they don't get XP, period.  It doesn't matter if their plans change at the last minute or just couldn't make the one date that worked for everyone else that we set weeks ahead of time. We really try to accommodate everyone's adult schedules but it is our belief that if this is important enough, people will commit to it.  I met with a quorum of GMs this weekend to discuss this topic and we all shared this opinion - and by far this has been the norm since I started doing this back in the innocent days of the Carter administration.  Now, I'm not telling you how to be or how to play, and at the end of the day, who really cares about fake points?  If you enjoy playing with people that get feelings hurt over this, then by all means cater to that. 

But I ask you, what does player C think, the one who canceled plans to make the game consistently and doesn't let anyone book over the time slot?  Should they get even more XP?  Do you feel they could get disgruntled over it because they put forth effort where others did not?  Sure, we all say "the reward is the game!" but that sure looks different in this context - and still implies XP is for those that show up.  Your "consolation prize" is that you were off doing something more important to you than gaming.

What do my groups do when someone can't make it?  "The Force/a wizard" did it.  It's different in every situation, but the character doesn't act, nobody but the player plays their character, and we just overlook it.  Thus far no continuity police from the spacetime continuum have shown up to make me stop. 

On 9/19/2018 at 9:32 PM, Rimsen said:

I feel like it's time to retire this topic, the actual conversation seems to be over :D

(Even if I find the parody hilarious)

Oh I dunno, seems like there's still some meat on this bone that we can gnaw on.  Mostly gristle though. 

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9 hours ago, themensch said:

Do you feel they could get disgruntled over it because they put forth effort where others did not? 

Well, you answered that already:

"If you enjoy playing with people that get feelings hurt over this, then by all means cater to that.  "

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On 9/25/2018 at 6:23 AM, Stan Fresh said:

Well, you answered that already:

"If you enjoy playing with people that get feelings hurt over this, then by all means cater to that.  "

Why, I would never dare answer a question for @EliasWindrider - I already know my opinion on the matter.  I would like to know his thoughts, given the context. 

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On 9/24/2018 at 9:32 PM, themensch said:

But I ask you, what does player C think, the one who canceled plans to make the game consistently and doesn't let anyone book over the time slot?  Should they get even more XP?  Do you feel they could get disgruntled over it because they put forth effort where others did not? 

Your question seems to assume that there is a regular gaming schedule to "book over" rather than picking one day out of a 2 to 3 month timeframe that works best for the most people, or that it was a day originally open to all people that one of them canceled on.  That isn't the real life situation for my gaming group.  The situation is the pick the game day that works best for most people, when it's a rare day that all people in group are available in a 1 month to 2 month time frame so 3 to 6 months between session would be required to pick a day that was open on everyone's calendar but if we use an n-1 (all but any one person can make it) then the group can book a day every 2 months.  So the result is gaming 2 to 3 times more often is one person gets left out WHEN CHOOSING A DATE.  

if someone were to cancel on a game day that they already committed to, THEN I see a potential argument for docking xp, but if person A and person B have schedules that regularly conflict then it's either drop one of them (which one?) from the group or they each get "half" (technically  a partition of unity that might not be equal) the xp that the rest of the group gets (which pretty quickly introduces a disparity where time is measured in number of sessions) or everyone gets full xp for sessions that they can't make (never committed to making).

Which of those 3 options do you think is least likely to result in hurt feelings?

Now you might say we're all mature adults here, none of the ways of handling the situation "should" cause hurt feelings, my response is regardless of how mature people "should" be in theory, as a general principle which of those three options is MOST LIKELY to result in the best outcome in terms of feelings for the described (real life/not hypothetical) scenario regardless of the difference in probability which is a group specific "number."

Also players A through D are mutually known to be highly committed to the game.  And the schedule was adjusted (shortened by taking a half hour off the front) to accommodate a change to player C's schedule, also player C recruited player B to the group when the long time (about 5 years) group got down to 3 players A, C, D plus the GM.  And player D recently recruited player E to the group (1 session under E's belt).

In the scenario I don't think player C would have any objection to A and B getting the same xp as himself because he brought B into the group which introduced the schedule conflict.

Edited by EliasWindrider

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