Big Irish Thoughts – XP for Missing Players

I’ve not really been doing much blogging with this thing, but that changes today. A discussion broke out on a page on Facebook that touches on something I am very passionate about, and I’ve decided my ultimate response on that page will be my first blog on here. I hope to do more as time permits and ideas flow.

Why Punish Your Friends?

Seriously, I want to challenge all of you who are in the “You don’t play, you get no XP” camp to consider these questions:
 
What is the real, tangible benefit of denying one of the players XP for missing a game?

What do you, the GM, gain from it?

What do your players gain from it?

What does the player who missed gain from it?

 
I am not talking about people who blow the game off for something else they’d rather do. I am not talking about players who don’t show and never bother to let you know and never really explain why. I am not talking about players who simply won’t commit to the campaign when everyone else has.
 
Those folks are rude and either need to be disinvited (if it really matters to you and your group) or, sure, dock them XPs. Negative reinforcement for negative behavior. I can live with that.
 
The people I am talking about have children who need them to talk to their teachers. They have parents with medical conditions that cause emergencies to crop up. They have jobs that demand overtime hours at the worst moments. They get sick from any number of things and don’t want to make their friends sick.
 
These are good people with lives that cause issues, and they are your friends and fellow gamers who want to be there – would have way more fun being there than whatever else it is they are dealing with – and it sucks that they had to miss while you and everyone else had a good time.
 
So what do you gain – seriously, what is the tangible or emotional GAIN – from letting their characters fall behind in XP and growth? If it’s a cooperative game where the abilities of all the characters contributes to the group’s dynamics and success, what is the reward for the GM and the other players that comes from punishing the one who had to miss?

34 Comments

  1. Robert O'Neal February 29, 2016 10:54 pm  Reply

    If players miss a game or two I allow them to catch up with experience. One of my players has social anxiety and cannot always make games and when he arrives I give him credit as if he was there. My players catch him up on what happened usually with very animated explanations and we figure his new stats/abilities.

  2. Syd Andrews February 29, 2016 11:05 pm  Reply

    I couldn’t agree more! Everyone in my group is married and/or has kids. We all have full-time jobs as well. Sometimes life doesn’t really lend itself to being at a game, even if that game is only every other Friday. I know they’d rather be playing. I know they aren’t just blowing off the game to go hang out at a bar. So I definitely don’t punish them for missing a sessions from time to time.

  3. Alan March 1, 2016 1:52 pm  Reply

    My thoughts are if the player isn’t there to play, regardless of the circumstances, then they’ve not earned the XP. It would be giving them something for doing nothing.

    I get what you’re saying, but how is it fair to the players who are there if Player A is not even there but gets the same amount of XP they do? That just doesn’t seem right to me.

    If I miss a game, for whatever reason, then my character doesn’t get the XP or other tangible rewards from that session. This is understood.

    Unless you’re suggesting an alternative like, in the case of Champions, or other games where you get 1-5 XP per game, the missing PC(s) get 1 XP while everyone else gets the full award, then I don’t see it as fair to the players who are there and participating.

    It’s just how I feel about it.

    • spfannon March 1, 2016 2:59 pm  Reply

      Please explain “fair.” In a competitive game, I could see it – we are tracking individual rewards and achievements because there is a need or desire for one player to have more than another player.

      This is not a competitive game. This is a shared experience, a cooperative experience, an experience where you being ahead of someone else is not the point. Instead, you have just cause for wanting everyone to have the same level of capabilities.

      Your friend already missed the fun and excitement and joy of being with you and your other friends, sharing the adventure, because they had something in their life that caused them to have to miss. Why do you care about “fairness” in this situation, when their receiving the same XPs takes absolutely nothing away from you.

      Also, you’ve not actually answered my question – what do you gain by denying them the same XP. What is the tangible or otherwise clear benefit to you for receiving both the fun of the adventure and more XP over your friend, who chose not to make you sick by suffering at home with the flu?

      • Shawn March 1, 2016 3:47 pm  Reply

        It’s interesting that a lot of people who are opposed to giving XP to absent players talk about how those players didn’t “earn” the XP. It sounds like XP is the goal, and playing the game is a chore that must be performed to get it. I guess it’s just a completely different approach to gaming.

        • spfannon March 1, 2016 3:49 pm  Reply

          A different and,I passionately believe, harmful approach that encourages entirely the wrong social dynamic.

          • Shawn March 1, 2016 4:07 pm 

            Yeah, I wouldn’t want to play in a group like that. It would be interesting to see if there’s a correlation between this XP-are-earned mentality and what kinds of games those groups play. I’d guess that groups that play more narrative games would be less likely to withhold XP for absent players.

      • Alan March 2, 2016 12:02 am  Reply

        What do I “gain?” Nothing. But I’m not going to give players an equal amount of XP for essentially not participating in a game they’re not there for.

        Part of the reason XP is awarded is participation. How can someone earn something when they’re not there to earn it?

        Like I said, I get what you’re saying, but I don’t agree with it, If I have six regular players, and one is absent for whatever reason, they don’t earn XP. That’s the way it is in my group. *I* don’t earn XP when I am not there, nor should I, regardless of the reason why I’m not there.

        And no, XP is not the goal of the game; fun is. But part of that fun is participating and participation is rewarded.

        Our way might not set well with others. That’s cool I don’t mind if people disagree with me. I’m not offended.

        And as I stated, I get what you’re saying. I just don’t agree with it.

        Agree to disagree, I guess.

  4. Marc March 7, 2016 8:10 pm  Reply

    The way I’ve always viewed it, playing the game is the reward and XP (with the resulting enhancement of the character) is the carrot that keeps you coming back.

    Docking XP for not showing up seems counter-intuitive in this interpretation.

    Really at this point, I use XP as pretty much solely as a yardstick of campaign duration,. Everybody advances together at a pace I determine (for example, I like to have parties level up just before they take on the big bad, so they can try out their new shiny abilities)

  5. David March 9, 2016 12:22 am  Reply

    This is for a home game:
    The true value is the playing of the game and the group story. The missing player has missed out on all of that. If they miss too much then they fall behind on the plot and are left out. That is the TRUE punishment of missing. The punishment that life gives you. It is in the Home Game where most fun can be had, a true campaign. So I am in favor of giving XP or the group level thing. Now, the caveat here is that the players want to play and life happens to them. Not giving out xp is simply hard to swallow here. The GM is only hurting their game and widening the gap that the players have between them. If a character dies, you would have them create a character at an equivalent level to the party as a replacement after all. If the party is at 9th level you can’t have a 1st level character as a replacement so why do you want a disparity there? It serves no purpose. Now, Some players like to earn what they get XP-wise but this also makes no sense because in many games special equipment: Magic items, High Tech, Contacts, Gold, and the like can be a big resource in the game and the “honorable” character would have no problem sharing in that would they? So, why the “Honor” with XP? This is simply hypocrisy. As a GM, I know that I would feel most comfortable with the players on an even keel (more or less) with their characters in relation to another. It makes coming up with adventures easier and helps gauge the party a bit easier. As a player, I would feel down if I wasn’t in with the cool kids as an equal. So, in a continuing party it only makes sense to “Group Level” and keep the XP the same based on the entire group as a course of a sort of social equality that we don’t have in real life.

    But, if a player constantly doesn’t show up due to one excuse or another, perhaps you should ask, “Do they really want to be a part of the table? Do they really want to play?” Do them the favor of talking with them, both privately as a GM and as a group. No interest in the game hurts everyone. Time is valuable, we have to WANT to play.

    It may be tempting to reward the player (for commitment to the game, investing in the story or the backgrounds of the character, providing story hooks for the GM, and good role-playing) with experience points. I recommend against it. Find another way to reward the player. In the Old School type gaming the reward is simply the deeper inclusion of the character’s story with the story of the game. In modern games there are a few other methods: Savage Worlds Benny system, D&D’s Inspiration Points, and Pathfinder’s Hero Points, Force Points in Star Wars, Fate Points, Drama Coins, and the like are a few. If a mechanic does not exist, then invent one, like a bonus on a one time roll during the next game on the type of things the player is contributing to, A bonus Story point for them, an opportunity to fill a spot in the story AS a story bonus, and of course paying attention to the player’s goals with the character and helping them succeed, not roll-wise but story-wise.

    • Syd Andrews March 9, 2016 4:54 pm  Reply

      I think you hit a lot of great points here, David.

      One very important one is what you said about a player that consistently doesn’t show up. The GM needs to have a conversation with that player outside of the game and ask them why they aren’t showing up and whether or not they really want to be a part of the game. This is tough, especially if the player is a friend.

      Another things you brought up is the idea of “group leveling”. In most modern RPGs that use XP and the levelling mechanic tied together, there is an inherent assumption in the game about “balance” within the party. And while most games can probably function with characters having an inequity of 1 level between them, it still isn’t optimal. It makes planning for the GM and strategy by the PCs more difficult.

      But, I think that part of the reason that this whole topic is even being discussed stems from the assumptions within the game in early RPGs, D&D specifically. In all editions of D&D prior to 3rd edition, the amount of XP at which a character gained a level was different depending upon class. So having an equal amount of XP didn’t guarantee the same level for every class within the game. And your XP award was also tied with the acquisition of treasure as well. But early editions of D&D allowed for PCs of disparate levels to adventure together. I regularly had games where there would be a difference of as much as 4 class levels between the PCs and things were just fine. So it made sense to use XP awards as an incentive to show up and play. XP was the key driving force. But now, in D&D and other RPGs, the incentives are more than just XP. XP awards are just one aspect of the development of a PC.

      I think one way to look at it was that in older editions, XP was an award to the PLAYER, but now, XP is an award to the CHARACTER and the player’s reward is something else.

  6. spfannon March 9, 2016 5:47 pm  Reply

    Honestly, I am absolutely thrilled to see so much participation in this thread.

    I suppose I need to find the time to post more blog-style essays like this in the future.

  7. Allandaros March 9, 2016 6:06 pm  Reply

    I’m playing in a long-running campaign which does not award XP for missed sessions. While I do not think that this approach is a good fit for every game, I think it works well for us and for this campaign for a few reasons.

    Firstly, as @Syd Andrews notes, old-school D&D (which is what we are playing) is designed to function with different rates of advancement for PCs of different classes, and to accommodate PCs of different levels within the same party. So there’s no feeling of being slighted when you’re one level behind, because it’s never “one player is one level behind,” it’s a weird spread all over.

    Secondly, our campaign is designed to have a significant element of risk to PCs. While most of the PCs are in the level 6-8 range (which is fairly high powered by the standards of the campaign), there is always the risk of permanent character death. Varying XP payouts based on session and presence helps present us with a heightened risk/reward dynamic and encourages slightly more aggressive play within a given session (“Let’s keep exploring this before the session ends; I want to level”). If there were XP given to characters not present, there’s a little bit less incentive to push hard and take risks within a session that you’re playing in, and we’ve found that extra incentive to be really fun. (While the group is currently completely cooperative, the campaign started in a position where there was friendly and amicable competition between PCs to be in on one of the “big score” sessions.)

    This setup works with our group and our circumstances; I’m definitely not trying to argue that people should adopt it if they don’t want to, or that it is a good fit for all games.

    • spfannon March 9, 2016 6:10 pm  Reply

      Once again, I wonder at how this is considered in light of friends who have unexpected crises come up in their lives, and why people are OK with letting them suffer yet one more loss because of it.

      I accept that lots of you think this is OK, but it really makes me sad at the core of my heart. I would never care to play with a group who felt that way.

      “Sorry your mom died. Too bad you missed the game, and here’s your falling-behind character.”

      • Allandaros March 9, 2016 6:22 pm  Reply

        Well, aside from the various unexpected crises that come up over the course of playing in a weekly campaign for four years, I sat out of the campaign for several *months* to take the bar exam, so I’ve been in the exact position you’re discussing here. I’d like to think I’m not speaking in a dismissive or cavalier fashion about real life issues that people face.

        I think that my group does not consider “failure to gain potential XPs from a given session” a punishment or a loss. There’s no real ‘falling behind,’ since the campaign is designed to facilitate PCs of multiple levels to play within the same session. Yes, taken to an extreme that could be the case, but it hasn’t been.

        • Allandaros March 9, 2016 6:33 pm  Reply

          Also, I want to stress that my group is in fact composed of a very tight-knit crew of friends. Hell, we’re to the point where some of us have gone into business together. We look out for each other and have supported each other through real-world hardships. The way we apply a rule in our gaming does not indicate that we lack empathy for each other or do not care about each other’s lives.

          • spfannon March 9, 2016 6:41 pm 

            “The way we apply a rule in our gaming does not indicate that we lack empathy for each other or do not care about each other’s lives.”

            I accept that, but you still haven’t explained one thing.

            Why?

            What is the point in making those who miss the game also have their characters fall behind.

            No one – not one single person, ever – has effectively explained to me why this is considered a good thing, or a fun thing, or an acceptable thing.

            Why is it better for those who suffer tragedies or crises or serious personal or professional situations to have their characters fall behind?

            I don’t care that the game is set up to accommodate varying XP levels. I want to know what you and your friends gain by doing it that way. What benefit did your friends enjoy from having you both miss the game for those months *and* miss out on all those experience points?

            What pleasure did they derive by denying you the capacity to have a character of equivalent level?

          • Allandaros March 9, 2016 7:02 pm 

            (I hope this reply shows up correctly)

            Firstly, thank you for accepting that statement.

            Secondly, I won’t speak for what other people get out of it. But I like having a game setup where my character’s advancement and progression is tied to *my* choices and decisions as a player. It heightens my investment in my character and increases the risk/reward stakes in any given session(as I mentioned above). I find those factors to enhance my fun, sufficiently that I am not bothered by missing XP for a session I wasn’t at.

            Furthermore, XP awards for game sessions I wasn’t involved in would actually wind up breaking immersion for me. I think my group views XP (in this campaign) as a resource that is unique to each character, not dissimilar to hit points. Dividing XP up amongst players who weren’t present in a session feels like distributing hit points across characters to prevent a given PC from dying, to draw a clumsy analogy. And just as a PC dying is not viewed as an attempt by the GM or other players to stifle one person’s fun, but rather part of the risks that our campaign adds into campaign dynamics to keep the risk/reward ratio interesting – so it is with missing sessions, if this analogy helps any.

          • spfannon March 9, 2016 7:13 pm 

            No, I’m sorry, but you’ve still not explained what the other players gain by your loss.

            All you’ve explained is why you’re OK with suffering the loss.

            You didn’t get to play. Is that not enough of a punishment?

          • Allandaros March 9, 2016 7:36 pm 

            Why do I need to discuss what other players get out of it? Your question is “why would a play group enact these rules?” and I have provided an explanation regarding why I find this framework to enhance my fun. I’ve discussed that to me, it’s not “a loss,” and not getting XP for something I didn’t play in isn’t a punishment. And as I tried to make clear, it’s not just a matter of “being OK” with the rules, but actively concluding that this format *enhances* my fun.

            Now, I surmise that other people find this fun for the same reasons I do, but not having polled them, I am reluctant to speak on their behalf. Why is it important to you that I do so?

            At the risk of tripping over myself with a sports analogy: do you feel it is unjust, or a punishment, not to adjust a baseball player’s RBI for a game he sits out because of a broken leg? I don’t. It sucks that he broke his leg and everyone wants him to come back to the game ASAP, but missing the game is not “harm,” and not having the chance to improve his RBI is not harm either.

          • spfannon March 9, 2016 8:47 pm 

            “At the risk of tripping over myself with a sports analogy: do you feel it is unjust, or a punishment, not to adjust a baseball player’s RBI for a game he sits out because of a broken leg? I don’t. It sucks that he broke his leg and everyone wants him to come back to the game ASAP, but missing the game is not “harm,” and not having the chance to improve his RBI is not harm either.”

            And herein you’ve perfectly proven *my* point, rather than your own.

            Baseball is a competitive sport, wherein the stats that are used for measurement of performance are important to track for the purpose of that competitiveness.

            What you’ve outlined is exactly what I feel is what’s *wrong* with the “No XP if your mother dies” approach – because RPGs are not a competitive sport.

            They are a cooperative, narrative experience in which each of you shares the overall experience – preferably equally.

            And you don’t have to explain, but that was my question, and has been all along. Why is it good for you if your friend’s mother dies, and thus he gets no XP for that game session. What do you gain from adding to his loss by denying him the capacity for his character to be on par with yours in that very cooperative experience.

            What I am getting from your current stance is that it’s *not* a cooperative experience; the measure of XPs is a yardstick by which you compare your performance with others, which I find very…

            Let’s just say, once again, I would never wish to play in such a game. I left that behind shortly after the year 1977.

          • Allandaros March 9, 2016 9:16 pm 

            Firstly: as I said – yes, the campaign started out in a format of “soft” competition, with players racing to pick up easy rewards as soon as possible, while cooperating fully in-session. It organically morphed into completely cooperative through the course of the first year or so.

            Secondly: missing a session, or even a *year’s* worth of sessions, doesn’t mean that two characters are not going to be “on par.” The difficulty bands in our game are structured such that a player can join in the game and make significant positive contributions even with a lower level character. (Especially since not all characters level at the same rate!).

            Finally, I’m kind of frustrated with your dismissive tone (“the measure of XPs is a yardstick by which you compare your performance with others, which I find very… Let’s just say, once again, I would never wish to play in such a game. I left that behind shortly after the year 1977.”)

            Sean…we haven’t *asked* you to play. I stated, straight up, in my very first post here that this is how one campaign has been working, and that it’s not something that fits for every campaign or every set of players. I’m not trying to sell you on playing this way, I’ve never suggested that you ought to structure your campaign in this fashion. From the beginning, I’ve been responding to the question of “why does this work for you and your group?” And it’s really frustrating when it feels like I’m responding in good faith and you’re trying to basically throw shade on the way my group plays.

            And it’s really, *really* frustrating to keep seeing you frame the question as “Why is it good for you if your friend’s mother dies, and…”

            It’s NOT good for me, because my friend’s mother died and that’s awful. And yet you keep on writing as though those of us who employ a rule of “no XP for a session where you’re not able to join” are cheering when something bad happens to our friends. I assure you, we’re not.

          • spfannon March 9, 2016 9:32 pm 

            I apologize, Allandaros.

            What I am trying to do is to get you to see how unfair and unkind such a policy is, and I am using the death of a family member to exemplify my point.

            Can you not see that such a tragedy is only compounded by the policy of letting characters fall behind?

            If that’s what makes you and your group happy, so be it, but I am sorry, it truly makes me sad to see such ideas entrenched in so many groups.

            Yes, I am very passionate about this.

            There is enough unfairness in the real world. I would just like to see our corner of it show a bit more kindness and compassion.

          • Alan March 10, 2016 1:01 am 

            Let me be crystal clear about something here: if ANY of my friends’ parents or loved ones died, the last damn thing I would be doing is breaking out my favorite RPG to have fun while they suffered through such a loss.

            Our entire group would be at the funeral supporting our friend in their time of need. We’ve done this multiple times before, and will do so again.

            Also, we gain NOTHING from withholding XP if someone is absent from a game. Nothing. We miss our friend(s) and our group is lessened without them.

  8. MShip March 9, 2016 6:52 pm  Reply

    A few notes before I start. First off, I agree with Sean’s points; not getting experience only further punishes players for something they’re already missing out on. I think it is the result of treating RPGs like board games instead of like RPGs.

    I enjoy progression of my character because I enjoy building towards something. Overcoming challenges and vanquishing foes, and slowly becoming more powerful so that I can overcome tougher challenges and vanquish more nefarious villains.

    And it’s that reason why I don’t like starting games at particularly high experience levels. I’ve done it before, and I can have fun. But in such games I tend to write out pretty expansive backstories detailing how my character has a few cooler items and what he/she has done. I enjoy long-term games that provide challenges, and navigating the hostile worlds that RPGs provide.

    And so I personally dislike just being gifted experience. If it’s a minor amount that doesn’t mean too much, it’s a minor annoyance. If it’s a major amount (say the group defeated a string of major bosses), then it will likely level me up. So I missed the story, and now I’m missing the development aspect of my character.

    If the group leveled up to level 2, and I couldn’t make it because I had other engagements, I missed out on that fun moment where the DM says “everyone levels up!”. And now when I show up to the next session, I get to miss that moment again where the DM says “You level up.” If it happened between sessions, I miss out even more. And if it happened at the beginning of the session, now everyone has to wait while I level up. None of the alternatives are fun.

    I think that a good solution would be for the DM and the player that missed the session to have a short conversation detailing what the player’s character was doing instead, why that character was preoccupied, and then giving them the experience that way. Slightly more work, but it gives a more engaging experience. And I like to be engaged.

    This all said, in a game with little or no combat, I think I would be even more resistant to the idea of “free” experience points. In a combat heavy game, I need them whether I like it or not. Other people are depending on me to carry my weight, and I don’t want to make their game less fun because I was busy the week before.

    So while I agree that we shouldn’t be punishing people by withholding experience points, I hold reservations around how much more fun is being had by just giving them away. In games, and especially RPGs, I think that the driving question should be “Is it fun?”. I personally don’t have fun when I have to level up my character but I didn’t get to do the cool character development thing that explains why my character is now more competent.

    • spfannon March 9, 2016 7:03 pm  Reply

      See, this makes some sense to me. So much so that I will endeavor to ensure I keep it in mind for future such situations.

      At the very least, the player should be empowered to come up with some narrative that explains what their character was doing during that time.

      That doesn’t work for the “cardboard cutout” crowd (who simply ignore the character’s existence while the player isn’t there), but for those of us who are keen to maintain narrative continuity, that works great.

      Then again, there’s also the situations where the character is there (in Savage Worlds terms, played as an Extra), which perfectly explains the gain in XPs alongside everyone else. Someone then just needs to catch the player up on what happened.

  9. Nick March 9, 2016 7:37 pm  Reply

    “Why Punish Your Friends?”

    I feel like that’s a very weird , and negatively-enforced way of looking at. Rewarding XP through gameplay rather than campaign progression doesn’t have to be negative; it encourages involvement into what’s going on at the table, and grows a character’s ability in a “on screen”, natural manner, rather than “behind the scenes”. I’m not going to necessarily say that “gameplay rewards” are somehow better than “campaign rewards”, just that it’s not necessarily worse. Though when game design seems to progress on the basis “you should be X level by Y scene”, it makes me wonder why XP even exists in the game…

    Of course, that also depends on the game you’re playing. Power disparity in the group can be annoying, which is why I prefer games with slower progression, and I certainly wouldn’t mind rewarding players that are “lagging behind” bonus XP to help them catch up.

    • spfannon March 9, 2016 8:53 pm  Reply

      “I feel like that’s a very weird , and negatively-enforced way of looking at.”

      And I feel it’s a very negatively-enforced attitude to tell someone that because their mother died, or their child was sick, or their workplace demanded they work overtime, that they must then also suffer falling behind their friends in that cooperative, shared experience that’s not supposed to be competitive or about how much better one character is over another character.

      Once again, I am not talking about someone going to a concert instead of the game, or just blowing the game off – I am talking about legitimate, reasonable reasons why your friend was forced to miss the game.

      How is it so many of you don’t get that? Or don’t seem to care, so long as you get yours for being there?

      I am sorry, but it seems needlessly selfish and cold to me.

  10. Nick March 9, 2016 9:25 pm  Reply

    You seem to have a personal chip on your shoulder about this subject, so I’m just gonna back away slowly now…

    • spfannon March 9, 2016 9:34 pm  Reply

      Perhaps I do, but it’s because I see so much unkindness and unfairness in the world, I just wish we could see more compassion about matters such as this.

      And, as yet, no one has effectively explained to me what the gain is for the group by denying XP for the player who had to miss.

      Seriously, no one has even tried.

      • Nick March 9, 2016 9:47 pm  Reply

        If you could take a few breaths and read my comment again in a calm manner, you might see that my argument is that it doesn’t have to be “unkind” or “unfair” or even a “denial” to have not earned XP. That’s what I had meant by “negatively-enforced”, that you are giving it an absolute negative connotation.

        I haven’t read many comments on here, but MShip gave some good reasons, which I also mentioned: what happens at the table is what happens in the game, so it feels like you’re actively progressing your character as you play.

        As I tried to weigh in, “gameplay progression” and “campaign progress progression” (i.e., characters progress just as time in the campaign world progresses) are both perfectly fine methods, though each have their own design problems (power disparity in the former, XP-being-meaningless-might-as-well-just-say-we’re-all-Y-level-now in the latter).

        It’s not about “punishing” players for not being there, it’s about “rewarding” players for being involved in the game, and players getting to see the growth of their character live at the table.

        I’m sorry if you’ve had dick GM’s who used it as a negative punishment rather than a positive reward.

        • spfannon March 9, 2016 10:02 pm  Reply

          It’s not that I have had dick GMs… it’s that I sincerely believe the practice to be a punishment, intended or not, that provides absolutely zero benefit or gain when it’s employed.

          I sincerely believe that if you are there and get to play, you gain the reward of the game experience and being with your friends. On top of this, you get XP.

          I believe the person who’s mother died (yes, I am going to stay on this, because it’s completely valid and makes my case wholeheartedly) has a lot of bad things going on, including missing the game experience and being with friends.

          Why *not* give them the XPs so at least when they can make it back to the table, they don’t have to deal with being left behind everyone? What do you gain by denying them those XPs? I keep asking that question, and rather than answer it, you tell me I am wrong for framing it that way.

          I am not. They are, in fact, not receiving those XPs?

          Why? Why not give them those XPs?

          As for the argument about XPs being meaningless if everyone gets the same – I’m sorry, but it reads kind of weakly. For me, who runs a number of games each week sometimes, it’s a convenient tracking mechanism. If I give out 3 XPs in my Savage Star Wars game, that’s a way for everyone in the game to know when they reach the next Level Up. Simple as that.

          Sure, I could just say “OK, everyone levels up,” but using the XP metric makes it so I don’t have to remember whether they should Level Up on a given week or not.

          • Nick March 9, 2016 11:45 pm 

            I understand that you approach it that way, and I would personal hate for one of my players to feel like they were getting /punished/. Fortunately there are ways to work around it, such as the aforementioned bonus XP that quickly catches you up.

            It really comes down to what role XP actually serves in your current game. If you’re just using it as a metric to pace all character progression, then that’s cool (I’d mostly find it awkward when playing a game that requires hundreds of XP at an increasing rate). It’s also possible to treat XP as a personal element of your own character’s progression (which I think is the point-of-view MShip and I come from), where my total XP is my character’s that I earned by playing them. I’d personally prefer coming back from a break and NOT being told “hey, your character earned all this XP while you were gone”, but again, it depends on the game..

  11. spfannon March 10, 2016 12:15 am  Reply

    If I come across as intense about this, that’s a fair assessment. I am intense about this, because I am not a religious person.

    For me, the gathering at the table with my friends and fellow RPG fans is a powerful social experience. It might be said to be the closest thing to going to church for me. Thus, I am very passionate about ensuring that a positive experience is had by all, as best as can be managed.

    If someone misses going to church a few times, they are welcomed back openly by their fellow attendees, and every effort is made to bring them up on all that’s going on – to include them fully.

    There’s an analogy for you.

    Thanks to all for participating in this conversation.

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