XP / level penalties for bad players.


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I am going to have to chalk this up to a difference in attitudes I guess.
I see granting EXP for participation as "payment" as it were for participating in the game. The "pay for play" concept. No shows suffer yes but that is the price they pay for choosing to not participate. This model works fine just so long as the consequences are presented prior to their implementation.
Also to clarify...
I do not advocate using this method without some means of "atonement".
In my group we allow for notification (even if it is just a call during the session) explaining why the player will not be participating that day. We do not care what the reason is, Don't feel good, had a date, kid is sick, etc... as long as you take the time to let us know we provide methods to regain the "lost" exp. Not bothering to let us know is disrespectful to the group and as such we take a dim view on it and the price the first and second time is no "atonement". The third offense is removal from the group.
This may seem harsh to some but we are all older gamers, we do not have the time or tolerance for those who cannot show respect for those they claim are their friends.


Damian Magecraft wrote:

I am going to have to chalk this up to a difference in attitudes I guess.

I see granting EXP for participation as "payment" as it were for participating in the game. The "pay for play" concept. No shows suffer yes but that is the price they pay for choosing to not participate. This model works fine just so long as the consequences are presented prior to their implementation.
Also to clarify...
I do not advocate using this method without some means of "atonement".
In my group we allow for notification (even if it is just a call during the session) explaining why the player will not be participating that day. We do not care what the reason is, Don't feel good, had a date, kid is sick, etc... as long as you take the time to let us know we provide methods to regain the "lost" exp. Not bothering to let us know is disrespectful to the group and as such we take a dim view on it and the price the first and second time is no "atonement". The third offense is removal from the group.
This may seem harsh to some but we are all older gamers, we do not have the time or tolerance for those who cannot show respect for those they claim are their friends.

As a member of an "older" group, sorry man, but I'm not buying it. :(

Life is hard, playing D&D 3.75 shouldn't be. I'd hate to have to tell my wife "sorry babe, I have to play, or I'll miss out on XP." I guess I'm lucky my friends are more forgiving. We play every two weeks, sometimes life gets in the way and schedules don't meet up the way we would like. But we're all still the same level and having lots of fun.


loaba wrote:
Damian Magecraft wrote:

I am going to have to chalk this up to a difference in attitudes I guess.

I see granting EXP for participation as "payment" as it were for participating in the game. The "pay for play" concept. No shows suffer yes but that is the price they pay for choosing to not participate. This model works fine just so long as the consequences are presented prior to their implementation.
Also to clarify...
I do not advocate using this method without some means of "atonement".
In my group we allow for notification (even if it is just a call during the session) explaining why the player will not be participating that day. We do not care what the reason is, Don't feel good, had a date, kid is sick, etc... as long as you take the time to let us know we provide methods to regain the "lost" exp. Not bothering to let us know is disrespectful to the group and as such we take a dim view on it and the price the first and second time is no "atonement". The third offense is removal from the group.
This may seem harsh to some but we are all older gamers, we do not have the time or tolerance for those who cannot show respect for those they claim are their friends.

As a member of an "older" group, sorry man, but I'm not buying it. :(

Life is hard, playing D&D 3.75 shouldn't be. I'd hate to have to tell my wife "sorry babe, I have to play, or I'll miss out on XP." I guess I'm lucky my friends are more forgiving. We play every two weeks, sometimes life gets in the way and schedules don't meet up the way we would like. But we're all still the same level and having lots of fun.

Like I said different attitudes. I have missed several sessions (we meet weekly) due to work, family, etc...

It gets made up later.
Because I notify the group that I will unable to attend.
Like I said we have a method of "making up lost exp".
Its the no call no show, we have issues with.
I would leave a group that rewarded players like that.
It shows a lack of respect for those that actually take the time to show or notify the group that they will not be able to attend.


I don't think Loaba or myself are speaking of a disruptive player not showing up, or a player disrupting the game by not showing up, or being rude and canceling at the last second for frivolousness on a regular to semi-regular basis. If that were the problem, it can be solved better by removing the problem entirely.

We're speaking of a player who you want to have in the game, who because of real life, can't make a session all the time. An addition to the game. Presumably being played by people who want to play together and have fun.

That said, we completely differ in our interpretation of 'penalizing'. Like my other game examples above, you don't play, you don't increase your stats, you don't increase your records, you don't increase any aspect of the game. Whether it is a good reason or not, your average doesn't change if you don't go bowling with the fellows.

If you show up to the session and sluff off, like in some of the earlier examples, not paying attention, 'wake me up when it's my turn', etc, and you don't get XP, that IS a penalty. You are targeting piss poor behavior and saying, I will punish this. (My take, remove these people from the table, XP penalties don't work)

Penalizing is something you do to someone who has done something wrong. You get penalized for hitting a foul ball. Cheap shotting in hockey. Cheating on your taxes. Failing a Will save against bestow curse in DnD.

Not advancing in a record when you don't play isn't a penalty. Not getting a house built if you don't work on it isn't a penalty. Not getting XP for not showing up isn't a penalty.

Dark Archive

loaba wrote:
Isn't it apparent that the party receives XP as a unit? Or am I just not understanding the XP table? Isn't it apparent that CRs are built for parties of X level?

I found it to be pretty obvious that that was not the case; actually - in terms of individual XP. I read it as being based on the number of people who participated in the encounter. So if they split the party, and joe and mike fight a bunch of bugbears, and sacha and justin fight a bunch of orcs, the former get the bugbear xp, and the latter get the orc xp.

Personally I've been moving away from combat XP, because I've had players complain that it makes them feel like encounters and combat are what they need to be going for, and they seem to like the roleplay aspect a bit more.

Recently I've gone to
1/6xp needed to go from current level to next per session attended.
1/12xp to level for a session journal.
1/12xp to level for best roleplay vote (we vote at the end of the session)
and a much reduced xp for encounters.
I also award XP for help with prep work, and have guidelines I've come up with for it.

The idea is to control the speed of leveling (roughly) so the players get to level x in so many months. My campaigns tend to have limited runs though, so the Pacing is more needed than in an indefinitely ongoing campaign.

As for "penalizing", the usual; if you're not there, you don't get the xp or loot. None of the players I've got have complained about it though. It's mostly seen as rewarding players for their effort. Since I've started doing it this way, I have better player turn out, less players dropping the game or being absent, and more out of game effort. The players are more involved with /enthused about the campaign, and once they start falling behind, they do the out of game things to pick up the slack (which makes GM Prep work lighter) - it's been fairly win-win.

The level gap at the end of the campaign was a level 4, a bunch of level 5s, and one level 6.

In my next campaign, I'll be scrapping combat exp entirely, and making use of the other things I mentioned for all of the leveling. The fractions may change (I base those on how long the campaign will be running and the level range I'm looking at) but the concepts will end up staying the same. And since I came up with the idea in January, I've learned that passing off GM Grunt work to the players for in game rewards helps. Alot. (if you can do it)


I find that when introducing new characters at lower levels than the party, it creates problems above and beyond any challenge balance stuff.

The low level new chars will feel compelled to minmax to the gills to keep up with the party. As the level spread increases, the low levels will have to be more and more hyperspecialised in order to have a means of contributing meaningfully.

Dark Archive

True. I forgot to chime in on that one.

I don't have players ever come in at a lower level than the rest of the party. I have them come in at the lowest level out of the other party members (or whatever level they were before; whichever is lower.)

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

I reward xp to the characters, not the players.

So if Bob couldn't make it this week, but his character Roberto the Ranger helped us fight all those orcs? Roberto gains xp (and loot, for that matter, though everyone else get's first pick).

I have digital copies of everyone's character sheet, so it's as easy as asking "who wants to cover for Bob?" and passing them a printout. If nobody wants to play doubles, or if Bob isn't comfortable letting us play his character, we play without him (or we play something else).


loaba wrote:

Totally fair question; where are you guys at, right now, in real life? Are you 20-somethings, maybe in college (or not), working and dating and such? If the answer is yeah, that's where we're at, then okay. Your players have real choices for what they might want to do on game night. You've got players who show up and carry the load. You've got other players who don't.

Okay, cool: you're trying to get those no-show guys to make a commitment. XP penalties, in that situation, makes sense to me.

Later in life, I expect you'll be more forgiving when Real Life starts to take away your choice. :)

Early to mid-30's. Most of us have full time jobs, some have families and kids...

But unless work calls for overtime, changes shifts or family emergencies happen, Tuesday nights are game nights. And the people with families and jobs look forward to it all week to unwind a bit :)

(I'm kind of a sucker for weather... Michigan got more than its fair share of snow this year... and ALWAYS on a game night! The others were a bit more daring/reckless than I was willing to be those nights... so I'm a little behind.)

Granted, since High school... we HAVE lost a couple of gamers from real life demands... but for the most part, people show up.

But I guess I just don't see how 'Your character wasn't there... so he didn't get the xp for being there' is really a punishment.

We've been 2E and other various games since high school... and honestly the thought of giving xp to everyone whether they were there or not has never even been considered O.o


I've penalized 2 players, for not roleplaying their alignments, but this waswas back under 1.5 PH, DMG, MM, Unearthed Arcana, and Dieties and Demigods.

This was when Rangers had to of good alignment, and the party's ranger chased down a wolf that was trying to flee

The other was A neutral Evil Fighter who fled a fight the party had virtually won

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
loaba wrote:

Totally fair question; where are you guys at, right now, in real life? Are you 20-somethings, maybe in college (or not), working and dating and such? If the answer is yeah, that's where we're at, then okay. Your players have real choices for what they might want to do on game night. You've got players who show up and carry the load. You've got other players who don't.

Okay, cool: you're trying to get those no-show guys to make a commitment. XP penalties, in that situation, makes sense to me.

Later in life, I expect you'll be more forgiving when Real Life starts to take away your choice. :)

I'm a 28-year-old service member with 10 years on active duty. I know all about Real Life taking away gaming time. So I don't make a big deal about people not being able to make it, as long as we know in advance.

I had a problem with a player calling off an hour before the game once. I talked with him and the rest of the group about it, and have always had 24 hours notice since then. No problems.


stuart haffenden wrote:

Hey,

Do you, the DM's of planet Pathfinder, impose any penalties on your players for any reason?

For example, if a player kept on changing his character, would you make them start at a lower level? Or with less starting cash?

The problem with the above is that the knock on effects can potentially be bad for everyone - if the "tank" is a weakling, or has a useless weapon he could put the rest of the party in danger which doesn't seem fair.

Other possible player issues would include tardiness, not showing up often enough, doing stupid things in the adventure - endangering others etc.

So do you guys, and in what manner, penalise players for any reason?

We have a few houserules:

If someone want to change his character, he will start at same level as the group but with min XP, Gold is said by the DM (as we play low-gold/magic atm)

If someone shows not up for a session he simply get no XP at all.

For gods sake, we don't have any players who do something stupid, which ruins the game, so we don't have to deal with it. :)
If they simply act strange or against the character the penatly will be the NPCs reaktion towards them. ;) (sensless murders will create bounties for the characters heads etc.)

If the DM switch (sometimes we do this, for small "by-the-road" adventures, if the campaign DM needs a break or simply more time to prep the next adventure) the old DM can enter with same level character and the player whos DM for this session gets full XP.
As a long time DM, i like this was, because sometimes you simply have a creative deep and need some other perspective, also even if not thought of by the PC whos then DM, some "by-the-road" adventure fits well into the campaign and enrich it, which led to some really nice moments in the past. Something like: Player1 "What the connection at your adventure to the rogue guild was planned by you?" Player2 "No!" DM smiles :)

Dark Archive

TriOmegaZero wrote:
I had a problem with a player calling off an hour before the game once. I talked with him and the rest of the group about it, and have always had 24 hours notice since then. No problems.

That's decent of them. I'm okay with an hour's notice though, I only really have a problem with when they just don't show up, and we spend an hour waiting for them.

loaba wrote:

Totally fair question; where are you guys at, right now, in real life? Are you 20-somethings, maybe in college (or not), working and dating and such? If the answer is yeah, that's where we're at, then okay. Your players have real choices for what they might want to do on game night. You've got players who show up and carry the load. You've got other players who don't.

Okay, cool: you're trying to get those no-show guys to make a commitment. XP penalties, in that situation, makes sense to me.

Later in life, I expect you'll be more forgiving when Real Life starts to take away your choice. :)

I'm 23, going into my last year of university. So yeah. I fit into your first category. I have some friends who do it like you suggest. They don't track xp, they just pace the leveling, and put everyone at the same level all the time. I don't really like it as much as a player, but it's semi-common here.

Lately I've been thinking of going to Denmark/Norway for the heavy gaming scene, and a bit for the politics (Most of the Danes and Norwegians I've met have very similar values to myself). I know some people who say they can get me an interview if I brush up on my php and learn Danish. :)


Before every campaign I write campaign-specific house rules that is sent out to every player. The issues mentioned in this thread are always included in those house rules.

Attendance is covered, we will still play of 1 player doesn't show or has to cancel, no penalty and he/she still gets the exp to keep the party even. I'm not a fan of different levels in the party unless caused by an in-game situation.

Character changes are also covered. Players have until level 3 to make changes and that's it, after that they're locked in and can only make changes in accordance with the corebook.

I also encourage my players to take ownership. Let's face it, some people just play to play with their friends...they don't read the books, afraid to role-play, don't know the rules, lack the ability to make optimum choices, etc. I try help those players and show them, in between game sessions, how they can be more effective, statistically speaking. I also try to encourage them in the RP aspect of the game. If they don't care after that, well then I can't help them anymore and they get classified as a "transient" player and that type of player doesn't usually stick around too long.

That's the way I do it, everyone knows what the rules are before the campaign even starts and I stick to them. That's how you build a solid group.


Damian Magecraft wrote:
Irontruth wrote:


It still seems highly unlikely that a lvl 3-5 character is going to have a high chance of survival in a CR 10-12 encounter, unless you are purposely pulling punches to allow that character to survive. If that character isn't being targeted, or only gets targeted by CR appropriate opponents, that's just giving plot immunity to characters in combat.

If it works for you, that's cool. I just don't see how if the DM isn't pulling punches, that a character death doesn't result in a downward spiral of further deaths for that player.

You are thinking linearly. A CR 10 encounter does not have to be a single creature. Multiple creatures of a lower CR value will reach the same CR value.

No, I'm look at a wide range of scenarios and examining the impact they could have on campaign using your rules.

In your multiple creatures scenario, lets say you have 4 players, 3 are level 10, one died in the last combat, but it's been 4 sessions and he's managed to level EVERY time (which on the final session requires at minimum 2 CR 10 "encounters", or 7 CR 7 "encounters" worth of experience in one session). Now the party is up against a CR 10 encounter, but it's 5 creatures, which are identical, who are CR 5. Essentially, that character has to fight one almost (but not completely) on his own. Solo fights with creatures whose CR equals your level can be dangerous, it depends a lot on the match up though.

It is also very possible to encounter creatures with AOE attacks. Wizards, sorcerers, anything with a breath weapon and a lot of spell-like abilities, all of these will hit that character indescriminately.

Again... if it works for you, great. But just like you are allowed to play the game how you like, I am also allowed to point out a possible flaw in your rules for other people who are reading this. It's not the method of handing out XP I disagree with, it's always starting a new character at level 1, regardless of the APL.


stuart haffenden wrote:

Hey,

Do you, the DM's of planet Pathfinder, impose any penalties on your players for any reason?

For example, if a player kept on changing his character, would you make them start at a lower level? Or with less starting cash?

The problem with the above is that the knock on effects can potentially be bad for everyone - if the "tank" is a weakling, or has a useless weapon he could put the rest of the party in danger which doesn't seem fair.

Other possible player issues would include tardiness, not showing up often enough, doing stupid things in the adventure - endangering others etc.

So do you guys, and in what manner, penalise players for any reason?

Currently, I'm leveling the party up together. The XP doesn't mean much.

In past games, I did XP individually. My rule, which I stand by, is that if you die while doing something appropriate, and your death was either out of your hands, a part of the story, or due to bad dice, you get to keep all of your experience.

If you died because you came up with a bad plan, picked a fight, or did something extra you knew was dangerous because you were trying to get ahead on treasure or XP - and failed - I'd bring you back as a level lower than the lowest level original character.

Sense everyone gets the same XP even in that system, and the XP is based on the highest level character, it doesn't take long to close the gap.

Dark Archive

cranewings wrote:

Currently, I'm leveling the party up together. The XP doesn't mean much.

In past games, I did XP individually. My rule, which I stand by, is that if you die while doing something appropriate, and your death was either out of your hands, a part of the story, or due to bad dice, you get to keep all of your experience.

If you died because you came up with a bad plan, picked a fight, or did something extra you knew was dangerous because you were trying to get ahead on treasure or XP - and failed - I'd bring you back as a level lower than the lowest level original character.

Sense everyone gets the same XP even in that system, and the XP is based on the highest level character, it doesn't take long to close the gap.

You mean in 3.5, right? Because in Pathfinder it's a flat number of xp divided evenly between all the participants in the combat. So if you're 50xp behind the guy with the most XP, the only way you're going to catch up is if you gain 50xp somewhere that he didn't get a share of xp for, such as picking a fight when he's not around.


Irontruth wrote:
Damian Magecraft wrote:
Irontruth wrote:


It still seems highly unlikely that a lvl 3-5 character is going to have a high chance of survival in a CR 10-12 encounter, unless you are purposely pulling punches to allow that character to survive. If that character isn't being targeted, or only gets targeted by CR appropriate opponents, that's just giving plot immunity to characters in combat.

If it works for you, that's cool. I just don't see how if the DM isn't pulling punches, that a character death doesn't result in a downward spiral of further deaths for that player.

You are thinking linearly. A CR 10 encounter does not have to be a single creature. Multiple creatures of a lower CR value will reach the same CR value.

No, I'm look at a wide range of scenarios and examining the impact they could have on campaign using your rules.

In your multiple creatures scenario, lets say you have 4 players, 3 are level 10, one died in the last combat, but it's been 4 sessions and he's managed to level EVERY time (which on the final session requires at minimum 2 CR 10 "encounters", or 7 CR 7 "encounters" worth of experience in one session). Now the party is up against a CR 10 encounter, but it's 5 creatures, which are identical, who are CR 5. Essentially, that character has to fight one almost (but not completely) on his own. Solo fights with creatures whose CR equals your level can be dangerous, it depends a lot on the match up though.

It is also very possible to encounter creatures with AOE attacks. Wizards, sorcerers, anything with a breath weapon and a lot of spell-like abilities, all of these will hit that character indescriminately.

Again... if it works for you, great. But just like you are allowed to play the game how you like, I am also allowed to point out a possible flaw in your rules for other people who are reading this. It's not the method of handing out XP I disagree with, it's always starting a new character at level 1, regardless of the APL.

And I still say you are over thinking it. And making a poor assumption. You are assuming that all other party members are of the same level.

Dynamic world/party.
There is typically an average of 2 or 3 levels difference between all PCs.
so it would be more like this...
PC - 13th level
PC - 10th level
PC - 7th level
PC - 5th level
PC - 3rd level
PC - 1st Level

APL - 6

If the character cannot survive a level 6 encounter with this party there is something seriously wrong. And with our builds/players that should be a challenging encounter for the 1st level characters.

APL & CR are fine for getting a gauge but are not ironclad guarantees.


Damien - I'll bet that 13th Level guy just loves all of those CR-6 encounters. I mean, he's either lusting over the bloody slaughter or bored to tears with the lack of challenge.


Damian Magecraft wrote:

And I still say you are over thinking it. And making a poor assumption. You are assuming that all other party members are of the same level.

Dynamic world/party.
There is typically an average of 2 or 3 levels difference between all PCs.
so it would be more like this...
PC - 13th level
PC - 10th level
PC - 7th level
PC - 5th level
PC - 3rd level
PC - 1st Level
APL - 6

If the character cannot survive a level 6 encounter with this party there is something seriously wrong. And with our builds/players that should be a challenging encounter for the 1st level characters.

APL & CR are fine for getting a gauge but are not ironclad guarantees.

A CR 6 encounter will pretty much never challenge a level 13 character.

While a GM can "work around" these kinds of issues, eventually it's going to break verisimilitude. If something can challenge the level 10 and 13 character, it's virtually a guaranteed death should that opponent every hit the 1st or 3rd level character, and a high probability for the 5th level too. Anything weak enough to be an appropriate challenge for them is too easily dealt with by the 10th or 13th level character.

Lets say you've got BBEG (CR 10) and his minions (4, CR 4 each), the fight has potential to be nicely divided up for different party members. Except one of the 2 higher level guys has an AoE attack, sees the opportunity to put the odds in his party's favor, so he drops an aoe attack. At 10th level or higher, most spell casters have access to a 10d6 aoe, which has a good chance of doing about 60-80% of the minions HP if they fail the save. Unless you have an explicit rule saying participants in combat should focus on CR appropriate opponents, this is going to happen pretty regularly.

There are a lot of games where you can accommodate varying power levels more easily, unfortunately 3.X can become very flawed in encounter design when attempting to account for a level 1 and 13 player in the same party. While it is possible, it takes very special and obvious circumstances to make sure each player is facing appropriate challenges and having these, or similar, circumstances happening all the time isn't logical for a story, unless you're playing a game where all combat happens in a gladiatorial arena where encounters are supposed to be structured and designed.

It sounds like you and your group don't care about this flaw, and that's okay. If it works for you and your group, that's good. There are flaws in every rule/method mentioned in this thread, the key is that people choose the one that has flaws they can deal with the best. That doesn't make the flaw disappear though.

Dark Archive

Wow. umm. I dont think I'd ever want a party with a level difference of 13 between lowest and highest. I'd be iffy on anything above like. 4. (If the highest is level 13, I can't see including people below 9. Not in a game with such wide power gaps as Pathfinder. In a system where a level one has a decent chance of success against a level 10 I'd be fine with it (WoD, Warhammer?(I forget)).

The level 13 won't even be challenged by that CR 6, and will likely be very bored, and I'd be wondering why he's not actively looking for more of a challenge, and the CR one guy is going to spend most of the fight against the CR 6 cowering and hiding.

My group got all whiny because I put them Lv 4, 5, 5, 5, 6 against a party with an Lv 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 5, 5, 6, 6; as the final encounter for the campaign.
Group: "And you don't see a problem with this?!"
Me: "Not for a campaign finale. I'd see it as too hard if the campaign was going to keep going after tonight. For a finale I'm okay with a high risk of casualty."
After which they all went silent. Apparently they didn't have a rebuttal for that, but still thought it was too hard. I can't imagine having the Lv 1 fight a bunch of Level 6es.


Kain Darkwind wrote:


I guess I don't understand why you are 'discouraging' or 'punishing' him at all.

They're falling behind. With less XP, they will be behind a level at times. If it goes far enough, they will be behind all the time, and it might become more than one level. Two levels can mean a lot, since you're missing a whole spell level. And even ignoring that, characters that are behind in levels are less powerful and more squishy.

A lot of people like it when there is an even playing field. And since we're talking about people with good reasons for not being here, it could mean that because they feel that they're being treated unfairly, they won't play any more.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Darkholme wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
I had a problem with a player calling off an hour before the game once. I talked with him and the rest of the group about it, and have always had 24 hours notice since then. No problems.

That's decent of them. I'm okay with an hour's notice though, I only really have a problem with when they just don't show up, and we spend an hour waiting for them.

I think we were already down two other players, and a third was possibly not going to show. Luckily the third player did show, or we would have felt it better to cancel the session. Since my wife and I drive an hour to game with everyone, and usually come down a couple hours before the game starts, an hours notice of a canceled game means I just wasted half a tank of gas.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Darkholme wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
I had a problem with a player calling off an hour before the game once. I talked with him and the rest of the group about it, and have always had 24 hours notice since then. No problems.

That's decent of them. I'm okay with an hour's notice though, I only really have a problem with when they just don't show up, and we spend an hour waiting for them.

I think we were already down two other players, and a third was possibly not going to show. Luckily the third player did show, or we would have felt it better to cancel the session. Since my wife and I drive an hour to game with everyone, and usually come down a couple hours before the game starts, an hours notice of a canceled game means I just wasted half a tank of gas.

I bike about 90 minutes to get to my sessions, so I know a slight variation of your pain.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Irontruth wrote:
I bike about 90 minutes to get to my sessions, so I know a slight variation of your pain.

I salute your dedication to the hobby, sir! :)


mdt wrote:


Let's try it from the other side. You are a player. You show up on time. Every time. You are always prepared. You roleplay.

Or maybe you are a player. You have no life. You show up because it's a nice break from endless WoW sessions, and the servers are down again, anyway. You're only there for fighing with your min-maxed munchkin character and winning, but you're always there.

...

mdt wrote:


The GMs best friend shows up at random intervals, shows up late, shows up early, is never prepared, forgets his sheet half the time, never roleplays, keeps his head buried in a rulebook, looks up when it's his turn for combat, asks what happened since his last turn, summons some creatures, looks them up in a new rulebook, etc.

...

Or maybe the other guy shows up as often as he can, but because he does have a job where he often has to work weekends, he can only be there every other session. But when he's there he's really there. Great roleplaying, shares his snacks, is focussed on the game, doesn't try to "win" by meta-gaming, rules-lawyering, or secretly reading the module to find the best treasures. Doesn't hog the spotlight either.

...

mdt wrote:


Now, how do you feel that the GMs buddy get's the exact same experience you do for no effort?

...

Now, how do you feel that the smelly prick who might be present all the time physically (and his stench surely is) only to play lone wolf, argue with the GM, fudge his rolls, hog the spot-light and eat everyone else's snacks without ever bringing anything of his own, is given more XP than the nice guy who gives his best?

See what I did there? Just like you, I made up a lot of stuff to support my side of the argument.

Now, let's forget all that. Let's focus on the core issue: Someone not being there all the time.

Doesn't have anything to do with interpersonal skills. Doesn't have anything to do with good or bad roleplaying. Doesn't have anything to do with anything, except that he's not there every session and why he's not there every session.

The way I see it, there are basically two scenarios here:

In one, the guy has life, work, or something else that is really important getting in the way of roleplaying, which can happen. Maybe he can't be there all the time on the day the group meets, but since too many others can't play on any other day, it's the only workable solution. This usually means that it is clear up-front that he won't be there all the time, and the schedule is usually quite clear. In this scenario, the only alternative is not having the guy around. And personally, I'd rather have my friends at the table half the time than not at all, and I won't decide that they'll get less XP. They're already missing out on the fun, let's not make it worse by having him lag behind when he can play instead of working.

The other scenario is the guy who will bother to show up when there is nothing more interesting going on. You'll probably know that he won't be there an hour or two before the game starts, or maybe half an hour after. In that case, I won't dock him any XP. I'll just throw him out of the group. End of story.

This is totally separate from putting an effort into the game or being a good roleplayer. I remember the time when I had tons of spare time, but working life did clamp down on that to some extent. And I'm relatively lucky in that regards. Others have longer work hours, and have to work on weekends, and have personal obligations they can't just ignore.

Don't get me wrong, I won't begrudge anyone their tons of free time, but I do get a bit cranky when they start going on about how they're better players than others because they can sink more spare time into the game than other people even have.


Darkholme wrote:
cranewings wrote:

Currently, I'm leveling the party up together. The XP doesn't mean much.

In past games, I did XP individually. My rule, which I stand by, is that if you die while doing something appropriate, and your death was either out of your hands, a part of the story, or due to bad dice, you get to keep all of your experience.

If you died because you came up with a bad plan, picked a fight, or did something extra you knew was dangerous because you were trying to get ahead on treasure or XP - and failed - I'd bring you back as a level lower than the lowest level original character.

Sense everyone gets the same XP even in that system, and the XP is based on the highest level character, it doesn't take long to close the gap.

You mean in 3.5, right? Because in Pathfinder it's a flat number of xp divided evenly between all the participants in the combat. So if you're 50xp behind the guy with the most XP, the only way you're going to catch up is if you gain 50xp somewhere that he didn't get a share of xp for, such as picking a fight when he's not around.

I should say narrow the gap rather than close. A 1st level guy that joins an 8th level party will get to 8th before the group gets to 10th. In all honesty, I'd be more interested in a game played where all death reduces you to first level, especially if the GM gives you the fast experience track.

My system has resulted in characters 3 levels apart, but in a couple of months they are usually only a single level apart.

I don't have the custom craft RAW problem of individuals not being able to contribute, so the gap doesn't matter.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
KaeYoss wrote:
See what I did there? Just like you, I made up a lot of stuff to support my side of the argument.

Yep, I see what you did there. You posted a smart a** response, belittled what I posted, then got up on a high horse and proclaimed why you are the god of the thread and how you are right, and I am wrong, then you smugly patted yourself on the back.

I didn't make up a bunch of stuff to support my side of the argument.

I posted something that actually happened to me while gaming. I was the guy who showed up regularly, roleplayed, let the GM know when I was going to miss, etc.

I sat and watched the game slowly get dragged down by the GMs jerkoff friend. Me and the other 3 players used to get together and complain to each other how the GM rewarded his friend who never showed up on time, slowed the game down, dragged it off focus, and so on by giving him exactly the same benefits as us. The GM went out of his way to 'be fair' he called it by rewarding this friend exactly the same as everyone else, because he 'didn't want to play favorites'.

You know what? It really freaking sucked! What the GM was basically saying was you could show up or not, keep track of your character or not, keep track of the plot or not, and it was all exactly the freaking same.

I gave up on the game. And I never got to play at all back then, just GM. The game went on without me, of course. I found out later they gave up on playing, nobody felt like putting the effort into it, it ended up being just a hangout session. One guy quit playing at all, and the other two eventually joined my sessions, but it took them six months to get back to actually paying attention to the game and plot, they had gotten ingrained by that game not to bother actually playing.

So next time you want to post a snarky response to prove just how high and mighty you are Kaeyoss (ooh, look at me, I can make a weird spelling of a word, aren't I cool!), you might want to think about both sides first, instead of just blithly assuming you know exactly how someone in a situation feels. Then again, you probably won't, as that would require a severe reduction in arrogance on your part.


stuart haffenden wrote:
So do you guys, and in what manner, penalise players for any reason?

It's almost never good to penalize players imo. Reward them yes, penalize no.

Btw, didn't read this thread, it's too long. :)

In the past, if people wanted to create a new character, I had them start 1-2 levels below everyone else. This was to discourage switching characters. In retrospect, perhaps this was unnecessary (and it would have been better to make them wait part of a session to be introduced).

In the past, I only gave XP to players who were at the session. In retrospect, perhaps this wasn't a good idea, it's better to keep everyone the same level.

In the past, I also gave out different amounts of XP depending on how each player performed during the session. In retrospect, it's better to reward fun/entertaining players in different ways, and better to keep everyone the same level.

So yes, I used to reward players differently, but I don't think that XP is the way to do it.


KaeYoss wrote:

Snipped for Wisdom

Exactly.


mdt wrote:
KaeYoss wrote:
See what I did there? Just like you, I made up a lot of stuff to support my side of the argument.

Yep, I see what you did there. You posted a smart a** response, belittled what I posted, then got up on a high horse and proclaimed why you are the god of the thread and how you are right, and I am wrong, then you smugly patted yourself on the back.

I didn't make up a bunch of stuff to support my side of the argument.

You're still wrong, though, because the answer to your problems isn't "Penalize the other guy some XP!" it's "Don't play with douchebags."

Fix the underlying problem, not the symptoms.


I've yet to see several points raised in this thread addressed.

1. Not giving XP for not playing is punishment. I'll never buy into this. I DO give XP for not playing, a half share assuming I'm forewarned. But that's a bonus, not something one is entitled to, that removing would be a punishment. I can't imagine someone actually telling me, "I should have as much XP as that other guy, who plays more often."

2. Being below other people's XP is discouraging.

Assume the guy shows up 75% of the time.

10th level main party halfway to 11th level has 130,000 XP. 75% is 97500. 9th level, almost 10th.

15th level main party half way to 16th level has 762,500 XP. 75% is 571,875. 14th level, almost 15th. Pattern follows throughout nearly every level that I can see. If you show up 75% of the time, getting 75% of the Xp of the other characters, you will be 1 level behind them for half of the time, and the same level for the other half.

I've never had an issue with a half level gap. I have one right now with my game, the lowest player is 13th level, the highest 14. It doesn't cause problems. Squishy is 7th level vs 12th level, not 10th vs 12th.

3. DM can't possibly handle having characters of different levels. While I freely admit Darien's 13 level gap is quite a bit more than I'd want for a game, mixed parties can and have been done. I like to keep them within 3 levels of each other myself, but there is absolutely NO reason you can't have something for everyone to do. Look at Drizzt. Higher level than everyone, yet his companions are valuable allies and never at a lack for adventures to be had.

4. The game assumes all players are at the same XP. Look at Deck of Many Things. You are therefore wrong.


Damian Magecraft wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Damian Magecraft wrote:

In my games...

All new characters start at 1st level.
This not that big a deal to my players since I use both party and individual exp. If you earn enough exp to advance more than one level (this happens often with new characters joining a high level party) you may do so with but one restriction... the character must play each level for at least one session.

No exp is awarded to no shows.
If you give advanced notice (even if its just a call on game day) saying you cannot make it. There will be opportunities to make up the lost exp.

Want to alter a feat/power choice?
Okay.
But it will be an in game change and may take some time or become a plot point in the campaign.

In a 10th level party, how do you not instantly kill the new character when an aoe attack is used? No level 1 character could survive a CR 7+ breath weapon, fireball, chain lightning, etc.
By not running combat centric campaigns. My campaigns run heavy on the social interaction and can go 3 or 4 (8 hour) sessions without a single combat occurring. Although the build up to combat can occur in those 3 or 4 sessions.

Even then a low level character can't make the DC's most of the time unless you give bonuses for good RP or just handwave the dice roll altogether or do you have another way to keep them interested.

The only thing I can think of is that the NPC's are low level and therefore more easy to influence, but that would made the DC's trivially easy for the higher level PC's. Of course if the challenge is not important or handled in some other way that may not matter.

PS:Even though I did not ask a question I am curious as to how you handle this.


Damian Magecraft wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Damian Magecraft wrote:
Irontruth wrote:


In a 10th level party, how do you not instantly kill the new character when an aoe attack is used? No level 1 character could survive a CR 7+ breath weapon, fireball, chain lightning, etc.
By not running combat centric campaigns. My campaigns run heavy on the social interaction and can go 3 or 4 (8 hour) sessions without a single combat occurring. Although the build up to combat can occur in those 3 or 4 sessions.

It still seems highly unlikely that a lvl 3-5 character is going to have a high chance of survival in a CR 10-12 encounter, unless you are purposely pulling punches to allow that character to survive. If that character isn't being targeted, or only gets targeted by CR appropriate opponents, that's just giving plot immunity to characters in combat.

If it works for you, that's cool. I just don't see how if the DM isn't pulling punches, that a character death doesn't result in a downward spiral of further deaths for that player.

You are thinking linearly. A CR 10 encounter does not have to be a single creature. Multiple creatures of a lower CR value will reach the same CR value.

Yes and no. After you use so many low CR creatures they are not really worthy of CR X because they don't own up to the challenge. The 3.5 DM spelled this out directly. I am not saying it is wrong to do things that way, but the CR of the low level monsters may or may not add up even if the numbers do.


When I last GM'd a Pathfinder game... I didn't use XP.
I was converting a 3e adventure, and it listed "players should be level X by this chapter". So I made sure they were around that level by that point in the adventure (usually one level at the beginning and one level in the middle of the chapter).

As for penalizing a specific player...
I've only ever played with people I'd consider friends, and spend a night just talking with regardless if there was gaming.
So no. If someone can't show up, and they weren't critical enough to the story that we could continue gaming, I don't penalize them.

With having a 2 year old, a wife just recently finished post-secondary specialized education and job hopping, and another baby on the way.. I can understand the term "life happens".
Among friends, "not getting a chance to play" is really penalty enough.

Then again, I tend to stop playing with people who treat me like crap, so maybe the only penalty I have is to cut them out of gaming with me.

Dark Archive

*I'd like to point out, that not everyone games with their buddies.

I found for a long time that my friends weren't reliable enough to game with, except one guy. So a year and a half ago, a bunch of us (who were all strangers) started gaming together and started a local roleplaying club.

Fastforward to this year. There are 95 members, about 50 of which are actively playing a game once a week.

Games are sometimes filled by people you're friends with, but basically it's an open grab-bag for the first x people who sign up for the game and can make it on that day (x being however many players you said you'd accept). (Though there's one guy who knows I actively loathe him and he has the sense to not join my games, there have been a few issues involving him joining someone elses game after I'm in it).

Fairly often you end up with a group that you've only ever played a game with half the people before, or only even talked to them a few times.

So: RPGs with strangers vs. not being able to form a group. I know many of them now, and some of them are my friends now, but often that's what it comes down to. We dont tend to give xp if someone isn't bothering to show up and has no good reason, but some GMs do if they give a valid reason, and with regard to douchebag players/GMs, sometimes you don't know rightaway.

TriOmegaZero wrote:
I think we were already down two other players, and a third was possibly not going to show. Luckily the third player did show, or we would have felt it better to cancel the session. Since my wife and I drive an hour to game with everyone, and usually come down a couple hours before the game starts, an hours notice of a canceled game means I just wasted half a tank of gas.

Yeah. ouch. I can see how that would sting. I was thinking more of if he was the only one missing.


I don't get some of this. If you don't show up why on earth do you feel you're entitled to some of the xp? Do you expect a share of the treasure the party may have found too? Is the xp that important to you?
If you are missing enough sessions that you are actually starting to fall behind in levels I think it's time you re-evaluated your commitments and perhaps realize that you can't give the group the time commitment required. Or move gaming further up your list of priorities.
Everyone misses a session here or there but if you're missing way more then the rest the problem is you. not the group.

This whole concept reeks of "Me" mentality selfishness. You should get xp because you couldn't make it? What about the DM who actually spent hours crafting the adventure? That now has to readjust his work to compensate for you not being there. Where's his xp then huh? Or what about the rest of the group that is now in danger of dying because you were the party's healer.. Or if it's a small group can't even play now.

Bottom line.. in my groups for the past 20 years.. you don't show up, you get squat. Legitimate life conflicts happen. This week you missed out. 2 weeks from now it will be the player to your left. It will balance out. But if you are missing out so much you're falling behind... it's on you.


ralantar wrote:
I don't get some of this. If you don't show up why on earth do you feel you're entitled to some of the xp? Do you expect a share of the treasure the party may have found too? Is the xp that important to you?

If someone in our group can't make it, they not only get full XP, but they also get a cut of any loot we might have found that night. Certainly items are set aside for them to choose from later.

You see it's not about the missing player's expectations, rather it's about the party not being selfish. :)

It's one thing to say "poof" and have a character disappear (which I completely don't agree with, ruins story continuity), it's quite another to hijack treasure as well. I don't know about the rest of you, but we don't get the good stuff every session. There are times when we go 2 or 3 sessions without accruing any meaningful loot.

Playing with strangers - 3 years ago, yeah, we were strangers. My group was formed through the Paizo want ads. Now we're all friends and we do things outside of PF. That's ideal, IMO. If you're in a position to play with actual friends, count yourself blessed.


It seems to me the one being a selfish prick is the player who missed and gets something for nothing. Especially if this not showing up is a chronic thing.
In my groups the treasure found is the parties to do with as they will. If they want to put aside a magic item for someone who missed a session or give them a cut of the gold that's totally up to them. The XP though no, not happening. The end of the night I add up the xp and divide it by the people who are there. You're character wasn't there.. he didn't experience anything... so he doesn't get any!

but I suppose you're the kind who doesn't think they should keep score in little league either.


ralantar wrote:

It seems to me the one being a selfish prick is the player who missed and gets something for nothing. Especially if this not showing up is a chronic thing.

In my groups the treasure found is the parties to do with as they will. If they want to put aside a magic item for someone who missed a session or give them a cut of the gold that's totally up to them. The XP though no, not happening. The end of the night I add up the xp and divide it by the people who are there. You're character wasn't there.. he didn't experience anything... so he doesn't get any!

I'm only saying this because I think you really need to see it in print; Relantar, your way of playing is perfectly valid*. Just like my way is valid as well.

*I played your way, oh I don't know, probably back in high school or college. As I've gotten older and played with more responsible people, it's amazing how the game, and attitudes, have changed.

ralantar wrote:
but I suppose you're the kind who doesn't think they should keep score in little league either.

and this thread had been so nice lately, no personal attacks of any kind...


LOL I apologize for my snark :) I don't know you, No need for me to be snippy. It's just a pet peeve of mine. For years whenever I have had players that thought in the way you are describing they were not in it for the group. Most of them had the mentality of "the group should be happy I showed up"
Wanting xp for not contributing/participating just comes across as a symptom of this thought process.
Tell me, what happens if another player's character dies because you didn't show? Should you get xp while they have a dead pc?


ralantar wrote:
LOL I apologize for my snark :)

Dude, rock on. Thanks for that.

ralantar wrote:
I don't know you, No need for me to be snippy. It's just a pet peeve of mine. For years whenever I have had players that thought in the way you are describing they were not in it for the group. Most of them had the mentality of "the group should be happy I showed up"

And those guys are douchebags. I think that's universally accepted these days.

*NOTE - my group plays the way we do, not because one guys cries, rather because we all agree and want to have fun as a group.

Example

    DM: I want to run the Kingmaker AP, if you guys are cool with that then let's create characters.
    Players: Yeah, that's cool. Shall we roll stats?
    DM: Let's not roll this time, call it a 20-PB
    Players: How 'bout making that a 25-PB?
    DM: Okay

That, IMO, is how an older group gets things done. The DM compromised and so did the players. That's indicative of how we do most things, outside of in-game rules interpretations (DM makes the calls, because that's his job.)

Scarab Sages

Mike Schneider wrote:
I was very surprised that Pathfinder did not incorporate the "retraining" rules from 3.5...
wraithstrike wrote:
I like it as an optional rule, but now as an ordinary rule. "Forgetting" how to do something ruins immersion for me if it happens all the times.
0gre wrote:
I usually allow it when there is extended downtime, usually between books in an AP I'll give people the option to bring a new character in or retrain but I give them a bit of a reward for sticking with their existing character at the same time.

Given that many groups, over the last few years have been actively playtesting, will that have caused them to relax their normal stance on rewriting PCs?


ralantar wrote:
It seems to me the one being a selfish prick is the player who missed and gets something for nothing.

Oh, horrors!

You, who did not show up to the game last weekend, have just as many imaginary currency units and arbitrary nerd advancement points as I, who did!

Truly, the entire imaginary economy is on the verge of complete breakdown! Whatever shall we do?

Nevermind that I actually got to have fun last weekend, made a bunch of jokes with everyone else, got to figure out a devilish riddle, fought off a squad of attacking orcs without taking any damage by making clever use of terrain, and had some decent pizza, while you were stuck at work.

In short, your comparison to Little League scoring is telling, because roleplaying games are not a competition, and it is not necessary for me to have more XP and GP than you to prove that I am somehow winning D&D.

Showing up to play is its own reward, and missing a session of fun is its own punishment.


Patryn of Elvenshae wrote:
eloquently stated a bunch of stuff I agree with.

+1!

I cannot express in words how excited I am about getting to play PF every 2 weeks. My wife simply doesn't understand. lol


loaba wrote:
Patryn of Elvenshae wrote:
eloquently stated a bunch of stuff I agree with.

+1!

I cannot express in words how excited I am about getting to play PF every 2 weeks. My wife simply doesn't understand. lol

My wife plays, and grumbles when she doesn't get to roll enough dice at a session.

So, uh, in a way, I am winning D&D. :D


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Patryn of Elvenshae wrote:
ralantar wrote:
It seems to me the one being a selfish prick is the player who missed and gets something for nothing.

Oh, horrors!

You, who did not show up to the game last weekend, have just as many imaginary currency units and arbitrary nerd advancement points as I, who did!

Truly, the entire imaginary economy is on the verge of complete breakdown! Whatever shall we do?

Oh, horrors!

You, who did not show up tot he game last weekend, have a few less imaginary currency units and arbitrary nerd advancement points than everyone else, who did!

Truly, the entire imaginary economy is on the verge of complete breakdown! Whatever shall we do?

Patryn of Elvenshae wrote:


Nevermind that I actually got to have fun last weekend, made a bunch of jokes with everyone else, got to figure out a devilish riddle, fought off a squad of attacking orcs without taking any damage by making clever use of terrain, and had some decent pizza, while you were stuck at work.

Nevermind that you made money while everyone else didn't, or perhaps you got to go out on a date with the cute blonde from the coffee shop, or you got to go to the big football game, or you made your sick child feel better by taking care of them and bonding with them in a way that the other people didn't have a chance to.

Patryn of Elvenshae wrote:


In short, your comparison to Little League scoring is telling, because roleplaying games are not a competition, and it is not necessary for me to have more XP and GP than you to prove that I am somehow winning D&D.

Showing up to play is its own reward, and missing a session of fun is its own punishment.

In short, roleplaying games are not a competition, and it is not necessary for you to have the same XP and GP than anyone else to prove that you are just as good as them.

Showing up to play is a social contract you have made with your friends, and while there are often good reasons for not doing showing up, that in no way changes the fact that they set aside their time for you, and you didn't do the same.


MDT - where is the benefit in having differing levels of XP and GP between your players?

In short, your ridiculous attempt to just turn around my argument only makes sense if there is some benefit to differentiation.

I deny that there is any benefit, ergo you are segregating and differentiating players for no reason.


Here's the thing people. This is all subjective, all of it. There is no right or wrong answer. Further up on this thread I posted what I DO for this. I don't care if others agree or disagree because that's the way I, as GM, run my game. If you don't like it? Solve the problem differently. But don't expect everyone else to agree with you.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Patryn of Elvenshae wrote:

MDT - where is the benefit in having differing levels of XP and GP between your players?

In short, your ridiculous attempt to just turn around my argument only makes sense if there is some benefit to differentiation.

I deny that there is any benefit, ergo you are segregating and differentiating players for no reason.

Where is the benefit in having exactly the same XP and GP between players? No, seriously. If you look at the game itself, it is inherently set up to have different GP between characters (just look at starting gold entries, which vary by class).

You are demanding that everyone justify their position, and calling anyone elses positions 'silly' or 'ridiculous'. I just took your words and turned them around to point out that your position is just as arbitrary as you claim your opponents positions are.

As to different XP, are you one of those GMs that doesn't give XP for roleplaying, or for the guy who comes up with the most awesome solution to a problem that has everyone in the game excited?

Because if you do, then you will have XP different between players. And if you don't, I demand to know why you are penalizing that guy by not awarding him XP for something he did? Justify your position that effort put in by someone (regardless of the habits or punctuality of anyone else at the table) should not be given the rewards they are entitled to? Or do you consider that everyone gets rewarded for one player/character's awesomeness?

If there is any chance of all players having different XP, then you are there is no good reason to hand out XP to people not there. If you always give everyone exactly the same XP, regardless of their participation or whether they contribute or how good they roleplay, then you should quit being hypocritcal and get rid of XP completely and just tell everyone what level they get at the end of each game. Beyond that, you should also get rid of Wealth By Level and treasure, and just hand out equipment at various points in the game.

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