XP / level penalties for bad players.


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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?


stuart haffenden wrote:


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

If someone doesn't show up, or if they miss a chunk of the game session, I only give them 75% of the XP the other party members got in the encounters that they missed.

Sometimes I'm tempted to give the missing player no xp for the fights they missed. That's how it would've worked in 3.5.
Then it gets annoying trying to catch them up later...

Moox


I think this is a trap thread to catch bad DMs...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Yes, I have a penalty for bad players.

I don't play with them.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

In our games.. We don't give anyone any exp if they are not there. (The people who are there get exp of course.)

My current DM says that he will make it so we are permanently 1 LA if we do switch our character after level 1. Even if it died. Which sucks for me, Cause I'm that player who's character will die after level 1. (my first character died in the final battle just before we leveled due to a crit hit. So I get to still be leveled with the party.. for now.)

But for the most part, we try to get to a point where we figure out the parties strengths and weaknesses and play to them. Even if the tank is a weakling, then we just have to find ways to use it to our advantage.


Cartigan wrote:
I think this is a trap thread to catch bad DMs...

^This.

There are no bad players. There are no bad DM's. There are jerks who participate in RPG's. Try not to be a jerk.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Generally as a dm if a player does something 'bad' I talk to them about it. I passive aggressively docking them xp or treasure is petty, and wont neccesarily accomplish my goal.


In order for a player to alter his character, it requires the direct and active permission and involvement of the DM. If he isn't doing it with permission, he is cheating.

So, he's either cheating and needs a boot to the head to correct his "gaming style" or he has permission and isn't in need of any penalties.

If he is just asking to be changed, tell him no. No need to access any penalties.

As for being late/not showing up:
Sometimes life happens. We try not to penalize someone because life happens. In our last session one player didn't show up because he was sick. He wasn't docked any XP. We'd much, MUCH rather sick folks stay away than to come to the game.
However, if he's not coming/is late just because he found something better to do (as shown by the habitual nature of the not showing up) then I could see docking Xp... but really- why not just sit the guy down and talk to 'em about it?
"Hey Bob we meet at 7 but you always show up between 7:45 and 8.. would you rather we just move it to starting at 8?" or whatever. Talking to players > penalizing character.

Doing stupid things/endangering others: No. Just.. no. If a PC is acting in character and doing stupid things let it be dealt with in game. The offending PC will die in combat or will be left behind by the group.
Note though the difference between "bad tactics" and "active disruption". If someone is just trying to disrupt the game then it has to be dealt with outside the game.
Bad tactics/ideas though are a learning experience and should be left alone. Let the other PC's fix them- or character death.

-S


TriOmegaZero wrote:

Yes, I have a penalty for bad players.

I don't play with them.

Amen, brother. Of course "bad player" is subjective, and some folks I've really enjoy playing with over the years would probably meet some folks definition of a bad player (e.g. can't roleplay to save their lives, can't remember any of the rules). Conversely, I would probably not want to play with some people who others might think of as excellent players (e.g. complete systems mastery, Oscar-worthy roleplaying).

What it boils down to for me is: don't play with jerks. Many of the problems brought to these boards would be averted if people just followed that one rule. Most of the rest would be averted if people followed the corollary - don't be a jerk.

As to the OP's question, I experimented years ago with an XP system that gave rewards to the players who roleplayed the best each week, but was not pleased with the results, and don't recommend it. Better to reward good play in other ways rather than XP, IMHO. For example, giving good roleplayers more opportunities to roleplay and possibly concrete advantages from that roleplay, or giving good tactical thinkers advantages in the form of circumstance bonuses in combat when they have a good tactical idea (e.g. "We'll attack the archers from the west as the sun is setting so they will have difficulty finding their targets).

Notice that everything I've mentioned is a carrot rather than a stick. In general, in the context of games people are playing for fun, I think the carrot approach works better.

Grand Lodge

Quote:
There are no bad players. There are no bad DM's. There are jerks who participate in RPG's. Try not to be a jerk.

Amen to that.

I'm a total softie when it comes to my players. Took a feat that sucked and want to swap it out? Go for it. Realized that that level of sorcerer you took for your bard/sorcerer/rogue build wasn't helping? Replace it with a level of rogue. Want an extra two days to do wondrous item crafting? No problem. In the end, what really matters is that everyone is having fun.

The only penalty I impose on my players is imposing initiative delay if they try to use an ability/spell that they don't understand/have to look up. I try to keep my combats as real time as possible.


You're a DM, not an educator. And if you were, you'd be a bad educator using punishment to form minds. Just doesn't work.


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

I've seen players punished on numerous occasions, but not once have I seen it successfully change the player's problem behaviour. So I don't bother doing it myself. (Well, I reserve the right to kick a player out of the group, in theory.)


This is a group game. The DM doesn't decide anything, the entire group decides. Do people really tolerate that sort of non-sense? What to reduce XP for players not showing up, the group decides. Want to ban a feat, the group decides. Want to play a certain character/race, yep, you got it, the group decides. The game only works if everyone is in agreement. If I want to run a game where there are no elves, I suggest it to the group, as a group we have final say. If I want to play a CE drow assassin, the group decides is that fits with the rest of the group. Why would I want to play anything disruptive or allow others to be equal as disruptive?

Sczarni

sheadunne wrote:

This is a group game. The DM doesn't decide anything, the entire group decides. Do people really tolerate that sort of non-sense? What to reduce XP for players not showing up, the group decides. Want to ban a feat, the group decides. Want to play a certain character/race, yep, you got it, the group decides. The game only works if everyone is in agreement. If I want to run a game where there are no elves, I suggest it to the group, as a group we have final say. If I want to play a CE drow assassin, the group decides is that fits with the rest of the group. Why would I want to play anything disruptive or allow others to be equal as disruptive?

+1 it is a group game, not the players game and not the DM's game, its the groups game all together, without either a DM or Players there is no game.

i do however have a problem with players either showing up late on a regular basis or not paying attention, if a player continually shows up late then the game starts without them and they get no XP for the time they missed, if a player isn't paying attention far too often then i wont repeat what just happened. beyond that i don't see a reason to penalize a player out of game.


sheadunne wrote:

This is a group game. The DM doesn't decide anything, the entire group decides. Do people really tolerate that sort of non-sense? What to reduce XP for players not showing up, the group decides. Want to ban a feat, the group decides. Want to play a certain character/race, yep, you got it, the group decides. The game only works if everyone is in agreement. If I want to run a game where there are no elves, I suggest it to the group, as a group we have final say. If I want to play a CE drow assassin, the group decides is that fits with the rest of the group. Why would I want to play anything disruptive or allow others to be equal as disruptive?

You have some great points, and I'd like to agree, but just can't go there with you.

It is a group game, and you're spot on on the need for the GM to communicate with the players and seek their input and buy-in. I also almost agree with your point on allowing other players and the GM to veto character ideas. I do agree that characters should fit with the rest of the group and that insisting on playing something that doesn't fit with the rest of the group is being potentially disruptive and frankly being a bit of a jerk. But I wouldn't go quite so far as to give others veto power over what a player creates.

Similarly, I can't buy your flat statement that "The DM doesn't decide anything." It's just wrong, both by RAW and by the very nature of the game. Communication, consensus-building and buy-in are important and good practices for a GM, but in the end someone at the table has to be in charge and run the game, and that someone is the GM. He has to make decisions and interpret rules all the time as part of the base requirement for the job, and if you take away his ability to do that in favor of rule by committee, you're probably not going to have a successful game, IMHO.


Penalizing characters for player errors is wrong. It won't fix the player problem.

A player problem must be fixed by changing / discussing / negotiation with the player.

Or don't play with that individual.

Trying to fix out-of-game problems inside of the game makes the game unfun for the DM, unfun for the player (who may be utterly clueless why his or her character is being hammered), and unfun for the other persons at the game.

The 'blue bolts from heaven' suggested as a player penalty by Gygax remains as counter-productive today as when he first suggested in the DMG.

MI


Brian Bachman wrote:
sheadunne wrote:

This is a group game. The DM doesn't decide anything, the entire group decides. Do people really tolerate that sort of non-sense? What to reduce XP for players not showing up, the group decides. Want to ban a feat, the group decides. Want to play a certain character/race, yep, you got it, the group decides. The game only works if everyone is in agreement. If I want to run a game where there are no elves, I suggest it to the group, as a group we have final say. If I want to play a CE drow assassin, the group decides is that fits with the rest of the group. Why would I want to play anything disruptive or allow others to be equal as disruptive?

You have some great points, and I'd like to agree, but just can't go there with you.

It is a group game, and you're spot on on the need for the GM to communicate with the players and seek their input and buy-in. I also almost agree with your point on allowing other players and the GM to veto character ideas. I do agree that characters should fit with the rest of the group and that insisting on playing something that doesn't fit with the rest of the group is being potentially disruptive and frankly being a bit of a jerk. But I wouldn't go quite so far as to give others veto power over what a player creates.

Similarly, I can't buy your flat statement that "The DM doesn't decide anything." It's just wrong, both by RAW and by the very nature of the game. Communication, consensus-building and buy-in are important and good practices for a GM, but in the end someone at the table has to be in charge and run the game, and that someone is the GM. He has to make decisions and interpret rules all the time as part of the base requirement for the job, and if you take away his ability to do that in favor of rule by committee, you're probably not going to have a successful game, IMHO.

I've run successful games for 28 years this way. Every game I've played in, where the GM has allowed players to create their own characters in a vacuum has ended in party conflict to the detriment of the game. It just doesn't work.

The GM's only job is to run the NPCs of the game. The GM does not get to interpret rules. That's the entire group's job. No one individual has to be in charge. The group as a whole is in charge. Everyone has an equal investment in the game. To assume that one individual has a larger investment in the group experience, just doesn't hold water.

A number of us who play, don't have time or the inclination to tolerate power-trip non-sense. If you've got a good idea, bring it to the table and let's discuss it like people do when they're invested in a group experience. If we're not sure, let's test it out for a game or two and see if it works.

It's the way we roll and we've had a great time playing . . .


sheadunne wrote:

This is a group game. The DM doesn't decide anything, the entire group decides. Do people really tolerate that sort of non-sense? What to reduce XP for players not showing up, the group decides. Want to ban a feat, the group decides. Want to play a certain character/race, yep, you got it, the group decides. The game only works if everyone is in agreement. If I want to run a game where there are no elves, I suggest it to the group, as a group we have final say. If I want to play a CE drow assassin, the group decides is that fits with the rest of the group. Why would I want to play anything disruptive or allow others to be equal as disruptive?

I agree completely with one caveat:

If the group can't decide, or decides wrongly, then the DM has the final vote.
The reason is this:
The PC's all decide that wizards should get +10 to their spell DC's.
DM votes no.
DM wins.

PC's all vote that they should get full Hp every level.
DM should have the right to vote no.

The fact of the matter is, while it IS everyone's game it is also the responsibility of the DM to keep the game in control, and for it to be fun for everyone at the table. And fun *for him too*.
Structure and restrictions are not bad things.

And when the group can't decide, or decides on something truly hair brained, then the DM has the ability and authority to veto it.

We all discuss, we all give our input, we all give our honest thoughts, plusses and minuses, and then the DM has the final say- taking into account all of the information presented as well as his own opinion.

-S


TriOmegaZero wrote:

Yes, I have a penalty for bad players.

I don't play with them.

As a rule of thumb I don't play with people I wouldn't go for a drink or to the theatre with.

Also, the closest thing to an XP penalty I have ever enforced was an XP bonus for making it on time to the session.

Humbly,
Yawar

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Changing character sheets between sessions is cheating. That's a whole issue itself. That deserves a talking to.

penalizing a player for being "bad at playing their class" is a little over the top. Everyone can't be the best at building characters or playing a particular class. It's not a contest. no one wins. That said, it does annoy some to have players that have a completely concept character that was, by design, an incredibly inferior build that isn't useful in tactical situations.

Players being late or not showing. Not showing up would just mean they don't get xp for that session. Their character slept through it or whatnot. I generally give bonus xp for participation. That way, if everyone shows up, then those that actively participate get a little boost, but the overall baseline of the party remains constant.

Grand Lodge

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


As a rule of thumb I don't play with people I wouldn't go for a drink or to the theatre with.

Humbly,
Yawar

+1


Selgard wrote:
sheadunne wrote:

This is a group game. The DM doesn't decide anything, the entire group decides. Do people really tolerate that sort of non-sense? What to reduce XP for players not showing up, the group decides. Want to ban a feat, the group decides. Want to play a certain character/race, yep, you got it, the group decides. The game only works if everyone is in agreement. If I want to run a game where there are no elves, I suggest it to the group, as a group we have final say. If I want to play a CE drow assassin, the group decides is that fits with the rest of the group. Why would I want to play anything disruptive or allow others to be equal as disruptive?

I agree completely with one caveat:

If the group can't decide, or decides wrongly, then the DM has the final vote.
The reason is this:
The PC's all decide that wizards should get +10 to their spell DC's.
DM votes no.
DM wins.

PC's all vote that they should get full Hp every level.
DM should have the right to vote no.

The fact of the matter is, while it IS everyone's game it is also the responsibility of the DM to keep the game in control, and for it to be fun for everyone at the table. And fun *for him too*.
Structure and restrictions are not bad things.

And when the group can't decide, or decides on something truly hair brained, then the DM has the ability and authority to veto it.

We all discuss, we all give our input, we all give our honest thoughts, plusses and minuses, and then the DM has the final say- taking into account all of the information presented as well as his own opinion.

-S

This type of thinking implies a GM vs Player dynamic instead of a shared goal. If all the players at the table are not enjoying their gaming experience and after discussion the best way to fix the issue is to allow max HP every level, why would the GM not encourage and support that? Perhaps it's just a different way of thinking about the game. I game primarily with adults who have similar goals and desires from their gaming experience and they're not willing to ruin that by accepting arbitrary changes. They want what's best for the game as a whole and not what's best for themselves individually.

Just a different play experience I suppose . . .


TriOmegaZero wrote:
YawarFiesta wrote:


As a rule of thumb I don't play with people I wouldn't go for a drink or to the theatre with.

Humbly,
Yawar

+1

+1 (stacking)


Psychologically, this will work better if you reward the people who ARE doing what you want.

Just sayin'


If the player wasn't there for the night. He doesn't get xp that night. That's only fair.

But to punish them for having a charcter die... (which is ALREADY a punishment to begin with....) seems over the top.

If a player isn't having fun with his charcter, it seems the choices are....

1) keep playing a character that isn't fun.

2) Try something different and be weaker then the rest of the party...

or

3) Quit the game completly and stop going.

I don't really see ANY of them being good choices :/


sheadunne wrote:
I've run successful games for 28 years this way. Every game I've played in, where the GM has allowed players to...

I'm glad it's working for you. Wouldn't work for me or any group I've played with in the last 33 years. We'll have to just agree to disagree.

I actually shudder with horror at your statement: "The GM does not get to interpret rules." In my opinion, without a GM to interpret them, the RAW is riddled with holes and virtually unplayable (not a criticism of PF, every game system I've ever played is that way, and IMHO it is just the nature of the beast). I can see that maybe if you have a group of mature paragons of gaming it could work. Introduce just one powergamer or rules lawyer into the mix and your game will come crashing down without a strong GM.

I take your point that everyone has something invested in the game, and can almost see an argument that they all have an equal amount invested. I would just counter that in terms of something measurable and real like time, the GM has a lot more invested in the game than the players. I both GM and play, and know that when I GM I put at least ten times as much prep time into the game as I do when I am playing. And that's when I'm running a purchased adventure. If I'm writing it myself, make it 100 times or more.

And please drop the "power-trip" rhetoric. It's an old, tired and insulting argument that won't win you any points. There are GMs who are on power trips, and I sympathize with anyone who has suffered under one. However, to say that any GM who actually makes decisions is one is kind of ridiculous. You'd also be running in direct conflict with the RAW of every RPG I'm familiar with, which all call for the GM to make decisions and run the game.

Anyway, if it's been working for you for 28 years, certainly don't change anything on my account. I wish you good luck and good gaming.


sheadunne wrote:

This type of thinking implies a GM vs Player dynamic instead of a shared goal. If all the players at the table are not enjoying their gaming experience and after discussion the best way to fix the issue is to allow max HP every level, why would the GM not encourage and support that?

Because D&D isn't a board game where the players get to make up whatever rules they like by popular vote.


Speaking for my group, if a player can't be there then the group takes over the PC for the night. We don't dock XP if you can't show up. It hurts the party as a whole.

If someone can't make it to games regularly, their character is put on the shelf until such a time as they can resume the normal play schedule.

Life gets in the way, what with kids and wives and ex-wives too. Throw in the occasional jerk-face boss, you get the picture. We try to accommodate everyone and have fun at the same time.


Brian Bachman wrote:
I actually shudder with horror at your statement: "The GM does not get to interpret rules." In my opinion, without a GM to interpret them, the RAW is riddled with holes and virtually unplayable (not a criticism of PF, every game system I've ever played is that way, and IMHO it is just the nature of the beast).

Anybody who knows me, knows I have real problem with the Ugly DM. Having said that, what Brian says goes for me as well. In the end, when it comes down to it, you gotta have a referee who can say "this is what we're going with, right now, this second..." You have to have that, or the game will bog down.

I support all fair DMs who realize it's not a game of "Me vs. Them."


loaba wrote:

Speaking for my group, if a player can't be there then the group takes over the PC for the night. We don't dock XP if you can't show up. It hurts the party as a whole.

If someone can't make it to games regularly, their character is put on the shelf until such a time as they can resume the normal play schedule.

Life gets in the way, what with kids and wives and ex-wives too. Throw in the occasional jerk-face boss, you get the picture. We try to accommodate everyone and have fun at the same time.

We've done that when we KNOW the player can't make it a week in advance... Otherwise we don't have a character sheet to work with if the weather gets too rough or they come down sick or something...

For the most part we rarely have anyone miss. A few blizzards this year kept me and my bald tire car for getting there... but I think 2 misses in the last 2 years is pretty good ;)


phantom1592 wrote:
For the most part we rarely have anyone miss. A few blizzards this year kept me and my bald tire car for getting there... but I think 2 misses in the last 2 years is pretty good ;)

My wife likes to remind me that I schedule as much stuff as I can around every other Friday.


stuart haffenden wrote:

Hey,

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

[teacher]

There are no DMs on the planet Pathfinder. Only GMs. Plus, it's GMs (or DMs, if you insist), not GM's. No plural apostrophe in the English language (or any other I know)
[/teacher]

Anyway, as one such GM, there are several penalties I impose on players:

  • The Failure To Bribe GM Sufficiently Penalty
  • The Failure To Flatter GM Often Enough Penalty
  • The Talk Back To GM Penalty
  • The Not Buy GM Any Gourmet Food For GM Penalty

    Among others.

    Those penalties are never more than severe and crippling for the players (I don't punish characters), though the Make Too Many Too-Bad Puns Penalty carries the death penalty at first offence and get progressively worse for repeat offenders.

    And you don't want to know about the Failure To Spot Humour Penalty...

    stuart haffenden wrote:


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

    Oh, my players wouldn't do that. Mainly because I don't allow it. They do get to change their character once (either a new character or a complete rebuilt of the existing one), but beyond that, there has to be a good reason for character changes.

    I feel that frequent character changes don't just punish the story-line (it's hard to tie in characters if they're around only for a couple of days in-game), but also lead to some players putting too little thought into their characters. They'll try something they thought of in a whim because if they don't like it, they'll just change it a session or two later.

    But when they know from the beginning that they don't get to change their character whenever they feel like it, they'll put more thought into it.

    It's not a 100% ironclad rule, and if you can make a good case, I'll let you change the character again, but not giving players a carte blanche means they'll be more thoughtful about character creation.

    stuart haffenden wrote:


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

    I'm not too concerned about a bit tardiness. Anything up to, say, half an hour, isn't anything I'd lose sleep over. I haven't had more than that, so I'm not quite sure how I'd react, but if it's too often and they don't call to say that they're late, I'd handle it the same as not showing up.

    Not showing up is a different thing: Unless it's something they state from the get go ("I will frequently miss games, but I'll tell you early enough"), this is going to lead to problems. Especially if games are cancelled because of this, and especially especially if the absent player doesn't bother to give us any notice. That will go once, or maybe twice. After that, you're out. Waste someone else's time.

    Stupid characters usually have fatal accidents. Dungeons are dangerous, lawless places, and a lot goes on that civilisation at large will only hear about by the survivors' hearsay. Apparently, there are a lot of fatal accidents immediately following stupid behaviour. That behaviour causes those deaths, even if they don't die as a direct result of doing whatever they did. Still, it's certainly a tragic accident.

    Like that one time one stupid dwarf pulled the bag off a statue's head (which he was informed was a magical statue, and it was quite obvious the bag is there to protect passers-by from the statue). He was later found with several dozen stab-wounds in the chest, neck, and lower abdomen. It was generally regarded as the most brutal suicide any of the adventurers travelling with said dwarf had ever seen.

    And though it might seem like the other party members brutally murdered the dwarf for being so stupid, that obviously cannot be the case, as it was suicide!


  • 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?

    I have a grace period for changing characters. If they want a brand new character they start with the XP of the lowest party member, but that is not really a penalty in my eyes. The other players had to earn what they have. If you just come in with a new character it does not seem fair to the other players. As for gold they get whatever I think the party currently has. It won't be exact of course, but it will be close. I would never make a character so weak coming in that he can't contribute. At the most he might be one level behind.


    rkraus2 wrote:

    Psychologically, this will work better if you reward the people who ARE doing what you want.

    Just sayin'

    I'd have to agree with this, but it all needs to be in moderation so that one player doesn't end up seeming more favored than the others.

    I remember when running Planescape games I used the rewarding of belief points (from the Planewalker's Handbook). One player really played through her beliefs extremely well, often to her own disadvantage, and ended up with lots of belief points. Another player ended up getting all tied in knots over it and spent all his time working on (and constantly revising) his personal ethical code (outside/meta game) and ended up not actually doing anything in game so he had very little in the way of belief points because he never managed to work out what his character really believed. I felt kind of crappy about the disparity so in more recent games I've leaned more towards a more egalitarian rewarding of all the players equitably. The idea is that the players gain rewards as a group, not as individuals.

    With regard to bad behavior, if players are consistently or intentionally disruptive to a game, then you stop inviting them to the game. If they've been a good player in the past, I'd stick it out and might have a talk with them about what's up. More than likely they have a bone to pick with the way the campaign has turned. I had that happen with one player when a Forgotten Realms campaign transitioned to a Planescape campaign. In the end, the player came around to enjoying things, but he went through a couple of somewhat disruptive characters along the way.

    Finally, for no-shows on a particular night, I generally run the character as an NPC and reward experience as per usual. It's no big deal. I don't see any reason to penalize the player.


    rkraus2 wrote:

    Psychologically, this will work better if you reward the people who ARE doing what you want.

    Just sayin'

    I consider those to be equivalent, generally. At least in the case of "you get X experience points and everyone else gets X+Y experience points".


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

    I'm going to work with this example, because I think the "penalty" for missing a session (which is an example a lot of posters seem to be fixating on) is A) you miss the fun and B) you miss 25-100% of the XP. Done.

    I've never had a player want to change his character after level 3. I've had a few players in my years of GMming that asked after the first 2-3 sessions to change characters - the concept wasn't fitting the game or whatever. I have always allowed them to roll new ones, and I've integrated the new character. I've also never had a player want to "retrain" a feat/spell/language/trait selection that actually asked if they could. Quite a few that expressed that they "should have taken X instead of Y" but none that asked.

    But, I'm going to assume you refer to a player that habitually asks to change a feat, skill, or whatever? Each week - Man, I wish I had taken the feat Situationally Useful, instead! and last week, when I wished for Useful Then But Not Now? I didn't mean that.

    No, that player would not be in my group long. I would refuse after the first change.

    I think levying an XP or level penalty lends itself to a "my character will be optimized for the specific situation of the week" mentality. If anybody can change anything on their character sheet any time they want, why make sheets? Let's just play Cowboys & Indians and we have what abilites we declare.

    My 2¢


    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

    On the question of not being at the game...

    The character get's 50% of the experience for encounters, if the character is there and the Player is not. This requires the player to impose on one of the other players to play their character for them. As a reward for the player who does this unwanted task, they get an experience bonus for their own character (usually something like Level * 50 exp). If the player doesn't want their character controlled by someone else, that's fine, but then the character is not present for some reason, and gets no exp for the game.

    Unlike a lot of GMs, I give EXP for roleplaying. I try to give out as much for RP as I do for combat (over the course of the game). Also for solving tricks and riddles. People who go from lousy RP to good RP get bonuses for improvement. Those who are good RP'ers get good exp as long as they maintain their Roleplaying. Everyone has an off night, but good RP should be rewarded, and bad RP should not get a reward (note that's not negative EXP, just no RP EXP).

    I don't do negative EXP.

    If someone dies, or a new player joins, they get a character at the lowest EXP of the group - 5% (new for PF, under 3.5 I used avg level - 1). This still usually puts everyone in a close ballpark. If someone has been missing a lot of games and not RPing and is a level behind, I usually don't include them when letting a new player come in and join.


    KaeYoss wrote:


    [teacher]
    There are no DMs on the planet Pathfinder. Only GMs. Plus, it's GMs (or DMs, if you insist), not GM's. No plural apostrophe in the English language (or any other I know)
    [/teacher]

    yes Miss


    I've imposed two XP penalties on the same player over my campaign in the past 3 years.

    The first was for being a royal prick and selfish jerk who eventually ended up causing campaign havoc. I allowed the XP penalty to be made up with work from the player formatting logs and such.

    The second was for cheating and having the adventure on hand for the session. (We play over mIRC.) Clearly reading the adventure to search the proper places for treasure, spoil the proper ambushes, 'come up with' the proper infiltration plans, etc. And began spoiling plot twists that he couldn't have known of for the other players. I was going to throw the player out, but the two longest standing players urged me to reconsider. I docked him 100,000 XP (A third of his total) and informed him my patience was at an end.

    I don't believe it has been effective at all in producing the behavior I desire. Even if the player reforms and doesn't get thrown out, I sincerely doubt that the XP loss is what will have convinced him to do so.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    I don't penalize for much. I'm usually a pretty player focused GM, so I tend to play fast and loose with many things. From the first session it is on the table that everyone gets one rewrite of their character if needed. If you're not having fun with your character its much easier to retcon whatever was done with that build and move forward, even if your moving from a half orc fighter to an elven rogue.

    On the other hand, player absence is something i have absolutely no tolerance for. My standard rule is that if you give me at least 12 hours notice and make an effort to get me your sheet (even just an email of vital stats skill and equipment) you get full xp for the missed session. If no effort is made, or if you text me an hour before the session starts, no xp for that session. We game exclusively at night, so my rationale is that if your not going to be there, you'll generally know by lunch time, which is ample time for me to plan around an absence, and if the sheet is in my inbox when we sit down, that counts.

    I only instituted this rule recently, as it seemed that certain of my players felt that it was no problem to tell me 45 minutes before game that they wouldn't be there, and for vary reasons, most of which I don't see as valid (hanging out with friends, going out for a few beers, band practice, or dinner with the g/f's parents). Not that I don't see those reasons as valid for missing game in some circumstances, but they are all things that can be, and should be, planned around game, or at the very least planned ahead of time, giving me hours, if not day's of notice.


    stuart haffenden wrote:


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

    Yes. Any player who fails to make the session is prohibited from having fun with us that evening, and moreover gives up any and all rights to make dirty jokes with us until we get together again.

    Seriously, it sometimes seems like I'm in the only group that are actually friends outside of D&D.


    Patryn of Elvenshae wrote:

    Yes. Any player who fails to make the session is prohibited from having fun with us that evening, and moreover gives up any and all rights to make dirty jokes with us until we get together again.

    Seriously, it sometimes seems like I'm in the only group that are actually friends outside of D&D.

    ^This, right here. There is so much negative talk on these boards, like there is a line in the sand or something.


    stuart haffenden wrote:
    KaeYoss wrote:


    [teacher]
    There are no DMs on the planet Pathfinder. Only GMs. Plus, it's GMs (or DMs, if you insist), not GM's. No plural apostrophe in the English language (or any other I know)
    [/teacher]
    yes Miss

    Miss? Says the guy with a naked chick as avatar.


    In my games, everyone has the same amount of XP. I don't give bonus XP for certain behaviour. I'm not Pavlov. Plus, it would feel like rewarding the guy for doing things the way I like. They're not there to do that. They're there to play the game the way they like, or rather the way we all can agree with most.

    So if I reward better role playing, shouldn't I also reward better optimisation? That's part of the game, too. Player A gets more XP for solving a puzzle? Please, that would mean I should give individual party XP and base it off number of kills or maybe damage dealt, so the guys who play strong but stupid characters (and won't play them as all smart and knowledgeable just because the players themselves happen to know a lot about the game, because that would be playing the character badly) won't be left behind with the XP.

    I personally think that good roleplaying is it's own reward. If people need to be baited to do it, they won't do it because they think it's good, but because they want more XP.

    But that's just me.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
    loaba wrote:
    There is so much negative talk on these boards, like there is a line in the sand or something.

    There is! I tripped over it once...

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
    KaeYoss wrote:
    But that's just me.

    Me too. I don't even use XP, just give levels when the party reaches plot points. Counting XP just distracts from the game and the story.


    Patryn of Elvenshae wrote:
    stuart haffenden wrote:


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

    Yes. Any player who fails to make the session is prohibited from having fun with us that evening, and moreover gives up any and all rights to make dirty jokes with us until we get together again.

    Seriously, it sometimes seems like I'm in the only group that are actually friends outside of D&D.

    Well, it all depends: Is he not there because something important came up or because he didn't feel like coming with the nice weather and the nice lake nearby?

    If someone can't come because of work, or important stuff happening, nobody (in their right mind) will begrudge them that. Provided, of course, that they gave ample notice - though if something comes up at the last second, everyone will understand that you couldn't tell us a week before.

    I've seen stuff like that happen, and though I'm usually sad that the game gets cancelled, I don't get mad at the absent person.

    But sometimes, people just don't feel like coming, or telling you they won't be here. I've seen that a lot, too. People would not show up, and when we called them (half an hour after the session was about to start), they said that they had other things to do.

    A lot of the time, sessions got cancelled because of this. And there were no real reasons for it. So you are sitting there, maybe instead of doing other things with other people (and being too late to join in now).

    This amounts to people wasting other people's time. And friends don't do that to friends. You don't waste a friend's time.

    But for that, there is no XP penalty. Just a quick toss out of the game.

    Shadow Lodge

    Generally new characters start a level behind the party and 'catch up' after the first session then everyone advances at the same rate. (We don't track individual experience).

    Missing sessions means you miss out on treasure sometimes which is often enough of an incentive.

    If we don't enjoy playing with someone they get cycled out of the group.

    Beyond that I don't see much need for player 'discipline'.


    I didn't realize people mean 'not giving someone XP for not coming to the session' when it comes to 'penalizing a player'

    If I get 24 hours notice, they get half XP for the session. If I get no notice, they get zero XP. If you aren't there, you aren't really doing anything to get XP...but I don't see that as a penalty. I think I'm being fairly generous with the half.

    I just think that XP loss isn't a good discipline tool regardless of where you stand. Whether you think players ought to never have the DM so much as speak sternly to them or if you think they ought to lick the DM's boots for suffering them to sit at the table, an XP penalty doesn't seem to work for any desired result. I suppose if used long enough it could create a sense of apathy and resentment, but not much else.

    Shadow Lodge

    Kain Darkwind wrote:
    If I get 24 hours notice, they get half XP for the session. If I get no notice, they get zero XP. If you aren't there, you aren't really doing anything to get XP...but I don't see that as a penalty. I think I'm being fairly generous with the half.

    We used to give everyone experience after every session. You don't show up you miss out. We eventually gave up on that idea because some people miss sessions for legitimate reasons or are just less available to game.

    If I have a buddy that is a lot of fun to play with but only shows up 3 out of 4 weeks due to life issues/ work/ family/ whatever, I don't want to discourage him or punish him for that. So we just keep everyone in sync now.

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