Character XP for an Absent Player?


Advice

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I tend to grant PCs full XP for everything they did during the session that the player wasn't there. If they participated in a combat encounter they get an even share of the XP as all other players did. If a player is absent for multiple sessions I tend to take their character out of the party and give them an excuse to level up behind the scenes. For example a monk player once needed to leave for a while, so I had his character been taken out of the party by an old high level NPC monk who wanted to pass on his techniques and train the PC.

It might just be a personal quirk of mine but I hate it when a player is significantly left behind on XP for whatever reason, I don't want them to feel less useful than anyone else in the party. And being in my age group (25) it is hard for a lot of players to always participate in every session, most of them have job-, university- or family-related obligations and other such matters that have to come before the game and i cannot penalize them for having a life.

I sometimes do get less lenient with players who frequently forget about the game session or simply don't show up because they don't feel like playing. I mean sure, that happens, and what's the point of playing if you feel you're not going to enjoy it on that particular day, but if you don't want to play, I assume you don't need the XP reward that badly either. But even this I would only inflict on their XP if it happened repeatedly.


I'm in the full XP crowd, but I also play without XP in my pathfinder games. Because of the structure of a character, everything depends on level, it's easier on both the players and DM if everyone is the same level. It's particularly helpful if you have a "social" player, someone who doesn't come to every session but is a good friend and who's company is enjoyed by all.

An exception would be an E6 game that has reached level cap. The major stats of a character are already set. The difference of one feat is less severe than a level.


We've never had an issue, on either end of the spectrum (GM or player) with disparate levels/XP in the party.

Accordingly, we don't award XP for missing a session, and we typically work around the character not being present for the missed sessions in one way or another.

None of us consider it a slight if we didn't earn XP, considering we weren't around to earn it.

As far as bringing in new characters, it's random. Sometimes we bring them in at the same level, sometimes a level below, sometimes at level 1.

We tend to lead towards bringing in at level 1, and it really isn't anywhere near as big of a deal as some make it out to be. If the rest of the party is a reasonably high level, the new character levels pretty quickly - far faster than if it was an entire party of folks at level 1.

That said, we're going to start putting more focus on henchmen and hirelings as earlier editions used to do, and encourage the group to put some effort into those characters, so they can be utilized as "replacement" characters, and see how that works out.


I kind of quick read through the other post, but i will offer up this idea. This was how I handled XP awards for the games I ran and thinking of reinstating. Now this really only works if your game is on a schedule day every week or every other week( or something to that manner).

full XP to all players that showed up

1/4 XP to any player that had there character played by someone else at the table

0 XP if you have your character run by the GM

This may seem a bit harsh but when you think of the time that the GM has to put into reading and or planning the adventure, the time away from other things like family, school work, or any of the 100's of things gamers put off for game. I think its fare.


Warren Specter wrote:

I kind of quick read through the other post, but i will offer up this idea. This was how I handled XP awards for the games I ran and thinking of reinstating. Now this really only works if your game is on a schedule day every week or every other week( or something to that manner).

full XP to all players that showed up

1/4 XP to any player that had there character played by someone else at the table

0 XP if you have your character run by the GM

This may seem a bit harsh but when you think of the time that the GM has to put into reading and or planning the adventure, the time away from other things like family, school work, or any of the 100's of things gamers put off for game. I think its fare.

what about occasions that are thrust on you?

like sickness, sickness does not stop itself so you can game. you shouldn't be penalized for having a cold

an important doctors appointment, the steriotypical gamer usually has some life threatening health issue of some kind. commonly obesity.

being forced to babysit a neice or nephew because your siblings have an anniversary


Defecation transpires.

Not being awarded XP when missing a session should not be looked at as a loss or a penalty.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Disagreement is not defecation. Please be more civil.


Brian E. Harris wrote:

Defecation transpires.

Not being awarded XP when missing a session should not be looked at as a loss or a penalty.

sometimes, you don't have a choice.

i mentioned 3 examples that are likely to happen in general situations.

not getting XP for being absent is the same as losing XP for being absent

same arguement for treasure. not getting it for being absent is the same as losing it for being absent.

it's effectively a penalty. especially if circumstances side against you gaming.


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Brian E. Harris wrote:

Defecation transpires.

Not being awarded XP when missing a session should not be looked at as a loss or a penalty.

Then what is it Brian?

I lost XP. I'm penalized compared to the other players in my group. How is that not loss or penalty when it is clearly and pretty much by definition both?

And why do it? What is the point? You've got someone who is having trouble getting to games, so your solution is to make their game experience less enjoyable?

I've never got this. Even when I did XP I gave XP to PCs whose characters were played by others or the GM.

I would seriously like to know what purpose it serves to punish a player for not showing up. Is it that you think fear of punishment is going to make them more likely to play with you? If you have players not showing up for no good reason, you've got a different issue than XP differential.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Brian believes players should earn XP by being at the game. He does not believe in awarding them anything they did not earn.

The difference between our view points is that some people see XP as a reward, and others see it as a counter. It's the difference between seeing XP as a paycheck and seeing it as time employed.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Brian believes players should earn XP by being at the game. He does not believe in awarding them anything they did not earn.

Oh. Well, I see. I guess I don't view the game experience as being like a job where I have to toil to "earn" my XP paycheck. As I said, when I did XP, I always hated this aspect of it. I'm actually sort of ashamed that it took me 28 years to break free of the XP shackles.


just because you weren't involved with the group that week doesn't mean you didn't do something that provides a similar contribution.

for example, if the rogue failed to show up that week, assume he was probably scouting, gathering intel or Doing reconnaiscance.


Gaming Should Be Fun, Not a chore where you toil weekly in the hopes of Getting your XP paycheck like an accountant filing papers.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I imagine Brian will counter that players should not be able to blow off a game without consequence, and that loss of XP is that consequence. I would counter that there are other, better consequences, ones that will better address the actual problem, whatever that may be.


I started doing that in a game that had 10 players...3 of whom where college party boys. The game was every other Friday night, after like a month they started missing games and i was stuck running there characters.
So after informing them of the new rule only one of them started returning to game on a regular fashion. The others slowly stopped coming, and it was a much smother game.

As for the unforeseen stuff like being sick, and emergencies, I gave a pass. Its not like I'm a heartless monster


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As a GM if I am having trouble getting a player to come to games, I call them up and ask them what's going on and if they are having fun.

If they say they want to keep playing, but have no good excuse for missing game sessions repeatedly, I ask the group if it's a problem.

If it's a problem I politely ask the player to find another group to play with.

I'm not sure how XP is even part of this conversation. If he/she is not having fun, punishing them is hardly the best way to make them more motivated. If they have other issues, then it's best to deal with those issues directly.

Punishing them by reducing their XP ends up punishing the entire group anyway.


Brian E. Harris wrote:


As far as bringing in new characters, it's random. Sometimes we bring them in at the same level, sometimes a level below, sometimes at level 1.

We tend to lead towards bringing in at level 1, and it really isn't anywhere near as big of a deal as some make it out to be. If the rest of the party is a reasonably high level, the new character levels pretty quickly - far faster than if it was an entire party of folks at level 1.

That said, we're going to start putting more focus on henchmen and hirelings as earlier editions used to do, and encourage the group to put some effort into those characters, so they can be utilized as "replacement" characters, and see how that works out.

I can see this for certain play styles, but for it to work, the GM has to NOT do certain things.

For example, a level 1 character in marching formation when a group of level 10 characters is surprised by a CR 7 dragon, is probably dead. Now, if you play in a game where that kind of scenario will never happen, its not an issue. The GM can never use an aoe attack that includes the low level player, otherwise it's just a series of replacement characters until they level high enough to survive such things.

This isn't to say it isn't "badwrongfun". A campaign can work with disparate levels of characters, I've even played in one and had fun. I've also found that overall, the level of fun isn't reduced when everyone is just the same level all the time. It doesn't change the fact that 3.X's mechanics are balanced around players being a similar level.

If I play a game like Shadowrun though, I'm completely with you that new people come in with starting characters.


All of you are wrong! Clearly everyone should switch to the "snacks and drinks for xp" system!

Shadow Lodge

As DM, I encourage bribery for in-game favors. :)


Hippygriff wrote:
All of you are wrong! Clearly everyone should switch to the "snacks and drinks for xp" system!

I prefer to dock xp at a 50% rate to those players who don't bring snack or drinks. Or sometimes, if my players are getting cocky, I just don't award any xp whatsoever. If someone's playing a class I don't like, they better get ready to do it 1/2 APL.

TOZ and I discussed this on another thread, and when he described his xp-less play style I was all, "But how do you penalize your players? You know, just for the fun of it, like when they act too happy."

Shadow Lodge

Dude, you do it like anyone else, kill their characters!


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

I had a problem with players constantly canceling with very little notice, sometimes just as text as the rest of us were already gathered at the table. I instituted a rule that, so long as I had a character sheet e-mailed to me, and at least a few hours notice, they were awarded full xp, half if it was very short notice (and not an emergency situation, emergency room counts, "I've been sick all week, and only now, minutes before game, have decided to tell you"), and full xp if I had at least a few days notice. We get together on Thursday and Sunday nights, so if the previous game night I was told, with or without character sheets, it was full xp.

I also run for 5-6 people, generally, so writing someone out isn't that hard. I have to modify AP's anyway, so demodifying on the fly is pretty easy.

I also have to add that, before it was a recurring problem, I kept everyone at the same xp. It just makes things easier on me for planning.


Props for the weaseling.

You'll note that I said it shouldn't be considered a loss or penalty. As such, not earning XP isn't a "consequence" of not showing up for a game. It's not a "punishment".

Simply put, you didn't lose XP, because none was taken from you. You just didn't earn any for a session.

Obviously, we all game differently.

As I stated, we don't really worry much about not being at exact level-parity amongst the group. If a particular character is at a widely disparate level compared to the rest of the group, it typically doesn't last very long, because they gain XP at a faster rate than they would if the party was at the same lower level.


Irontruth wrote:
For example, a level 1 character in marching formation when a group of level 10 characters is surprised by a CR 7 dragon, is probably dead. Now, if you play in a game where that kind of scenario will never happen, its not an issue. The GM can never use an aoe attack that includes the low level player, otherwise it's just a series of replacement characters until they level high enough to survive such things.

Sure, and whoever's on DM rotation takes that into account when we operate like that. I can't think of a member of our group, past or present, that would be keen on churning through several new characters in rapid succession.

Irontruth wrote:
This isn't to say it isn't "badwrongfun". A campaign can work with disparate levels of characters, I've even played in one and had fun. I've also found that overall, the level of fun isn't reduced when everyone is just the same level all the time. It doesn't change the fact that 3.X's mechanics are balanced around players being a similar level.

And I'm not suggesting that the level of fun is reduced, much like others (not you) are insisting that it's eighteen stages of horrible no-fun to be "forced" to start at 1st level or be "punished" by not earning XP for a session they missed.

We just mix things up a bit - and we typically keep the encounter levels up where they would be if everyone was the same level.

Does this occasionally result in a low-level character getting squished? Sure, but it's not a regular thing.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
I lost XP. I'm penalized compared to the other players in my group. How is that not loss or penalty when it is clearly and pretty much by definition both?

A> It's not a competition. God forbid someone has "more" than you.

B> Can you show me any definition that would even come close to agreeing with your interpretation that not receiving something is a penalty or loss?

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
And why do it? What is the point? You've got someone who is having trouble getting to games, so your solution is to make their game experience less enjoyable?

You just naturally assume that it's retaliatory? Did you game with a bunch of dicks or something? Because you're getting awfully defensive to my statement that not being awarded XP shouldn't be looked at as a loss.

Again, let me point out the obvious:

If something wasn't taken from you, you didn't lose anything.

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
I would seriously like to know what purpose it serves to punish a player for not showing up. Is it that you think fear of punishment is going to make them more likely to play with you? If you have players not showing up for no good reason, you've got a different issue than XP differential.

And here's that weaseling I was talking about. Lay off the armchair psychiatry, and read the words I actually typed.

It's not a punishment, and nobody in my group is so simple-minded and petty as to consider it such.


Shuriken Nekogami wrote:

not getting XP for being absent is the same as losing XP for being absent

same arguement for treasure. not getting it for being absent is the same as losing it for being absent.

If you leave session 1 with 1000XP, miss session 2 and earn no XP, and return for session 3, you still have 1000XP, so, in the real world, it's not the same whatsoever.

Shuriken Nekogami wrote:
it's effectively a penalty.

No, it's not.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Disagreement is not defecation. Please be more civil.

I could have said "s*$$ happens", but I was attempting to word it slightly more politely (and I think the profanity filters are childish and unnecessary, so I don't like invoking them).

Not really sure what's uncivil about that statement. Things occur. Game sessions get missed, and you don't earn XP. It's not a big deal (hell, it's not even a small deal), the game moves on.

I wasn't stating that disagreement is defecation, and I'm not really sure how you could interpret it as such, but, whatever. You have my clarification.


I'd also add, DeathQuaker mentioned something that we've made use of as well - "catch-up" sessions can and have happened, either on an off-night or pre-game the following session, and XP will sometimes be awarded for that.


Brian.... if it's "not a competition" why keep score at all? It's not a competition so why are some people getting ahead of others?

So, do you always start your debates with other people by calling them weasels Brian?

Here's some armchair psychology for you. "Projection".

Look it up.


Brian E. Harris wrote:
Shuriken Nekogami wrote:

not getting XP for being absent is the same as losing XP for being absent

same arguement for treasure. not getting it for being absent is the same as losing it for being absent.

If you leave session 1 with 1000XP, miss session 2 and earn no XP, and return for session 3, you still have 1000XP, so, in the real world, it's not the same whatsoever.

Shuriken Nekogami wrote:
it's effectively a penalty.
No, it's not.

normally, it wouldn't be one. but in pathfinder it is.

because the player "called in sick" or whatever, he is going to be forever behind his peers, just because nature decided to give him a cold or whatever. because there is no way to really catch up short of fiated solo sessions. and that XP hole will forever be there, in a system where being one level behind the highest level PC is the difference between life and death. it is a penalty. even if it's just one session.

lets see what being 1 level behind can potentially deny you resource wise that is needed at a specific given APL.

a feat that could have meant the difference between success and failure
a bunch of skill ranks
a hit die that could have soaked up a blow
possible level appropriate spells that could have helped your contribution
an extra attack that would have greatly helped
a really desirable class feature that would have helped your contribution
a bonus to saving throws or accuracy that would have helped you greatly

punishing somebody for something as mundane as catching a cold is not the way to retain a player's interest. it alienates them from most tables.

i beleive the concept of experience points should go the way of the Dodo. it's fine for MMOs, but unneccessary bookeeping for a TTRPG and an excuse to penalize a guy for not showing up.

just because the player wasn't there doesn't mean thier character sat there and did nothing. just find a plot excuse to work with if you want to justify thier abscence.

and if it's not a competition, why are you tracking score? if you want a noncompetitive enviroment, you shouldn't track score.

as a comparable analogy, not gaining the favored class bonus for multiclassing or taking a prestige class is the same as penalizing someone for not sticking with one class.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Brian.... if it's "not a competition" why keep score at all? It's not a competition so why are some people getting ahead of others?

We're keeping score? XP is a score?

It's a mechanic, dude, it's not a score. You earn XP based on actions within the game, and that XP is used to level up.

Why are some people so concerned with other people having more XP than them?

I would ask if we're playing the same game, but it's obvious we're not.

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
So, do you always start your debates with other people by calling them weasels Brian?

When folks use weaselly words like "punishment" or "penalty" when I merely state that my gaming group acts differently than other gaming groups, yeah, I might actually make a statement about those weaselly words.

Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Here's some armchair psychology for you. "Projection".

Look it up.

Refer to your statements about "loss", "penalizing" and "punishment".


Shuriken Nekogami wrote:
normally, it wouldn't be one. but in pathfinder it is.

No, it isn't.

Shuriken Nekogami wrote:
because the player "called in sick" or whatever, he is going to be forever behind his peers, just because nature decided to give him a cold or whatever. because there is no way to really catch up short of fiated solo sessions. and that XP hole will forever be there, in a system where being one level behind the highest level PC is the difference between life and death. it is a penalty. even if it's just one session.

"fiated solo sessions" ?? Mmmmkaaaay.

And a single level behind another player? This is such a non-issue as to be laughable.

Shuriken Nekogami wrote:

lets see what being 1 level behind can potentially deny you resource wise that is needed at a specific given APL.

a feat that could have meant the difference between success and failure
a bunch of skill ranks
a hit die that could have soaked up a blow
possible level appropriate spells that could have helped your contribution
an extra attack that would have greatly helped
a really desirable class feature that would have helped your contribution
a bonus to saving throws or accuracy that would have helped you greatly

And these potential doom and gloom situations aren't ever-present, regardless of level? And there's no way to ever attain them, say, at the next level?

Shuriken Nekogami wrote:
punishing somebody for something as mundane as catching a cold is not the way to retain a player's interest. it alienates them from most tables.

IT IS NOT A PUNISHMENT. This is the whole weaselly situation I was just talking about. Missing a game session isn't any kind of offense, so therefore, no punishment is being meted out.

Shuriken Nekogami wrote:
i beleive the concept of experience points should go the way of the Dodo. it's fine for MMOs, but unneccessary bookeeping for a TTRPG and an excuse to penalize a guy for not showing up.

They make RPGs that don't use XP. I'd play those if I wanted such an RPG. If you want to change your play-style as such, that's great, more power to you.

Shuriken Nekogami wrote:
and if it's not a competition, why are you tracking score? if you want a noncompetitive enviroment, you shouldn't track score.

As I just stated, it's not a score. The only way it would be a "score" is if there was a way to win, or if it were a competition between other players.

Shuriken Nekogami wrote:
as a comparable analogy, not gaining the favored class bonus for multiclassing or taking a prestige class is the same as penalizing someone for not sticking with one class.

This is just wrong and useless on so many levels. Try again.


And you know what? You win, I'm out of this thread. The OP asked a question, I related how my group does things, and suddenly, I'm the pariah of badwrongfun.

It's ironic that those who decry such behavior are practicing it now.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Brian E. Harris wrote:

And you know what? You win, I'm out of this thread. The OP asked a question, I related how my group does things, and suddenly, I'm the pariah of badwrongfun.

Actually, no one responded to your post about how your group does things (save irontruth, who made no judgements about it), only your response about defecation and whatnot. You jumped on shuriken's response to another poster.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Volkspanzer wrote:
Nullpunkt wrote:
"brreitz wrote:
Gaining XP is not the reward for showing up to play. A session of fun roleplaying is the reward for showing up to play.
It's not a reward for showing up, it's an incentive.

If you're going to a game to play because the XP is incentive, then it must be a pretty boring campaign, or the company musn't be that great.

A good story and good friends are incentive enough.

I think your over-simplifying this here. For my players XP are part of the fun, they love to see the strength of a particularly vicious foe mirrored in the amount of XP, they love the "Oh, so close!" feeling when at the end of a session only a few dozen XP are missing to reach the next level; and there is nothing bad, boring or wrong about that.

That's the beauty, everyone gets to pick his cherries from PFRPG! So please don't tell what should generally be 'enough motivation' to play.

Liberty's Edge

We don't really do XP as such, like many, the group tend to level together.

When a player cannot make it, he either gets played by others (if it's a small group and he is needed) or in a larger group he just misses out on the adventure. Either way he still gets the xp - there is no benefit of having a char be behind everyone else, ultimately the missing player gets a side story added - he had an errand to run for his Church, along the journey someone was found hurt and he escorted etc. just a reason why he was not there and he earned xp his own way.

Sometimes that players abscence even gets weaved into the overall story - later on that random stranger or Church errand has a follow up side quest which gets added in.

Ultimately the player missed out on a good sessions and that is enough of a penalty as far as we are concerned, they feel cheated of missing out of the fun when they find out what happened, we wouldn't then kick them in the face by penalising xp

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