Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Open Forum: individual or group XP

So I'm running a large group, and off the bat we have the issue that out of the first three sessions, three players will only be making one of them, but seven players will be making two.  Since the six players who made it to the first session are already almost at level two, it is pretty obvious that at least initially those who for whatever reason miss a session or two will fall behind.

Since D&D is so driven by XP awards and level advancement, this could really become an issue.  I feel like I have two options.

One, I could just let people garner XP for each session they make it, and let the dice fall where they may.  It's entirely possible that lower-level PC's will catch up with their teammates because they are getting a disproportionately bigger piece of the XP pie, relatively speaking.  (Does that make sense?  If a level 1 PC survives a fight with a CR 3 opponent with his level 3 teammates, his share of the XP will advance him to level 2 more quickly than the level 3 teammates will advance towards level 4.)

If it doesn't work out that way, then you have what I will from now on call "Steve Jinks Syndrome."

Do you know how hard it was for me to even find a cast picture on the internet with Jinksy in it?  He never made it to the rest of the party's level.
Option two, I have a running "party xp" amount where the entire group rises at the same time like ships in the tide.  Each gaming session, whatever XP the group gets, divided by the number of players in that session, becomes the new total for the entire group.  That means that PC's whose players can't make sessions for whatever reason can still advance at the same level.  There's balance there, at the cost of a certain naturalist/realist element.

Option three (not mentioned in the first count), I just abandon XP awards entirely and advance the entire group whenever I feel like it, which is what 13th Age does.

What do you, faithful readers, think?  For those who game, how do you handle this?


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  2. I was going to make a similar suggestion.

    In a number of games I've run, the party has a Group XP Bank, not unlike a 'Guild Bank' in MMOs. All the players agree on an amount, something like 1-5% of total XP obtained that adventure (the XP that goes to all the PCs whose players showed up) goes into the 'Bank'.

    That XP can be drawn on later to construct, or upgrade, a group item, or dwelling, such as a boat, a starship, a keep, a hideout, etc.

    On the request of players who were absent for a session, XP can be drawn from the bank, and given to the PCs who are behind to bring them closer to the rest of the party. The 'withdraw' requires the player/PC to have missed a session (PCs who were present for the adventure can never draw extra XP for themselves), the other players have to vote unanimously to award the XP, and decide on how much, and sometimes, the absent PC must perform some minor favor for the group (The Group! Not one individual. It must be tied to some effort the entire group is connected to).

    Your mileage may vary. I don't play D&D so I am not sure how viable my approach is with how you play your game. There are some systems I don't do this with, such as Traveller, Champions, and InSpectres (where I aware the team/Franchise separately from it's individual members).

  3. I'm running 13th Age and the group levels up when it levels up. We had two new players join at different times and they both started at first (at their request) and had an abbreviated run so they had just a few sessions at each level until caught up. I've grown away from more complex solutions, more subtractive design than anything.

    That said 5e has much more rapid advancement the first five levels, and bounded accuracy means that lower level PCs are effective enough to be fun, just not as robust.

    What do you plan to do in case of permanent character death or a new player - if new characters are starting at party level then can you do less for active characters? If they are starting at 1st, sounds like you're already going to do individual XP.

    (It doesn't look like this posted the first time.)