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    Default A lack of reward is not punishment

    Can we stop with claims that it is "punishing" players who miss a session by not awarding them XP. Not being there means they don't get a reward for participating. They are not being punished in any way.

    If you have a specific situation where you want all your PCs to be the same level, regardless of their ability to attend sessions, then by all means give XP to characters that can't attend. Or drop XP altogether. That's fine. It may, depending on the system, even be laudable, or a better way to play the game. But don't try to twist the language so that not earning a reward, is instead a punishment.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    RPGs have a bizarrely high number of people that canít handle losing, or even not getting as much stuff as others.
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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Can we stop with claims that it is "punishing" players who miss a session by not awarding them XP. Not being there means they don't get a reward for participating. They are not being punished in any way.

    If you have a specific situation where you want all your PCs to be the same level, regardless of their ability to attend sessions, then by all means give XP to characters that can't attend. Or drop XP altogether. That's fine. It may, depending on the system, even be laudable, or a better way to play the game. But don't try to twist the language so that not earning a reward, is instead a punishment.
    "Go to bed without support" - or desert - is a rather traditional punishment. So, lack of getting something certainly can be a punishment. But it doesn't necessarily follow that all such removals of rewards are punishments.

    However, for those who care about game balance - for those who aren't interested in playing Thor (and the Avengers) - then anything which removes their ability to contribute on equal footing, anything which places their XP total below the party XP total absolutely is a punishment.

    It's punishing them, not just once, but for the rest of the campaign.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2018-05-05 at 07:50 PM.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    However, for those who care about game balance - for those who aren't interested in playing Thor (and the Avengers) - then anything which removes their ability to contribute on equal footing, anything which places their XP total below the party XP total absolutely is a punishment.

    It's punishing them, not just once, but for the rest of the campaign.
    There are many games out there where one or two sessions of XP won't seriously impact character performance (assuming standard rewards). In fact of the games I've played, DnD is the ONLY one where a single (or small number of) session(s) can permanently push you behind. So I'm not sure how true this is.
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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    I know that in D&D (3e and 3.5 at least), differences in XP should even out over time as lower-level characters get more XP than their peers. Pathfinder notably does not do this, and as my group has been learning Pathfinder I've been wondering how this plays out in the long run. Anyone have experience with this?

    I guess Pathfinder also dramatically increased the amount of XP needed to level up in the mid and later levels. Does that help at all?
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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Quote Originally Posted by jindra34 View Post
    There are many games out there where one or two sessions of XP won't seriously impact character performance (assuming standard rewards). In fact of the games I've played, DnD is the ONLY one where a single (or small number of) session(s) can permanently push you behind. So I'm not sure how true this is.
    Point. This decidedly was a Playgrounder Fallacy*.

    * although it would be true in any game that actually had balance / power curves. Most games, balance and/or XP is a joke, so build > XP, and player > character rules the roost.

    Quote Originally Posted by KillianHawkeye View Post
    I know that in D&D (3e and 3.5 at least), differences in XP should even out over time as lower-level characters get more XP than their peers. Pathfinder notably does not do this, and as my group has been learning Pathfinder I've been wondering how this plays out in the long run. Anyone have experience with this?

    I guess Pathfinder also dramatically increased the amount of XP needed to level up in the mid and later levels. Does that help at all?
    I can't speak for PF, but, back in 2e, one of my favorite experiences was with a 1st level character in a 7th level party. The 2e exponential XP curve made things more or less balance out eventually.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2018-05-05 at 08:16 PM.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    "Go to bed without support" - or desert - is a rather traditional punishment. So, lack of getting something certainly can be a punishment. But it doesn't necessarily follow that all such removals of rewards are punishments.
    Thats a poor analogy. That analogy, being denied desert that you have.come to expect for attending dinner, would be like being denied xp for what you just finished doing in game.

    Getting XP for not attending a game is closer to asking someome to save you a plate. Its not unreasonable for them to do so, but its nice of them if they chose to. You aren't being punished if they choose not to. Even if you expect them to, because family or close friends.

    By the way I can already tell this is going to be thread full of analogies funtime. 😂
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2018-05-05 at 08:26 PM.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Also, individual xp in D&D came out of the "open table" game where you'd decide who you'd play based on who showed up at that night and what you decided to do.

    In that structure, being behind a level or two doesn't mean you're "permanently behind". It means that character (and you'd have others) would just adventure with different characters.
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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Thats a poor analogy. That analogy, being denied desert that you have.come to expect for attending dinner, would be like being denied xp for what you just finished doing in game.

    Getting XP for not attending a game is closer to asking someome to save you a plate. Its not unreasonable for them to do so, but its nice of them if they chose to. You aren't being punished if they choose not to. Even if you expect them to, because family or close friends.

    By the way I can already tell this is going to be thread full of analogies funtime. 😂
    If you ask your family members to save you a plate because you're going to have to miss dinnertime and they don't, your family members are being jerkfaces. Whether or not the specific term "punishment" is accurate is irrelevant; it's a jerk move. So your own analogy supports calling it a bad thing to not give XP to people who miss a session.
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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Whether it's a good move or not depends entirely on if you're playing a system that heavily encourages all the PCs to be the same "level".

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Yes it is!!!

    Not only did you miss out on gaming session but you get no XP as well. You'll watch your friends discuss how awesome last session was and how the barbarian split the evil villains head in two and your friends are laughing from all the fun stuff that happened. You kinda feel left out and try to get into the conversation by mentioning that spell you cast that saved the group....but it's old news and Tim looks at you and says "yea but that was three sessions ago". To top this you get no xp and now you are a level behind, all because mom forced you to clean the basement instead of playing. As you stand there talking with your buddies, you'll be crying inside yourself.
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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiery Diamond View Post
    If you ask your family members to save you a plate because you're going to have to miss dinnertime and they don't, your family members are being jerkfaces. Whether or not the specific term "punishment" is accurate is irrelevant; it's a jerk move. So your own analogy supports calling it a bad thing to not give XP to people who miss a session.
    Interesting. We clearly have different understanding of what it takes to be jerkfaces. Or maybe what family is and how they should act.

    I felt it would be clear by family or friends saving a plate I was making a thanksgiving/Christmas reference, where its almost a joke to ask someone to save you a plate. But I forget many Europeans post here.
    If a husband didnt save a plate from dinner because his wife was running late there would be some jerkiness, but at that point the analogy has broken down again.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2018-05-05 at 09:12 PM.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    People still play with XP?
    Last edited by Deophaun; 2018-05-05 at 09:18 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    People still play with XP?
    im always surprised when people don't. I mean, you can dump it from games with an XP system, if you're running a very specific type of game: one group of players, all playing one set of PCs, who will all adventure together for an entire adventure arc campaign.

    But even then, I find almost all players prefer XP.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2018-05-05 at 09:15 PM.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    But even then, I find almost all players prefer XP.
    That's like finding surgery patients that prefer to go under the knife without anesthetic. Anyway, moving this edit as a proper response to your question:
    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    But don't try to twist the language so that not earning a reward, is instead a punishment.
    The idea of XP being a reward is twisting the language. In those barbaric games that still inflict this odious burden upon hapless players (cursed be those who run them), XP is necessary to keep pace with challenges, which will progressively increase throughout the campaign. A proper XP reward would be XP above and beyond what is necessary to keep that pace. Any XP gain that does not keep pace is a punishment. XP that keeps pace just is.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    That's like finding surgery patients that prefer to go under the knife without anesthetic. Anyway, moving this edit as a proper response to your question:

    The idea of XP being a reward is twisting the language. In those barbaric games that still inflict this odious burden upon hapless players (cursed be those who run them), XP is necessary to keep pace with challenges, which will progressively increase throughout the campaign. A proper XP reward would be XP above and beyond what is necessary to keep that pace. Any XP gain that does not keep pace is a punishment. XP that keeps pace just is.
    Condescension much? Did XP kill your mother?

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Wait, is this a thing that's hotly debated? I don't think I've seen it discussed as a punishment anywhere but this specific thread. I have heard of only awarding XP to those who show up before, but that was specifically about games that take place with large numbers of players. AL type stuff, and even then, it was a "if you show up, you get XP" to encourage people to come consistently. Just showing up got you as much XP as everyone else got that session, basically.

    Still, if you're playing in a regular group and still use XP, potentially keeping another player at lower levels hurts the party (the example above had 4th-10th level PCs. High level guys regularly have to be Big Damn Heroes, unless the level 4s keep to fighting mooks). So I wouldn't encourage it regardless. IMO, the reward for showing up is playing (and I say this as one of the guys whose usually a player, not the DM). The only time I'd use XP and XP "rewards" was if I wanted to encourage a certain behavior for that game.
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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    That's like finding surgery patients that prefer to go under the knife without anesthetic. Anyway, moving this edit as a proper response to your question:

    The idea of XP being a reward is twisting the language. In those barbaric games that still inflict this odious burden upon hapless players (cursed be those who run them), XP is necessary to keep pace with challenges, which will progressively increase throughout the campaign. A proper XP reward would be XP above and beyond what is necessary to keep that pace. Any XP gain that does not keep pace is a punishment. XP that keeps pace just is.
    No XP is a Pavlovian reward system that keeps the poor player salivating for more. Mostly it's used to condition the player to kill or "overcome obstacles". The much vilified murderhobo is a creation of this system that not just condoned such behavior but outright rewarded it.

    But not getting XP is a punishment, this is evident through the XP penalty or punishing the player for certain behavior.
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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    The idea of XP being a reward is twisting the language. In those barbaric games that still inflict this odious burden upon hapless players (cursed be those who run them), XP is necessary to keep pace with challenges, which will progressively increase throughout the campaign. A proper XP reward would be XP above and beyond what is necessary to keep that pace. Any XP gain that does not keep pace is a punishment. XP that keeps pace just is.
    The idea that a game has a pace that the PCs need to keep up with and cannot fall behind would be a specific need. Its also commonly tied in with one group of players, with one group of PCs that will stay together throughout the game.

    Like I said, if your game has special requirements, by all means ditch XP. It makes sense in that case. Its actually a superior way to handle things that way for your situation. But don't pretend that this means that in general, a lack of the reward of XP because you aren't there to contribute and participate is some kind of punishment.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Can we stop with claims that it is "punishing" players who miss a session by not awarding them XP. Not being there means they don't get a reward for participating. They are not being punished in any way.
    Ok we are only rewarding those who show up. If they are complaining that they don't get reward for not showing up then it's clearly working and we should keep it up. It can be hard enough to heard players for a session, now at least we can entice them with all the XP they'll be missing out.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

    Roleplaying vs Fun
    If roleplaying is no fun then stop doing it. Unless of course you are roleplaying at gunpoint then you should roleplay like your life depended on it.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    When my players complain about not getting XP when they don't show up being punishment, I just smile wryly and hook up my nipple clamps to a car battery and demonstrate to them what I consider punishment.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

    Roleplaying vs Fun
    If roleplaying is no fun then stop doing it. Unless of course you are roleplaying at gunpoint then you should roleplay like your life depended on it.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    For the record, I'm in the open table, CaW, "balance" is a joke at best and a detriment to fun at worst, if you're not there of course you don't get XP camp.

    But I understand this strange newfangled "stay in one group", CaS, play in systems that try to promote game balance alien mindset enough to say that this isn't an entirely unreasonable position to take to claim that withholding XP is a punishment.

    See also my stance on punishing players when their character die.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Thats a poor analogy. That analogy, being denied desert that you have.come to expect for attending dinner, would be like being denied xp for what you just finished doing in game.

    Getting XP for not attending a game is closer to asking someome to save you a plate. Its not unreasonable for them to do so, but its nice of them if they chose to. You aren't being punished if they choose not to. Even if you expect them to, because family or close friends.

    By the way I can already tell this is going to be thread full of analogies funtime. 😂
    In CaS, getting an advantage based off attendance would reduce the fun of the sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    im always surprised when people don't. I mean, you can dump it from games with an XP system, if you're running a very specific type of game: one group of players, all playing one set of PCs, who will all adventure together for an entire adventure arc campaign.

    But even then, I find almost all players prefer XP.
    I'm definitely in the prefers XP camp, but I am open to trying arbitrary leveling some day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    That's like finding surgery patients that prefer to go under the knife without anesthetic. Anyway, moving this edit as a proper response to your question:

    The idea of XP being a reward is twisting the language. In those barbaric games that still inflict this odious burden upon hapless players (cursed be those who run them), XP is necessary to keep pace with challenges, which will progressively increase throughout the campaign. A proper XP reward would be XP above and beyond what is necessary to keep that pace. Any XP gain that does not keep pace is a punishment. XP that keeps pace just is.
    I had a root canal without pain killers. I prefer it that way.

    I agree completely with your assessment, btw. If the game is geared such that XP is necessary to keep pace with challenges, then XP that keeps pace "just is", and reductions to that are punitive.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    The idea that a player should get xp just for showing up is them getting a reward for nothing. If a player wants xp, they should do something to earn it. The bard talked the team through an encounter? They get all the xp. A fighter killed the monster before the rest of the party acted? The fighter gets all of that creature's xp reward. The players aren't getting punished because they didn't do anything to earn that xp. It's not a punishment. It's simply a lack of a reward. The reward goes to the deserving.
    Last edited by Elbeyon; 2018-05-05 at 11:39 PM.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Quote Originally Posted by Corneel View Post
    Condescension much? Did XP kill your mother?
    My mother was not old enough for the medieval practice of XP to have killed her.

    It was my great, great, great, great, great, great, great uncle Eadan who was slain by cowardly XP arrows on the plain of Curragh.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    If an adventure arc takes more than one session and a player can't make one of them, presumably someone will play that character as a secondary to maintain the party's action economy and story cohesion. That character gets a fair share of the loot and full XP because the player was there for all the other parts of the adventure. Missing one session is not a problem to miss out on the rewards earned when the player was there but not received yet. If the game session missed is its own adventure for that one session, then sure, the character was not there along with the player so no XP. Hopefully the DM would be kind for that one session only adventure the XP and treasure award is not Lottery Jackpot level the player will be miffed he missed out on it. If the player is absent from games a lot for a reason the DM accepts and allows the player to play when he can come, then it's valid he only gets the XP and treasure for the games he's there Jackpot level or not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elbeyon View Post
    The idea that a player should get xp just for showing up is them getting a reward for nothing. If a player wants xp, they should do something to earn it. The bard talked the team through an encounter? They get all the xp. A fighter killed the monster before the rest of the party acted? The fighter gets all of that creature's xp reward. The players aren't getting punished because they didn't do anything to earn that xp. It's not a punishment. It's simply a lack of a reward. The reward goes to the deserving.
    It's much more productive to have them earn XP differently. I wholly agree that showing up isn't enough and they should do something to earn it. Which is why I reward XP for different things, like doing chores. Vaccuming, doing the dishes, helping out with the laundry, stuff like that. XP bonus for how well they did their chores.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

    Roleplaying vs Fun
    If roleplaying is no fun then stop doing it. Unless of course you are roleplaying at gunpoint then you should roleplay like your life depended on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    RPGs have a bizarrely high number of people that canít handle losing, or even not getting as much stuff as others.
    Back when it was wargamers and college kids, it was pretty good. Around 79/80 I started to see a shift with "serious" role players who were very entitled and opinionated.
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    Not making the absolute maximum profit possible is completely identical to loss. What are you, a communist?
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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    The perception that XP is about keeping up is an illusion. Generally, challenges in a tabletop game are going to be bounded by the fact that the GM is trying to make things feel intense while avoiding a TPK. If everyone eschewed XP gain you'd end up with an eternal campaign of 'farmers vs kobolds' or somesuch, because it's going to be obvious to the GM that dropping a balor on that group is pointless.

    So what XP really represents is pacing. In systems which allow players to choose how to spend XP, that means that it acts as a sort of bidding points for game aesthetics (if you constantly put it into raw power, you escalate rapidly and get a game more focused on one-trick ponies; if you put it towards diversity, utility, etc, you're bidding to have a more rounded, cerebral game). In systems where you gain power from XP in specified ways (e.g. D&D levels), there's not much agency in XP. In D&D 3.5, gaining XP too fast can be a devil's bargain since you'll fall behind WBL but on paper the CR of encounters should still increase.

    What XP actually does is pretty divorced from how XP feels to a player though. Whether XP denial is punishment or just the absence of reward will depend on how that is being wielded. That is to say, both punishments and rewards are just consequences, with the main difference being in how one experiences them and feels pressure to adapt their behavior in response - moving towards or moving away.

    I would guess that the more systematic something is for the rest of the group, the more punishment-like it will feel to not receive it. So in a game where hypothetically only one player each session on average receives a thing, not being the one to receive it due to not being present will feel more like missing a reward (other people also didn't get the thing, even though they were present), whereas if everyone but you receives it then it will feel more like a punishment.

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    Default Re: A lack of reward is not punishment

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    It's much more productive to have them earn XP differently. I wholly agree that showing up isn't enough and they should do something to earn it. Which is why I reward XP for different things, like doing chores. Vaccuming, doing the dishes, helping out with the laundry, stuff like that. XP bonus for how well they did their chores.
    Oh man, that never even occured to me. I just make them do that stuff or else I TPK the party. I like your way better. A bribe is a less bitter pill to swallow. 😂

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