View Full Version : Extra player...sometimes 4E

2010-08-29, 05:28 PM
So I'm sure all you DM's out there have had this problem at one time or another, but I have someone that wants to play but can't make it every time we will be playing. How did you incorporate someone just some of the time?

2010-08-29, 05:41 PM
We meat puppet his character when he's away.

2010-08-29, 05:43 PM
The answer to this problem varies from game to game, depending on how exactly the adventures are set up. The easiest solution I've found to this problem is to try to end every session in a major community. Give the character a responsibility to some sort of guild, temple, mage's college, whatever that sometimes calls him away from the rest of the group. This gives the character a believeable out of any given adventure. If you do have to end in the middle of a dungeon or something like that, maybe there is an emergency back at the guild and they teleport him back to help deal with the situation.

Another concern from a more OOC perspective is how to handle experience. Do you let the player fall behind the others from all of the missed sessions? This can be very frustrating as that player feels like he's not as able to assist the party when he is there and the other players feel like they have to pull his extra weight. I suggest instead, allowing him to keep up in terms of experience and gold (the extra xp coming from missions with his guild or something). This sometimes causes hard feelings from other players too, since he's not really earning the xp the way they did. So there is not really a truly winning way to address this, but hopefully pointing out the alternative to the players will help to alleviate the frustrations.

2010-08-29, 05:57 PM
While we don't have a person in our group that regularly misses sessions, there have been a couple times when a player missed a session.

The first time the player had given me his character sheet and given me permission to play his character. He didn't want to fall behind the rest of the party, so our DM let him have full xp, but no gold. This wasn't a great idea, as I found it difficult to play 2 characters.

The second time the player talked to the DM beforehand and told him why he wasn't going to be there. He agreed to only getting half the xp, and the DM made up a reason for his character to be away from the party.

Now, if this guy is going to be missing a lot of sessions, he probably won't like either of the above solutions. I agree with dariathalon, you should come up with a reason for him to be away from the party, and give him as much xp as the other characters earn. It might not be fair to the other players, but it's not fair to him if they're 5 levels above him.

2010-08-29, 06:43 PM
same way you would every player. For storyline purposes you can work out what thier character was doing whist the player was away like scouting or foraging or even heading back to town for information or supplies.

I have this issue with my group with 2 players. It usually helps if you talk to the group as a whole as to what the story should say that the absent character is doing.

I also have a rule that if a player is away and the party member with the most xp levels more than 2 lvls above the absent party member i will automatically take them to the minimum xp required to be no more than 2 lvls below. However this is just a rule i run to keep the party at a fairly even playing field without the rest of the party feel like they are being jibbed.

2010-08-29, 07:49 PM
I'd try to set up the character the same way I'd set up a recurring NPC. They aren't a part of the main party, but are somehow involved with them in a way that lets them drop into and out of adventures. Maybe a distant relative of one of the other PCs who has their own life, maybe a rival that they sometimes team up with, etc.

2010-08-29, 09:24 PM
My group is large enough that there are generally one or two people missing every session. As a general rule, we just pretend they're off doing something else important. However, if you're gone for a few weeks, then you'll get a mini-session to make up for it. As for the XP loss, I've long since done away with encounter based XP, and so people will level up at the same rate regardless of if they missed a few sessions.

2010-08-29, 09:47 PM
I handle it in the simplest way possible:

If they aren't there, their character is not there. He/she is off doing something else which also gains them xp. So long as they forewarned me before the game started that they would not be able to make every session, I do not want them to fall ridiculously behind the other characters. It already hurts that they are not gaining magic items, I don't want them to be behind on level too.

So yes, I keep them at the same level and just have them disappear. Unless they are the only healer or defender, at which point I'll let another player proxy them in combat, but not outside combat.

I've never had any players protest this, as at some point every player misses a session and nobody wants to be penalized for it. Furthermore, the players realize that if they are there and having fun, they are getting the real benefits out of the session versus the person who is not there.

2010-08-29, 11:44 PM
I have a group that currently plays 4E on a regular basis right now. I friend we use to play D&D all the time with has little to no time lately but would like to play. We extended him an offer any time he wants to play he can control one of the NPCs instead of me. The party has 2 NPC. Well really 1.5 There is a bard that levels when the party levels and there is a goblin that the cleric of the platinum dragon is trying to convert. Every time the goblin does something nice he pays the goblin. He stops and talks with the goblin when he can and tries to be super nice to the goblin. They give the goblin a banner to plant in fights and have even given the goblin armour and weapons to help out.

The goblin has come to like most of the party. The wizard still wants the goblin dead. Butthe goblin has grown some steel balls after delivering the killing blow on a demon. OKay the demon was down to about 3 hits and the goblin missed every attack except the last one I rolled a 20 for the goblin.

2010-08-30, 01:43 AM
It's too easy to run 4E with group XP to make it worth running individual.

If someone misses my game, they don't get milestones, and they burn healing surges. If everyone is down powers, I may make them burn a daily when they get back.

I have a weak healer NPC for if my cleric misses.

If they're gone for longer than an extended rest, then they are usually at the same spot as the rest of the party.

2010-08-30, 04:50 AM
The sometimes players PC is caught in a time warp! for some reason that is never properly explained he just blinks out of existence!

Could lead to a fun quest if he gets a regular schedule and can show up consistently too :D

2010-08-30, 08:26 AM
I'm thinking I like the 'being called away on a moment's notice' by a guild or a group that he has devoted himself too, voluntarily in not. I'll probably just give him a teleportation stone that when activated sends him away. I'll have to just find someway for him to get back.

2010-08-30, 04:29 PM
I'm thinking I like the 'being called away on a moment's notice' by a guild or a group that he has devoted himself too, voluntarily in not. I'll probably just give him a teleportation stone that when activated sends him away. I'll have to just find someway for him to get back.

Wizards did it? :smallbiggrin:

Reis Tahlen
2010-08-30, 04:44 PM
My DM has a good system: we "work" for an evil outsider of tremendous power. He controls so much groups troughout the world that he has some kind of "central administration" in a pocket plane, where his agents can contact and be contacted by groups, and monitor missions.

Well, when a player is missing at a session, his character is called to this "central administration", and he stays here until the player come back.

2010-08-30, 06:06 PM
You can also use DMG guidelines to make "NPC Versions" of the PCs. Even require every player to keep an "NPC PC" sheet current and e-mail/printed out for the DM.

Then, when they miss, the DM or one of the other PCs can run a simplified version of their character. It's easier to run someone else if you only have to worry about 1 at-will, encounter, daily, and utility power.

Those are days the PCs just don't feel as heroic as other days.

2010-08-30, 06:51 PM
Generally if I know someone is only going to be around 50% of the time I make the character with them; that way when they aren't around I am somewhat invested in the character and can play it as a DMPC.

Have to be careful not to focus on that person as a big plot line character though as it can then become the DMPC's story if that person happens to not show up 2-3 weeks in a row and no one wants to play that game.