Good Practices Quick-Reference Sheet

41 posts / 0 new
Last post
I was thinking about the nature of LFR events, and realized that there are at least two unique elements that radically differentiate a LFR game from a standard game -- first, you never know who or what is going to show up to the table; second, you can't use an attack power that would damage or hinder allies without permission.  These introduce some challenges to keeping everyone involved.  Perhaps a "good practices" quick reference sheet that a DM could bring to the table would be helpful.  Any input would be appreciated.

-o-


Living Forgotten Realms is a heroic campaign.  Adventures may assume that the characters are motivated by the desire to stop evil-doers or help out others, even if no reward is offered.  While you can play an unaligned character, you should find reasons to behave altruistically and perform good deeds without the need for reward, or you may find yourself and the people you are playing with frustrated.

Etiquette
- Show up early.  Be ready to start at the event's start-time. 
- You can roleplay your character however you like, but remember that the game is about working with fellow adventurers to achieve some goal, not against them.
- Show respect for the other people at the table.

Rules
- LFR follows the core Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition Rules, as updated by the most recent errata.  Make sure your character is up-to-date and using the current rules.
- The DM is the final arbiter of the rules at the table.  Understand that sometimes the DM will make mistakes.
- Asking questions to make sure you understand the rules is fine, but arguing about them should (if ever necessary) be done after the adventure, not during.  Accept the ruling and move on.

Roles
- Identify who can do what up front, but realize that classes are not hard matched to roles.  A fighter, for example, may be built for damage-dealing rather than defense.  
- If the party is missing a role (or roles), try to designate who is going to try to fill the hole.  For example, a ranger or warlord may end up running interference (defender) to keep the ranged strikers intact.  Anyone can trigger a character's second wind with a DC:10 Heal check or grant a saving throw with a DC:15 Heal check; a swordmage or warden can still do a very effective job of defending while spending a standard action to administer first aid to an ally.

Combat Tactics
- No one is allowed to use powers that would damage or hinder allies without permission.  Controllers and sorcerers can have an especially challenging time of this.  Have a back-up plan ready in case the bloodied fighter in the middle of a group of enemies isn't willing to give you permission to drop a fireball on his head.
- Communicate.  Find out what your teammates can do and make sure to let them know what you can do.  If you need the defenders to move a certain way to give you a clear shot with an area attack, tell them; if you can set up the enemy to make sure the striker can hit with a big attack, let him know.
- Focus fire.  It's better to remove half the enemies from the table than to bloody the entire enemy force.
- Pay attention.  By the time your turn comes up, you should already know exactly what you're going to be doing, where you're moving and what power you're using.  With some classes (particularly defenders), you need to be paying attention even when it's not your turn to do your job well.

Skill Challenges
- If you have nothing obviously applicable, you can potentially assist someone that does.  It's a DC: 10 relevant skill check, and it doesn't count against the group if you fail.  You're stronger when you work together.
- There may be limits to the number of people that can assist with a given check.
- Don't forget to stow your shield.  That's effectively +2 to all your physical skills.  If a fight does happen to break out in the middle of a skill challenge, it only takes a standard action to re-equip a shield.

Have fun!
-o-

Comments, questions, and concerns are most welcome.
-Don't forget to stow your shield.  That's effectively +1 or +2 to all your physical skills.  If a fight breaks out, it only takes a standard action to re-equip a shield.

It's no penalty for a light shield, -2 for a heavy--never a -1.  And "only" a standard action?  When few fights last longer than 5 rounds, losing a whole standard action is a big deal.  Not to mention losing the shield bonus until your initiative comes up.  However, in an untimed skill challenge, you're quite right.

"Edison didn't succeed the first time he invented Benjamin Franklin, either." Albert the Alligator, Walt Kelly's Pogo Sunday Book  
The Core Coliseum: test out your 4e builds and fight to the death.

-Never sit out of a skill challenge -- you won't get XP for it.

Really?  I wasn't aware of this rule.  I certainly don't recall anything about it in any mod I've run.


These are merely suggestions, and there are always exceptions.  You are unquestionably free to play your character the way you'd like within RPGA guidelines.

I probably wouldn't lead with such a bold statement.  Telling someone they're "unquestionably free" to do anything not explicitly forbidden by the RPGA rules is probably inviting behavior I don't want.

I would tend to go with something like:

--------------------

Living Forgotten Realms is a heroic campaign.  Adventures may assume that the characters are motivated by the desire to stop evil-doers or help out others, even if no reward is offered.  While you can play an unaligned character, you should find reasons to behave altruistically and perform good deeds without the need for reward, or you may find yourself and the people you are playing with frustrated.

You can roleplay your character however you like, but remember that the game is about working with fellow adventurers to achieve some goal, not against them.

Rules
* LFR follows the core Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition Rules, as updated by the most recent errata.  Make sure your character is up-to-date and using the current rules.
* The DM is the final arbiter of the rules at the table.  Understand that sometimes they will make mistakes.
* Asking questions to make sure you understand the rules is fine, but arguing about them should (if ever necessary) be done after the adventure, not during.

Roles
* It doesn't have to be the traditional role for your class, but you should be good at a role.
* If your character only does one thing well, make sure it's something that matters.
* Remember that LFR games may not always have a perfect mix of roles.  Be prepared to deal with a missing role at a table, and you should be careful building a character with the assumption that you will always have certain other character types around.

Combat
* RPGA play is about working together as a team.  If you are in control of your character, you should always ask before taking an action that could damage or hinder another character.
* Communicate.  Find out what your teammates can do and make sure to let them know what you can do.  If you need the defenders to move a certain way to give you a clear shot with an area attack, tell them; if you can set up the enemy to make sure the striker can hit with a big attack, let him know.
* Focus fire.  It's better to remove a single enemy from the combat than to have all of them bloodied.
* Pay attention.  By the time your turn comes up, you should already know exactly what you're going to be doing, where you're moving and what power you're using.  With some classes (particularly defenders), you need to be paying attention even when it's not your turn to do your job well.
* Be prepared.  For each of your powers, you should have written down what your attack bonus is, what defense it's against, how much damage you do normally and how much damage you do on a critical hit.  The Character Builder is nice, but it doesn't necessarily include everything you need, so take some time to write everything down in advance rather than trying to figure it out anew each time.
* Be quick.  Unless your DM minds, roll the dice for your power's attack and damage at the same time to speed things up.  (If an ability lets you reroll the attack, reroll everything.)
* It's a DC 10 Heal check to trigger someone's Second Wind (if they haven't already used it), and a DC 15 Heal check to grant them a saving throw.  These take a standard action, but keep them in mind when the situation is looking grim.

General
* Have fun.
* Thank your DM.
* Never split the party.
* Always protect the healer.
* If someone asks if you're a god, say 'Yes'.

-- Brian Gibbons.
-Never sit out of a skill challenge -- you won't get XP for it.



As chitzk0i notes, I'm not aware of this rule.  Do you have a cite for it?

-If you have nothing applicable, you can always assist someone that does.  It's a DC: 10 relevant skill check, and doesn't count against the group if you fail.  You're stronger when you work together.



I wouldn't say "always".  I can think of a fair number of examples in LFR modules in which it is explicitly stated that assists aren't allowed.  And, there will often be limits to how many assists are allowed on a particular skill check.  That said, the idea of assisting during skill challenges is a good one; I just wouldn't lead the reader to believe that it's always possible, or that a DM who doesn't allow an assist is going against the rules.
"Of course [Richard] has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183, and we're barbarians!" - Eleanor of Aquitaine, "The Lion in Winter"
Thanks for the suggestions - I'll try to update the doc tonight

Re: XP - I'm sure I've seen something requiring participation in an encounter to earn XP for it. I'll track down a reference and post it tonight.

* If someone asks if you're a god, say 'Yes'.


When I ran Weekend in the Realms we had a young kid at the table. He lacked the "filter" most people have, which made his presence all the more enjoyable... it really took all of us back to the days when were first picking up the game.

The version of the above I got was "Wow, you have a massive ego."

I crumbled, sought words, then basically agreed and apologized. Then I tried to save it with something about how it is the role you have to take on as DM... sadness. (Once again, foiled by those pesky kids).

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

-Never sit out of a skill challenge -- you won't get XP for it.

Really?  I wasn't aware of this rule.  I certainly don't recall anything about it in any mod I've run.

DMG121-122 tells us the following (emphasis mine):
The alternative, of course, is to give XP only to the characters who are present and who participate in each encounter. If a character is dead while the rest of the party faces an encounter, that character doesn’t get XP for the encounter. If a player misses a session, that character doesn’t get XP for the whole session. The result is that players who never miss a session get ahead of those who miss the occasional game, and eventually they wind up a level or more ahead. There’s nothing wrong with that.

The RPGA/LFR guidelines indicate that a dead character doesn't earn XP for encounters he missed, which seems to indicate that "the alternative" listed above is the LFR method.  Also, every adventure indicates that the DM should "Give no award if the characters did not play the encounter at all." 

So, it's not explicitly spelled out in the character creation guide, but the adventures and DMG provide evidence.  I can't imagine why someone would expect to earn XP for an encounter he skipped.
quThe DMG 121 - 122 quote explicitly indicates that a player doesn't get XP for an ecnounter they missed if they missed a session.

Just becasue a character doesn't roll a dice in an encounter doesn't mean they didn't participate. It means that their best participation in this encounter was to sit at the bar and have a drink while letting the talky types interact with the patrons to gather the required info.

I see that this type of participation as just as valid if not more so as the charisma 8 con 22 fighter walking up to some random guy in a bar and trying to be diplomatic with them.

My point is sometimes it makes more sense for the fighter to sit down and say nothing when the Wizard is casting a ritual or conversly for the wizard to sit down and meditate while the barbarian lugs heavy rocks around.

As per the above quote however, if the character is present in the encounter and the player is also present then according to the DMG rule as written I interpret them to have "participated" in the encounter with regards skill challenges. In combat you'd hope they'd be a bit more helpful given all characters have attack powers.

However this shouldn't be an issue becasue all skill challenges "should" be wrtitten to be inclusive to all types so IMO they should allow, for example, knowledge checks for the wizard to have an intellectual conversation with someone while the fighter may prefer to sit with the guys over there and arm wrestle to get information and at the same time the bard may go off and work the room for info.

The DM should be encouraging/facilitating this rather than saying to players that if you don't "participate" they don't get XP.

- Try to be at an event you are playing 15 to 20 minutes before it starts.

Most conventions and game days will try to seat you if you come later, but it's a big headache for everyone and sometimes it can mean you don't get seated due to lack of space.

- Try to keep activities not related to the game at a minimum.

This is sort of repeating the "pay attention" bit above, cos it's important. You do NOT need to be playing World of Warcraft in between your combat turns. Yes, I've seen this happen at conventions.

- Liquids off the table, please.

Drinks sitting on the game play area are an accident waiting to happen. At the very least use closable bottles.

- For the love of Bob, SHOWER EVERY DAY.

More often if necessary. Gamer funk is not cool. Seriously. Soap won't kill you.



-karma
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
Benird - Not exactly.  It's in a section labeled "Absent Players," but the text (quoted above) refers specifically to characters and participation. 
give XP only to the characters who are present and who participate in each encounter

The section header is just over-specific for the material covered beneath it.  I take this to mean that a player needs to do more than just show up and take up space at the table.  If you want XP for your character, you need to add to the experience for the other folks at the table.  The barbarian that stays out of the wizard's way while he meditates on a rune-warded stone is fine.  The wizard that allows the barbarian to move the no-longer rune-warded stone out of the way is fine.  The bard that drank in a bar while his player talked on a cell phone though the entire skill challenge is not fine.

Given the option, I'd rather gently remind players that they need to take part in the game to earn XP than engage in any sort of discipline/dis-invite process.



I updated the original post with some of your suggestions.  Thanks much for the input!
Regarding skill challenges:
When in doubt, tell the DM "I want to help the barbarian (etc), but I don't know what I can do, I don't seem to have any useful skills/powers/stats". This opens the door for the DM to suggest a course of action to you. This isn't a 'stock answer' but if you really don't know what you can do to help, just ask.
Benird - Not exactly.  It's in a section labeled "Absent Players," but the text (quoted above) refers specifically to characters and participation. 
give XP only to the characters who are present and who participate in each encounter

The section header is just over-specific for the material covered beneath it.  I take this to mean that a player needs to do more than just show up and take up space at the table.  If you want XP for your character, you need to add to the experience for the other folks at the table.  The barbarian that stays out of the wizard's way while he meditates on a rune-warded stone is fine.  The wizard that allows the barbarian to move the no-longer rune-warded stone out of the way is fine.  The bard that drank in a bar while his player talked on a cell phone though the entire skill challenge is not fine.

Given the option, I'd rather gently remind players that they need to take part in the game to earn XP than engage in any sort of discipline/dis-invite process.


I understand you are being more flexible in this post but I disagree with the interpretation. First, you should realize that enforcing this would probably have the reverse of your desired effect - metagamers and cheese monkeys would sit out a SC so as to receive less XP and thereby be stronger (more gold per XP for them).

Second, the rules in that section are really talking about missing gaming sessions and is meant for home campaigns.

Third, there are valid reasons for PCs not to participate in a SC. As you noted, the wizard doesn't want to move the heavy thing, and might do nothing. Maybe the PCs stand before the royal court, and now need to press their case... does the barbarian really need to participate? But, where do you draw the line... what isn't reasonable? The skill challenge calls for moving a heavy thing, the fighter rolls... does the barbarian suffer? Or are we talking about a cell phone policy? None of this is within the realms of a standard rule that should apply to LFR. We are deep into custom DM rules and judgement calls, which is not the point of the RPGA and certainly not a list of suggestions for new DMs. I suspect you will end up forcing very artificial behavior. I prefer other means for enticing players to participate than an XP threat (which may be a reward). It could be especially troubling if you drop it without warning at the end. "Ok, the royal court grants permission. You two gain experience, but not the rest of you..."

Applied to battles, do you give 0 XP or half XP to a player that checks their e-mail on their phone during a combat? If that is your specific DM policy, you should state that up front, but it isn't anything core. This section in the DMG is, after all, dealing with table rules you may want to set up, not with a core rule for 4E.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).


I understand you are being more flexible in this post but I disagree with the interpretation. First, you should realize that enforcing this would probably have the reverse of your desired effect - metagamers and cheese monkeys would sit out a SC so as to receive less XP and thereby be stronger (more gold per XP for them).



Excellent point.  Really.

We had a table discussion at our weekly LFR game last week (well, somewhat ongoing really) about Gold:XP ratios and how if you really really want to try to cheese them (without dropping specific encounters) you can make about 500 extra gold over the entire heroic tier by simply minmaxing the choice to play high band or low band at different tiers.

(H1 - Gold:XP ratio is the same whether you play high or low; H2 - Gold:XP is greater if you play one direction and H3 Gold:XP is greater if you play the opposite direction - not stating which as I'll leave that to the Cheese monkeys to work out for themselves.)

So, anyway, back to your point.  If a DM were to implement a "No skill roll = no XP for the encounter" rule, you'd simply be rewarding the cheeze monkeys who would come to the table knowing which skill challenges they want to go make a phone call during (or play WOW, or whatever).  The players who participated in all of the skill challenges and emphasized role play would end up further behind the power curve than the ones who didn't.



When I'm DMing LFR, if I see a player who seems to be 'hanging back' during a skill challenge, I'll give that player some reason to attempt a roll, even if it's for a skill she's not trained in or doesn't have a very high rating in.

As a general rule, when players focus only on trained/high-skill players attempting skill checks in a skill challenge, there are few if any failures, and there are generally no penalties for amassing fewer than the full number of failures allowed (and no bonus for completing the challenge with no failures at all). More to the point, very often the player ends up making the roll anyway, especially if other party members rush to provide assists, which to my mind helps out party unity and coherence.

Once the players already have a failure or two on the skill challenge, though, I'm less likely to 'force' a check like this, because I don't want the players to think I'm trying to get them to fail the skill challenge (and thus cost them XP).

--
Pauper
I'm going to give some details for the character who I generally do not participate in skill challenges with.

Cleric of Tempus Level 10 (Genasi, Arkanul Background, Peripat of Wisdom +3)
TRAINED SKILLS
Religion +10, Insight +14, Heal +14, Arcana +10

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +3, Bluff +5, Diplomacy +5, Dungeoneering +9, Endurance +7, History +5, Intimidate +5, Nature +11, Perception +9, Stealth +3, Streetwise +5, Thievery +3, Athletics +8

Notice her terrible trained skills, notice her even worse social skills.

She is a battle cleric, she looks at things in terms of battle, and experience tells her that the best tactic is to keep her mouth shut when its time to do the talking, and let those that are good at it do it. Oh she keeps an eye on what is being said so she can help out her allies with information she gleans through insight into the opponent.

So for this character the best RP of the character in skill challenges is to do nothing - it is better for her to let those who are more skilled do their thing.

This is simply compounded by the fact that I am perfectly capable of talking my way through skill challenges, and when I open my mouth DM's like to put dice in my hand. So unless I'm playing a character who should be doing a lot of talking I tend to shut my mouth and provide secondary help when warranted.
We are deep into custom DM rules and judgement calls, which is not the point of the RPGA and certainly not a list of suggestions for new DMs. I suspect you will end up forcing very artificial behavior. I prefer other means for enticing players to participate than an XP threat (which may be a reward). It could be especially troubling if you drop it without warning at the end. "Ok, the royal court grants permission. You two gain experience, but not the rest of you..."

Without official policy, the DM is left with the DMG for rules.  If there IS RPGA policy on this, I'll accept it.  Otherwise, the DMG specifically outlines this as an option. DMG120 might make this a bit more clear:

Earning XP
Characters earn XP for every encounter they overcome. The XP reward for completing an encounter is the sum of the XP values for each monster, NPC, trap, or hazard that makes up the encounter. You noted or assigned this number when you built the encounter, to judge its difficulty against your players. (Published adventures note the XP value of each encounter they contain.) Divide the XP total for the encounter by the number of players present to help overcome it, and that’s how many XP each character gets.

XP threat?  It's a matter of XP earned or not.  The characters that actively help the group push forward earn experience points for success (or failure, if they can't pull it off).  The characters that decide NOT to help... don't.

I didn't consider that missing out on XP would be considered a reward by some.  That's intuitively... weird, but I can see where folks could turn that in to a positive.  Higher GP/XP ratio.  I'd think this would fall in to disciplinary action territory -- the players of these characters are intentionally hindering the party's progress. 

Applied to battles, do you give 0 XP or half XP to a player that checks their e-mail on their phone during a combat? If that is your specific DM policy, you should state that up front, but it isn't anything core. This section in the DMG is, after all, dealing with table rules you may want to set up, not with a core rule for 4E.

That's a different situation, unless the player sits out the entire battle.  Would you give XP to a character that ran from combat and hid through the entire fight?  In a fight balanced against six party members, one member sitting out the battle can turn things very ugly (and really irritate the other players). 


I'm going to give some details for the character who I generally do not participate in skill challenges with.

...

She is a battle cleric, she looks at things in terms of battle, and experience tells her that the best tactic is to keep her mouth shut when its time to do the talking, and let those that are good at it do it. Oh she keeps an eye on what is being said so she can help out her allies with information she gleans through insight into the opponent.

So for this character the best RP of the character in skill challenges is to do nothing - it is better for her to let those who are more skilled do their thing.

But you ARE doing something -- in a social challenge, Insight is a very useful skill.  The very presence of a wise cleric of Tempus provides an easy in-route for a Diplomacy assist (which you would still succeed on a 5+).  The character may not be the talky one, but she certainly can contribute.

This is simply compounded by the fact that I am perfectly capable of talking my way through skill challenges, and when I open my mouth DM's like to put dice in my hand. So unless I'm playing a character who should be doing a lot of talking I tend to shut my mouth and provide secondary help when warranted.

Secondary help is still participation. 

Yeah, there are some lousy skill challenges out there, and there are DMs that don't allow for assists or for characters to creatively use skills that aren't specifically listed with the skill challenge (which should probably be addressed in another thread).  Like I said in the original post, there are exceptions to every rule. 

This is simply compounded by the fact that I am perfectly capable of talking my way through skill challenges, and when I open my mouth DM's like to put dice in my hand. So unless I'm playing a character who should be doing a lot of talking I tend to shut my mouth and provide secondary help when warranted.

I don't know where the idea came from that you can't roleplay an 'Aid Another' check. Just because you're talking does not mean that you're the one making the primary check.

I've had many an occasion where after some conversation with the NPC, a non-face PC of mine will segue into "... and let me introduce my friend, Joe, who can give you more detail on our mission."

Not only do I prefer that sort of thing (on either side of the DM screen) to the chorus of "I aid" after someone makes a check, but it's also a useful tool to shine a spotlight on another PC and prompt them to step forward.

For that matter, the idea that you're making a Cha-based skill check every time you open your mouth is also false. Talking about a subject might call for a knowledge-based skill check, for example.

Beyond that, the entire concept that you can interact in a skill challenge without making a skill check is nonsensical. See, for example, Mike Mearl's description of how he does skill challenges, which clearly indicates that players pretty much only make skill checks when they're deliberately trying to succeed at something.

Sadly, there are far too many LFR DMs that like to play the "Aha, you opened your mouth, now I get to make you gain a failure for the group" game, that the prior poster's caution is probably warranted in most situations.

Personally, 90% of the time, I simply ignore the concept of success/failure for skill challenges. If I am aware that the group could automatically succeed in a skill challenge by playing in the most uninteresting fashion possible (pick the guy with the highest bonus to a usable skill, everyone else assists; ride that to victory), I will simply consider the group to have succeeded and then endeavor to get everyone to participate, with the skills and results merely determining the path they take.

I don't quite get the idea of saying, "Yeah, I know you could beat this easily, but I'd rather you played this encounter in a way that would be more fun, but if you choose to do that, I might punish you." If you're at the point of forcing players to choose between having fun and doing well, that should tell you that there's something wrong with the choice you're giving them.
We are deep into custom DM rules and judgement calls, which is not the point of the RPGA and certainly not a list of suggestions for new DMs. I suspect you will end up forcing very artificial behavior. I prefer other means for enticing players to participate than an XP threat (which may be a reward). It could be especially troubling if you drop it without warning at the end. "Ok, the royal court grants permission. You two gain experience, but not the rest of you..."

Without official policy, the DM is left with the DMG for rules.  If there IS RPGA policy on this, I'll accept it.  Otherwise, the DMG specifically outlines this as an option. DMG120 might make this a bit more clear:

Earning XP
Characters earn XP for every encounter they overcome. The XP reward for completing an encounter is the sum of the XP values for each monster, NPC, trap, or hazard that makes up the encounter. You noted or assigned this number when you built the encounter, to judge its difficulty against your players. (Published adventures note the XP value of each encounter they contain.) Divide the XP total for the encounter by the number of players present to help overcome it, and that’s how many XP each character gets.

XP threat?  It's a matter of XP earned or not.  The characters that actively help the group push forward earn experience points for success (or failure, if they can't pull it off).  The characters that decide NOT to help... don't.

I didn't consider that missing out on XP would be considered a reward by some.  That's intuitively... weird, but I can see where folks could turn that in to a positive.  Higher GP/XP ratio.  I'd think this would fall in to disciplinary action territory -- the players of these characters are intentionally hindering the party's progress. 



We do have rules for the campaign that apply here. We use core rules, not house rules. The whole section you are talking about holds suggested house rules. Specifically, they are rules for what to do in an ongoing home campaign when players miss sessions, are late, etc. This just doesn't apply to RPGA in any way, shape, or form. Beyond that, it certainly doesn't belong in any "Good Practices Quick-Reference Sheet".

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

If I'm off-base, fine. What IS the official rule? I've looked in the DMG, the character creation guide, and the RPGA general rules. I've seen (and cited) instances where characters are rewarded with XP for encounters they helped to beat. I haven't seen - or have apparently overlooked - anything contrary.
If I'm off-base, fine. What IS the official rule? I've looked in the DMG, the character creation guide, and the RPGA general rules. I've seen (and cited) instances where characters are rewarded with XP for encounters they helped to beat. I haven't seen - or have apparently overlooked - anything contrary.

"Give PCs a full award for each encounter they successfully completed, and a half award if they were unsuccessful. Give no award if the characters did not play the encounter at all."

You can find that it every single module, in the Experience Points section under Rewards.  These rewards are for the entire group--the PCs successfully completed an encounter or they did not; the characters played the encounter or they did not play it at all.

As long as the characters were present for the encounter, they earn a share of the experience.  Indeed, that's what the very rule you quoted from the DMG states: "Divide the XP total for the encounter by the number of players present to help overcome it, and that’s how many XP each character gets."

All that matters is that the player was present to help overcome it; whether he actually did help overcome it is a separate matter and irrelevant to the question of whether he was present.

Aside from bonuses from completing a major quest or a player leaving halfway through the adventure, all PCs receive the exact same experience award.

I don't alter the XP per character on GM-discretionary stuff when DMing RPGA events for one main reason.

And my reason has little to do with the game itself.

I don't do it because it often creates an argumentative scenario, ill feelings, and generally puts a negative damper on the whole situation, all for what really amounts to little gain of any meaningful sort.

Seriously. What does withholding XP gain? Especially in a living campaign where you might never see this player again?

I am not just an DM. I am an RPGA DM. I represent the RPGA. I also represent the convention I am judging at. My responsibility is to more than just my personal petty likes or dislikes.

RPGA players and DMs come in all personalities and play styles. Some are more active. Some are less. Different people play for different reasons.

If I'm DMing a table, it's often at a convention where I may never have met these players prior to sitting down at the table. I'm not going to smack them in the face for having a different play style or expecting different things than what I am used to. Especially since they've often taken time off from work, possibly having to use vacation days or lose hourly wages to do so, and potentially spent hundreds of dollars in travel and hotel expenses, not to mention convention fees.

So I tend to be more flexible and lenient in the RPGA than I might in a home game.

My job is NOT to merely be the "law". I'm not a cop. I'm a DM. There is a difference. My job is to ensure the players have an enjoyable time. This is not to say I don't enforce the rules of the game. But the scenario in question is a gray area that potentially can create bad feelings. Since I have discretion in this kinda of case, I prefer a carrot over a stick.

If I want to encourage a player to participate more? I try talking to the guy. You'd be surprised how well that works. But if they're shy, or otherwise not buying into it, I'm not going to penalize them just because they play different.


If a player walks away from the table in a bad mood, it’s a bad reflection on not just me, but the convention, and the RPGA. Being overly strict and punitive over minor stupid issues can have that result.


 


-karma

LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
We have a very different interpretation of that line in the DMG. A character may be present without being present to help - that's why I quoted that line. Likewise the line describing rewards in the encounter - "give no reward if the characters did not play the encounter at all." Characters that opt out didn't play the encounter at all. No stake, no risk, no reward (see overcoming obstacles on DMG120).

I know 4E has a very group-centric philosophy - I don't even bother with XP in my home games - which makes the individual XP tracking in LFR feel very alien. I'm not trying to be obtuse- it appears that what you're saying is the commonly accepted practice of granting XP. I just don't see the verbiage that indicates that ALL characters earn the rewards regardless of their participation.
This isn't an argument I care to spend more time discussing. That's why I've tried to say that if the word "interpretation" is coming up, or even any lengthy discussion, then it doesn't belong in a quick guide.

Over and out.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).


I don't alter the XP per character on GM-discretionary stuff when DMing RPGA events for one main reason.

And my reason has little to do with the game itself.

I don't do it because it often creates an argumentative scenario, ill feelings, and generally puts a negative damper on the whole situation, all for what really amounts to little gain of any meaningful sort.


Oh absolutely.
We have an (admittedly rather immature) player here who gets really upset if, in his view, other people caused the party to fail an encounter, because it means less XP for him. Of course, he's silent when other people caused the party to pass an encounter with no successful help from his part. Giving different players different amounts of XP would only encourage such argumentative players.

The only exception I've seen is that if for whatever reason a player is not present for the full adventure, he gets less XP for the part where he wasn't there. That sounds reasonable.


If I am aware that the group could automatically succeed in a skill challenge by playing in the most uninteresting fashion possible (pick the guy with the highest bonus to a usable skill, everyone else assists; ride that to victory), I will simply consider the group to have succeeded and then endeavor to get everyone to participate, with the skills and results merely determining the path they take. I don't quite get the idea of saying, "Yeah, I know you could beat this easily, but I'd rather you played this encounter in a way that would be more fun, but if you choose to do that, I might punish you." If you're at the point of forcing players to choose between having fun and doing well, that should tell you that there's something wrong with the choice you're giving them.


Well said.

Preparing the maps ahead of time is a good practice.  It allows more time for adventure and it helps maintain tension and involvement because there is no lengthy break to draw the maps.

You can use multiple battlemats, dungeon tiles fixed to posterboard with adhesive poster tabs (make sure to get the non-permanent ones), Gaming Paper, or 1" graph paper tablets.  However it is done, prepping the maps before the adventure is a time saver.


- For the love of Bob, SHOWER EVERY DAY.

More often if necessary. Gamer funk is not cool. Seriously. Soap won't kill you.



Hissssssssssssssssssssss... it burns!  It's killings us!
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
This isn't an argument I care to spend more time discussing. That's why I've tried to say that if the word "interpretation" is coming up, or even any lengthy discussion, then it doesn't belong in a quick guide.

This is quite different than your previous comment, and a point I'll quite cheerfully grant you.  The XP reference is out.



General
* Have fun.
* Thank your DM.
* Never split the party.
* Always protect the healer.
* If someone asks if you're a god, say 'Yes'.

-- Brian Gibbons.




You forgot one:

* Don't cross the streams.
"42"

or at least "Always know where your towel is"  
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Good things to remember is at a con follow the 3 2 1 rule

3 Hours sleep, minimum
2 meals a day
1 shower a day.

Blah blah blah
Good things to remember is at a con follow the 3 2 1 rule

3 Hours sleep, minimum
2 meals a day
1 shower a day.





I always heard that as the 6 2 1 rule.  But otherwise, I agree.

-SYB
Good things to remember is at a con follow the 3 2 1 rule

3 Hours sleep, minimum
2 meals a day
1 shower a day.




I always heard that as the 6 2 1 rule.  But otherwise, I agree.



8 - (6 - age/10).
Good things to remember is at a con follow the 3 2 1 rule
3 Hours sleep, minimum
2 meals a day
1 shower a day.

Oh, how I desperately do NOT want to have someone read that on a sheet at my table and go "Whoops!  I guess I'd better shower today... maybe." 

Oh, how I desperately do NOT want to have someone read that on a sheet at my table and go "Whoops!  I guess I'd better shower today... maybe." 



If only we were kidding about this... Frown
"Of course [Richard] has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183, and we're barbarians!" - Eleanor of Aquitaine, "The Lion in Winter"
Oh, c'mon.  They'd have to hold a major convention in the middle of the summer in an incredibly humid city and then force gamers to walk -- outside! -- from event to ev...

Right.
Person is at table and their character is alive, they are taking part period. Otherwise you get into the really old school rules from some games where you didn't XP for a combat if you didn't have an effect in the combat (I.E always missed, etc).

Actually I remember at a table once where someone mentioned showering as a rule and I asked in my most innocent-sounding voice if bird bathes with my 1 liter water bottle in key places throughout the day were acceptable. heh. Yes, I got that look.
Christopher Green RPGA# 5209379759 Aelar Tel'ess'san - Elven Cleric Lvl 4 Veloch Shade - Tiefling Rogue Lvl 4 Adaeth the Mindwalker - Deva Psion Lvl 2 The Story Tellers' Guild The Roleplaying Association of SUNY Oswego http://www.oswego.edu/stg
Person is at table and their character is alive, they are taking part period.



I disagree. A player who is sitting at the table reading a book while the rest play in an encounter is not, imo, participating.
I have to say I don't care much about xp - I think anyone who feels entitled to xp in any situation is overthinking things. I do know that in LG, some DMs gave less xp if you didn't roleplay (each adventure had  'discretionary roleplay xp), treating the extra xp as a reward for roleplaying.
I had no problem with that, though some do. I guess you need to find the balance.

Gomez
We have a very different interpretation of that line in the DMG. A character may be present without being present to help - that's why I quoted that line. Likewise the line describing rewards in the encounter - "give no reward if the characters did not play the encounter at all." Characters that opt out didn't play the encounter at all. No stake, no risk, no reward (see overcoming obstacles on DMG120).  



I disagree with this. The PC that makes no rolls is every bit as subject to the bonuses or penalties that accrue based on success or failure in the skill challenge as the PC that does all the rolling. Rolling a skill check in a skill challenge is usually a risk for the party rather than the PC participating in particular. (There are occasionally exceptions, where say a failed roll gives a lost healing surge or something, but that's an exception not the rule.) 

Now, mind you.. the non-scaling aid another DC means characters which aren't appropriately skilled can and should aid (in mechanical terms) but do you really want 3-5 aid another checks on every skill attempted? If not, surely the second-best should be aiding, not the worst in the party for a given skill. Now, if SC authors are generally including easy DCs for the most appropriate skill for a situation, and moderate/hard DCs for less appropriate but usable skills, and typically hard DCs for unlisted skills with appropriate justification, then the 10 points swing in DC can easily compensate for most of the difference between a good skill and a bad skill. For example an untrained skill off a primary or secondary stat w/ an easy DC is usually better odds than a trained skill on a primary w/ a hard DC. If the DM allows some means for the player to discern whether a DC is easy or hard they may be able to make good use of lesser skills.

 Overall though: I think the best results with skill challenges come from playing fast and loose and having a good time with it, rather than fretting over it. Letting the animal companion (backed by Butcher's Lure) act as the party's face? Priceless. Telling someone they get no XP because they didn't want to make untrained charisma skill rolls w/ an 8 Cha? Lame. It's not always easy, but try to use SCs as a flimsy excuse to tell an interesting, compelling and/or amusing bit of story, and discourage too much number-crunching min/maxing, XP allocating, mechanics wrangling.