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XP and the FNG
Posted By Kurt "Telas" Schneider On March 8, 2012 @ 12:00 am In GMing Advice | 18 Comments
So, you’ve got a new character in the group. Whether it’s the result of irreversible character death, a new player, or just a character who didn’t live up to expectations, you as the GM need to decide how much experience to give the FNG (‘Frakking New Guy/Girl). This decision may not be as easy as it seems.
Three major factors influence your decision, and the first two often conflict:
Caveats: Some systems or gaming groups can ignore this question. Characters in advance-less systems like Spirit of the Century are all equally powerful. RP-heavy groups might not care about character optimization. Also, the Rambling Gnomes have touched on a similar situation here, but this is a bit more in-depth.
I suggest a compromise: Start characters at the lowest level they can reasonably be expected to survive the campaign, and double their advancement rate until they reach the party’s XP range.
I did this in my last Savage Worlds campaign, and it worked like a charm. New characters were brought in, and they still had to survive the escalator to the party’s experience range, but they weren’t cursed by being behind the curve for the rest of their career. One unexpected result was that new characters relied heavily upon the party, and integrated that much faster. I found it to be a good balance for the system and the campaign. With some tweaks, it should work for other systems as well.
Other factors can increase their survivability, such as a full complement of gear that matches the rest of the party, some kind of “beginner’s luck” mechanic, or a one-use Ring of Resurrection.
If you want a rationale, remember that this ‘noob’ will be surrounded by a group of experienced and knowledgeable adventurers, all of whom are motivated to make sure the new guy gets as much advice and assistance as possible. It makes sense that they would get better, faster. (And if you read the Wikipedia article linked above, you’ll find that this is actually the exact opposite of how FNGs were treated.)
Agree? Disagree? Got another preferred method for maintaining the balance between survivability/playability and optimization? Sound off in the comments and let us know!
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