Friday, January 24, 2020

Joining the fight late?

This Sunday is Felltower, again, and we're going to finish the half-fought battle against the draugr.

We may get a couple of extra players, though. Potentially Dryst and probably Galen.

Do I allow them to "catch up" and jump into the fight?

I've done it before, specifically for Bjorn.

For Sunday, though, I've gone with no. Show up please, but just run NPCs or the PCs of players who couldn't make it this time.

I have a few reasons.

1) Verisimilitude.

It's hard to believe that the reinforcing PCs were like 20-30 seconds behind the others the whole time, but never caught up. Or minutes behind and caught up only after the others got into a fight and stayed in it for a short time. They're far from the entrance, past a place that needs magic or some careful navigation to reach, in a place no sane person would drop in to check and see if the group is really in or not.

It's just hard for me to swallow.

2) It's No One's Second Session.

I had Bjorn run up because, well, it was the player's second session with us. I didn't want to leave him sitting there, maybe playing someone else's guy, when he could play his own paper man. It just didn't seem like that would be as fun.

3) It's a potential fight-changer.

And by potential, I mean is. It is a fight-changer to have Galen come rolling up and start blowing away draugr eyes at a full run. He's not a reinforcement who might help, he's a fight-breaker.

Same with Dryst. He'll come up, laden with potions, paut, FP, and magic items and start tossing around magic the group just doesn't have on tap right now.

I think that changes the fight from winnable but a challenge to win given the resources expended to a sure thing for the PCs, all over but for the rolling. The fact that the two PCs were missing earlier means they didn't have to put up with the draugr when they, themselves, had more resources to expend. Victory does go to the ones who throw in their reserves last.

4) Unfair loot distribution.

I don't think the PCs will mind, but it does seem unfair that guys miss half the fight and all of the sitting and planning and then roll up to finish a fight and loot the place.

Which leads to the following:

5) Dealing with XP is harder.

So, how do the guys who join later earn XP? Full for the delve? They missed half of it. Half of the XP? We don't do halves, not the least of which is because it could be an odd number. Half rounded down? Still no, that's bizarre. Full because the loot is all in the second half? Then what did the guys do in the first part?

I just don't like any of the answers.

So basically I feel like letting people reinforce in this situation opens up more questions than it closes off. The ones that do get answered do so in a way I don't really like. I'd rather stick with the standard "no" and leave Bjorn the exception made for a new player's enjoyment of the game.


  1. I have done similar, having a returning player and a new player catching up with the party mid-combat, rather than make the new player wait. It stretched plausibility, but the trade-off was worth it, in the pursuit of new player fun. In that same fight I also had monster reinforcements arrive sooner, in seconds rather than minutes, so that the new player with the knight at the back would have something more to do than spending half the battle marching to the front line.

    1. Ditto.

      That said I can understand Peter's issue here. He hands out exp based on loot, and these guys aren't in their 2nd or even 3rd session, they've had //experiences//. Players with PCs like Galen and Dryst can handle being left out of this fight.

    2. They aren't new players, like evileeyore said. The newer of the two has been playing for years. The more veteran of the two probably won't even make it, and he's been playing the campaign since day one.

      Plus the NPCs don't have reinforcements, and adding some would be . . . bizarre at best. So it's a lot of in-game cost for someone to get to play their own guy when they show up.

    3. Oh I got that. Apologies if it wasn't clear from my comment. I was agreeing with the principle of making an extra effort for new players where possible, as I have done that myself. Where it doesn't make sense from a plausibility standpoint and/or where it would be too unbalancing or unfair to drop in absent party members mid-stream, then the GM is of course entitled to rule that the reunion gratification has to be delayed in that case.

    4. Ah, okay. What I took from your comment wasn't what you meant. But yeah, for a new player, I'm willing to have a lot of latitude so they can enjoy play. For the vets, it's just a different case. Sitting at the table watching your friends gut out a problem can be entertaining . . . sometimes even more than being in it. Like Hamilcar's teleport escape. The folks who watched that part of the session still talk about it.

    5. I was looking through the blog for something else, saw this, and fondly remembered that session where Hamilcar's player had to navigate out of the caves without a map. That was unquestionably an awesome and fun time. It still makes me chuckle.


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