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General How do you explain PC absences when a player has to miss a session?

MarkB

Legend
Haven't tried this one yet, but I'm tempted:

Conjuration spells. Someone, somewhere else in the multiverse, just cast Summon Adventurer. They'll reappear, safe and sound, once the spell wears off or their summoned form dies.
 

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was

Explorer
Usually the missing character is off doing something related to their background/personal goals/faction mission..etc...
 


Legatus_Legionis

< BLAH HA Ha ha >
The character is played by someone else, so they are not absent.
We had completely ruled that out in my group long ago.

For players in the past would use this N-PC as the group's personal scout ahead/open everything/cannon fodder.

And the returning player would get angry as to why his PC died, or why all its items/coins were given away to other PC's.

NO.

We made it a house rule that if a player is unable to attend a session, no one (even the DM) is allowed to use them.

For groups where we have henchmen and support/supplies trailing the main group, it is agreed the PC is back with them for the time being.

And since that group is not part of the active adventuring, they get no share of the treasure/XP/combat while they are "inactive".

So if a player only missed one session out of five for this module, they get four shares of the treasure/XP.

If a player was there for all five sessions, they get five shares of the treasure/XP.
 

jgsugden

Legend
If I can write them out easily without messing up the story, I do so. If not, they are either run by another player or NPCed.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
We had completely ruled that out in my group long ago.

For players in the past would use this N-PC as the group's personal scout ahead/open everything/cannon fodder.

And the returning player would get angry as to why his PC died, or why all its items/coins were given away to other PC's.

NO.

We made it a house rule that if a player is unable to attend a session, no one (even the DM) is allowed to use them.
To each, their own. For us (all the groups I have participated in) it works fine and it does not disrupt the narrative. The other players don't do any of that stuff and play the missing player's character in a responsible way.
 


Coroc

Hero
Depends on the campaign style. If there is a possibility to miss (do other things) then the player does right this, otherwise he is coming along off screen. Maybe sometimes acts as an NPC (steered by the DM)
 

Kinematics

Explorer
There was another thread on roughly this topic last summer: XP for Absent Players

For the groups I've been in, if there's nothing serious going on (ie: no major battles), someone else may possibly play the character, if permission is given to do so. If there is something major, they just fade into the background. Alternatively, they take care of some useful, out-of-the-way action, such as guarding the exit so we have a safe escape route. Notably, there is never any risk of permanent harm to the character.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
We had completely ruled that out in my group long ago.

For players in the past would use this N-PC as the group's personal scout ahead/open everything/cannon fodder.
It's on the DM to harshly smack this down when it happens, unless the character also acts that way when its player is present.

And since that group is not part of the active adventuring, they get no share of the treasure/XP/combat while they are "inactive".

So if a player only missed one session out of five for this module, they get four shares of the treasure/XP.

If a player was there for all five sessions, they get five shares of the treasure/XP.
This veers into territory of making xp a player meta-reward rather than a reward for in-character actions; something I try to avoid at all costs.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Players have the option to let someone else run their character; this sometimes happens if one of the PCs has vital capabilities for a particular session. In general, however, we handwave it. We often have absent players--I'd say it averages one every other session--and it's just more hassle than it's worth to make arrangements to cover for an absence that frequently.

Players growing up and having kids and careers and other interests... it's really very inconsiderate of them.
 

Handwaving becomes a lot easier if you have the right backstories for your PCs, and if you end sessions at distinct chapter points (i.e. no cliffhangers).

Does your character have a family? Keep up with any old friends or mentors? Own a house? Have ANY responsibilities other than being a wandering murderhobo? A missed session is a great excuse for an external emergency. Maybe their mother is sick or their kid has a important day in school. Maybe there's a funeral for an old teacher, or the river near your house flooded. Making up a reason for the absense is a great way to fill out the character's non-adventuring life story. Also, it helps deal with that problem where a good adventurer is also typically a deadbeat family member.

Also, a player with a bad attendance record can be forced to be a scout/ninja, so missed sessions are just when that character is doing more solo stuff.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
Haven't tried this one yet, but I'm tempted:

Conjuration spells. Someone, somewhere else in the multiverse, just cast Summon Adventurer. They'll reappear, safe and sound, once the spell wears off or their summoned form dies.
We did that with a Wild Magic Sorcerer in one game. Every time that player missed the session the character just poofed into a demi-plane somewhere.
 

THEMNGMNT

Adventurer
I don't try to explain it. First, I ask for a volunteer to play the missing PC. Sometimes I get one, sometimes I don't. If I don't, then I either come up with an in-fiction reason they're not around (they're covering your retreat, they're investigating an unresolved plot thread, etc) or simply handwave them into the background.
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
When I played in person, the other players played the missing characters. The DM could overrule them "Let's send Missing Guy's Sorcerer into the buzzsaw room first." But overall this worked well.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Handwaving becomes a lot easier if you have the right backstories for your PCs, and if you end sessions at distinct chapter points (i.e. no cliffhangers).
Easier said than done when a typical adventure runs many sessions long (average of late is about 10 sessions per adventure).

Sure, when they're in town or on downtime your suggestions below are all great, but when they're in mid-adventure, three levels down in some dungeon somewhere with dangers all round? Probably not happening. :)

Does your character have a family? Keep up with any old friends or mentors? Own a house? Have ANY responsibilities other than being a wandering murderhobo? A missed session is a great excuse for an external emergency. Maybe their mother is sick or their kid has a important day in school. Maybe there's a funeral for an old teacher, or the river near your house flooded. Making up a reason for the absense is a great way to fill out the character's non-adventuring life story. Also, it helps deal with that problem where a good adventurer is also typically a deadbeat family member.
 


Fauchard1520

Explorer
It's on the DM to harshly smack this down when it happens, unless the character also acts that way when its player is present.
One interesting approach is to implement something one of my groups calls "fate of the party." Absent PCs continue to play, and may even act recklessly if the group deems it to be in-character. However, to avoid players coming back to discover that their character died, the PC cannot die unless the party wipes. The gain just enough plot armor to survive even if KO'd.

It's obviously open to abuse, but with the right group it can be a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too solution.
 

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