So, let’s talk about experience points. Experience points are how characters in most games gain stuff and become more powerful. In level based games, characters gain experience points, level up, and become mightier. You have to fight a lot. But in general, characters advance at the same rate.
However…in non-level based systems, this can be something of a quandary. Many of these systems are based on points, and points can be manipulated, numbers crunched, and characters effectively min-maxed.
In long-running games, this can be something of a problem. Should your new character really be as powerful as a guy who’s been around for years? If he is, why is he this way, and what are the consequences of being this way? Usually, the GM will have to do a lot of work to explain this. And he should. Otherwise, things like this tend to smack of unfairness and make people walk away from the gaming table. I’ve been on the player side of this a lot, where I felt that the other player should have to earn the right to be that awesome.
And I’m right. Because other people feel that way too, in the same situation. But if it’s the same situation, I had an epiphany. This really isn’t about gaming at all.
What this is really about has nothing to do with the power level of characters, the things that go on in the game, or any of that other stuff that involves mechanics, numbers, or dice.
What this is about is respect. Respect for your fellow human beings. Respect for your GM, who created the world that you play in. Respect for your fellow players and your fellow man, all of whom deserve equal time. And when your friend is playing a ridiculously mighty character and your character appears to be about six tenths of his, you don’t just feel angry, you also feel betrayed. Even if you don’t realize that’s what you’re feeling, a part of that is always there.
This is where being a good person comes in. Talk to the player before you talk to the GM, if possible. Say “Listen, I feel this isn’t fair. This is what you do, and this is where everyone else is, or where I am.” If that doesn’t work, then go to your GM. See if you can work something out with him or her.
We need to be good people more often, and be less selfish. Not just in our character choices, but in the way we design them.