In Pathfinder, as opposed to D&D 3.5, there is no ‘catch-up’ mechanism. Used to be, if you fell behind in experience because you had to miss a session or three, you could still jump back into the game if you were a lower level, because you’d gain an XP boost for fighting high-level monsters.
In Pathfinder, they had to change that, because of the new system whereby a monster of a particular CR has their own XP “package.”
So other than not playing, having someone else play the character, simply gifting them the xp, or other less-than-tasteful options, what’s to be done?
Tweak: Instead of each character gaining and falling behind on xp individually, change your concept of how experience works. The adventuring group is instead considered a single entity, with an “experience pool” earned each game session. The experience is then divvied up when desired, usually at the end of a session when players think there’s enough to hand out levels. Usually, there should be an equal division of experience; to prevent cheating, no player is allowed to gain enough xp to level up unless either the entire party can level up OR if there is a unanimous vote to give that player enough experience to level.
With this tweak, players don’t have to keep track of xp values every session, except as one total value. XP becomes a resource that’s shared throughout the party, instead of an abstract number that is really predetermined by the adventure. You also have some interesting new choices to play with, if one or two players are willing to wait for their levels.
PLUS, no more arguing about whether you remembered to award xp last time, or if one of the players forgot to write it down, or grumbling about keeping track!
Try it out, let me know how it goes!
Max Porter Zasada