I run my game in a very West Marches style, with a goal of having the PCs back at their home base when each session ends and a group of players that varies from week to week. Players also will sometimes switch up which characters they’re playing. This works really well for us in general, especially during the summer, when people are likely to miss sessions due to being on vacation.
Separate from that, my players have a tendency to go out, get into a big fight, get beaten up, and then immediately return to town without stopping to look for treasure first, then return and loot the area after they’re fully healed, in order to avoid/minimize the risk of encountering hostile monsters or trapped treasures while they’re low on HP. This is also fine with me.
While each of these things works individually, they create an issue when combined, since the characters who were present in the “kill the monsters and take most of the risks for low XP” session may not be the same characters who are present for the “bring home the loot and get a ton of XP” session.
This hasn’t actually been a real problem so far, since the “fight, go home, return to loot” has only happened in the past with intelligent humanoids, some of whom escaped and were able to evacuate the area with their treasure while the PCs were recovering. (“Nope, there’s no loot here, but you do see some scrape marks in the dirt that look like chests being dragged away…”) Last session, however, they fought hippogriffs and left no survivors (not that I would expect hippogriffs to care enough about treasure for any survivors to take it with them anyhow), so any treasure will most likely still be there when they return.
The obvious answer, and the one which I believe to be most in keeping with both the letter and the spirit of the rules in most any “XP for gp” system is that whoever brings the loot home gets the XP for it and whether they were involved in fighting the former owner or not isn’t important. However, my players grew up playing CRPGs, 3e, Savage Worlds, and the like instead of B/X or AD&D, so I don’t really expect them to react well to that - I’ve already had one complain that “the one session I missed just had to be the one where the others finally found some treasure and got 1200 XP instead of the 100-200 that we’ve gotten every other time” and he wasn’t even involved in the process of securing that treasure.
How would/do you handle the question of awarding treasure XP in cases where one group of PCs clears out a lair without looting it, then a different group of PCs claims the treasure it in a later session?
(And, yes, I recognize that there are some definite problems here with divergent expectations: ACKS and I want to focus on exploration and looting with treasure as the major source of XP, while my players instead focus on combat and expect to get a ton of XP from killing stuff with treasure as an afterthought. I’ve already been working to clarify to them that the kind of game I’m running isn’t the same as the kind of game they’re expecting. But that’s not what I’m asking about.)