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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 57 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Reward Systems, or Making Your Players Behave  (Read 6057 times)
John Wick
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« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2001, 05:57:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-07-20 18:36, Jared A. Sorensen wrote:
John hasn't responded so I will.  In OrkWorld, experience is meted out by the groups Tala (bard).  You don't do anything, you don't get XP.


(Quick aside: Why does everyone call it "OrkWorld?" I've never called it that, the cover font doesn't indicate it, none of the advertising indicates it, the text in the book doesn't use the capital "W"... Kinda like the Exxon Valdez that one reporter mistakenly pronounced "Valdeez" and now it goes down in history that way. Funny ol' world innit?)

Okay, not so quick. Sue me.

Reward systems have always been an important part of my games. Honor in L5R, Drama Dice in 7th Sea, Trouble and Tala rewards in Orkworld (notice the lower case "w"!). For Cat, the reward system is direct and immediate (like Drama in 7th Sea).

I know someone called it "under-developed." I don't believe that. The best games in the industry (starting with the James Bond RPG -- and if you don't have that one, you better go to ebay and get one) have always had very creative reward systems. You just have to know where to look...

The Incredibly Influenced by Toon's Plot Points John Wick
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Carpe Deum,
John
hardcoremoose
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2001, 07:27:00 PM »

Okay, forget I said anything about disruptive players.  It's probably true that they can't be dealt with in any in-game way, and I'm not sure what I was even thinking when I suggested that.  And I also want to draw the conversation away from Reward systems that may be creative, but only for the sake of being different.  What I really want to talk about is how Reward systems can be used to encourage a certain style of play (maybe disruptive players are disruptive only because they don't know what else to *be*).  

Particularly in Narrativist games that give players a huge amount of Authorial or Directorial power, I see the Reward system as being the check and balance.  It was said elsewhere that games that rely on such player empowerment often go awry because there's nothing preventing the players from doing patently absurd things.  While that may be true, I think a properly implemented Reward system can go a long way towards encouraging a style of play appropriate to whatever the game is.

With that said, what is it about the James Bond reward system that encourages players to do Bond-esque things?  What does the Orkworld (small 'w') system do that helps the players get into the orkishness of the game?  What other games achieve this sort of synergy between Premise and actual play?  

Just trying to keep the conversation going, even though I know Ron has to get ready for Gen Con.

-Scott
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Damocles
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Posts: 43


« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2001, 02:32:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-07-20 23:27, hardcoremoose wrote:
Okay, forget I said anything about disruptive players.  It's probably true that they can't be dealt with in any in-game way, and I'm not sure what I was even thinking when I suggested that.

I disagree to a point. Certainly, if somebody is actively out to spoil everybody's fun, you can only handle this at the social level. But that is a rare case, I think. More often, problems seems to arise from misunderstandings, bad habits, and assumption clashes. RPGs are not like chess where you can always tell if somebody is sticking to the rules or not, and if they cheat you are always perfectly justified to kick them out. They are more like, uh, maybe like team sports where occasionally fouls may occur accidentally or in the heat of the moment, and have to be punished to a certain degree so that things don't get out of hand, but just banning the player would be overreacting.

In any case, Rune is interesting for this discussion because it has a very explicit reward system. (As I understand it. I don't actually own the game.) In that system when you kill a fellow player, you lose points big time. I much prefer this to a vague "Well, you shouldn't attack the other PCs, except if your character would do that, but even then try to find some excuse not do it, but you can if you really want to, but please don't."

Now, in my mind, a good reward system should fulfill these conditions:

- Explicit, non-vague criteria. I have often wondered about GMs who want to keep their groups from killing and get them into negotiating and so on. Why not say the players get only half XPs if they solve a problem with violence (or none at all) that could have been solved another way.
- Significant value. Often the XPs for roleplaying are so few compared to the basic reward that nobody really cares.
- Should not conflict with other goals of the system. For example, in D&D it is (in my opinion) important that the players are fairly close to each eather in advancement. Obviously, this clashes with giving out significant rewards for 'good roleplaying'.
- Rewards should not, by themselves, automatically lead to getting more rewards. What I mean is, if, in a combat-oriented game, you give magical weapons to the best fighter, you practically guarantue that he will stay the best fighter. Or if rewards is given for good acting in the form of extra spotlight time, that leaves less and less room for the other players to improve. Etcetera.
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James V. West
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« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2001, 06:34:00 AM »

I think the kind of reward system a game has can have a huge affect on how the game is played, just as Moose is talking about.

In games that are broad in scope, such as "generic" systems, the rewards tend to be generic: xp. You either spend those xp on pretty much whatever skills you want to improve, or, when you get enough, you go up a level. Its a simple, linear approach that works well for a system with no partiuclar limitations on scope.

These types of games are like starter kits for gaming. You can play them without any alterations, and have a good time. Or, you can tweak them to your taste. I wonder how many GMs actually alter DnD's xp system to encourage a certain style of gaming? I know my old group never did. We just didn't know we could (oh, sure, we finally mutually agreed that giving xps for gold was a really, really stupid idea).

In games that have a more focused premise, or flavor, the reward systems are often more focused on highlighting that flavor. At least, it seems to work better if they are.

For example, if you look at Moose's WYRD, the system is set up so that, eventually, your character will die. That's part of the game. You're telling his epic and that epic has an ending: death. If Moose had decided to just go with a generic xp system and simply talk about how cool an epic death *could be*, how many gamers would actually role-play their character's death? I'd guess not many.

Instead, they'd spend those xps to jack up skills, go on an epic quest to find a god, kill it, take over its powers, and live forever.

Well...in SOME groups that would happen.

But even the best made system can't guarantee that a game will be played in the spirit it was intended, and a designer should't feel too upset over it. I think that if you're just feeling like being silly, what's the harm in playing a WYRD game in which the characters say "To HELL with Fate!! I wanna live!!" and start bashing each other and stealing stones....

James V. West

P.S. apologies to Moose for that last bit...hehe.
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james_west
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« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2001, 07:16:00 AM »

My experience with experience systems:

They mostly get forgotten, except in D&D where it's most of the point of play. If you're supposed to hand out experience in the middle of the game, the GM is too involved in other things to remember it much, and if you're supposed to do it at the end of the game, well, the game is over, everybody's standing around talking or heading for their cars, etc.

Most reward systems are -so- metagame that they're completely disposable, and frequently thus are disposed of.

This is not an original thought, but the real currency in a role-playing game from a social perspective is "screen time."

Probably the reason that effectiveness boosts were used as a reward in the past is because the best indicator of quantity of screen time was effectiveness. If everyone's travelling in a party, and you encounter a problem, then the person capable of solving that problem will get the screen time.

Which brings me to my main point:

Probably the best way for the GM to reward the sort of play he's looking for is to concentrate his attention on people playing that way. Split the party up and try to evoke similar responses from others through the sort of questions you ask when switching the scene to their players.

Finally, and I'm not sure how to do this yet, the best way to reward players for effective play is probably the way Dying Earth does - through explicit in game-mechanics.

               - James
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John Wick
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« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2001, 02:07:00 PM »

Quote

I think that if you're just feeling like being silly, what's the harm in playing a WYRD game in which the characters say "To HELL with Fate!! I wanna live!!" and start bashing each other and stealing stones....
P.S. apologies to Moose for that last bit...hehe.


There's nothing wrong with it at all.
It's kinda like playing PARANOIA _seriously_, but what's wrong with that... :wink:

In this case, there are probably two kinds of gamers:

a) The gamer who expects the game to adapt to his style of play, and
b) The gamer who changes his style of play to adapt to the game.

(There's probably a "c)" who does both, but I'm using these two to illustrate a point, not make an argument about definitions.)

There's a lot of people who don't like games like WEREWOLF because the world is SET. You can't change the world, you have to work within its defined boundries. That's fine, the game wasn't written for them, and frankly, they shouldn't play it.

No game is written for everyone, and no gamer (no matter how good a player he is) should play every game. Be mature enough to know which games don't suit your style of play and don't play them.
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Carpe Deum,
John
Doc Midnight
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« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2001, 02:43:00 PM »

It seems to me that the easiest way to work with an award system and your players is to first ask your players a question both individually and as a group.

My groups tend to take a while to get their feet wet but the individuals always answer in their own unique ways.

The Gamists tend to want to become more powerful, either through XPs or items.

I am a narrativist who makes no bones about wanting my players to entertain me as I run a game so if my slay happy gamist is true to his goal AND I'm happy then I throw him a bone.

The narrativists tell me all sorts of interesting ideas about where they'd like their characters to go and this almost never involves a need for more points so I reward them with plot twists which I know will be appreciated plus the points they know are coming.

The simulationists tend to be able to become narrativists and do the same.

I would give a role playing award but most of my players got into developing pretty rich characters.

That's what I always thought the purpose of awards was.

Terry
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Doc Midnight
www.terrygant.com
I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
Tim C Koppang
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« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2001, 05:44:00 PM »

 This Message was edited by: fleetingGlow on 2001-08-14 21:48 ]
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