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Author Topic: Character Rewards  (Read 1471 times)
aaron.so1games
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« on: October 06, 2003, 06:43:57 PM »

I am in the middle of Designing and playtesting "GodFall", and I want a player reward system for imaginative/creative play. Here is what it should accomplish:
1. It should reward players for approaching situations in less than obvious ways. I.e. Hide from the monster, rather than slugging it out (Even if they have a very good chance of winning)
2. It should reward players for approaching situations in a "character appropriate" manner. I.e. Pacifist character refuses to fight, even when it is the only way to avoid prison.

Problems:
1. I can not reward players with experience points, as the game does not use them.
2. The game already has a system that allows you to spend from a pool of points (like willpower) to re-roll failures, make difficult rolls easier, and avoid death when hit points run out, which actually fits within the game setting (as opposed to being a plain mechanic).

I do not need specific mechanics, just bare ideas.
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deadpanbob
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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2003, 07:06:45 PM »

Aaron:

Welcome to the Forge!

From my rather un-enlightened perspective, Reward systems tend to provide the lion's share of the focus in a game.  Put another way, players will tend to do more of what they are rewarded for doing.

In order to answer your question, however, I at least would need a little more information.

My first question would be this: When you talk about the willpower like pool of points that allow characters to 'trump' the normal system constraints to make their lives easier, how do they regain those points?

Put another way, why can't you give them one or more of those points for exhibiting the behavior you want to encourage?

Without more information, I can't see anything easier to implement than that...

One of the problems with addressing questions such as this with the minimal amount of system information you've given is that a lot of a game's systems interact and can produce some strange results when pressure (system changes) are made to one component.  For example, perhaps implementing the 'easy' solution I provide above would strain some other system aspect of the game to the breaking point?

Even a more general sense of what the game is about would help.

What are the players doing when they play GodFall?  What's the point of the game?  What's the five minute GenCon pitch you'd use to sell the game?  

That's really three versions of the same question - but if you can answer those with some degree of clarity and passion - it might help us to help you....

P.S. - If you haven't already, you might want to check out the articles section, as the subject of rewards is touched upon in several essays, particularly:

System Does Matter
GNS and Other Matters of Role-playing Theory
and
Applied Theory

The first two are by Ron Edwards - and form a sort of linguistic and theoretical basis for some discussions on the Forge.  More importantly for your purposes, however, there are parts in each essay that touch on reward mechanics.

The thrid is written by M.J. Young - and would perhaps be the most useful in that is specifically addresses applying RPG theory in design - and touches on rewards systems more directly than the first two.

Cheers,


Jason
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aaron.so1games
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2003, 10:15:42 PM »

here is the BIG IDEA for GodFall. it is not fantasy, it is Science Fiction, but it looks like fantasy. I got the idea from Robert Heinlein's Glory Road, which switches from fantasy to scifi without a hitch. Also a novel called In Memory of Earth, by an author who's name slips my mind (Robert Aspirin?).
The point pool I referred to is actually an ability that the human inhabitants of this world have, due to ancient meddling with genetics and nanotechnology. I disguised it as a pure game mechanic, but it is something they can actually do. The characters just don't realize it, as it happens primarily in the character's subconcious. A big part of the game is that the characters, and, if I write it right, the players, will not know that this is all based on science, unless the GM wants to do the BIG REVEAL.
The pool of points refreshes with rest. The same points are used to power magic, which is not really magical, but a study of taking advantage of these genetically engineered changes.
The ancient true history of the world has degraded to legend and myth over 3500 years. The ancestors of these folk are colonists from Earth, who's technological support collapsed and who's society followed. They have regained a level of technology and social evolution similar to the middle ages on Earth. There are non-human races, but not for PCs.
The mechanics are similar in a lot of ways to BRP (Call of Cthulhu, Stormbringer).
I am going to read those essays now.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2003, 08:15:58 AM »

Following up on Jason's post, there are two parts to reward systems. The first is what's rewarded. You've got that nailed down, I think, at least in terms of what behavior you want to see. How often do you see these rewards being given out? On the spot for the right behavior? Or between sessions?

The other part of the equation, however, is what you want the reward to be used for, which also affects behavior. You've said that you don't want to give out EXP, which is fine. The question is what do you want to see people do with the reward?

The simplest answer is to drive the reward right back at the behavior that the reward is for. That is, if you want imagination in play, then you could give players Imagination Points (IP), which a player can use to do something like expand the areas over which his imagination has power. So if I use an IP, perhaps I can buy the ability to create a small object. This might work well with the nano-power backstory.

So the cycle would be that the player does something imaginative with his character, so he gets IP, which he then spends to create something else. All reinforces the original idea. Just an example of how you can put both ends of the reward cycle towards one behavior.

That said, there may be other behaviors that you want to see. If so, then you can give some reward the informs the player to explore that sort of thing.

Mike
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aaron.so1games
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2003, 12:50:48 PM »

I think tyhat advise will be useful. reminds me of Riddle of Steel.
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Jack Aidley
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« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2003, 06:48:52 AM »

I recently ran a game in which the players were rewarded with chocolate biscuits. That worked suprisingly well. More generally, you can get many of the benefits of player reward, without giving any in-game benefit for them. Remember gold stars in primary school, or points in Space Invaders?
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2003, 09:38:57 AM »

Very true, Jack. If you can't think of a behavior that you want to get players to follow by using the reward, then make the reward completely player based. I've speculated that amongst the strongest rewards one could give out following certain behaviors is to promise money for success. The potence of gambling would seem to bear that out. :-)

And in doing so, you'd make the actual link to economics instead of the simply theoretical. See Game Theory.

Mike
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Jeph
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Jeff Schecter


« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2003, 12:04:51 PM »

Quote from: aaron.so1games

2. It should reward players for approaching situations in a "character appropriate" manner. I.e. Pacifist character refuses to fight, even when it is the only way to avoid prison.

(( >8- snip -8< ))

1. I can not reward players with experience points, as the game does not use them.
2. The game already has a system that allows you to spend from a pool of points (like willpower) to re-roll failures, make difficult rolls easier, and avoid death when hit points run out, which actually fits within the game setting (as opposed to being a plain mechanic).


In my game Pagoda (see sig), each character has, as one of their descriptors, one of the twelve signs of the chinese zodiac. Whenever a character acts in accordance with the personality attributed to this sign, they gain one bonus die to use in their roll. Further, Pagoda also does not use Experience points (instead allowing character advancement at dramatically appropriate moments) and has a pool of points called Chi that may be spent at player discretion.

You seem to be looking for something along those lines; some small bonus whenever the character does like the player has said they will do. I hope I have been of some help. :^)

Good luck,
--Jeff
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Jeffrey S. Schecter: Pagoda / Other
SumDood
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« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2003, 12:17:05 PM »

What about not giving them any rewards at all?

I realize that you want to provide them with motive for acting in character, but how about this instead: if they act out of character, change their character. Make them become how they act. If the pacifist chooses to fight to avoid prison, then they are no longer a pacifist. Make the player recognize this, and make them play out the internal moral conflict. Perhaps give them some negatives due to depression and anxiety over self-realization that they are a failure as a pacifist. That they were challenged and did not meet the challenge.

If you can't give them a carrot, then give them the stick. It would be great if you could give them both, but in real life there are seldom any benefits to acting in character (at least that I can see, but I'm sure there are a few rare ones). If you change the parameters in the game so that there are benefits to acting in character, then the simulation is alien. There's nothing wrong with that, but the players need to recognize it so they can understand what it is they are doing and how to formulate their motives. If I were playing such a game, I'd want to know what acting in character gets me, and what the penalties for acting out of character are. That way I'd know when I must act in character, and how far out of character I can go if I need to.

BTW, you might want to check out "The Practice Effect." I'm not sure of the author. Anthony or Card perhaps. Anyway, it sounds a bit like the other books you've been reading, (disguised magic).

Sounds like you've got a fun game going. Be sure to put your link up here when GodFall is ready. I'd be interested in having a look.
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- SumDood (Rob)
Entalis, Reality Prime
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