An Introvert's Conversation With Himself (silentclarity) wrote in roleplayers,
An Introvert's Conversation With Himself

Reward Systems?

This came up in my previous post, and since I'm thinking about it I figured I'd post.

Describe to me the reward system in your current game.  Then tell me about how you like reward systems to work?  What reward systems do you hate?

Some definitions:  Rewards are what you get for playing.  It's got to be a mechanical system - "I'm rewarded by the satisfaction of socializing with my friends" is great and all but it's not part of the reward system.  In the vast majority of RPGs rewards come in the form of XP and loot.

My current game is a D&D game set in the Iron Kingdoms.  For the reward system I'm using straight D&D - if the players overcome encounters they recieve a reward matching the CR of the encounter.  For the most part encounters involve killing stuff; but sometimes the players talk or otherwise deal with the encounter.  

I prefer reward systems that have two attributes:
1)  They deliberately reward the type of play the game is based around.  
2)  They empower the player.  

A good example of this system is something along the lines of The Riddle of Steel.  TRoS's reward mechanic is based around "Spiritual Attributes," which work like this:

1)  You choose five SAs.  They are basically things that you feel strongly about - passions, goals, drives, faiths, etc.
2)  Whenever your character takes any action in pursuite of an SA that SA gains a point (up to five)
3)  In a situation where the SA is applicable you add its rating as additional dice to your die pool.  
4)  At any point you can cash in SAs as XP to buy new abilities and stuff.

So for example if you have an SA like say "Loyalty to King whoever" whenever you roleplay that loyalty - by say working to expose a plot to assassinate the king - you would get points in the SA.  During the climax of the plot when the king is in danger every die roll would get a bonus.

The reason I like this sort of thing is that it's player empowering.  It doesn't rely on the GM to give you ways to earn XP (though my example was one such).  You can take positive steps on your own to pump your SAs and all the GM has to do is play off of what you're doing.  It builds a nice cycle.  It's also very clear what will get you rewarded - there's no mystery; no guessing what exactly the GM wants me to do.

So what do I hate?  GM fiat reward systems; which are basically reward systems that rely on the GM to provide you with however much XP he wants.  The ultimate incarnation of this is the "good roleplaying" reward, which is my bane.  "Good roleplaying" almost always equates to "who hammed it up the most / who's the best actor" and usually just goes to the same two drama geeks in the group.  (excellently lampooned in this Order of the Stick comic).

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