A Hypothesis on Behavioral Incentives

In Paranoia I never avoid treason (which is impossible anyway).
In Fate I never refuse a Compel.
In 7th Sea 2e I never buy off Consequences (unless it's damage or instant death).

Why should I?

Because I've yet to encounter a case where blocking these would be a net win and lead to a better play experience, and if a Compel or Consequence isn't something that would lead to a better play experience, then why offer it in the first place?

On the other hand many players see any loss of control as 'failure', so they tend to block these offers regardless of incentive. In these cases I understand why these choices matter. But once you understand what the system actually rewards and buy into it, you can reliably play to it so well you effectively render it irrelevant.

This leads to an interesting hypothesis: A system which encourages behavior you naturally engage in actually gets in the way of it, and a system which encourages behavior counter to what you naturally engage in causes dissonance but not a change in behavior. And I'm just staring at this, wondering how true it is, and what to do about it.
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Comments

  • I believe you might be up to something, here.
  • In my experience most of the refused Compels come not from the fear of control loss, which eventually is overcome if the group keeps playing long enough, but from a plain and simple divergence of taste.

    YOU think your compel is the best thing ever, so cool and engaging.
    But maybe I don't see it that way, I don't like your idea, and I would rather spend game resources to not have it happen.
    Or, I like more to portray a successful albeit costly resistance to "a dark urge".

    Paranoia is not really comparable to this. You ARE treasonous no matter what, and it really doesn't matter because the game is so gonzo anyway.

    I don't know well 7thSea but I guess you might want to buy off negative stuff as part of your character's evolution and progress (ignoring possible dice/math benefits).
    Just like keys in TSoY, but less effective/elegant :P

    One problem I have faced many times, instead, is in the CREATION of good compels:

    a) People often tend to either make them too light and irrelevant, thus accepting them is no real choice and they don't add any spark to the game.

    b) Or too heavy, too damaging, too invasive... then most people end up refusing them because accepting them doesn't make the game more interesting, it just fucks up someone's character.

    c) Or mistake compels for "controls" ... like, there is no choice, no consequence, often no relevance to one character's Aspects... it is just a generic "do that thing because I think it's cool!".

    I see this often in FateLess, where Compels have a very specific structure and people that are only familiar with Fate try to do something from the a-b-c list I just described :P

    As for Anon's hypothesys:

    A system which encourages behaviour you naturally engage in actually gets in the way of it. A system which encourages behaviour counter to what you naturally engage in causes dissonance but does not change your behaviour.
    I strongly disagree.
    At least in my personal experience, what you describe happens in 2 cases:
    1) the system is poorly designed, so the mechanics do not bring about the desired effect
    2) there is dissonance in the EXPECTATIONS between players and system/designer

    Especially option 2 is very common.
    One system is crafted to facilitate behaviour-A but somehow the people at the table are expecting this to work along behaviour-B.
    This could be anyone's fault, either the rulebook's fault for poorly setting the right expectations, or the player's fault for not really paying attention to what the rulebook says, or often both :P

    This happens often, are different people often use the same words but intend somewhat different meanings, or attach to the same concept a lot of unspoken additional attributes and values.
    One possible example from the top of my head that I often encounter is that people somehow link "narrative" to "not crunchy" and "very collaborative" ... and are then taken aback by games such as Dogs, that use simple rules but strongly structured, with tons of dice, and lead to a very confrontational Player vs Player sort of gameplay.
  • I like this topic. It goes into the core of what rules even are for in games.

    My experience agrees with Anon in that rules cannot make people do what they do not want to do. However, I disagree about rules that run along with you: they do not need to get in the way, and in fact should not. People often talk about the rules getting in the way of play, but I think that this is either dissonance (the rules try to do something other than what you want) or a lack of skill in using the rules. (Which does not in any way mean that they are not bad rules, or ill-suited to the capabilities of the players in question. It only means that these players, for whatever reason, are not skilled in using these rules.)

    If I had to name what rules are for in roleplaying games, the great majority of what they do pertains to structuring and emphasizing events: you are, from start to finish, doing what you wanted to do, but the rules make it easier to tell whose turn it is to do what, and they provide a stylistic emphasis to the doing in a way that enhances communication. This is highly contrary to the behavioristic viewpoint, which I think is wrong-headed: game rules quite rarely bribe anybody to do things they would not otherwise do, and they cannot make activities pleasurable if the would otherwise be boring. The very best that rules can accomplish is to bring order into chaos, or "murk", as it used to be called at the Forge.

    For example, the Keys in TSoY are not there to bribe anybody. They only do two simple things for a group that plays the game facilely: first, they remind players to structure their contributions in a punchier way (in a way that activates Keys, that is to say), and second, they bring a metaphorical trumpet sound to certain thematically resonant activities, in the form of a "Hey, I got XP!" side effect. The overall effect is to make the game more structured and the in-play communication more effective compared to a version of the game that did not have or use Keys.

    (Contrast and compare to what Keys do for a group that does not have the skills to use them. Further, what about a group that does not want to do the thing the game assumes you to be doing? For both of those groups the Keys are probably a net loss compared to not having that rule at all. I believe this to be the case for all rules in roleplaying games: if you don't want them or don't know how to use them, it's going to be better to play without any rules at all.)
  • edited January 2017
    When a person encounters a game which doesn't match their tastes, are they more likely to...
    • Play more until they learn to like it.
    • Look for a game they like better.
    ...and why?
    YOU think your compel is the best thing ever, so cool and engaging.
    But maybe I don't see it that way, I don't like your idea, and I would rather spend game resources to not have it
    But why should it cost you anything to refuse ideas about your character you don't like?
    Or, I like more to portray a successful albeit costly resistance to "a dark urge".happen.
    And why isn't presenting a cooler alternative enough?
    Paranoia is not really comparable to this. You ARE treasonous no matter what, and it really doesn't matter because the game is so gonzo anyway.
    Ever play a Paranoia session (or Vampire LARP) where everyone was playing it 'safe'? It's incredibly boring, as nobody takes action because of how that would exposed them to the other players. And if you do expose yourself in such a group, you'll be dead in seconds.

    On the other hand Paranoia shines when you play to the themes instead of trying to 'win'.
    One problem I have faced many times, instead, is in the CREATION of good compels:
    Yes! And I think one reason Apocalypse World derivatives have become so popular is because they address this issue to some extent.
    People often talk about the rules getting in the way of play, but I think that this is either dissonance (the rules try to do something other than what you want) or a lack of skill in using the rules.
    It's turtles dissonance all the way down, so let's be more specific.

    As a Fate player I can request a Fate Point for playing to my Aspects and getting myself in trouble. But I often forget to do this because I naturally play to my Aspects in this way and have to break context in order to make that request. Now it's not an insurmountable problem, and it helps that it can be done non-verbally, but it's still an unnecessary bump in my mental process despite moving in the same direction.
    If I had to name what rules are for in roleplaying games, the great majority of what they do pertains to structuring and emphasizing events: you are, from start to finish, doing what you wanted to do, but the rules make it easier to tell whose turn it is to do what, and they provide a stylistic emphasis to the doing in a way that enhances communication.
    I very much see RPGs as a pacing tool and communications medium, and things like competition supported through but external to that system.
    game rules quite rarely bribe anybody to do things they would not otherwise do, and they cannot make activities pleasurable if the would otherwise be boring.
    Yet that's exactly what many RPGs attempt to do.
  • When a person encounters a game which doesn't match their tastes, are they more likely to...
    • Play more until they learn to like it.
    • Look for a game they like better.
    ...and why?
    That largely depends on the people around them, too, as most games aren't played in isolation. Thus, people are often stuck with games they only sort-of like, but not a lot, or with games the intricacies of which they don't quite master.
    But why should it cost you anything to refuse ideas about your character you don't like?
    That's a discussion I've often had with friends who were designing games, or whom I was designing a game with - defending my position that "vetoes" based in aesthetic dissonance can be structured by a rule, but shouldn't be limited by a rule. My gold standard for that being Archipelago, where you're always allowed to say "Try another way" - there's no limit on how often you can say that.

    OTOH, the aesthetic aims of an individual game trump general design principles. In Polaris, other players can and will use the conflict procedure in ways which amount to "taking control" of "your" character, and that's some tight ritual-phrase wrestling you have to do if you want to stop them. You might very well fail at stopping them, or you might end up paying a steep price. That's of course if you interpret "I'm playing Heart to [character]" as "my character", which is probably a simplistic view when you start looking at Polaris closer.
    game rules quite rarely bribe anybody to do things they would not otherwise do, and they cannot make activities pleasurable if the would otherwise be boring.
    Yet that's exactly what many RPGs attempt to do.
    That's not limited to RPGs (in fact, I suspect RPGs are generally the most progressive sub-set of games at that) and has long been my beef with the movement called "gameification", as well - though it wouldn't be fair to equate and dismiss gameification with just this sort of behavioral incentives.
  • edited January 2017
    If I had to name what rules are for in roleplaying games, the great majority of what they do pertains to structuring and emphasizing events: you are, from start to finish, doing what you wanted to do, but the rules make it easier to tell whose turn it is to do what, and they provide a stylistic emphasis to the doing in a way that enhances communication. This is highly contrary to the behavioristic viewpoint, which I think is wrong-headed: game rules quite rarely bribe anybody to do things they would not otherwise do, and they cannot make activities pleasurable if the would otherwise be boring.
    The communication point is very important to me. "We're playing this" is very efficient communication compared to detailed explanations of judgment calls typically made at the table. Successfully codifying a set of preferences isn't a small thing. And sometimes it's fun to do stuff the game incentivizes you to do, just to see where it leads. Even going out of my comfort zone has taught me a lot about what my comfort zone actually is.
  • edited February 2017
    @Eero_Tuovine
    If I had to name what rules are for in roleplaying games, the great majority of what they do pertains to structuring and emphasizing events: you are, from start to finish, doing what you wanted to do, but the rules make it easier to tell whose turn it is to do what, and they provide a stylistic emphasis to the doing in a way that enhances communication. This is highly contrary to the behavioristic viewpoint, which I think is wrong-headed: game rules quite rarely bribe anybody to do things they would not otherwise do, and they cannot make activities pleasurable if the would otherwise be boring.
    I definitely agree with most of this, and I might agree with all of it, if I'm not understanding you right. I don't necessarily think game rules bribe people into doing things they wouldn't do otherwise, but I definitely think that they shape the game and make the game be played in different ways; perhaps, that jives with what you're saying though :-) for example, I think the experience is very much shaped very differently because of the rules. For example, the game Fiasco and Fall of Magic are very different because of the rules, and the rules definitely shape where the players go, and doing things they may not do otherwise. I didn't read the whole thread so I might be missing the context. And it's very likely that you may agree with this sentiment, but I've missed the spirit of what you're saying. Thanks :-)

  • Well, I did say that I personally disagree with the idea that game rules could be effective in bribing people. It's the old behavioristic theory of gamification that says that players can be led with extrinsic rewards to behave in the way you desire from them, and that this produces somehow desirable play.
  • edited February 2017
    Well, I did say that I personally disagree with the idea that game rules could be effective in bribing people. It's the old behavioristic theory of gamification that says that players can be led with extrinsic rewards to behave in the way you desire from them, and that this produces somehow desirable play.
    Sorry, my reading comprehension must suck today; so are you saying that rules can shape play and make people play in a way that they may not in another game, but that rewards may not be the best mechanic to accomplish this. Please explain it like I'm five years old, I kind of feel like I'm an idiot today :) Also, I don't really know a lot of the terminology that others do :) thanks :-)
  • Hmm, let's try:

    Game texts shape the experience of play by providing the players with structure and suggested activities they might engage in at the game table. I believe that this is true.

    However, there is also a common idea in game design that goes further: that a properly designed game can trick the players into acting in desirable ways in the game by providing them with rewards that they find desirable within the context of the game. For example, when a traditional rpg provides characters with experience point "rewards" for the player showing up to play, or for providing entertaining dialogue, or similar feats, the game is engaging in an attempt at behavioral programming: the game makes experience points desirable, and then uses those points as a bribe to make the players do things they would not otherwise do, such as show up to play and roleplay their characters.

    AnonAdderlan suggested that what actually happens with behavioristic rules mechanics is that the mechanism is either useless because the player was going to do that thing anyway, or it's dissatisfying (and very possibly dysfunctional) because the mechanism is forcibly requiring the player to play contrary to their creative interests.

    I expressed agreement with Anon regarding his point, but because the idea was phrased in a somewhat generalized manner, I also pointed out that there are other reasons aside from behavior modification for rules to exist: Anon suggested that because rules cannot effectively modify behavior, perhaps there is no reason to use rules that will simply accord with what you were going to do anyway. After all, if you were going to e.g. play your character as claustrophobic anyway, what's the point in the rules acknowledging it when you do?

    So that's where the bit you quoted comes in: I was explaining how rules that are seemingly behavioristic often have a far more important role as a structural communication tool: the point of e.g. Fan Mail in PTA is not that it bribes you to play well; the point is that the act of giving out the Fan Mail communicates that the event that just occurred in play was appreciated. It's communication, not bribery.

    I hope that was clearer. Nevertheless, I don't think that what I think about this matters that much - as long as you know what you think, we're doing just fine.
  • I think that the original proposal is WAY too black & white; There are many behaviors to which I am indifferent, but in which I will participate with reasonably good cheer if provided a reason to do so. And I might even find that I like it once I get there. The idea that every behavior someone doesn't take is because they dislike it is... not supportable, in my opinion.

    Therefore, if you give people a game that rewards a certain action that they might not otherwise take, you will find that they take it more often.
  • I agree with Eero and Airk.

    The issue of "behavioural rewards" comes up every now and then, because many games use mechanical "rewards" to encourage certain types of behaviour. (In one view, this is the ONLY purpose of game design!)

    I think it's a tricky topic, because scientific studies show that extrinsic motivation in the form of money/points/rewards don't *work* the way we wish they would. For instance, when you pay someone to carry out good deeds for other people, they might not feel as motivated to do so, or gain the same emotions and benefits, as someone who is driven to do it by intrinsic motivation.

    However, the reason there is a big debate about this is that behavioural incentives in games clearly *do work*, either entirely or at various levels. This applies outside gaming, as well. Why do advertising companies and retail business use "rewards" structures to convince people to buy more of their products? Why do people chase after "Likes" on social media?

    So, how do we reconcile existing (and successful) game design with the idea that extrinsic rewards don't produce what we're looking for?

    I think that, as Eero and Airk point out, the picture is more nuanced than that. If I'm playing a game, and it rewards me for doing something I don't want to do, I'm probably not going to engage with that thing, or do so grudgingly and feel unhappy about it. But is that really what is happening when we play games? Not in my experience.

    I think that rewards structures in games do lots of things:

    * They allow us to "weight" certain actions against others. For instance, Dogs in the Vineyard rewards you mechanically for using violence. However, the whole premise of the game is to engage you in situations where violence isn't the right (or only) answer. So, the player has to balance these two opposing interests.

    * They provide certain expectations. In PTA, Fan Mail tells us that the players are expected to provide feedback on each other's contributions, and, specifically, of the positive kind.

    * They give us a means to communicate with each other. If I am supposed to label certain outcomes with XP numbers (e.g. "this quest is worth 2000 XPs"), this gives us a way to establish things in the fiction and our relationship to it. When I assign a high number, that says something meaningful to the other players which I might not have been able to express in other ways.

    * They provide pacing mechanisms. Often, a mechanical reward (like XPs, again) exists not to reward someone for a thing, but to delay something we want. "You can't rescue the princess until you've rolled 10 successes and checked off all these boxes." XPs in D&D pace our progression towards magical items, monsters, and character abilities. Similarly, tracking points scored or Stress suffered might be useful as a gauge for other things (like when the GM can bring out a certain monster or another event).

    * They give permissions for certain types of actions to take place. Sometimes this is a gentle reminder (again, PTA's Fan Mail reminds you that your opinion matters even when you're not in the scene), and at other times, it's enabling players who might be too shy to say something to do so.

    * They play with our interaction with other reward cycles, and create larger dynamics of play. Let's say winning Blue Points allows me to upgrade my character's abilities, but what I really want is for my character to be a good person. However, the rules push me to do bad things... until I can unlock certain abilities which I can use for good. Similarly, D&D's "leveling up" (in certain editions, anyway) doesn't actually increase your power relative to your opponents at all (what it *looks* like it's doing); instead it allows you to explore different aspects of play (different locations, new monsters, new spells, different character goals).

    * They allow us to place an emphasis on certain things in play and then to communicate that to others. I write a character's name on a piece of paper, and then I place two tokens on their name. This is communicating to the other players that I see this person as important, and that I want them to interact with other agents in our story (perhaps you must frame a shared scene to score one of those tokens).

    Etc.

    I really don't think it's as simple as "pull a lever, get a reward". All of this operates in a larger context and creates dynamics in play, by *aligning* itself with player desires, not randomly rewarding behaviours which people *didn't want to engage in* in the first place.

    A game which hands out candy when you do X and Y is never going to be successful unless the players are into X and Y for their own benefits. The candy helps accomplish a number of other things, instead.
  • Good rules make it easier for players to do the things they were going to do anyway.
  • In my experience, giving players the possibility of forcing a veto acts more like a safety net, an emergency break. Building that into the rules helps that player a great deal to avoid group pressure. I've read so many infuriating stories about people playing a game and suffering through shaming, bigotry and worse that could have been avoided by giving the players the right to veto something as a common action during the game.

    In none of those stories I saw a fail at communicating player preferences, but instead it was mostly a matter of group pressure validated by the absence of such rules in the book. Haven't played enough Archipielago to ascertain that "try it another way" solves the problem, but OTOH I haven't read any of those real life horror stories starting with something like "We were playing Archipielago when..."

    I perfectly admit that this is an extreme case, but the possibility is there and it seems to happen more usually than we think. I also admit that if people have ill intentions to one another no rule will prevent bad things from happening, but stating that as a reason to remove such simple safeguards from games is akin to removing fire alarms because those won't prevent a place from catching fire

    OF COURSE, such rules/mechanics could be designed to be less obtrusive and/or central to the game anyway.

    And come on, who designs using mechanical rewards anymore? I mean, even on the late Forge people figured out those things were ruining games or at least not doing too much except giving players another way to signal their approval/recognition to one another.

  • And come on, who designs using mechanical rewards anymore? I mean, even on the late Forge people figured out those things were ruining games or at least not doing too much except giving players another way to signal their approval/recognition to one another.
    I'm confused by this question. Most games I see coming out these days use explicit mechanical rewards (e.g. the vast majority of PbtA games, D&D 5E, etc). Is that not what you're talking about?

  • I'm with Paul. Practically EVERY game I see these days has explicit mechanic rewards for doing cool things, unless it's a game that literally doesn't have "rewards" at all, for anything.
  • I just assumed that WarriorMonk was talking about Fan Mail in PTA, and a few games that tried something similar. It wasn't a mechanic that got huge amounts of imitation, but it got a lot of attention, especially as a bit of a culture clash issue with folks outside of the US.
  • Nevermind, it's just me then. I grow so tired of mechanical rewards that... I actually forgot there's XP in 5e. I've been playing without it nor anything of the sort in other games for a long time, perhaps since I read somewhere here in SG a lot of lousy comments about it that made me think it wasn't a thing anymore.
  • That's weird. Reward structures are one of my favorite things about games. (Though XP is a terrible one, honestly.)
  • I do use rewards, though not in a structured form. PCs level up after a big battle or a difficult dungeon, they don't get XP for killing monsters or completing an arc. I try to use Inspiration but keep forgetting, as narrative bonuses often appear by themselves whenever someone roleplays a good scene. If someone brings a good idea to the table, accepting and building on it is often the best reward. Having something interesting happening, either good or bad, as a consequence of the PCs actions does the best work at keeping them motivated. And it seems that for my group, the bigger the risk and the more impact consequences have, the better.

    Whenever we have used a mechanic that gave the players a mechanical reward, it has always turned into a button they mash, ruining whatever interesting story bit that could have come from it. It's not like mechanics that produce story won't work. They do, but they do a better work if there's no mechanical reward involved. Because only when there isn't a mechanical reward they focus on the narrative reward. And the emotions we all generate, elicit and share are the best signal that we're doing things right.
  • "Levelling up after a big dungeon or big battle" isn't actually a reward though. It's just a pacing mechanism.

    Inspiration is terrible because it puts all the weight on the GM in the moment and doesn't actually have any rules surrounding it beyond "The GM can give out inspiration when he feels like it, and here are some sample reasons."

    What reward systems have you actually used? Because most of the ones I know are not susceptible to "mashing".
  • "Levelling up after a big dungeon or big battle" isn't actually a reward though. It's just a pacing mechanism.
    .
    Leveling up is both a reward and a pacing mechanism. But if your a player, getting new spells because you leveled, that is definitely a reward.
  • edited February 2017
    "Levelling up after a big dungeon or big battle" isn't actually a reward though. It's just a pacing mechanism.
    .
    Leveling up is both a reward and a pacing mechanism. But if your a player, getting new spells because you leveled, that is definitely a reward.
    But it's not a reward for anything you had any control over, unless you count "not dying." It doesn't reward anything other than showing up.

    You don't even know when it's going to happen - "Is this a big enough battle to cause a level up?" At least in a system with the GM arbitrarily giving out XP lumps, you can look and say "I'm only 150XP from level 7, so I'll probably level up soon."
  • It feels like a reward for the players, mostly because of when and how it's used. I wouldn't count it always as a pacing mechanism. It's a pacing mechanism when the GM is counting on this to decide "Ok, now they can go to hunt bigger game and finally being able to confront a mid level henchman of the big boss". It's a pacing mechanism also when you can count on the PC new abilities to make some challenges obsolete. There's a difference when players consider facing a group of goblins a huge challenge and when they start to consider killing a Dragon a possibility. But that doesn't likely happen with a single level of difference, you will need like a 5 level difference in D&D to feel it more clearly.

    Yet it feels like a reward when players manage to escape alive from the dragon den by making a deal with it and getting trained by the dragon into their next level for the sake of making a quest for such dragon (like kidnapping a princess)

    It feels like a reward when the wizard's new spells come from the loot they just found after defeating a big group of goblins they have been tracking for weeks.

    There are lot of ways of making it feel like a reward, as long as you narrate them organically as such instead of just saying "ding! you just leveled up!"

    Its the same as narrating "you miss" / "you hit", instead of saying "The goblin unexpectedly jumps at you and slides under your feet, as you only manage to cut a few of it's hairs with what would usually been a sure kill attack" / "For a moment it looks like your attack didn't struck as your sword effortlessly comes through the other side of the goblin. Then, the goblin slowly falls in two perfectly symmetrical pieces." You can make sense out of the leveling up mechanic with a couple of excuses and it will make narration a bit less immersion breaking.

    For example, I used Fate aspects for a game. Players didn't even bought their compels too much, they just invoked their aspects with a neutral voice and finished their roleplaying saying "...AND I WANT MY DAMN HERO POINT!" It became an inside joke that got repeated through all the campaign.
  • That sounds like a dynamic that's particular to your play group.

    Lots of people don't play that way, and engage with reward mechanisms in other ways (greedily, enthusiastically, ecstatically, emphatically, etc). I'd say the vast majority of games out there have clear mechanical reward structures, and, for a lot of people, contribute to their gameplay rather than detract from it.

    It's not that different from groups who say their best sessions are those where they "didn't touch the dice even once!" That's true for some groups, given a certain kind of dynamic and play culture. For other people, it's quite the opposite.
  • edited February 2017
    Leveling up is both a reward and a pacing mechanism. But if your a player, getting new spells because you leveled, that is definitely a reward.
    But it's not a reward for anything you had any control over, unless you count "not dying." It doesn't reward anything other than showing up.
    Whoa, let's not assume here! I have played plenty of OD&D games with over 50% mortality rates, including games where you level up by beating the dungeon, getting the treasure in its final room, and then spending it. That level-up is a reward well-earned.

    That's an extreme example, but I've played plenty of RPGs where a sense of accomplishment was congratulated by some sort of system reward, and it was fun. Even just, "In crossing off this item on my 'to do' list, I've unlocked the next one!"

    I'd say that, in my experience, system rewards aren't usually the primary motivator of player behavior... but sometimes they are. Leveling up in OD&D from 1st to 3rd makes you way more survivable, and less likely to have to start over from scratch with a new character after one bad roll or bad decision. You're also more useful to the party and get more screen time once you level up a few times. I knew some players who spent a really long time pursuing Level 6, and when they got it, their passion for the game got turned down a lot. I've never really approached an RPG that way myself, but to each their own.
  • edited February 2017
    Sure, but if anything was ever "it's own reward" I would think that "not dying" is it. So why does it deserve a reward?

    Also, Warriormonk, I dunno, but I think Fate is terrible. I can't explain WHY Fate points bug me when other reward structures don't, but they REALLY don't work for me where things like Artha and Aiki absolutely do.
  • Why does it deserve a reward? It's all the stuff we've been discussing throughout this thread: public acknowledgement, celebration, pacing mechanism, an ability to change the field of play, a way to communicate the direction of play, a way to upgrade the stakes in play, and so forth.

    I've always felt that way about Fate points, too, for some reason I also can't quite put my finger on. Hmmmm.
  • Why does it deserve a reward? It's all the stuff we've been discussing throughout this thread: public acknowledgement, celebration, pacing mechanism, an ability to change the field of play, a way to communicate the direction of play, a way to upgrade the stakes in play, and so forth.
    That's exactly my point. It's not a reward here.

    I've always felt that way about Fate points, too, for some reason I also can't quite put my finger on. Hmmmm.
    I don't know why, but they just seem very artificial, somehow.
  • edited February 2017
    Good rules make it easier for players to do the things they were going to do anyway.
    Or interestingly harder. :)

    I largely agree with what many in this thread have said about support, structure, communication, and consonance. But I also think rules-contributions can inject all sorts of valuable surprises into play.

    Take Sorcerer. The more useful your demon is, the harder it is to get rid of. This is codified and enforced in rules and numbers. I suspect that, ultimately, this reflects a truth that most Sorcerer players are on board with... but that doesn't mean everyone would actually enforce it if left to their own devices. My favorite Sorcerer character had a pretty satisfying personal transformation away from irresponsible wankery toward actually trying to do some good and get away from demonic stuff, and I imagine my group would have been on board to let me close out his arc by punting his scary demon to the curb. But the rules said, "Try it, but it's really hard, and requires some luck," and luck wasn't with me. So it was a bummer in the moment, but more satisfying in the long term, because redemption shouldn't always be easy*. And I'm more likely to bother to play Sorcerer again because it has its own input rather than just letting me and my friends make the fiction we would have made anyway.

    For a different sort of example, there's Burning Wheel -- initially, it doesn't exactly make it easy to succeed at a lot of common things a fantasy character would want to do. So, as a player, you learn how to play the system so that your stats increase and your ability to do what you wanted to do improves. The game gets some players to try stuff they know they'll fail at so they can get the reward of improving that skill. I find this satisfying in a sort of board gamey way, but others like the way it impacts their character play too. One could call this "jumping through hoops", but they're hoops that can be fun to jump through, especially because learning systems is fun for many (most?) players.

    And that's the last type of rules-value that comes to mind: learning the rules. I have friends who are constantly buying new board games so that they can go through the process of getting good at them. Once the learning curve slows down, they move on to the next game. I think that sort of love of learning how a new thing works and how to be good at it is pretty common. When that's the case, well, rewards help you measure your progress.

    * Possibly worth noting, this could be viewed as a sort of simulation. Whereas GURPS tries to simulate everything, Sorcerer tries to simulate one or two interesting and important things.
  • Good post, Dave.

    (Airk, I'm sorry, but I'm not following.)
  • "Levelling up after a big dungeon or big battle" isn't actually a reward though. It's just a pacing mechanism.
    .
    Leveling up is both a reward and a pacing mechanism. But if your a player, getting new spells because you leveled, that is definitely a reward.
    But it's not a reward for anything you had any control over, unless you count "not dying." It doesn't reward anything other than showing up.

    It is still a reward though. Even if it is just for showing up or just for surviving. At the very least it is a reward for the players deciding to take on the big dungeon or big battle. But importantly, that isn't how most systems use XP, there are usually at least some ways of connecting XP to things you actually do.

  • It is still a reward though. Even if it is just for showing up or just for surviving. At the very least it is a reward for the players deciding to take on the big dungeon or big battle. But importantly, that isn't how most systems use XP, there are usually at least some ways of connecting XP to things you actually do.
    Don't look at me, I'm just reacting to the way WarriorMonk says he gives out levels. (Note: He doesn't claim to give out XP at all)
  • Airk, let's take away the rewards I'm familiar with that we both agree that, while they have their place, simple doesn't seem to work for us, like Fate Points and the such. Let's also take out XP and leveling since we just got different ways of making them work for different purposes. I'm interested in how do you use other rewards and what kind of fun output/group dynamic you get from them. In particular I'd like to know if:

    -Its intuitive or it's something your group has interiorized so much that now they do as a second nature?
    -What kind of group reaction a reward elicits in your group? (for both the rewarded person , other group members and the ones giving away the reward)
    -Whoever gives away the reward, would you say it's the kind of person that it's hard to get convinced by anything or it's more the kind of person that it's quite emphatic and exteriorized their emotion somewhat effusively?

    These may seem like strange questions, but I'm genuinely interested on how you make rewards work, if it's just something I haven't realized about them, if there's a sort of "hidden in plain sight" group mechanic that makes it actually tick, etc.

    I mean, I do get a few things about mechanical rewards:
    -Once the group gets a bit used to them, It's a good way to signal approbation, recognition; brief and honestly.
    -Clear conditions for earning the reward are a must, but when those conditions are too specific of actions that feel boring/uncomfortable/against character or player's nature, the whole thing gets interpreted as a chore (oh, I must act vulnerable now so I can be badass later, meh)
    -A symbolic reward is good, but if after receiving it you're left with a valuable resource you can spend on a different source of enjoyment, that's definitely better!

    Perhaps these last two points are the source of the problem for my group. While they enjoy it, most of them aren't the kind of players that actively seek for character drama/exploration/development as a main game goal. Mechanics that reward players for this are a chore. They prefer when the system or situation generates this as a byproduct, thus no reward here makes better sense.

    Also, they don't link so much an emotional aspect to the mechanical reward. At least they never act grateful for receiving them nor stay in character while they get them. They always interrupt the flow of whatever emotion we were building up as soon as they recognize the chance to earn the mechanical reward they rush the scene and go "...now GIMME MY DAMNED POINTS YO BITCH!".

    That's another reason I don't give XP for killing monsters. They are bound to go "uh, it seems I killed the party paladin... accidentally. Well, how much XP do I get from him?" "Dibs on his sword!" and so. It's not like I don't find the fun in all this myself, we are all joking after all, but I also enjoy building a good scene with them from time to time, they have had all their good roleplaying moments and those are the ones we remember the most. So why keep using a game element that ruins that part of the fun before we get to it? If you have an answer I can use with my group, I'm all ears!
  • The thing about making making roleplaying rewards work is that you absolutely have to have strong group agreement that there will be aesthetic standards that you will stick to, that you flat-out won't allow "spamming" of RP rewards. You also absolutely have to have flags that the players are genuinely interested in. WarriorMonk's group sounds like its members mostly don't GM themselves* and don't have either the ability or willingness to adhere to these rules.

    As an aside, I just handed over control of handing out Inspiration to my players in 5E, making it more like Fan Mail in PTA. They definitely missed some good opportunities to hand it out to one another, but they'll learn in time, I'm confident.

    *I'm very strongly considering implementing a new rule myself next time I start up a new ongoing campaign: GMs only.

  • I've always felt that way about Fate points, too, for some reason I also can't quite put my finger on. Hmmmm.
    I don't know why, but they just seem very artificial, somehow.
    I can't speak for you, but for me it is the pay to deny nature of it. Just cause of how people (myself included) tend to think of punishment/reward, the punishment of paying the point to deny weighs slightly more heavily, and makes it feel like you are only doing it to avoid the loss.

    I also, personally don't see Fate Points as being something that exists in the fiction, so when I want my 'coward' aspect character to act bravely because this is important, I don't see an in-fiction reason why the situation would be different if I had a fate point to resist a compel, vs if I did not. (Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Coward is an aspect I am fine with playing the majority of the time,

    Of course, HOPEFULLY you are playing with a group that's in sync enough to agree that this is important to the character's development enough to NOT compel in that sort of situation. But that's pretty hard to maintain ALL the time*, and during those lapses, the penalty is the difference of "No thanks, I'm good" vs "C'mon, REALLY?"

    *I'd argue if you CAN, you aren't really playing with the penalty part of compels in play, since, you would all be in sync enough to agree when a compel would be cool, there's no reason to ever pay it.
  • You have a point deliverator: my players won't GM themselves. They will collaborate, fill the gaps, make up stuff, come up with good ideas, understand if there's an issue... but they definitely won't GM themselves. Specially if they can make a joke out of it. Nothing is sacred for us when we play.

    Now, if there was an RPG book or procedure out there that included and explained players on how to GM themselves and why/how such procedure could also be fun, that could probably do the trick.
  • edited February 2017
    Airk, let's take away the rewards I'm familiar with that we both agree that....In particular I'd like to know if:
    [trimmed for space]
    Sure! Let's see. There are basically two types of rewards that my groups deal with with any regularity. I'll call them "In the moment" rewards (TBZ Aiki chits, and some houseruled stuff, mostly) and "End of session" rewards. (XP in Blades in the Dark, Fate/Persona in Mouse Guard in particular, but also XP in Dungeon World and Monster of the Week) - both of these work pretty well for us, though it's interesting to note that while we play more games with the latter, the former is the one that is more internalized to us. A lot of the time we find ourselves saying something like "I wish I could give you Aiki for that!" so I guess that one is pretty internalized, but I need to stress that this isn't like, because we've played dozens of sessions of TBZ; I think the average number of sessions played for this game throughout my groups is probably like... 5. But it's something that people seem to latch onto in a hurry - across three different groups with pretty minimal overlap, people have "the hang of it" within the first session. So I guess it's now, if not "second nature" certainly something we intrinsically WANT to do, but it's not because we've totally immersed ourselves into this sort of game, but rather, because every group I've played with has connected with this mechanism. It's hard to internalize "end of session" rewards as much, because they tend to be part of a special game process at the end of each session.

    To segue into the next question, "in the moment" rewards are generally given for any of:
    * I thought that description was cool
    * That was an awesome one-liner
    * That was a totally cool character moment
    * OMG that was badass
    * OH S**T!
    * Nice roleplaying!
    * I saw you played your Fate there.
    It's very much an expression of appreciation - a means of saying "You upped your game/did a cool thing/improved my experience at the table/advanced the story in a way I found interesting." I'm not really sure what you mean by "for both the rewarded person and the other members of the group" though.

    For the "end of session" rewards, these are a little bit more mechanized, and generally a little less of a personal thing. Usually it's "Okay, does anyone think they hit their Belief this session?" and someone steps up and says "Yeah, my belief is "It is never appropriate to yield in the face of threats" and I totally stood up to that weasel!" and everyone around the table nods and agrees and that player gets their reward. And sometimes someone will say "No, I don't think I did..." and someone else will chime in with "Actually, I thought that when you stepped up in that argument, you were totally defending someone in danger like your Belief says. It wasn't physical danger, but I think it still counts!" and if the table agrees, a reward is dispensed. Same thing for Blades where you get XP for expressing your beliefs/ideals/background. Everyone sortof thinks back on the session and popular consensus rules the day. I guess technically the GM has final say here, but I've never seen him do more than the equivalent of "tie break."

    As for the people handing out rewards, since the "end of session" stuff is a group activity, I'd focus on the "in the moment" stuff here. I can't really say that ANY of us are really the effusive, extroverted type, but we all understand and agree that while this stuff is subjective, it's better to give a reward than not.

    These may seem like strange questions, but I'm genuinely interested on how you make rewards work, if it's just something I haven't realized about them, if there's a sort of "hidden in plain sight" group mechanic that makes it actually tick, etc.
    That's the thing that confuses me; I don't feel like we "make" them work - I feel like they work FOR us. The only thing that I think we do is just play these things according to the spirit of the rules - we do our best to reward the things the rules suggest we reward, and to do so honestly.

    I mean, I do get a few things about mechanical rewards:
    [trimmed for space]
    I completely agree with the first two, but I feel there's something wrong if the problem mentioned in point #2 is happening. (Maybe this is part of why Fate feels weird to me - because Fate points are clearly designed to be an economy of sorts where you need to be less good now to be better later?) But like... how does it even happen that there are rewards against a character's nature? Almost all these games, you define a your "flags" and then you get points for doing them. Don't make your Belief "Always offer comfort to defeated foes" if that's not a thing you are interested in doing. Heck, in TBZ you get a bunch of "Fates" that you can hit or not hit as you see fit. Not digging the idea that your character is focused on the loss of your sister? Don't play that up - you've got 2-4 other Fates lying around, and you defined them yourself, so play up "Hatred for Lord Igehara" instead. You don't lose anything.

    While they enjoy it, most of them aren't the kind of players that actively seek for character drama/exploration/development as a main game goal. Mechanics that reward players for this are a chore. They prefer when the system or situation generates this as a byproduct, thus no reward here makes better sense.
    If you're not INTERESTED in drama, then no, don't play games that reward you for trying to create it. That's silly. Also, don't play D&D if you're not interested in killing monsters and taking their stuff. I don't understand how this is even a thing. Though it also sounds like you are playing games that do this badly if you are running into the problem you describe in point #2.

    They always interrupt the flow of whatever emotion we were building up as soon as they recognize the chance to earn the mechanical reward they rush the scene and go "...now GIMME MY DAMNED POINTS YO BITCH!".
    To me, this is just your players being ***holes and would be considered a breach of social contract at my table. Like seriously, "WTF Dude?" kind of thing.

    That's another reason I don't give XP for killing monsters. They are bound to go "uh, it seems I killed the party paladin... accidentally. Well, how much XP do I get from him?" "Dibs on his sword!" and so. It's not like I don't find the fun in all this myself, we are all joking after all, but I also enjoy building a good scene with them from time to time, they have had all their good roleplaying moments and those are the ones we remember the most. So why keep using a game element that ruins that part of the fun before we get to it? If you have an answer I can use with my group, I'm all ears!
    It doesn't sound like your GROUP is very interested in those scenes though, since they are constantly disrupting the flow with jokes and nonsensical actions.

    This all goes back to what I stated a while ago: If you are actively NOT INTERESTED in a thing, then no, a reward can't make you want it. But if it's a thing that you don't really have strong feelings about, rewards can easily propel you into doing that, or just act as a guide when you're considering what to do. "I'm not really sure what my character would do here... but I get a reward if I address this challenge with threats, so hell yeah! I tell this guy "Say that again and I break your leg."" To me, it sounds like your group is actively disinterested in the game you would like to play. Rewards won't magically fix that. But they WILL guide the behavior of a group that is interested in going along.
  • I can't speak for you, but for me it is the pay to deny nature of it. Just cause of how people (myself included) tend to think of punishment/reward, the punishment of paying the point to deny weighs slightly more heavily, and makes it feel like you are only doing it to avoid the loss.

    I also, personally don't see Fate Points as being something that exists in the fiction, so when I want my 'coward' aspect character to act bravely because this is important, I don't see an in-fiction reason why the situation would be different if I had a fate point to resist a compel, vs if I did not. (Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Coward is an aspect I am fine with playing the majority of the time,

    Of course, HOPEFULLY you are playing with a group that's in sync enough to agree that this is important to the character's development enough to NOT compel in that sort of situation. But that's pretty hard to maintain ALL the time*, and during those lapses, the penalty is the difference of "No thanks, I'm good" vs "C'mon, REALLY?"
    I don't think this is it for me; Or maybe it is, at one remove. I think I don't have that much trouble realizing that it "costs" something for a character who is normally a coward to stand up straight and be brave. But I do have trouble internalizing the concept that, basically, aspects are only relevant when you "say" they are by paying a point. Sometimes it makes sense that an aspect is only "maybe" relevant, but a lot of the time it seems like "Well, duh, I'm the Greatest Swordsman In All Of Hesket, how does that NOT give me a bonus in this duel?" Why does that cost a point? And the answer is "because points are also a pacing mechanism" but that... doesn't... connect in my brain.

    *I'd argue if you CAN, you aren't really playing with the penalty part of compels in play, since, you would all be in sync enough to agree when a compel would be cool, there's no reason to ever pay it.
    Interestingly, I think this is EXACTLY what AnonAdderlan was describing in the opening post here - he doesn't feel the reward is relevant, because his table is in sync and finds that it's always cool to accept compels.


  • I don't think this is it for me; Or maybe it is, at one remove. I think I don't have that much trouble realizing that it "costs" something for a character who is normally a coward to stand up straight and be brave. But I do have trouble internalizing the concept that, basically, aspects are only relevant when you "say" they are by paying a point. Sometimes it makes sense that an aspect is only "maybe" relevant, but a lot of the time it seems like "Well, duh, I'm the Greatest Swordsman In All Of Hesket, how does that NOT give me a bonus in this duel?" Why does that cost a point? And the answer is "because points are also a pacing mechanism" but that... doesn't... connect in my brain.
    I feel you on the spending the points as well.

    And honestly, I kinda get the spend to resist for the day to day crap, but mainly because I am probably NOT going to resist the day to day stuff if I choose to play a cowardly character. I'm talking about the big stuff, the things character arcs are made of. The way you make your Coward character eventually BECOME a "Brave" character.

    On my end, I compare Fate to say, Burning Wheel. If I have a Belief "I won't risk my own skin to help anyone else." But then decide, no god dammit, my brother IS more important than that, I'll likely get rewarded even for playing AGAINST that belief. Meanwhile, in fate, you, the player, not the character, get taxed for making those tough decisions, or might not even be able to make them at all if there was a costly conflict last scene. The only way to avoid that in fate is just for the whole table to go "yeah, this is important, I'm not going to engage the system here", which to me, seems like a failure of the system if you need to back off it to get it to work for the important things.
  • Also, Warriormonk, I've been thinking about your comment where you say that the players "rush the scene" so they can go "Gimme mah points!" - why is this? Do rewards only get dispensed at end of scene? That seems like a weird and awkward spot to handle reward distribution.

    With TBZ Aiki, if someone delivers a great speech, or just yells "I will have your head, Shinokaze Aboro!" and someone decides that's awesome and gives them an Aiki chit, there's no pause, there's just a handover of the token and the scene moves on - and if the player is rocking it, they have more chances to earn chits IN THAT SCENE, so rushing to the end is counterproductive.

    With "end of session" rewards, similarly, there's no point in rushing the scene because no one is going to give you any rewards until the end of the session anyway.

    What are you playing that ties rewards to scenes?
  • Oh man, the Moldbreaker rule in the Burning games is so, so important (and often overlooked in these discussions). In fact, I'm going to write to my 5E players right now and clarify that *breaking* a BIFT in a dramatic way also counts for Inspiration, as long as the player is okay with also then changing that BIFT at the end of the session.
  • The Fate system (and Aspects) are not well-geared for character change, I'd say.

    (This is one of the reasons it's sometimes seen as a Simulationism-supporting game, and not a Narrativist game.)

    I'm sure you can make it work if you really try, but it's not obvious.

    And it does seem to me that, in order to work, the GM has to selective about when to apply Compels, based on dramatic priorities, pacing, or similar (as in your example, ignoring that when it seems more interesting to see a dramatic reversal).

    However, I haven't played a ton of Fate, so take all this with a grain of salt.

    WarriorMonk,

    Others have already said this, but let me say it again:

    Mechanical rewards for stuff you're not interested in doing... aren't ever going to be much fun for anyone.

    I wouldn't want to play ANY game which has a reward structure unless every player involved goes, "Oh, I get X reward for doing this fun thing? Great, I can't wait to do that!"

    They communicate expectations and reward for us doing what we're already excited to do; they're not effective motivators (as the science shows).

    This is one of the reasons XP in D&D works well for some people: setting up XP rewards for specific actions or achievements is a very powerful way of communicating expectations about the game. "Hey, I think it's cool if adventurers try to outsmart monsters instead of defeating them, so they can escape with the treasure." Great, then you should XP for gold (treasure), or XP for encountering monsters or avoiding them (instead of killing them). "I'd like for characters to have individual quests or goals." Great, let's assign XP values to heroic "Quests", and let characters choose theirs. "I'd like for reward and challenge to be proportional and easy to gauge." Great, then XP awards should be based on the difficulty of encounters. (And maybe they should be declared publicly before players decide to engage with a particular adventure - "This is a 5,000 XP adventure." "Man, that's probably going to be too hard for us. Let's come back to it later.")

    Placing an XP reward on something gives the group a way to communicate what they're excited to see in play, and then serves to signal when it's being achieved.

    Sometimes this happens in less obvious ways - for instance, you could indicate that your character is particularly motivated for a personal goal because she is willing to FORGO an award to pursue it, and that might lend a certain emphasis on that decision for your group.

    Engaging with any game rules should give a clear payoff that everyone is excited about; otherwise, of course it's not going to be a whole lot of fun. When the rewards are being given out or assigned, there should be some enthusiastic approval all around the table, or... something needs to change.
  • Ah, now I see it clearer! Thanks a lot everyone! Ok, definitely my group needs some of this. I think I still have some resource that can be refilled through roleplaying, after all my last homebrew design has a couple of things hacked from TBZ.

    The characters my group makes do have interesting flags, but having our sessions each two weeks is enough to forget them. Most usually, on the next session, if I haven't paid enough attention to their character sheets we will miss of roleplaying all that cool stuff they made up along with their character. So, using the last part of the session to award them a reward for playing and evolving those flags? That's the best reminder ever.

    I prefer it to be the last part of the session as we always have a somewhat weak session ending anyway. People all leave at different moments and it's difficult to know in advance when, so it's hard to come up with a proper cliffhanger moment to end the session. It's also less immersion-breaking.

    I'm all in favour of letting them change those flags if they completely forget about them and pick up new ones from anything in the game they find interesting. I was already planning to give them a journal for them to write down some notes after each session but this looks better.

    I'm still kinda against XP, as having everyone level up according to how much screen-time the managed to squeeze from the session and how well they fared through it becomes a bit unfair sometimes with our group. There are some people better at this than others, so much that they have a history of ending up outclassing the rest of the party and thus getting even more screen time, because levelled up characters get more agency anyway.

    As for "in the moment" rewards, we are quite enthusiastic and emphatic already about everything that happens on the table so I think we can skip that. The less mechanics distracting us, the better. Now this sounds like interesting mechanical rewards!
  • edited February 2017
    Also, Warriormonk, I've been thinking about your comment where you say that the players "rush the scene" so they can go "Gimme mah points!" - why is this? Do rewards only get dispensed at end of scene? That seems like a weird and awkward spot to handle reward distribution.

    With TBZ Aiki, if someone delivers a great speech, or just yells "I will have your head, Shinokaze Aboro!" and someone decides that's awesome and gives them an Aiki chit, there's no pause, there's just a handover of the token and the scene moves on - and if the player is rocking it, they have more chances to earn chits IN THAT SCENE, so rushing to the end is counterproductive.

    With "end of session" rewards, similarly, there's no point in rushing the scene because no one is going to give you any rewards until the end of the session anyway.

    What are you playing that ties rewards to scenes?
    We didn't do it at the end of the scenes. It was just whoever roleplayed the scene realized quickly that if he overacted their next line a bit and spouted their aspect it was obvious he should be getting a fate point. So much that they stopped doing the effort and made the joke of immediately claiming their reward. Such gag ended turning into a recurrent one and soon players werent roleplaying to their fullest anymore. Back when we played without such rewards we had better, more memorable moments, but now it was clear we were just ruining the atmosphere before these were happening.

    Those jokes didn't marked the end of the scene, I just handed the point and we continued without more pause than enough for everyone to stop laughing.

    EDIT: reading more calmly now:

    One little thing: interiorization doesn't always take too long. We usually interiorize quite quickly how to roleplay, usually after one session or two. Things like when we should be rolling dice, ritual phrases that trigger that or are used to avoid that, gestures the GM uses to signal us how big is a room or enemy, ways everyone signals their approval/recognition, etc. If we are new to roleplaying with a group we interiorize their social contract little by little; we start with some cautious moves and watch their feedback, lower our guard sooner or later, find the limits and get used to them.

    Then we see how this social contract gets imported to the next game the group plays and how the contract is modified by the particular mechanics of that game. We keep using the same slang and gestures and add new ones from the game, maybe replace old ones. It's there in how your players now use aiki as a slang for recognition, even after just 5 sessions of TBZ.

    In comparision, our group inherited several toxical behaviors from different players. We had one that had a bit of a tourette syndrome and couldn't stand emotional/dramatic scenes. He couldn't help but ruin those moments with innuendo, so much that even when he was gone doing those jokes from time to time became a habit for the group. Now it's there in the threshold of the group's tolerance to the change in atmosphere. So much that a simple reward mechanic that makes the scene feel a bit artificial is enough to trigger it. And on top of it we developed a tolerance for that breaking of the social contract. It became part of our social contract to tolerate it.

    Well, that's our group. How often does this happen with other groups? Hmmm, well I'd bet that it's enough to explain why we haven't seen too many new designs using the same mechanics becoming incredibly popular... And yet not enough that you would see a lot of people complaining about it to the creators that they would eliminate the mechanic in later editions of their games anyway.
  • edited February 2017

    We didn't do it at the end of the scenes. It was just whoever roleplayed the scene realized quickly that if he overacted their next line a bit and spouted their aspect it was obvious he should be getting a fate point.
    Ah, so you're not cutting scene short TO claim your point, but you are cutting the scene short BECAUSE you have claimed your point?

    It's there in how your players now use aiki as a slang for recognition, even after just 5 sessions of TBZ.
    It's kinda funny because they don't always remember the word "Aiki" ;)

    In comparision, our group inherited several toxical behaviors from different players. We had one that had a bit of a tourette syndrome and couldn't stand emotional/dramatic scenes. He couldn't help but ruin those moments with innuendo, so much that even when he was gone doing those jokes from time to time became a habit for the group. Now it's there in the threshold of the group's tolerance to the change in atmosphere. So much that a simple reward mechanic that makes the scene feel a bit artificial is enough to trigger it. And on top of it we developed a tolerance for that breaking of the social contract. It became part of our social contract to tolerate it.
    Interestingly, it sounds like a less rigidly defined mechanic would work better for your group. Your players are all hamming it up and then looking at you being like "Yeah, okay Mr. GM, fate point now, yes? After all, I earned it!" whereas with something like Aiki, there technically aren't ANY moments where someone is REQUIRED to give you Aiki. There might be spots where it seems LIKELY, but since there's no REQUIREMENT, it's easy enough to say "Y'know, you almost had a chit from me there, and then you made a stupid joke and blew it."

    Well, that's our group. How often does this happen with other groups? Hmmm, well I'd bet that it's enough to explain why we haven't seen too many new designs using the same mechanics becoming incredibly popular...
    Other than D&D5? I mean, what counts as "incredibly popular" in the RPG space? It seems absurd to say that people "don't like" reward mechanics because no games using them have become "incredibly popular" when, honestly, nothing except D&D is ever "incredibly popular" and the latest D&D contains an (admittedly weak) reward mechanic?

    And yet not enough that you would see a lot of people complaining about it to the creators that they would eliminate the mechanic in later editions of their games anyway.
    I... honestly haven't seen anyone other than you complain about them, and even you seem pretty enthusiastic about an end-of-session reward mechanic?
  • edited February 2017

    Ah, so you're not cutting scene short TO claim your point, but you are cutting the scene short BECAUSE you have claimed your point?
    Not at all, we didn't cut the scene short, the player just asked for the point, ruined the moment and we kept going. All in the same scene.

    Interestingly, it sounds like a less rigidly defined mechanic would work better for your group. Your players are all hamming it up and then looking at you being like "Yeah, okay Mr. GM, fate point now, yes? After all, I earned it!" whereas with something like Aiki, there technically aren't ANY moments where someone is REQUIRED to give you Aiki. There might be spots where it seems LIKELY, but since there's no REQUIREMENT, it's easy enough to say "Y'know, you almost had a chit from me there, and then you made a stupid joke and blew it."
    I see how that could work... but not with my group as it is now. We're too old friends for doing that... after laughing at the joke... and later pretend everyone to take us seriously. We tried.

    Other than D&D5?
    No, I was speaking more about Fate Points than about D&D XP


  • No, I was speaking more about Fate Points than about D&D XP
    I was talking about D&D Inspiration, which is a clear behavioral incentive mechanical reward, and is a recent addition to D&D. It is a pretty bog standard behavioral reward incentive along the lines of Fate points (though it's a relatively weak implementation) and it's in literally the only "incredibly popular" RPG... more or less ever. So again, I don't think there's any basis for your claim that rewards mechanics like this are being frowned on because there aren't any "incredibly popular" games using them.

    And I confess, I don't honestly understand why being too old of friends makes it impossible for you to take something seriously, but I'll take your word for it. There's clearly a social dynamic here that I don't understand.

    Also, it was you who said that you "rushed the scene" to get the rewards, which to me is very similar to cutting it short; Sorry if I changed terms on you there.
  • I don't think you're ever going to have gaming with any kind of consistent dramatic focus, WarriorMonk, at least not consistently. Having a totally unpredictable end time to sessions / individual players' leaving at unpredictable times? That *alone* basically makes the kind of coherence you need for that sort of thing impossible. Several other things you've said about your friends also seem to militate against dramatic gaming as a goal.

    But remembering people's flags is pretty easy to implement. Make a big board with them, where everyone can see them. Or make table tents with character names and their flags written just below their names, perhaps in shorthand form.

    Also, and more pragmatically: you absolutely cannot give Fate points for words people speak, but only for dramatic actions they take. Obviously, there are exceptions, like if someone has a "smart-mouth" Aspect and mouths off to a powerful NPC in a way that gets the party in immediate trouble, that's fine. But Fate points are not rewards for characterization—they are intended as rewards for making stuff **happen**.

  • edited February 2017

    Also, and more pragmatically: you absolutely cannot give Fate points for words people speak, but only for dramatic actions they take. Obviously, there are exceptions, like if someone has a "smart-mouth" Aspect and mouths off to a powerful NPC in a way that gets the party in immediate trouble, that's fine. But Fate points are not rewards for characterization—they are intended as rewards for making stuff **happen**.
    This is an extremely good point. Specifically, I think there need to be negative consequences for the character for it to count.

    Actually, I'm a little bit confused by people getting Fate points for things they do THEMSELVES at all. While self-compels are a thing, most compels are, I think, supposed to come from other players/the GM.
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