Starting a thread because I think it's a rich topic (and I am interested in the current direction of the Princess Play thread and don't want to derail).
Maybe it's a different topic, but I am thirsty of info on the effect of these awards on roleplay. I read the game and dug through lots of AP videos (not my kind of fun) and I still don't see them different from, say, White Wolf XP awards (if you made them each end of session). What I am missing ?
In my experience, the effect is huge. I've never played a White Wolf game, so I have no grounds for comparison.
The magic comes from the GM saying as little as possible (outside of explaining procedures).
Imagine you're playing Torchbearer at a con, figuring out layers of rules and game mechanics stuff, in addition to having a somewhat intense social experience with strangers. At the end, instead of just leaving, you get a moment where you get to tell the other players: "Yeah, you definitely acted on your belief because you did X." or, "You totally earned MVP because of this exciting moment." Players get to validate that they heard and saw cool stuff from the people at the table. I think this reinforces that part of the gameplay is the opportunity for players to engage and entertain each other.
I think the GM can model this process (especially if players haven't read the text) but if they run it like a checklist, the group misses out on a great moment.
In a long game, these can be an equally interesting check-in for character development. If a character's not hitting their belief, other players help them workshop it, so what the player finds interesting about the character stays in the spotlight. Or sometimes, a player thinks they played their belief as they usual, but the other players saw a way they acted against it or suggested a new layer of nuance. The get an even better reward and update their belief.
The one that used to excite me least was embodiment. It can get stale having an award for playing your character when everyone is bringing their best. We've improved this (for us, at least) by shifting the focus of Embodiment onto the most memorable moment
of character development. If there's a shift in dynamic between two player characters, or differing beliefs come to the fore of the action, that's ripe material for Embodiment.
I think these rewards, at least in Torchbearer, work best when they are a statement about what the player wants to bring to the game (rather than what they want to find there). Especially when beliefs and goals are directed toward other players (to entertain and engage) rather than at the game or GM. The belief "loot is important" and the goal "I will get loot" work, and will get you some
rewards without being satisfying. Further, having to review them for everyone at the end of the game might be annoying, because the target of this belief is the game (benefiting from an unavoidable activity). On the other hand. have seen a few instances where a player wrote a goal and hoped the GM would spin that thing into the dungeon: "I will get vengeance on my enemy!" but there enemy just isn't there unless the PC goes looking for them. They don't hit their goal, and they don't work towards it, so no rewards. It can feel like the playing getting a penalty for something the GM didn't do.
I think these rewards work best as a system to support acting as audience to / participant in character roleplay (in a Princess play sense). One of my player's belief is "Finfargle's Marauders are a household name". His halfling is named Finfargle, and his belief promises the other players all kinds of airs of pretensions and attempts at claiming leadership of the party. It's funny and it gives the other players plenty of material to riff on, without drawing them away from the core initiatives of the game.