So in Hillfolk / “Dramasystem” here’s my take on the ideal flow of the game:
Scenes are resolved naturally, and tokens flow post-hoc to reflect that.
The 2-spend “force” is jarring and we don’t want that.
The “force”, though, is necessary to correct when the economy is lopsided. If one player has been consistently shot down.
The drama is lopsided & the token economy is lopsided to match that.
What’s dumb about Hillfolk as written, though, is that though even though the force corrects the lopsided drama, it makes the token economy even more lopsided, and counters are even worse. The lopsided economy spirals out of control making it more and more lopsided, causing more and more forces, until the session ends and the econ resets.
Instead, have the two-spend and three-spend go to the bank instead of to that player.
I.e. new econ as follows:
When you give in (naturally or by being forced or countered) you gain one.
When the scene ends naturally and you don’t give in, you lose one (if you have any).
If you want to force instead of ending the scene naturally you can spend two (to the bank) and when you want to counter you can spend three (to the bank).
This should choke out the econ but that’s by intent; leaving the econ as a minimal safety valve on the natural flow of scenes.
Currently, in our group, we’re not really all on the same page on whether or not the “forces” are worth it since they are so jarring. So our current rule is that we are experimenting with not using them, since we have lots of procedural scenes anyway, giving in gives you a reward that’s usable in the procedural layer, and that in and of itself is hopefully incentive to give in. I still want to cook up some meaningful alternative to the “force” rule for more pure drama based games because the whole “meaningful concession but not exactly what they asked for” thing is so weird. All soap opera games: Smallville, Burning Wheel, TSoY, Monsterhearts etc all have this problem: you can get “forced” to have your character do something that you don’t want them to do. [Not talking about vampire hypnosis or w/e, that’s fine, I’m talking about coming around emotionally.] Dogs though works because you can escalate. Either when you give in on the “talking” arena, you’re fine with giving in, or you escalate into an arena where you are fine with giving in.
Also our hillfolkery [within our D&D game] has slowed a trickle this last half-a-year since I stopped “babysitting” the reward of drama tokens. I wanted it to be more player-initiated since it started getting more and more fuzzy about what was a petition and what was just aimless needling or bullying. I wanted more clarity, them grabbing a token and going “So tell me about this plan of yours…”
One idea is this… instead of “forcing”…
when the scene starts, you place a token from the bank between the two of you.
You can take the tokens and give in. If you want to sweeten the deal, you can add more of your own tokens to the pot. Wordlessly. That can only work if we also find a usage for having a bunch of tokens.
(Translating them to a procedural resource such as XP or HP is useless in a pure drama game.)