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Incentivizing Roleplaying Behavior: A Bad Idea (Mark Brantingham)

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--- Quote from: daniel_ream;929847 ---I once saw a Champions session where two female players spent two hours roleplaying shopping in [real multi-storey shopping center in nearby major metropolis].

When players start RPing pub crawling or shopping, I'm reminded of Seanbaby's review of Pictionary for the NES: "Motherfucker, I have a board game.  I don't have a fighter jet."
--- End quote ---
As long as nobody minds a shopping session or a pubcrawl there's no problem. The problem is when some of the players enjoy that and some of the players are bored silly by that. Of course that's not so different a problem than a session with a long and intricate combat experience where half the players are engaged and interested and the other half just want a simpler, faster resolution for the encounter with 6 Trollkin so they can get on to something they enjoy more.


--- Quote from: Bren;929857 ---As long as nobody minds a shopping session or a pubcrawl there's no problem. The problem is when some of the players enjoy that and some of the players are bored silly by that.
--- End quote ---

No, I mean if you want to go shopping, then just go shopping.  The mall's 45 minutes away.

Well I didn't say shopping, I said pubcrawling, which could always lead to plenty of interesting things that are worthy of raising adventuring skills.  I have had entire nights of tavern and city crawling in D&D where it was mostly fun roleplaying, not much XP was handed out and no one really minded.  So in a session or hour based system you could...just do the exact same thing.

I'm not really seeing a downside that even comes close to balancing out the upside of not having any metagame thought involved in XP and advancement, which seems like a feature, not a bug.

Gronan of Simmerya:
"It seems to me, Wormwood, that you take a great many words to tell a very simple story."


--- Quote from: BedrockBrendan;929642 ---
However, this is a gaming discussion, and that almost demands some preamble full of legalistic qualifying remarks.
--- End quote ---

OK, that was a good one;).

As for the rest of it, I disagree.

--- Quote ---For my purposes, roleplaying is a group-based game in which the primary focus is a social one, regardless of the particular setting and set of rules.  Gaming scenarios are there to create an environment in which the players use their imaginations to deal with situations through the eyes of their characters.  The behavior of and interaction between the player characters is the feature that sets a roleplaying game apart from other types of games and other forms of entertainment and ultimately defines what it is that I am talking about when I use the term “roleplaying” game. There are other types of games that are often lumped in under the general term of “roleplaying games” and I have played some of them and I enjoy some of them, but they are not what I am talking about here. I’m not talking about 40k battles or a LARP session where never a die is rolled. I’m not talking about a group of players who aren’t interested in loot or treasure.  I’m talking about normal meat-and-potatoes RPGs and RPGers.
--- End quote ---

I think you put too much and yet at the same time, not enough value on that "meat-and-potatoes" qualifier.
First, you seem to assume the players will always chase the XP.
Second, you also seem to assume that players will believe "the most rewarding roleplaying is consistent with and true to your own motivations and ambitions".
IME, one of these isn't going to be true, however:).

If the first case is false, you can give XP for whatever and it doesn't matter. It will even out, and nobody would even notice.
If the second is false, it doesn't matter whether the players are chasing the XP, that's what they're going to do anyway.

Besides, let's accept both would be true.
The idea that "GM-generated XP awards meant to incentivize character behavior are directly opposed to the ideal of roleplaying, because the effect is always to pit the desires of the player against the desires of the character he plays" is still untrue in more than one case.

The player might be playing a character whose goals naturally coincide with the ones the system rewards, like playing a Chivalrous knight in Pendragon. So, no "always" contradiction.
The GM might not be rewarding specific behaviour, but "staying true to the character, as interpreted so far". Since that's what you're trying to do anyway, according to your definition, the GM is just giving you "performance feedback".
The GM might not be rewarding specific behaviour, but behaviour that improved everybody's enjoyment. I mean, people have to watch you roleplaying your character. It is only fitting with the definition of "a social activity" that you should be rewarded for making it more fun for them:p!

--- Quote ---A player naturally wants to see his character improve.  He wants the character to gain new skills or spells to further express the character’s personality, to further that character’s goals and plans.
--- End quote ---

Actually no, I can do this by gaining favours, money and influence. New skills and spells are kinda secondary to that.
"I've got +1 to my attack".
"I've got +10 attacks from the people in my gang shooting at you".
One of these guys will realise his choices sucked.

--- Quote ---On with the first example, the famous “baby goblins” scenario. The group kills the adult goblins and then finds a room with female goblins and/or infant goblins.  In the simplest version of the behavioral incentive dilemma, the GM awards XPs strictly per monster killed.  Period.  Well, it would be surprising to find an adventuring group which, under these conditions, did not have at least one character who ends up instigating a fight with the goblins women and children for those extra 20 XPs per goblin (or whatever the reward).  Even more surprising would be to find a group that did not collectively shrug and then join in the slaughter of the female and young goblins once the fight began, secure in the knowledge that it was that other player who caused the fight, not me.
--- End quote ---

...I'm pretty sure most groups I've played in wouldn't have THAT player. Or if we had, he'd be reined in.

--- Quote ---Even if there is a player who resists the inclination to collect the extra XPs he knows he will miss out on, and instead decides to actively protect the helpless goblin civilians, he is still doing so with that dramatic irony lurking in the back of his mind – the knowledge that he is remaining true to the goals of his character only at the expense of the XPs that he still desires to have as a player even if he is willing to forego them in the interest of roleplaying integrity.
--- End quote ---

No. By doing this, he shows he can be trusted to rein in his associates, and gains a debt from the goblin tribe.
And he can now recruit goblin spearmen for his expedition. See above example.

--- Quote ---One of the easiest ways to prove that I am right is to consider the campaigns that you have participated in as a player and not a as a GM and to ask yourself if you ever ended up wanting to roleplay your character in a manner that would have resulted in less XPs or slower advancement for the entire group, or if you noticed situations where you felt your roleplaying was undervalued or misinterpreted by the GM, and not credited as it should have been towards your character’s advancement.
--- End quote ---

No on the first point, but maybe I was lucky or didn't notice I'd get more XP if my Toreador had been diablerizing enemies instead of organizing a Vamp Dance-Off in the club another PC owned...:D
Yes on the latter.
So? You know, except in some cases, I assume the Referee might be right. And anyway, I might get less XP tonight, but in another situation I'd get more XP than I'd have credited myself with. It evens out, IME. So no, it doesn't "undermine my experience as a roleplayer".

--- Quote ---Sure it does, and you vow to yourself that when you are a GM you will rectify the situation by never scoring XPs in that way.  YOU will solve that problem by giving XPs for X Y and Z and by noticing (insert thing your GM ignored) and by not doing (insert lousy thing).  Oddly enough, of every single GM that you have ever known, only YOU know how to accurately and fairly award XPs.

--- End quote ---

Again, no. There are GMs that I admit are better than me at awarding the XP. I've played with those.
I'm also trying to learn from them. Humility, a word you don't hear much lately, is still as important today as it was back when it was in vogue:D!

--- Quote ---Everybody thinks that, even your players.
--- End quote ---

I doubt it.
And even if they did, so what? They might be right.

--- Quote ---I’ll give you a much more subtle example.  What about a GM who awards character involvement?  That seems reasonable, even laudable.  A character who talks to NPCs and gets in there and gets involved in the details of the adventure gets more XPs than characters who sit back and don’t talk.  That seems to make lots of sense at first. But what about when a player intentionally crafts a character who lost his daughter and wife in the war and just stopped caring and has a death wish? He doesn’t want to talk to NPCs and he is perfectly happy to follow the group leader and is perfectly willing to die for the only friends he has left, his adventuring party.
--- End quote ---

You reward him for following his character and staying all alone and having the back of the other PCs.
And you reward the other guy for being nosy, because it's what his character would do, too.
The difference? One of them gets favours and information. The other one gets a reputation for a grim slayer who'd rather kill you than smile at you. Both are happy.

--- Quote ---The larger point is that there is no sense in trying to be the judge of what is “good” roleplaying and what is “inferior” roleplaying, because no GM can possibly see inside another player’s soul or mind
--- End quote ---

I use the advanced communication technique of asking them after the session "why did you do that?"
The explanation is fun.

--- Quote ---Sometimes player behavior may have to be restricted or punished as too disruptive to the group, like when a player shows up to game sessions drunk or has a habit of talking over everyone else at the table. Often in-character behavior may have negative campaign consequences, such as a thief who is caught and hanged for stealing a horse.  These issues are completely distinct from XPs awarded to actively encourage or discourage a certain type of character behavior.

--- End quote ---

Your thief is hanged. You lose all XP gained until now for following his thieving tendences.
How is that not incentivising a given behaviour?

--- Quote ---Another example is the common practice of rewarding groups or individuals for completing certain objectives. If the group figures out x or solves the mystery of y then they get (insert XP award). This type of reward is often given with the intention of motivating players to follow a certain story path or keep after “adventure goals.”  While expedient for the GM, who might simply desire to stick to the script of the module he is reading from or has designed, it is often quite frustrating for a player who takes an interest in a certain detail of the campaign which has nothing to do with the official script. Now a character’s interest in some element of the campaign is pitted against the player’s desire to improve that character.
--- End quote ---

And that's a problem why? If I want to explore it, I probably believe there's something in it for my PC.

--- Quote ---It can get worse if the rest of the players are convinced that what a certain character is interested in will only delay a story-related XP bonus.  They can become hostile to the actions of a character as a result, where they would otherwise have either had no objection or would have actually taken interest themselves had they not felt the need to pursue story goal awards.
--- End quote ---

And that's a group problem. With a group I'd gladly leave behind, frankly;). If people are chasing against the clock to level up before the next fight...then I can safely assume it's a fight that expected us to have a certain XP amounts in order to win? So, I need to follow the string of encounters, carefully calibrated so we could win them - which is something I dislike on principle basis. And it's a much worse turn-off than my contribution to the session being overlooked at the XP hour.

So yeah, different strikes for different folks.


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