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Messages - Melinglor

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Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 17, 2007, 06:04:22 pm »
Hey, that's a great way to put it! :emot-eng101: Cool!

Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 17, 2007, 02:41:02 pm »
Quote from: Old Geezer
Well, it looks like a variation of "These are the things I want out of the game", which is always good.

Agreed. Keys are a quite handy as a big flashing "Here's what I wanna see/do" neon sign, in addition to managing advancement.

Quote from: Old Geezer
Cooperation between GM and players is always a good thing.

For sure. Keys don't produce or enforce cooperation, exactly, but I think they serve well to. . .I dunno, oil the cooperation gears, so to speak.


Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 17, 2007, 02:35:45 pm »
Quote from: James J Skach
It also reminds me of Squirrel Attack! Honestly, if you haven't, check out the way that's structured.

Cool, James! That sounds like tons o' fun. I have been keen on checking out SA! on general principle.


Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 15, 2007, 11:54:25 pm »
Well, generally speaking, the Gm and the player in question cooperate to "bring them into the story"--the player picks the Key of course, and pursues Key-related courses of action with his/her character, and the GM section says, "play to the PCs' Keys."

If you're asking about the specific criteria for gaining XP, each Key has conditions listed for it, like the Key of Conscience quoted above. Other examples: Key of Bloodlust, gain 1 XP each time you defeat someone in battle, 3 if they're tougher than you. Or Key of faith, 1 XP when you defend your faith, 2 if you convert someone, 5 when you defend it at great harm. Plus you can design your own or tweak existing Keys. Like my wife played a political radical and invented the Key of the Idealist: 1 XP when she participates in a free market, 2 when she intervenes for someone's freedom, 5 when she defends someone's life (i.e. Life, Liberty and Property :D ).

'Zat make sense?


Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 15, 2007, 08:49:24 pm »
Well, for my part I apologize if I was unclear.

Now that you know what I'm talking about, how does it look to you, OG?


Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 14, 2007, 09:49:25 am »
Quote from: Spike
Don't just come in here wailing and tearing your shirt that XP systems don't make you happy in your pants.

There you go again. Where the hell are you getting this connotation from? I don't see "wailing," "crying," or any such thing in my posts.

The "specific XP system" is what I've been discussing from Post 1: Shadow of Yesterday's Keys. I will cop to falling down on the job as far as actually linking and/or quoting the system I was talking about. I was lazily assuming familiarity with the system, based on hanging out forum-wise with a lot of folks who are familiar. That was a mistake, which come to think of it, even bit me in the ass on Storygames.

So to rectify: Keys are the XP System from The Shadow of Yesterday. The relevant bit from the text is:

Keys are the primary method of increasing a character's abilities. These are goals, emotional ties, or vows a character has. By bringing these into the story, the player gains experience points (XP) she can use to advance the character, increasing pools and abilities, or learning new Secrets and Keys.

Again, an example will illustrate this better:

Key of Conscience
    Your character has a soft spot for those weaker than their opponents. Gain 1 XP every time your character helps someone who cannot help themselves. Gain 2 XP every time your character defends someone with might who is in danger and cannot save themselves. Gain 5 XP every time your character takes someone in an unfortunate situation and changes their life to where they can help themselves. Buyoff: Ignore a request for help.

The buyoff shown above is a special bit about Keys. Whenever a player has a character perform the action shown in one of the buyoffs, the player can (this is not mandatory) erase the Key and gain 10 XP. Once bought off, a character can never have the same Key again.

There's a whole list of Keys ranging from "killin' stuff" to "pining for my unrequited love," plus the encouragement to modify them or write your own. And just a note, 1 Advance costs 5 XP. Most things in the game cost 1 Advance to raise, but Abilities ("Skills," more or less) scale up in cost.

So there it is. The actual system I'm discussing, the practical application of the principles I'm talking about.

Quote from: Spike
Mel: I got no idea what you are talking about with this keying thing. Seriously.  

I'm not really sure what you're confused about here. Would "specifically tying into skills" be more clear? I'm just saying that the systems in question are less flexible than the system I'm talking about, because while they generate XP specifically from using skills or disads or whatever, this other system lets you make up your own criteria, which can revolve around skill use, OR disad-type afflictions, or ambitions, or whatever. That's all. Not "Your trad system iz teh SUCK!" Just "well, that's pretty cool but I still like the flexibility better over here.

Quote from: Spike
Seventh Sea, btw, doesn't even have 'disadvantages' per se. You actually BUY these xp giving 'disads', which are player defined and pursued. Things like ' Affair with the Duchess lvl 5' gives you five Drama Dice/XP every game your affair either crops up (you arrange a liaison with her) or hinders you (the Duke sends his men to cut your face off).  YOU the player (not the GM) set what the specific problem is, and you, the player are primarily responsible for pursuing your 'subplot'.  How much more 'keyed' do you need it to be? Am I missing something here?

OK, that sounds a lot closer to what I'm talking about, actually (the key phrase being "player defined"). But I'm not familiar with 7th Sea, so I didn't know all this until you told me. Are you interested in communication, or just berating me?

See, here's the thing (And Max, I think this addresses your post as well: The point of this thread isn't "Old Skool vs. New Skool." Spike, you're getting hung up on the fact that I used an example of an old game, and trying to portray me as claiming that no game since then has done what I want. I'm just trying to explain what I like about reward systems, and consequently what I like in a reward system. In the OP I described a system that I like and why, and asked for other examples of systems that achieve a similar effect. All posts to that purpose have been welcome. This whole "Whaddya MEAN no systems in the last 20 years have achieved this affect, you fucker?!" avenue is not. That's not what I said. The age of a given system is incidental to the purpose of this thread. I'm eager to look at any and all game systems that address this, from any era of the hobby.


Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 14, 2007, 09:48:16 am »
Quote from: James McMurray
nWoD does the same thing with its flaws. You can get as many as you want, but they're worth exactly nothing until they come up in play, at which point you get 1 xp. With the xp system the way it is, 1 xp is a benefit, but far from overpowering.

Thanks, James. That sounds cool, similar to 7th Sea's system.

Quote from: Balbinus
Where's the argument here?

Beats the hell out of me. See below.

Thanks for the info, by the way.


Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 12, 2007, 01:48:44 am »
Hi, Spike,

Actually, it sounds to me like 7th Sea (which I'm not familiar with at all) is in the ballpark. It seems to stop sort simply in that it specifically keys Disads, just as BRP stops short in specifically keying Skills. Not that that's bad; it just lacks that extra flexibility of letting you set your own unique parameters, be it merit, flaw, motivation, relationship, or whatever. Still, Disad-driven XP sounds really cool.

I've given a set of criteria--what games do this thing--and I'm evaluating any examples based on that standard. I simply don't think that most of your examples really do the thing I'm talking about. Other examples do. One Horse Town's accomplishment-based system does. Levi's Hoard does. 7th Sea and BRP, as Elliot pointed out, come close. So this isn't a matter of anything so fluffy as whether I "like" a given game, the way I "like" chocolate ice cream or pizza. I've tried to be clear about my evaluation of every game referenced, and why it doesn't work for me.

I think a big part of the problem is that you're reading me as "Waah, XP systems are teh suck!!!1" which is not what I'm getting at. I'm saying that a certain approach hasn't met a specific desire of mine, and I found an approach that does. I'm being as positive as I can, while the guy screaming at me in gigantic caps is accusing me of "bitching" and "crying" and "fighting a battle." At which point I throw up my hands.


Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 08, 2007, 07:25:38 pm »
Quote from: Old Geezer
Convince my boss that I should be in charge of my own raises.

Okay, seriously?  This whole idea makes me go "What the fuck?", because it sounds like "I get to give myself as many XP as I want because I decide how well I did."

XP masturbation.  A first time for everything.

Well, for one thing, this all happens during the session, the instant the Key requirement is fulfilled. So you're not just adding up after the session, "well, I'd say I acted on my Key of Vengeance, oh, 50, 60 times tonight, wink wink." And ideally you're not sitting in your corner of the room quietly ticking off XP points, you're declaring "hah! kicked his ass! Key of Bloodlust, 3XP!"

I have to admit, though, that I've reread the book on this point, and it's not as clear as it should be. I'd say the game's intent is intuitively clear, but it really should have a simple "when you hit a Key of for XP, say so," statement. This is 'cause the Keys are at their best when they're socially reinforcing everyone's game pursuits. Sure, you're not guaranteed interest--you can go "unrequited love, awesome!" and everyone can just shrug and move on. But by drawing attention to what matters to the individual players, I feel you run less risk of stuff that might engage the group falling through the cracks. If it's masturbatory, at least it's a circle jerk. :D And the system at its finest, encourages and helps people to play off of each others' interests, moving from wankfest to full-on orgy. (Hey, if youse guys are gonna speak in metaphors, I can at least run with it!)

Quote from: Old Geezer
Or here's perhaps another way of looking at it.

When multiple people are looking at your postings and ALL saying "WTF?" and NOBODY is agreeing with you, it's time to reevaluate your presentation of your ideas.

Uh, sure. If you think I could present my ideas better, I'm all ears for pointers. In the meantime, I'm trying my best. Strikes me that progress is impeded at least in part by uncharitable and hasty assumptions--"Hey, I like X way of doing stuff, it's fun." "Fun? But doing X in y way is just masturbatory." "Uh, but I'm not talking about Xy, I'm talking about Xz." If you could, like, ask, "wait, are you talking about Xy?" Then I could clarify and we could proceed. But having to "defend" myself over and over again against ephemeral "charges" is a pretty cruddy way to have a conversation.

Quote from: One Horse Town
Too rigid a reward mechanism and you're stuffed. I much prefer a long term reward mechanism, something that rewards me for accomplishments, not necessarily the actions themselves. For that reason, in SH, i do have a reward mechanism, but it's for achieving your goals and ambitions. How you achieve them is up to you of course, but once you have achieved one, you get the same benifit as you would from solving problems, bashing monsters etc. IE You go up a level. This in itself is a powerful motivation to accomplish things in the game world rather than act in a certain way or metagame.

Quote from: Levi Kornelsen
Hoard does this, and is pretty hardcore about it.  In it...

  • Each character has a pool of coins.
  • You spend coins to use masteries (the funky powers).
  • You draw coins by acting on your drives (motives).
  • You can give others the right to draw coins if they act on your influence.
  • You wager coins to make scripts go (a resolution mechanic).
  • Coins are one way to "buy off" attacks against you that you fail to block.
And all that stuff (drives, masteries, influences) comes packaged with traits.

Quote from: alexandro
I agree with Melinglor. I prefer rules that hammer out the reward systems in the most general terms and support the GM in handing out the candy to the players. Reward systems are the infrastructure by which the GM can manage the adventure, while filling in the details himself (as in the 'Power' example by OHT).

I wouldn't say everyone's saying "WTF."

But y'know, turning this into an "us vs. them" issue and painting me as wacko is SURE the way to have an enlightening and informative discussion.


Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 08, 2007, 06:58:05 pm »
Quote from: Kyle Aaron
Well, here's the thing. You're talking about "a good and intuitive GM" - you're talking about someone skilled in roleplaying who roleplays, and how they do better at roleplaying than someone who's not skilled at it.

And this is supposed to condemn the rules for us?

I'm not even sure what this last sentence means. But in any case, I'm advocating something supplemental to roleplaying skill. Something that I feel can both bolster a poorly-skilled roleplayer's experience, and enhance the play of highly-skilled roleplayers even more. I don't really understand what your objection to that would be; it sounds a lot like objecting to using a smoothly-running machine because someone who's 'skilled in machine operating" would be able to use any machine just fine no matter how clunky or rusted-up it might be.

Quote from: Kyle Aaron
Consider football. Nothing in the rules of football themselves say that the game should be interesting or fun. Nothing says there should be a back and forth between players who handle the ball well, who don't fumble it. What we have in football is that when players are skilled, it's interesting to watch; when players are crap, it's boring or painful to watch. But there's nothing in the rules to support that, the rules don't make good and interesting play happen - the skill of the players does that.

Likewise, in a roleplaying game session. So you say, "oh but the rules don't support a good and intuitive GM" - well, the rules of football don't support a good and intuitive football player. But good play's the whole point of the thing. The rules are just there as background.

Well, yeah. But surely you're not asserting that any ol' rules are as good as any others? I mean, a lot of it comes down to preference, sure, but generally speaking you're using the rules of football or D&D or whatever because they're fun for you. If someone were to propose a rules change the rules of football for something they think will be more fun, you wouldn't tell him "well, the skill of the players should give you that fun, why change the rules," would you?

Another reason for adopting rules is consistency of shared understanding, but that's still all about fun--you want to avoid the dampener on fun that clash of mismatched expectations can cause. If you want to, say, ditch the fouling rules and play "anything goes" cutthroat style, you can do that as a group and maintain the shared expectation thing. And while you're always free to mod the rules to a sport in this way, it still helps to have a clear understanding of what it is you're modding from--if you wante4d to use your hands in football, you'd mod it, but there'd never be any question of what the football standard is on handing. A set of rules that said "never use your hands, or do, whichever, work it out amongst yourselves" would be a pretty ass set of rules.

Quote from: Kyle Aaron
I don't know what it is about gamer geeks that makes them so unwilling to look at what's actually happening around the game table, with the actual people there, instead looking at the dice or rules or whatever. Just as football players need to be fit and agile, so too do gamers need to be socially-skilled and creative. You can have fun even if you're useless, but it's more fun if you're not. No rules, no xp system, can take away the need for a bit of common sense, social skills and creativity.

Uh, what is it about a "what I like about rules" thread that compels you to rush in crying, "why are you focusing on the rules instead of the players?" It reminds me of Maude Flanders wailing "will someone please think of the CHILDREN?" Everything we're discussing here concerns "the children" (or in this case the social aspect of roleplaying); just 'cause we don't stop every other sentence to affirm that RPGs are social doesn't mean it's being ignored or neglected. Give it a rest.


Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 08, 2007, 05:25:12 am »
Drama? What drama? Oh, that's right--the drama that suddenly appeared when you entered the thread. You're fucking creating it. Whatever. If me saying "here's one experience that I had that I didn't like so much and here's another experience that I had that I liked a whole lot better" is fighting a battle, then. . .well, shit, man, what kind of conversation ISN'T a battle for you?

Y'know, none of the systems you've named impress me much. Sorry. They're not terrible, and I guess a step in the right direction, but they're kind of "meh" for me. If you like them, you could say why without yelling at me. I've described a system that does it for me in a way that excites me. If that's insulting to you or somehow picking a fight. . .grow up.

Yeah, I know it's possible to improvise a lot of XP stuff and that's cool. I certainly prefer it to "sticking to prepared encounters." But I'm describing something that goes a step beyond, at least for me--it lends flexibility while adding clarity. Instead of head-scratching and assigning rewards on the fly or by best guess, it lets a player go "I pursue this--bing, XP!" And yeah, it does remove the GM from that particular equation, but that's only to free him up to preside over other fun elements of the game. It just seems like smart delegation to me, 'cause it puts the reward-monitoring on the shoulders of the person paying the most attention to a desired pursuit: the player pursuing it.

I like that a lot. You may not. It's all good.


Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 05, 2007, 09:26:08 pm »
Dude. . .you're not listening. I'm saying "XP per kill" is at best a side issue. I know that D&D gives you rewards for sneaking the same as negotiating the same as fighting the same as magicking. But it's still based more or less on "the encounter." It's rooted in the idea that the DM will prepare something to happen, you as a player will encounter it, negotiate it however you see fit, and get experience for overcoming it. There's nothing in there about players seeking out their own situations, driving the "stuff happens"through their character actions. Oh, sure, it happens all the time, in all kinds of games, and it's awesome. And a good and intuitive GM can certainly give XP awards for stuff the players do that's not on his encounter list. But it's not supported, bolstered, and supercharged in the rewards the way I like.

I'm not fighting any battle, man. I'm just here to say "Hey, I just had this cool new realization about this thing I like, what do people think of it, and are there any particular games that do this fun thing in an intriguing or different way?" If you're here for that conversation, great, otherwise,I'm fine with the conversation being dead.


Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 05, 2007, 03:40:37 pm »
Hi, Spike!

Quote from: Spike
Your OP sounds like something dug out of an archive from the early nineties on some LAN server or something.

How about dug out the "archive" of my Jr High MERP playing days, circa 1988-89? I wasn't speaking hypothetically in my example. That really is a way that I played with my friends. And while it does veer close to the two-decade mark, compared to the late 70s experiences that Geezer, Calithena, and others have been talking about lately, it doesn't feel all that "old-skool" to me. Christ, am I really that old?

Anyway, I picked that example because it was particularly stark and easily described, but I think that general phenomenon continues forward to my present play. The details are different, sure; it's certainly not always about merely "killing", but the fact remains that i haven't seen a lot of games that support a diversity of play goals through their reward mechanics the way that i'd like them to. Doesn't mean they suck, or that they don't work for someone else, but they don't work for me. Things havew been improved, sure--my poor little MERP Scout would thrive much better as a 3.5 Rogue with Bluff and Diplomacy--but it still doesn't quite get there for a number of reasons, like for instance, the focus on "encounters" for rewards.

Also, you seem to be hanging up on the "kills on a per character basis" bit, which ain't the point. That's mainly an  artifact of the example and the system used (we marked down our own kills and crits for the GM, by the way). But I think I've clearly explained why lump goals dont' do it for me--it's not really a reward for what *I* want to do with my character, it's just a reward for hangin' around chipping in. The flexibility of something like TSoY means that I can get rewards for specific things that I work into the game through my contributions, so if I can hit my vengeance issues, or protective feelings, or lust for fame, into the goblin fight, I'll get lots o' bonus points and everyone's had a more entertaining time than if the fight was "y'know, just a fight." And that flexibility means I don't even have to stick with the "party moves everywhere in one big lump, has mostly the same experiences and faces the same challenges" model at all if I don't want to.

Does that clarify what I'm getting at?


Design, Development, and Gameplay / My thoughts about reward mechanics
« on: December 03, 2007, 09:52:23 pm »
Ok, it seems like I should weigh in here as it's my thread and all, but I honestly feel like the thread's run away from me a bit. it dipped a bit into "the GM is law!" posturing, which is causing a lot of folks to miss the forest for one particular tree. To wit:

It's not all about the GM. The conversation here feels like this to me:

Me: "Hey, what different ways could you implement a reward mechanic?"

Some others: "Well, the GM could award points based on this, or reward them based on that. . ."

Me (and at least one other): ". . .uh, what about the GM not being the gatekeeper of rewards at all?"

GM-awarded EXP is one way to go, but not the only way. the game I originally references, The Shadow of Yesterday, has players award themselves EXP. So it's not "give me XP when you feel I've fulfilled this requirement," it's "I'll be taking XP when *I* feel I've fulfilled this requirement." Totally different dynamic. In Primetime Adventures, the players reward each other. In Dogs in the Vineyard, players are rewarded entirely systemically based on their choices. The same in, as Elliot points out, in the BRP system. And yet GM as XP-giver is being adopted in this thread as a default.

I guess I don't have much more to add. . .aside from highlighting that disconnect, I'm pretty much done unless someone has any insight to add, orcan, as the OP asked,point me to a reward system besides TSoY's that provides the goal-pursuing flexibility I like (BRP goes partway toward this--use a skill,see improvement, reinforcing that skill use in the future--but doesn't have much to do with non-skill based goals).


Ok, I actually don't own a lot of small press games, just 'cuz I don't buy a lot of games in general. There's a TON of games I I'm drooling over, including many from this thread, but I'm not likely to acquire them terribly soon.

Which is to say, I don't have five SP games I'm super-gung-ho about, so I'm gonna do two lists: "Games I love," plus a wish list.

These are all the small press games I love, which follow the Pundit's guidelines:

Shadow of Yesterday for driving and supporting character goals with Keys, for enabling and supporting fun consequences with stake-setting, and just being a slick, streamlined joy to use.

Heroquest for managing to find away to mechanically represent damn near every aspect of a character while being simple and efficient to interpret and use, through the Augment system, which lets you code everything from combat skill to personality traits to drives and passions into a roll.

Dogs in the Vineyard, for it's super-cool raise-and-see resolution, combining gambling and strategy in a really fun way, and for fallout, which is about as cool a character growth system as I've ever seen.

Beast Hunters for handling all the over the top gonzo action-adventure badassitude I could ever wish for in a low-crunch, stylish way, clearing pages of rules and ability lists out of the way in favor of a focus on cool description and cunning strategy.

(Honorable mention, 'cuz it feels like Small Press but isn't: Over the Edge, for having an awesome wierd-shit dark humor setting, and the elegance of mechanically representing characters only by their most remarkable features. I guess if you include this one, it does make five. :D )

Now, the games that top my list of products to buy next:

Spirit of the Century, for it's Fudge-powered simplicity, combined with the beauty of Aspects--not only a great means in general to tag important qualities in a character for emphasis, benefit, and detriment, but specifically applied to combat advantage, they're--similar to Beast Hunters, above--the answer to my battle-tactics prayers(that RPGnet thread on SotC's tactica dimension got my pulse a-poundin').

Forward. . .to Adventure! for its Stunts, which sound like the perfect cure for the Feat-sickness of D&D. Again, this is a lot like Beast Hunters,which might make some of these purchases a bit redundant, but I'm probably willing to buy them all to check out each individual approach.

Burning Wheel,for Beliefs, Instincts, Traits--I'm all for games that incorporate driving goals and passions into resolution, e.g. Heroquest--for Circles tests, which sound like Gather Information and Diplomacy on crack, and for its purported Middle-Earth vibe. I'm also intensely curious about its combat system in actual practice.

Cold Space, 'cause frankly the mention in this thread piqued my interest. Sounds like a solid sci-fi game and I'd love to try it.

That's about it. If only I was made o' money and had unlimited gaming time. . .


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