Abraham Lincoln

Episode 110: Eat My Orange Slices, Peons!

October 10th, 2014 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut Robin asks Ken to resolve Robin’s ambivalence toward creativity rewards.

The Politics Hut puts one of Ken’s rules distinctions to real life use as we contemplate Stability, Sanity, and ISIL.

Another lightning round flashes its electrical mayhem in Ask Ken and Robin.

Finally Chris Huth prompts Ken’s Time Machine to journey to an even worse version of WWI.

Atlas Games again devotes its coveted anchor sponsor slot to windmill-kicking promotion for Robin’s Hong Kong action movie roleplaying game, Feng Shui 2, which is Kickstarting even as we speak. Worldspinner makes setting construction a breeze, from the map to the themes driving your adventures. Welcome them to the podcast sponsor roster by showing some geographical love to their Kickstarter.


12 Responses to “Episode 110: Eat My Orange Slices, Peons!”

  1. darren t. says:

    So that’s where all my pyramid power has been going recently. Thanks guys & agreed, much easier to just go with a d6 or a d8 for rolling a d3 or d4 (with 1-2 being a 1, 2-3 being a 2 and so on) though if you have a d12, you can use it to roll either a d4 or a d3 or d6 if you have the chart memorized on what it is for smaller dice.

    My vote on the most unloved die has to be the d30, it’s a freaking golf ball along with the d100 (non-percentile) that just keeps rolling.

  2. Brett Evill says:

    I have long been skeptical of the implicit propositions that:

    (a) Roleplayers are naturally inclined to play badly and be boring if they can, but can be motivated to be creative and do good roleplaying if they are incentivated with power-gamer payoffs; and
    (b) when I am playing a character I am a lousy judge of roleplaying, but when I move to the GM’s chair I automatically become a connoisseur.

    Therefore I have only ever been interested in those bonuses which mechanically correct intrinsic biases in the game (and especially in realistic gaming) that tend to discourage in-genre, emulative play. The first systematic attempt at such a corrective that I recall encountering was in Victory Games’ James Bond 007, where the system of Hero Points gave cinematic intelligence operators powerful incentives to engage in car chases, street races, casino gambling, and imprudent seductions. Such things are very different from systems that depend on the GM’s judgement rather than being mechanical, and that aim to produce creativity or good roleplay — which ought to be and in my opinion can only be their own rewards.

    I’m going to play the best I can whether you give me an experience bonus or not.
    But I’m deterred from playing genre-emulative moves if the game system punishes me for them with out-of-genre failure and character death.

  3. Chris Harvey says:

    I see Style Points not as just a reward for good role-playing, but as a reward for acting in a way consistent with your character even when it goes against your best interests as a player. In Hollow Earth Expedition, characters have flaws, and when you play up to those flaws you get a style point – in a game like GURPS where flaws get you build points, I’d likely not award style points for playing flaws.

    For Awesome Points, I’ve occasionally used an idea which I think comes from Old-School Hack. There’s a bowl with a finite number of Awesome Point Counters in it. The players alone decide when someone does something awesome and then an Awesome Point is awarded. It’s usually pretty obvious when to do this, there’s laughing or cheering around the table.

  4. Cambias says:

    Arthur Curry? The British were going to put Aquaman in command?

    A couple of other ways to make WWI more horrid: the Japanese could decide that 1917 is really 1937 and mount a full-scale invasion of China while everyone else is busy, thereby adding a couple of hundred million dead people to the tally.

    Or the Zimmerman Telegram isn’t intercepted and some wannabe leader in Mexico is nuts enough to take up the German offer. So the USA gets sucked into a long, bloody, and futile war in Latin America, leaving Europe to keep hacking at its own neck.

  5. Neal Dalton says:

    In regard to H.P. Lovecraft and Harry Houdini teaming up, there was actually a book called The Arcanum by Thomas Wheeler that did just that.

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, H.P. Lovecraft, and Marie Laveau are part of a secret group that attempt to thwart malevolent forces. Guest starring Aleister Crowley.

  6. GB Steve says:

    What do you know of Olney Richmond and his foster daughter Arline, o consulting occultist?

  7. Allen W says:

    In my “Cthulhu 1999” campaign (run in 1989; and yes, the Moon *did* explode at one point, but the players did it), I gave out “squid chips” for entertaining play. These were an East Asian product (Thai?), that came in a Pringles-like container, but were composed of dried squid, some kind of sweetener, and various hot spices.
    At any later point, the player could get a bonus… by eating the chip. This happened less frequently than you might expect. 😉

  8. […] speakers of stuff, Ken and Robin talked about stability rules, a worse WWI, and have a lightning round; they also divvied up a holy man’s ashes, analyized Mary Sues, rail against a Gumshoe […]

  9. Fridrik Bjarnason says:

    In regards to the D12.

    It turns out that without the D12 there would have been no polyhedral dice in DnD.

    In an interview (on Theory from the Closet) with Major David Wesely. Major David explains how he bought polyhedral mathematical teaching aids to be able to role on a 12 option table in an old wargame. His friends Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson then went on to use the others polyhedral mathematical teaching aids to it’s current use in RPGs.

  10. I’ve fought with creativity rewards myself and have come to a several realizations:

    First, what you pay for you will get more of (Econ 101). If you pay for fighting with experience, the players will look for fights. If you pay for effective social interaction with interpersonal power (favors or whatever), you’ll likely get more social interaction. In theory, this should have been a consideration for the game designer and for the person choosing the game. This theory isn’t always well grounded in fact.

    Second, if one player gets too far ahead or behind the others in power (whatever that might mean in the game you’re playing) somebody will be having less fun. Rewards with permanent effects (character points as recommended in Hero, for instance) can easily result in a power imbalance. Specifically, this sort of thing can spiral out of control, since more power means more opportunities to gain more bennies, which means more power.

    Third, if you make the players decide when to expend their bennies (or more properly, if there’s an advantage for hoarding the bennies), they tend to sit in characters’ inventories, making them not really all that much fun, and thus not much of a payment.

    Fourth, if bennies are handed out rarely, they should probably be memorable (which fights with the previous point in some ways), but if they’re handed out all the time, they’re both better incentives and can be less unbalancing when used.

    Suggestions, then:

    Hand out bennies for things the system doesn’t already pay for. (There’s no need to pay for killing monsters and taking their treasure in Pathfinder, since that’s already well compensated.) This might be trying swashbuckle-y things in a game not designed for swashbuckling, or romance-y things in a game not designed for that, or perhaps just making the night more fun for the other players.

    Hand out bennies often, so that the payment is constantly in (at least the backs of) the players’ minds.

    Make the effects of the bennies relatively minor, so that the player who does the thing you’re paying for best doesn’t gain much of a power advantage.

    Make the effect expire or be used automatically, so it can’t be hoarded and is less likely to be forgotten.

    If you want a payment with game effect, here’s an example, using Pathfinder, since it’s pretty well known:

    When a player brings the awesome, he gets a benny chit. If this isn’t used before his character next needs to make a saving throw, each chit he has gives him a +1 to that saving throw and is then expended. If he wishes, he may expend a chit at any time before making a skill check to add +2 (or +1d6, or whatever) to that roll. Easy to use, built in expiration, but in a way that is a real reward, no overwhelming power change, but a tangible reward to encourage more awesomeness.

    Otherwise just give out white-chocolate peanut butter cups, which are much more of an incentive than orange slices. And they’re very transitory. 😎

    As a counter-example, take a look at the actual Pathfinder Hero point mechanism. Here, a single point gives you a fairly nice bonus once, two is a get-out-of-death free card, and you can never have any more than three. If you have one, you save it until disaster is imminent or you can get a second. If you have two, you save them for disaster prevention. And if you have three, you might spend one for a cool effect, because you can’t earn another unless you get rid of one. Not exactly the result I’d hope for as a GM.

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