How to award players who embrace the downsides of the character they display?

How to award players who embrace the downsides of the character they display?

How to award players who embrace the downsides of the character they display? Like when a dwarf gets drunken right before an epic fight,  or a kleptomanic thief refuses to flee from a sinking ship full of gold? 

I need to deal the downsides, that´s the point, but I want to give them some award for being authentic and making a better game. Here are my ideas:

1) Fate-Points or alike. I dislike the idea because the usage of those point is in no plausible fictional way related to they earning.

2) Gaining XP. I dislike the idea of characters acting stupid just to level.

3) A custom move.

When you act on your very nature and embrace all the consequences, roll+nothing. On a hit, the immediate result is somewhat under controll. On a 10+, you get to shine.

That´s a very vague definition to be polished, but I picture a drunken dwarf with his warhammer stumbling throu the frontlines, beheading orks without even noticing the danger.

What do you think? How do you handle that? 

15 thoughts on “How to award players who embrace the downsides of the character they display?”

  1. A big part of me thinks players shouldn’t be rewarded for playing their character. After all, this is a role playing game, so rewarding players for playing the game seems kind of dumb. On the other hand, I get why people  do this.

    Why not just treat it like a Bond? Or one of the three questions for the end of session move? “Did you give into your vice or flaw despite possible danger or consequence?” Yes? Then mark XP.

  2. Christopher, I see why you don´t want to reward Roleplayers to play roles, but I also belive that it´s upon the gamemaster to create incentives for a great game. In this case, I don´t want a strictly mechanical award. I´d prefer the feeling of “That was maybe stupid, but sure it was awesome.”

  3. Dungeon World is not the right game for that kind of thing I’d say.

    You could however make it an end of session question: did you show weakness or failure of you character.

  4. I don’t know if I agree that it’s upon the GM to create incentives for a great game Zsolt Sz. It certainly isn’t the sole responsibility of the GM. Everyone at the table is responsible for making it a great game.

    If you don’t want to make it purely mechanical, why not just have awesome stuff happen when players portray their characters’ flaws?

  5. Thanks for the hint to Burning Wheel. Christopher Stone-Bush , I think that´s a question of definition. The players shall create a great gamer, yes, but it´s the GMs call if he punished or awards great moments. Imagine a GM saying “ok, you are drunken, so you cant fight and will sleep the next 30 minutes”. Letting awesome stuff just happen is the way I think I´ll handle it, but with some random element of the dices. That shall give a balance between reward and foreseeen consequences.

  6. In my experience, Awesome Points seem to work as well with adults as kids. When a player could roll or has a chance of success, but instead describes a complication or failure, give them an Awesome Point. APs can be redeemed for a +1 to any roll after the roll. Doesn’t matter whose roll it is. If Bob thinks the most interesting that could happen is for his character to fail or for the situation to get more complicated, he builds a little capital. Later, when he thinks the most interesting thing that could happen is a success (his or another’s), he can spend as much of his accumulated capital as he likes.

    I’ve tried other mechanisms, but I keep coming back to APs.

    You have to dig through the thread (well worth it anyway) but you can find the source & a nice description of APs in actual play here:

  7. We use an “MVP” system in each RPG. For the Apocalypse Engine this tends to be a reward of a mulligan or an XP if they don’t spend it during the next session.

    Our MVP system’s easy, just get the players to write down the name of the most entertaining character and moment, which in our group tends to be screwing up in a character-specific way. This way it’s a reward for being awesome done by committee and reminding people of water cooler moments.

  8. I have found that making an xp question for end of season rewards their play style you want to feature. If you want to encourage them to rp a weakness, give them a “weakness” or foible and give one xp at end of session for role playing it.

    If there is no limit to the reward that can be earned, your game will become all about their weaknesses, not their strengths.

  9. Zsolt Sz I’m kinda with Tim Franzke . If you want to promote play, and you’re dealing with players you can trust, add a question at End of Session that asks if they were faithful to the character. If not, -1 XP. I’m quite the fan of punishing lacking characters rather than awarding ‘doing an ok job’.

  10. I do not think punishing players for that is a good idea. Especially because “did you play your character” is hard to pin down without any predefined characterstics you can point to wether they were played or not. Rewarding coherent play – playing like you said you would – is much more fruitful. 

  11. Yeah, I think it definitely needs to be a defined action. “Did you play your Drive” is defined, because a Drive gives criteria. “Did you play your weakness” would be defined because your weakness would have a behavior and risk defined in it.

  12. While in the shower I remembered that I wrote a move that plays in that territory. It’s from a Compendium Class that makes you go even more wild and anaimalistic as a ranger.


    When you personally exhibit one of your animal companion’s weaknesses (Flighty, savage, slow, broken, frightening, etc.), hold 1. Later on, spend this hold 1-for-1 to demonstrate one of its strengths (Fast, burly, huge, calm, adaptable, etc.) 

    The original idea for this came from a ApocWorld Driver move that J. Walton wrote. 

    See the full CC here: 

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