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Help Creating "Achievements" that encourage RP & Good Play


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew

Silver Crusade

I'm working on an achievement system for my Carrion Crown campaign. I'm trying to bring a lot of atmosphere and depth to the setting, but I'm finding lately that my enthusiasm for creating evocative set pieces is getting drained by long combats where we spend more time looking up rules and describing the game mechanics of what a character does versus keeping it "in-game".

To encourage the players to be more evocative and help create the world (and also just to keep the mechanics rolling) I hit on the idea of creating a list of achievements which they could unlock for excellent role-playing or spot-on management of the mechanics.

Can you help me think of ways to encourage excellent play mechanically?
What about ways to keep the roleplaying going?
What would be good rewards for unlocking an achievement? I was thinking of just doing bonus xp, or potentially they could get a bonus themed to the achievement. Maybe I'll even do tokens that they could turn in to use.

Here are some examples, please let me know if you have ideas. Also curious as to what people thing appropriate rewards might be.

[bold]Achievements[/bold]

On the ball: Be ready to act at initiative step without delay for an entire combat.

In character: Speak In-Character for an entire combat or rp encounter

Evocative description: Preface a key attack, action or skill attempt with a flavorful description of how they are going about it that still makes it clear what is being attempted.

Rules mastery: Use the time other players are taking their turn to look up any relevant rules for an unusual circumstance or action that will occur on their turn. (i.e. Have the book open to acrobatics if they know they are going to tumble through an opponent, getting to the monster manual if they are summoning)

The masochist: Handle any environmental hazards, saving throws, etc. that negatively impact their character at start of turn without having to be asked.

Cartographer: Volunteer to map the party's progress

Loremaster: Volunteer to keep notes on the session for the party

-----------------------------------------------------------------

To go beyond just handing out DM boons, I might also give each of the players a token that they can award each session to the other player who helped keep the action moving or who most amused them with their rp.

What do you guys think? My hope is to speed up the initiative order and also to get the players more involved in building atmosphere and the world.

What would make good rewards?

Taldor

Quite honestly many of those things you have listed are something the players should already be doing. Someone should be taking notes (everyone ideally), all the players should be ready when you call for initiative, and everyone should be playing by the rules.

Now to encourage a style of play you definitely should reward players. For every nameless NPC they strike up a friendly convo with give them a small bonus (+1 up to +5 total) when they later try to use Diplomacy to Gather Info. Same with PCs who think to bribe NPCs (+1 per x amount of gp spent... this should be a sliding scale). NPC boons are a great way to encourage roleplaying!

More evocative combat can be tricky, especially if your players are more tactically minded rather than theatrically minded. One thing I prefer myself is a PC call out his actions (move, standard, swift, etc). Using more evocative language can be taught if you do the same with monsters! For Ex:

The Anti-Paladin boldly charges into melee with your fighter calling on his dreaded demon lord for the power to smite him while swinging his greataxe with all his might in a vicious crossbody chop (charge, smite, power attack).

Use this for named NPCs frequently and for the initial round of combat for mooks like goblins to add flavor and set a tone for even easy encounters.

--Vrock Opera


I'd add to Vrock by saying that keeping NPC's or locations around for a couple levels can do wonders for their sense of immersion as well.

As for rewarding the players for roleplaying or immersion I'd say a key here would be to be transparent. It may not be very immersive, but tell them up front that you'll be handing out bonuses for good ideas/roleplay.

Finally I've used the following techniques to good result for these kinds of rewards:

NPC Boons
Milestone Bonus Traits
Hero Points

The milestone traits are just that; bonus traits for consistent roleplaying and immersion. I try and find rewards that reflect the type of play the PC is exhibiting that earned them the reward. Ex: I had a barbarian that the player ran as naive and angry; he intimidated often. I modified "Bully" a tad and gave him that for a permanent +1 to Intimidate. He liked it and since it was social anyway he kept giving everyone the People's Eyebrow.

Silver Crusade

King of Vrock wrote:
Quite honestly many of those things you have listed are something the players should already be doing. Someone should be taking notes (everyone ideally), all the players should be ready when you call for initiative, and everyone should be playing by the rules.

Yeah, I know they should be doing that, but I find the table in need of uh...reminders, and I don't want to sound like a jerk and start hammering them unless I have to.

The idea of calling out actions evocatively is a good one, and I try to do that as much as possible.

They really don't have a problem RPing with NPCs, either (in fact, sometimes they're TOO damn chatty). The problem comes in when a player takes an action that another player doesn't agree with, and then someone else steps out of character to advise them.

Mark, I really like the idea of milestone bonus traits. Everyone has a pretty good character background, so I think I will adopt that. Play your character consistently and convincingly, and you'll be on your way to a bonus trait. When do you have them in the progression? At the end of modules, or every so many levels?

Taldor

Take a look at the Carrion Crown AP player's guide, notably the Harrow Point optional reward system. There are two ways to run that, one giving your players a random card that has two one time powers (i.e. hero points) and second a party boon that can be played with unanimous consent if they achieve certain plot related goals that don't advance the adventure, but relate to what has happened.

Examples of 2nd option- Don't read if playing Carrion Crown!:
If the PCs return the badge of a prison warden to his ghost wife they get a boon. If the PCs successfully defend a monster in a trial they get a boon. If the PCs reconsecrate a defiled temple they get a boon. If PCs save and find someone to care for an abandoned infant they get a boon... etc. These boons really do encourage heroic actions in this particular AP where horror is so prevalent

-School of Vrock


I saw a Youtube video with "Top 5 ways to streamline combat" and one of the suggestions was for the GM to reward people who are always ready when their turn is up is for players who are consistently on the stick, they occasionally get a slight bonus or even an extra action to represent them "Being in a groove"... let them cleave or flurry when they otherwise might not if they really put forth a prepared and evocative turn. Once players realize a direct relationship to their actual readiness and their player readiness, they'll be ready all the time because it empowers their character. Once they're doing what the hell their supposed to in the first place, you can wean them off such things if need be, or tell them they're out of the bush leagues.

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