XPs and Character Rewards


There's something to be said for awarding XPs in a way that models the game world and fosters verisimilitude, bringing the setting to life.

But there's also something to be said for awarding XPs in a way that cultivates desired player behaviors, so time spent at the (virtual) gaming table is more likely to be spent in some ways rather than others.

Many games - D&D (new and OSR), WoW, Pokemon Go, etc - create a virtuous (or addictive) cycle of awarding xps, loot, powerups and other goodies for killing monsters and sometimes for completing objectives. Do things, receive rewards that incrementally make you better at doing those things, do more of those things, rinse and repeat. 'Farming' occurs when this cycle is stripped to its core, shorn of anything else of interest, especially challenge.

This kind of cycle is easy enough to deride, and the people engaged in it (not you or me, of course, because we're better, and our games too). But it's common and clearly compelling, and perhaps closer to us than first meets the eye.

For a given saga, how much time was spent in stories versus coming up with spells and items and discussing how various aspects of the rules work, especially magic? One of the strengths of AM is that player conversations about (Hermetic) magic mirror conversations their characters might have; this is possible because magic is so well developed.

And if this is the preferred way to spend time, that's the end of it. Golden.

If not, then I cannot help but notice that real power in AM usually comes not from adventures or stories, but from reaching consensus about interesting spell or item effects, developing them in the lab, reading texts, rinse and repeat. This is also a kind of game, interesting and compelling. I vaguely remember someone (was it me? not sure) joking that an entire saga would by intention be just character creation.

Shifting rewards from lab and library to stories of intrigue and derring do might shift player behavior too. Of course, this brings AM closer to a 'typical' game, in which treasure and spells are more likely to be discovered than invented, garnering a corresponding proportion of real-world time and energy. Vitality, if you will.



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I do find the discussion in other threads on adventure XP, over or under utilisation of magi on adventures, etc, which I imagine inspired this post, quite interesting.

I love this paragraph, as I see myself in it.

Part of me is saying, the adventure is the point. Anyone could get a rule book, make some reasonable assumptions about the resources available over a magis career, age the magi, and then say look how awesome my 80 year old magis number are. Is that satisfying?

At the same time, in a RPG, I will look at optimisations, and question the merit of going on the adventure if I can get better progression elsewhere. :slight_smile:

Hmm. I want to take my magus to adventure to see how the latest lab inventions work in the field.

I tried to play the solo rules once. It was totally pointless. The tactical chargen game can be intriguing, but the story was crap.

But, on the adventure, I would really want to see the challenges which force the magus to defer to the grogs, which could be martial, social, athletic, or even lore knowing, depending on the magus.


I did not want to dilute those threads with this post, which I think is a somewhat different topic, which I also did not want to dilute.

I might better have chosen "Player Rewards" as the title. If action economy is king, then a real measure of what brings players back to a game is what they do with their time, because character time and actions do not really exist, only players' action economy. (Or, from an AM5 perspective, how do players give away their vitality, as measured by the time and energy and life that could have been spent some other way? I'll leave aside the question of where it goes...)


And your character might reasonably do the same thing. Should I risk getting killed by the manticore and get little to show for the effort, when I can spend a season reading The Goblet of Fire and boost my Ignem?

(Harry Potter's Library:

Sorcerer's Stone - MT 5 q15
Chamber of Secrets - In 20 q15
Prisoner of Azkaban - EnigWis 3, Criamon Lore 2 q15
Goblet of Fire - Ig 20 q15
Order of the Phoenix - An 20 q15
Half-Blood Prince - Co 20 q15
Deathly Hallows - Pe 20 q15





Not sure if it is about shifting the rewards from lab to adventure.

Rewards for seasons spent on the lab or library are mostly extrinsic. They are increases in power level (by raising Arts and Abilities), new spells, new items, etc. Adventures have (usually) lower extrinsic rewards, and (should) have higher intrinsic rewards.

Every magus is, or should be, a person with goals and motivations, reflected in their story and personality flaws. Unless this goal is "reach Ignem 40" or "invent a ritual to incinerate the entirety of England" this isn't something that is going to be accomplished without leaving the lab. And if your goal is to reach Ignem 40, there is really no need to have a troupe for that. It's purely a character building exercise. If the goal is just to discuss effects, then we have this forum.

It's tempting to just stay at the lab because in the end of the day, we aren't our characters, and magi have so much more incentive to stay (differently from companions, where they usually grow faster by adventuring then by sitting and reading). My magus may be driven to slay a dragon, but I'm not. And I can always rationalize and say "well, I may study for the next 50 years and go slay a dragon when I'm an archimagus". So part of the storyguide's burden is to transform the personality and story flaws in adventures that actually do progress the character goals, providing enough intrinsic rewards, and part of the player's burden is to actually play the magus they built (or even a step before, build a magus that is actually playable, from a saga perspective).


For me, the stories of magic and adventure are the greatest part of the game, although lately I have fallen prey to the temptation of taking my magus out too often at my companion's expense, and not playing a grog nearly enough. The big numbers in ReCo to make it easy to Leap of Homecoming across Mythic Europe and travel to wherever the storyguide can think of, the bizarre regios we have wound up inside, the mortals who come knocking at our door (are we that unsubtle, or do other magi like stirring trouble by point people at us? Who knows?) all add to the rich tapestry of the game.