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Old 01-21-2021, 03:25 PM
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Default GM/Player Style: Rewards & Incentives

Most RPGs include mechanics for rewards of some sort- treasure, better weapons, PC level advancement- and T2k is no different. My experience with different RPGs is limited, but from what I've seen, rewards/incentives in T2k aren't as well defined as they are in most other systems/settings.

This is due, in part, to the scarcity economy of the post-apocalyptic world. Consequently, the T2k Ref's job is a little harder than those of other RPGs. He/she has to get creative.

As a T2k GM, what rewards and incentives have you included in your campaigns? What's worked, and what hasn't? Did your players respond to the proffered rewards/incentives the way that you hoped and thought they would?

As a T2k player, what are your preferred rewards/incentives and why?

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Old 01-21-2021, 06:16 PM
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Very interesting topic, it has some serious ramifications depending on your Players. Some Players feel they're being cheated when they no such thing is actually happening or they "don't like" the reward system because they're too used to the immediate gratification reward system of some games.
The reward system of D&D and similar games has really tainted the beliefs of many Players - they have come to accept level advancement, treasure and/or special items and so on as the norm.
T2k is very different, it's not a "level up" advancement system so PCs don't appear to "level up" so some Players feel as though they are not being rewarded. This is a false belief but one that persists.

The rewards in T2k are necessarily "mundane" because it's essentially a real world type setting (as in not magical, sci-fi or fantasy etc. etc.) but some Players take a while to understand that Contacts, information, ammunition, fuel, food, spare parts, medical supplies and so on ARE rewards just as much as the XP they get.
I know of one T2k story where the PCs found a crashed truck, they stripped it bare of everything they could use and even if they couldn't use it, it had trade value so they took it anyway. Those Players understood that a wrecked vehicle was just as much a treasure trove as a pile of gold coins.

Basically, I'm saying that T2k and games similar in style in regard to PC advancement, require a big break from the reward concepts that D&D uses.
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Old 01-21-2021, 06:50 PM
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By far and away the most compelling carrot in my campaigns has been POL. I've seen parties drop pretty much everything else to chase down rumours of a stash of diesel.
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Old 01-22-2021, 01:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StainlessSteelCynic View Post
T2k is very different, it's not a "level up" advancement system so PCs don't appear to "level up" so some Players feel as though they are not being rewarded. This is a false belief but one that persists.
I have to agree to a point and disagree on some of what you said SSC. I agree that most GDW RPGs games I know don't have a traditional sense of "leveling up" like most of the other RPGs out there where you have levels and gain XP in some manner during various sessions or parts of an adventure. They all used the Traveller experience/skill advancement system. That is you gain skills by doing, observation, or studying; it was up to the GM to figure out how to issue those skill points out.

The part that I disagree with you is that there is some form of leveling up. It is talk in both V1 and V2 of the rules where players can gain experience points in a skill to allow for better use later on by their character. This is either through observation, training by an instructor, or outright usage in the game. It isn't given much mention in either version of the rules how skill points are acquired. So it is sort of in the hands of the GM on specifically how to gain those skill points.

In a couple of games that I played under V2 rules, our GM house ruled that we could seek out journeymen or masters in various towns to learn a skill at and we had to roll a 1D100 with a 50% or better on the dice you could gain a skill point in that specific skill under training. We just had to train in a town for at least 30 days of game time. While just doing a skill on an adventure, we had to have a success of a skill at least 5 times or two critical success in the skills during the adventure before we gained experience in its use that could be spend in our next admin session. Our GM was harsh as well, that it took at least two skill points to move something from a null (i.e you never had that skill before and it becomes a 0). So that lead to some of us specialization in certain stock characters (the driver, the mech, the doc, the diplomat, etc). Since the skill points were rare and valuable after a while.

That is the hardest part in showing this, or again any GDW RPG, to anyone who has played anything else in the TTRPG world. That you don't automatically gain some new level with points to spend on anything and everything after you have killed X number of bad guys or completing a supplement and somehow are more powerful.


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By far and away the most compelling carrot in my campaigns has been POL. I've seen parties drop pretty much everything else to chase down rumours of a stash of diesel.
I think supplies is always the reward for most of the players. It would just be an argument amongst players on what to rate the top ten rewards in a T2K world would be to the players.

For me playing it was this:
  1. Fuel. With POL first then alcohol.
  2. Food
  3. Weapons and ammo. You can never have enough ammo
  4. Clean and safe shelter
There are some others that bubble up like information, gold or other precious trade goods, parts for the vehicles. It just mattered once those first five items were meet on what we needed at the moment in game.
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Old 01-22-2021, 04:11 AM
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So some clarification is in order - to me, "level up" means your PC collects enough experience to allow the PC to gain a level and then get all the associated bonuses of gaining that higher XP level.
The GDW games do not work this way, they are skill based and the skill can increase (AKA level up) but the character does not gain a level (or "level up" so to speak).
By way of another example, Call of Cthulhu is not a level up game either, it too is a skill based system where the skills will increase but the PC does not gain levels as such.

Because of this approach, some Players, those who have been raised on D&D style, PC level up games, sometimes feel as though they are not getting any sort of reward because they don't feel that their PC is advancing. Some of them feel as though the rules of skill based games, cheat them out of their reward.
They aren't getting cheated in any way at all, but their assumption is that they should see that their PC has advanced (because they have assumed that the reward is their PC gaining a new level and gaining some new abilities, skills, feats and so on). They don't see a skill increase or Initiative increase as a significant enough reward and therefore feel as though their PC has not "advanced".

I'm facing this exact problem with one of my group at the moment. They want to feel as though their PC has increased in power in some way. The GDW system doesn't feed into the power fantasy the way this Player wants.
Thus, this particular Player does not like the GDW system because they don't believe they are getting properly rewarded.
Hence why I started my post with "... it has some serious ramifications depending on your Players"
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Old 01-22-2021, 09:28 AM
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I find the problem with level increase games like D&D is the time and effort it takes to do the level up. At the begin of your campaigne you spend every other session totally redoing your character because the levels come thick and fast and you barely get to know your characters abilities before you have to do it all again in a session or 2. At the other end of your campaign your waiting months and months to gain enough xp to level up and even then your game might end before you have enough. Then you have to try to remember where you were going with your characters spells or feats etc. Give me skill based any day.
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Old 01-22-2021, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Southernap View Post
I think supplies is always the reward for most of the players. It would just be an argument amongst players on what to rate the top ten rewards in a T2K world would be to the players.

For me playing it was this:
  1. Fuel. With POL first then alcohol.
  2. Food
  3. Weapons and ammo. You can never have enough ammo
  4. Clean and safe shelter
There are some others that bubble up like information, gold or other precious trade goods, parts for the vehicles. It just mattered once those first five items were meet on what we needed at the moment in game.
Pretty much this, in my experience. When I ran a Merc game, then it was the usual cash that got them interested.
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Old 01-22-2021, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Targan View Post
By far and away the most compelling carrot in my campaigns has been POL. I've seen parties drop pretty much everything else to chase down rumours of a stash of diesel.
In most campaigns I ran (when I was still running campaigns), the PCs wanted ammo, food, THEN POL, in that order.

Some campaigns had interesting things individual PCs wanted, like SD cards for his digital camera, batteries (possibly the fourth down the list), and one even wanted a guard dog. (He got a dog, but he wasn't trained...)
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Old 01-22-2021, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Zappster View Post
I find the problem with level increase games like D&D is the time and effort it takes to do the level up. At the begin of your campaign you spend every other session totally redoing your character because the levels come thick and fast and you barely get to know your characters abilities before you have to do it all again in a session or 2.
See, this is why I refuse to have anything to do with 5th ed and stick to 1st. 5th is completely OP at the novice end of the scale and only gets worse.

As a general rule, older games with level systems don't have the problem of rapid increases, it's the demand for "instant gratification" which video games have helped promote (but not solely responsible for) which in my mind at least has screwed up the hobby. It's very easy to find players compared to 30+ years ago, but extremely difficult to find any with an attention span of greater than a single session.
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Old 01-23-2021, 12:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StainlessSteelCynic View Post

Because of this approach, some Players, those who have been raised on D&D style, PC level up games, sometimes feel as though they are not getting any sort of reward because they don't feel that their PC is advancing. Some of them feel as though the rules of skill based games, cheat them out of their reward.
I think the way the skill based system is in T2K and Merc are what attracted me to the system in the first place. There wasn't really a level up, that you somehow are big, faster, stronger, more capable in life. The idea that the more you use a skill the better you get at it seems more natural to how the real world works. Similar to how you can acquire skills via training.

I also was uncomfortable with how D&D you just discovered loot nearly all the time on bodies. From precious gems to hundreds in gold, that always seemed to throw the economy of the game out of wack if we went out attacking a bunch of stuff every time we failed a roll on spotting bad guys/creatures/etc on the trail.

While in T2K there was a good economic bone built into the game system and it felt dynamic based on where you were at. I remember one session, were we ended up in Krakow and they had dirt cheap ammo, but food and medicine was precious. While we had scored on some scrounging rolls to find some abandoned field hospital that still had medicine in shipping crates. We were rich like kings for a while. Let alone being able to loot the bodies and find weapons that were valuable trade even amongst random villages we would find. All of that seemed again, more natural then trying to find some weapon smith or armor smith and trade in the arms one finds in D&D games hoping that the DM gives you a good dice roll for the barter or holding it hoping to get near a major city where trading might be easier.
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Old 01-23-2021, 05:59 AM
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I agree with you on every point you raised here!
There really is no economic system in D&D, you keep getting piles of loot and the only thing working against you being obscenely rich is that many high-end items cost an arm and a leg - and that's not any sort of economy, just a recognition that the PCs end up with more money than most Kings and making items cost ludicrously high amounts was the only thing they thought of to mitigate that.
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Old 01-23-2021, 08:18 AM
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Well, if you look in the 1st ed DMG, PCs (and NPCs) are supposed to get taxed on their loot and other income, often at quite a high rate. If their expedition was sponsored they might be lucky to keep 10%!
And then there's the oft overlooked level training costs which in my experience can nearly beggar PCs and usually forces them to sell most of their magic items just to pay for it.

Unfortunately many DMs ignore all that as "too hard". Really....? Takes me all of two seconds to deal with all that usually.
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Old 01-23-2021, 02:55 PM
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The idea that the more you use a skill the better you get at it seems more natural to how the real world works. Similar to how you can acquire skills via training.
Sums it up for me. In 30+ years of playing T2K the idea that a character could somehow level up in the same way that they do in something like Dungeons and Dragons has simply never, ever occurred to me (possibly because I rarely play other games) and drawing a comparison between the two is like apples and oranges.

In terms of reward, agreed with the general view of things like fuel, food, ammo, etc. If nothing else, in my experience a lot of players tend to get bored with having to source these things by more mundane means (self production, trade) so it removes that source of boredom and allows the group to move on to things they find more entertaining. I'm also aware of instances where Refs have given more unusual (by T2K standards) items as reward, e.g. a cache of toilet paper or a case of genuine pre War Coca Cola, stuff like that.
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Old 01-23-2021, 06:03 PM
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Compared to when I first played TW2k to now is really different. Now I try to make backgrounds up for players and if possible try to find out the individual players goals. Same with some NPCs I use, for example my players had no med skills, so I introduced a doctor. This doctor has expensive tastes so when the player gave him money to get medical equipment for the voyage home from asia, he used leftover money to furnish the med bay office with a couch, small fridge and other luxury items that the PCs hadnt noticed until one went to meet him in his plush office one day. The npc was just accomplishing his goals, I try to reward the players with things that will help accomplish either the groups goal or the individuals goals within reason, no monty hall loot crates. I also like to reward for good deeds, Ive had player donate food caches and clothing from salvage misions thus granting them shelter and cooperation, military help from the local towns they donated too.

Last edited by wolffhound79; 01-23-2021 at 11:06 PM.
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