Thursday Feature – Happy Gamers, Rewards, and your OP Campaign

Author: NikMak

Campaign sites can take considerable effort, unless everyone works together. You can certainly encourage contributions by offering in-game rewards for out-of-game efforts, but this can go astray if one isn’t careful. In this article, I’ll speak about how you can avoid the mistakes I made.

  • Insufficient rewards to get the help I needed
  • Lack of consistency
  • Lack of recognition

List your generous rewards offered and recognize contributors. ‘Pennants’ were awarded for the glorious work of the players in our game.


But this raises some key questions if some players earn ‘extras’:

  • Does it matter if the party isn’t balanced?
  • Does everyone have the opportunity to reap equal rewards?
  • What impact will this have on my campaign story?

Is it important? Im not so sure anymore, perhaps the answer is ‘it depends on your playing style’. Whether you loathe it or merely dislike it GNS , or similar RPG theories , are one tool for talking about playing styles. So I’ll use that here.

Simulation: Is there any game, story or real world setting where everyone has equal opportunities, is equally skilled and gets to the same recognized standard in their chosen field? Where no one is inherently more skilled than anyone else? I can’t think of one.

Narrative: How many stories are there where the characters are all equal? Would redressing those inequalities improve that story? Would Hercules or Monkey be as compelling if everyone had the same abilities? What about Tom Harris or PD James? Would it be better if Adam Dalgliesh or Hannibal Lecter were the average?

Game-ist : By definition you are trying to ‘win’. To be better than the next thing your GM has crawling out of the dark at you. Unbalanced power levels outside your party are the norm. We even use that disparity as a plot device (‘find the McGuffin of ‘XXX’ slaying or we are doomed!’). There is no balance in the game world or NPCs you interact with, so do you need it in the PC party?. And if the game-ist player feels left behind, all you need is different opportunity for that game-ist to ‘win’.

Using the same logic outlined above, ‘balance within the party’ is not what makes an enjoyable game: Happiness can be found in other ways.

Equal Opportunities:

We must also acknowledge that there will not be equal opportunities for everyone: Real life commitments limit everyone’s time in contributing to your OP site. You can encourage OP contributions, but some players may feel left behind. This may become damaging to your gaming group’s happiness in some cases.

Some players may feel left behind.

If your players grumble at the disparity in ability, but can’t work on OP earn rewards; it’s an opportunity to talk and find out what they want their character to achieve. Guide them, out of game, on PC actions that will help them to achieve that objective in game. You can use any evolved ‘disgruntleness’ (look Ed! I think I just made up a word there! [Ed: Ewww. Yes. You did.] ) to inform the characters narrative of development in game. This planned future for PCs can be woven into your future campaign. Evolve a Narrative/story mechanism to overcome the game-ist balance issue within the party, if it arises.

Your players will all be happy, and your story will be crafted by everyone at the table together.

Story Impact:

Handing out in-game rewards for OP work will have a large impact on your carefully crafted campaign… and that’s OK. Think about it this way: Do you want to tell a story to the other four people sat around your gaming table, or be one of the five people sat at the table who help to tell the story?

It’s difficult to let the plot freewheel, but I recommend it. See what happens when you let the players take over. As time goes by don’t be surprised if the game where you all collaborate is more fun than the one you scripted! I have got to the point now where the highlight of a game for me is when I realize I should stop being GM for a while and hand the rule book over to the players .

But that’s another article.

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