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Goal-Based Level Ups

True. I'd rather see the taking-of-risks in itself be what's rewarded, though, whether the goal is achieved or not.
Though I agree in spirit, and perhaps I'm too tired at the moment for a more cogent response, the definition of "risk" becomes paramount here, ranging from Kamikaze inclined efforts to the polar opposite of "feigned". As well, I wonder if some of this would not necessarily be included in the categories already listed? Just some minor (no risk) thoughts. ;)
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
True. I'd rather see the taking-of-risks in itself be what's rewarded, though, whether the goal is achieved or not.
So, they incentivize different things.

Reward risk taking, then you don't incentivize accomplishing anything in particular. There is no reason to push toward any larger goal. Murderhobos (or, more charitably, monster-hunters), for example, will do fine under such a plan - walk in, kill some stuff, and leave. And, play that is not attached to these risks has no payoff, so it will not get emphasis. Most of the time, social interaction in D&D isn't risky, for example.

Reward the goal, and they'll take on whatever is between them and the goal. It is up to the GM to put the level of risk they intend between the PCs and the goal, but there's a lot of stuff that isn't terribly risky that they'll take on if that's desired at the table.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Though I agree in spirit, and perhaps I'm too tired at the moment for a more cogent response, the definition of "risk" becomes paramount here, ranging from Kamikaze inclined efforts to the polar opposite of "feigned". As well, I wonder if some of this would not necessarily be included in the categories already listed? Just some minor (no risk) thoughts. ;)
Fair enough.

I just don't want to see a system which in effect rewards characters who hang back and let other characters take the risks.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So, they incentivize different things.

Reward risk taking, then you don't incentivize accomplishing anything in particular. There is no reason to push toward any larger goal. Murderhobos (or, more charitably, monster-hunters), for example, will do fine under such a plan - walk in, kill some stuff, and leave. And, play that is not attached to these risks has no payoff, so it will not get emphasis. Most of the time, social interaction in D&D isn't risky, for example.
Depends what's at stake, sometimes. Other times, you're right - social interaction isn't as risky.

That said, I still want to reward risk-taking somehow. Rewarding it with success, as someone (I forget who) has suggested in other threads, defeats the whole point: it's not a risk if it's guaranteed to work; and I'd like to reward the attempt rather than the result.

I've no problem at all with murderhobo or monster-hunter play if for no other reason than it means the PCs are at least doing something, rather than doing nothing; and it gives them reason to do way more exploring than would simple goal-oriented get-in-get-out missions.
Reward the goal, and they'll take on whatever is between them and the goal. It is up to the GM to put the level of risk they intend between the PCs and the goal, but there's a lot of stuff that isn't terribly risky that they'll take on if that's desired at the table.
Reward only the goal and they'll avoid doing anything else except finding the safest and fastest way of achieving said goal.
 

Campbell

Legend
If the game is challenge oriented you should reward success. If the game is more about playing a vibrant character you should reward taking risks.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
That said, I still want to reward risk-taking somehow.

If you want the game to be about taking risks, then you should. If you want it to be about achieving goals, then you should reward that. Reward the behavior you want to see.

However, don't reward behavior just because it seems appropriate. Reward it because it achieves play you and the table enjoy. If your players naturally take risks, for example, then rewards aren't needed to achieve it.

I've no problem at all with murderhobo or monster-hunter play if for no other reason than it means the PCs are at least doing something, rather than doing nothing; and it gives them reason to do way more exploring than would simple goal-oriented get-in-get-out missions.

This suggests to me that you need to open your mind up about what constitutes goals. A goal does not have to be "achieve this one mission", and won't be unless you want the levelling to be, "go on mission, gain a level." That can work, if you really want, but is simpler than I would work with.

Reward only the goal and they'll avoid doing anything else except finding the safest and fastest way of achieving said goal.

The goal? Who said there's only one at a time? If you are embracing this mode, you're going to have several goals running at once. Moreover, the PCs shouldn't start out knowing how to achieve the goals, so there will have to be some exploration and experimentation required to find the path.

If you don't want to do it, that's fine - goal-based advancement isn't morally superior or anything. But it seems you are dismissing a rather simplistic mental model of it, rather than what can be done with it if you put a little thought to it
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
If the game is challenge oriented you should reward success. If the game is more about playing a vibrant character you should reward taking risks.

Eh. "Vibrant character" isn't necessarily about risks. It would seem to me that, risk-taking likely turns players towards tactical play, spending more cycles on the stats on the sheet than on the vibrant personality of the character.

If you want the game to be about playing vibrant characters, then you need to reward things related to the character personalities, whether those are risk or not.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
As per the OP's Q: Yes some of it this would work. Sure would like to see a play session example, though. Some of it has been added to games over the past but a codification of tiers would be a nice starting point.
Elaborate on "codification of tiers," and I'll see what I can do.

For play examples, watch any MMO videos. They get daily quests/awards (session goals), and a nice XP drop upon completing quests (party goals). There aren't really character goals in MMOs, beyond earning prestige or killin' stuff. If there are story goals, they're the waypoints in storylines that the designers create, but those are essentially the same as MMO party goals.

My question would be how is this significantly different from milestone levelling?
I'm thinking milestone levelling = one level per story goal. I'll go into significant differences if you'll go into the definition of milestone levelling.

Fair enough.

I just don't want to see a system which in effect rewards characters who hang back and let other characters take the risks.
This is a valid concern. I, on the other hand, don't want to see a system that rewards the bloodthirsty PCs for starting fights without preparation, and risking others' lives in the process.* The Story Goal might be a balancing factor here - if some PCs clear a major (minor?) story hurdle while others don't, the GM doesn't have to award XP to those who didn't contribute. The nature of the Party Goal is to see everyone work together, and get rewarded together, accordingly. So it would be hard to award some PCs for that and not others, but it's possible.

One of the principles behind the Goal-Based system is that killing stuff and taking the loot aren't what motivate some characters, and they seem to require a certain style of game play, so they shouldn't be the only way to gain XP. If that's what your character is into, your Goals might look like this:

Session: stab the kidney of that hobgoblin sword-spinner who mocked me last session.
Character: calm my inner demons by taking out my rage on others.
Party: Save the village from the aggressive hobgoblin band.
Story: Discover the cause of overt hostilities to the nearby human settlements.


*Not to mention that if XP gets divided amongst fight survivors, some XP systems reward letting your allies die during the fight...
 

Elaborate on "codification of tiers," and I'll see what I can do.

For play examples, watch any MMO videos. They get daily quests/awards (session goals), and a nice XP drop upon completing quests (party goals). There aren't really character goals in MMOs, beyond earning prestige or killin' stuff. If there are story goals, they're the waypoints in storylines that the designers create, but those are essentially the same as MMO party goals.


I'm thinking milestone levelling = one level per story goal. I'll go into significant differences if you'll go into the definition of milestone levelling.


This is a valid concern. I, on the other hand, don't want to see a system that rewards the bloodthirsty PCs for starting fights without preparation, and risking others' lives in the process.* The Story Goal might be a balancing factor here - if some PCs clear a major (minor?) story hurdle while others don't, the GM doesn't have to award XP to those who didn't contribute. The nature of the Party Goal is to see everyone work together, and get rewarded together, accordingly. So it would be hard to award some PCs for that and not others, but it's possible.

One of the principles behind the Goal-Based system is that killing stuff and taking the loot aren't what motivate some characters, and they seem to require a certain style of game play, so they shouldn't be the only way to gain XP. If that's what your character is into, your Goals might look like this:

Session: stab the kidney of that hobgoblin sword-spinner who mocked me last session.
Character: calm my inner demons by taking out my rage on others.
Party: Save the village from the aggressive hobgoblin band.
Story: Discover the cause of overt hostilities to the nearby human settlements.


*Not to mention that if XP gets divided amongst fight survivors, some XP systems reward letting your allies die during the fight...
By "codification of tiers" is how I expressed what you are actually proposing as opposed to the patchwork/slap-dash way such matter may have been treated with in the past.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
For me, I think I'm very much in the reward success camp. If the group can figure out a way to mitigate risk and achieve the goal easily, that should be what they do. They should not take risk for risk sake. I want my players motivated in ways the characters if real would be motivated. No one wants to take a risk if they can avoid it. Not all risks can be avoided though and when the prize is great the risk may be worth it. And when I say prize, I don't just mean gold. If a PC loves some NPC captive then they are motivated. If the PCs see themselves as champions of good then they want to destroy a great evil and will take risks to do it "if necessary". If they find a way to destroy the evil with less risk then I absolutely expect them to take the path of least resistance.

This is why the role of GM is so important. The PCs will if given their way play a low risk easy game that leads to easy success. Why? Because that is what humans do? The GM's job is not to let them have it that easy by putting NPCs and challenges in his sandbox that represent real challenges and real risk for the PCs. The PCs will love you for challenging them and making their success feel all the more real.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
If the group can figure out a way to mitigate risk and achieve the goal easily, that should be what they do. They should not take risk for risk sake. I want my players motivated in ways the characters if real would be motivated. No one wants to take a risk if they can avoid it. Not all risks can be avoided though and when the prize is great the risk may be worth it. . .

This is why the role of GM is so important. The PCs will if given their way play a low risk easy game that leads to easy success. Why? Because that is what humans do? The GM's job is not to let them have it that easy by putting NPCs and challenges in his sandbox that represent real challenges and real risk for the PCs. The PCs will love you for challenging them and making their success feel all the more real.
"No one wants to take a risk if they can avoid it." This does not, in my experience, describe D&D players. I just watched two allies turn into ice statues by taking a 100% avoidable risk (Icewind Dale).

I fully support players making decisions as if their characters were real. I think Goal-Based levels support this over mainstream XP systems:

Mainstream:
I'm sooo close to my level-up! I should just go murder a goblin.

Goal-Based:
I'm sooo close to my level-up! Hmm, which goal can I achieve quickly?
Session: get out of bed (achieved).
Character: find my lost step-brother.
Party: protect the village from goblin raiders.
Story: convince the duke that the village is worth protecting.
Well, I know what my next session goal will be!
(And the GM can make getting out of bed REALLY interesting next session.)
 


Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I don't think rewarding success is they way I'd go. A party can be well prepared and still fail at something, but that doesn't mean they didn't grow or learn anything as characters. That also can add an adversarial cast to the relationships at the table, which I try to avoid like the plague.
 

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