Mechanics that support what you want as a Player to feel like you matter

Would a table or chart that gives guidelines on "This is the task you completed, and here are some suggestions on how that benefits the PCs" be helpful? Something like:

Cleared out rats from Inn: Innkeeper give you free room and board for X time, patrons are thankful
Defeated monsters from caves of chaos: Castellan offers to send a contingent to build your party a small outpost or fort and appoint you stewards of the land you cleared.
Twarted evil cabal from destroying the realm/nation: Heralded as heroes, access to top level circles, granted tracts of land and keeps. Every ruler seeks your allyship, defeated enemies seek revenge
DW has GM moves for this, and the GM is encouraged to write up some in a formal way very similar to what you are describing. These are NOT going to be directing play though, just providing some specific outcomes and conditions that trigger them. These can also be moves intended for players to invoke. If they build up things like followers and take charge of the steading, then the GM will likely construct moves related to that. AW 2e talks more about that, and I would be tempted to incorporate some of its more polished parts related to those factors. DW is a bit thinner and maybe a little dated in that area. Stonetop could be a source there. PbtA is pretty rich in material to draw from. One might even consider some of the elements of BitD here
 

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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
The Kingmaker AP with its kingdom management I think is a good example of mechanics I like to see. Setting aside some issues folks have with them (I do too), im speaking of the concept. A sub-system that can be influenced by PC actions, and by the world at large. When a problem arises, the PCs can take action to stop/correct/stave off. Also, overtime the village becomes a town, which becomes a city, which becomes a...
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
So, I would generally prefer DW over 5e for this kind of play, though the right GM and players might pull off a similar game using 5e, but the odds are against it working as well.
There's no mechanical support for it in 5E, other than Luck points and the like, but that doesn't mean DMs won't be open to players helping create the world, even in play. I've been running a campaign for more than a decade like this, where people add to the shared wiki to flesh in the world, and since everyone is more or less on the same page, I and the people who've come to DM other campaigns in the setting, have all gotten along fine.

I don't think mechanical effects are required for this, just everyone agreeing that this is the way they want to play.
 

Committed Hero

Adventurer
Gumshoe has two mechanics for auto-success in the form of general abilities and investigative spends. I use the latter a lot for things like changing an NPCs' reaction towards the PCs.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
A few things I can think of.

  • Transparent processes and procedures- open rolls and open discussion of difficulties or target numbers- make all the processes of play open to the players
  • The GM not being “above the rules”- the GM needs to adhere to the rules and processes and not fudge
  • Goals that are either selected by the players or agreed upon by the players
  • Mechanics suited to supporting or encouraging that goal

To clarify that last one; I’m currently running Stonetop, a PbtA game of iron age fantasy. The characters are the champions of a village. Everything they do is in service of the village… they’re either trying to deal with a threat or take advantage of an opportunity. What the game includes is very clear mechanics for threats and how they progress, and also stats for the village and ways to improve those stats.

These stats give the players tangible ways to improve the village. They can expand farming area or build an aqueduct or improve rainwater collection or establish and train a militia. Each improvement has a tangible benefit to the village’s stats.

This gives the players meaningful choices to make. It also puts them in control. They can pursue whatever improvements they like. This helps drive the game forward.
 

pemerton

Legend
Both as player and GM I enjoy RPGs where the players bring the focus of play. This can be formal - eg Beliefs in Burning Wheel and Torchbearer - or more informal, but the GM will be presenting situations that overtly speak to those player-authored PC concerns/goals/aspirations. And so players will be impacting the game, and exercising their agency, from the get-go.

The way the PC evolves should also be related to the game, again either formally or informally. Eg in Torchbearer the players gain friends, allies and mentors, and they create enemies, and these statuses feed into the rules in various ways (eg friends put you up during downtime, allies are easier to find and get information from when you need it) as well as figuring in the random events tables and providing material for the GM to build on in presenting situations.

Another example: both my active Burning Wheel PCs have received infamous reputations as a direct consequence of their actions, which feed directly into subsequent action resolution where those reputations are salient.

In the Prince Valiant game that I GM, the players have had their PCs establish a warband, enter into advantageous marriages (one was, rather, browbeaten into a marriage they would have preferred not to enter into), set out to build their reputations, influence and power, etc.

To me, more important than player-side mechanics is the GM-side approach to the game.
 

The "gameplay" as I'd define the term is mostly in offering multiple proposals that will get you where you want to be in hopes of getting the least negative consequences...and the systems are so subjective about what consequences even mean that trying to optimize a given outcome is fraught. It's all good and well to decide I'd rather have "A Broken Arm" than "Haunted by Spirits" but that decision just doesn't ever resolve to a mechanical state I can make strategic choices about, it's just more narrative choices on top of narrative choices.
My game exactly makes these types of choice a central theme and places them directly in a mechanical context. This is great for thematic narrativist play and provides an added dimension of game centered choice on top of what its 4e-esque structure already has. I doubt I am the first to come up with such a system.
 

If I understand the OP correctly, you are looking for a mechanism that measures the players' actual impact on the state of the in game fiction?

To that end, I would use some sort of tangible Reputation mechanism. Using 5E just as an example, i would tie it to CR because the more challenging a situation the PCs overcome, the more impressive the potential reputation boost. It would probably be relative to party level, though, so PCs that consistently aimed for low threat challenges would see their Reputation go stagnant or even decrease. In addition to a numerical value, Reputation would also have a "judgmental" value related to broadly defined, setting appropriate ethical and moral aspects. Yes, the PCs stopped the bandit raids, but did they do so by taking control of the bandits, by murdering them all, by convincing them to change their ways? Etc.

Reputation would have a couple impacts in play. First, your Reputation would serve as a "gate" for certain kinds of access. Want to talk to the King? You need to be this tall (Reputation wise). It would also impact things like reaction checks and other interaction rolls, with that "judgmental" aspect determining exactly how on a case by case basis.

Finally, I would let players burn Reputation to gain aid from appropriate NPCs and/or factions. Because they needed help, tho, Reputation used this way is lost. Points spent could be used for information, helpful items or even accompanying NPCs or henchmen.

Something like that anyway.
OA has this. It works up to a point, but the GM has pretty much absolute say over what counts for what. I mean, the milieu is pretty good at providing strong hints but in the more kitchen sink sort of typical D&D it doesn't work. Of course it can in other genre/subgenre/milieu pretty well. I mean BitD has rep as one of its currencies.
 


There's no mechanical support for it in 5E, other than Luck points and the like, but that doesn't mean DMs won't be open to players helping create the world, even in play. I've been running a campaign for more than a decade like this, where people add to the shared wiki to flesh in the world, and since everyone is more or less on the same page, I and the people who've come to DM other campaigns in the setting, have all gotten along fine.

I don't think mechanical effects are required for this, just everyone agreeing that this is the way they want to play.
Why insist no rules are required, or at least useful, yet I hear much love lavished on D&D style subsystems. Are those not rules? Now, maybe you personally would just want to wing it, but it is very common to hear both refrains from the same crowd.
 

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