Podcast #285:The Pros and Cons of Metacurrency

This week, Morrus, PJ, and Jessica talk about metacurrency in games. In the news, Hasbro is NOT selling Dungeons & Dragons, the D&D 2024 core rulebooks are NOT coming out in May, Paizo announces Gen Con releases, and more! Plus a brand new sketch about a tiny mistake spoiling the end of a very long quest.

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News

No, Hasbro Is Not Selling D&D https://www.enworld.org/threads/no-hasbro-is-not-selling-d-d.702378/

Apology blog from Justin Alexander about renaming “Jacquaysing the Dungeon” after himself but states he will continue using his new name for the term https://thealexandrian.net/wordpres...cond-historical-note-on-xandering-the-dungeon

D&D 2024 Core Rulebooks will NOT be released in May, “We’ll still be working on them in May” https://www.enworld.org/threads/d-d-2024-core-rulebooks-well-still-be-working-on-them-in-may.702412/

Paizo announces releases coming at Gen Con https://www.enworld.org/threads/paizo-unveils-gen-con-2024-releases.702415/

Foundry gets official D&D support https://www.enworld.org/threads/foundry-gets-official-d-d-support.702371/

Pendragon 6e Gets An April Release Date https://www.enworld.org/threads/pendragon-6e-gets-an-april-release-date.702346/

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Tribes and Tribulations Expansion Announced https://www.enworld.org/threads/war...-and-tribulations-expansion-announced.702400/

Multi-publisher crowdfunding event for Dungeon Crawl Classic’s Purple Planet https://www.enworld.org/threads/a-m...-dungeon-crawl-classics-purple-planet.702343/

More successful crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter but creators earning 30% less https://www.enworld.org/threads/on-...projects-but-creators-earning-30-less.702382/

Free RPG Day will be June 22, 2024 https://www.enworld.org/threads/free-rpg-day-coming-on-june-22-2024.702399/

Blades in the Dark: Mobility Equipment https://ko-fi.com/s/9d31467bce

Notorious Style: A Solo TTRPG about Graffiti and Street Art on Kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mxfraud/notorious-style-a-solo-ttrpg-about-graffiti-zinequest

SpellBinder online spell list manager https://roleplaymaker.com/

Voidrunner’s Codex promotional image on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/1216176805400078/posts/2115132462171170/

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Hosts: Russ “Morrus” Morrissey, Peter Coffey, and Jessica Hancock

Editing and post-production: Darryl Mott

Theme Song: Steve Arnott

Malach the Maleficent played by Darren Morrissey

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Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott


TheSword

Legend
Interesting discussion on the En World podcast this week about Metacurrency, with some really interesting viewpoints.

  • Metacurrency as a clicker to train players
  • As a shorthand way to give positive reinforcement
  • To allow players to affect the narrative
  • To force players to perform
  • Generated mechanically versus GM awarded.
My main experience with Metacurrency is with WFRP but lots of systems have them.

One thing I like is when they are linked to player choices. For instance in WFRP every character chooses a main motivation (fame, wealth, knowledge, respect, kindness etc) and they regain spent Resolve when you act in a way that is consistent with that motivation. So the DM awards it but the player chooses the behaviour to reward. Resolve can be used to remove conditions and ignore psychology like fear.

Resilience (the root of resolve) is awarded when a player completes a major long term goal - that might be to raise a temple to their god, or become the elector counts champion. Again the player has chosen the goal. Resilience can be spent to pick any number on a dice roll. A guaranteed success or the best result you can get.

Fortune is regained when players start a new session (or more sessions if they’re short) so it’s linked to a mechanical element. It’s used for simple re-rolls or to nudge results over the line.

Fate (the root of fortune) is awarded rarely when the PCs do something superbly heroic - so usually linked to the adventure. It can save your character from death (in the manner of your DMs choosing but usually after the encounter)) or you can totally ignore one instance of damage.

In WFRP elves and dwarves get less of these to balance out the other advantages they have and it makes a big difference in play. Particularly in a game as random as WFRP.

Lastly Corruption is an inverse Metacurrency that the players accrue as a debt when they encounter corrupting influences. Players can also gain them if they run out of fortune points to get an extra re-roll. They can get rid of them by accepting a dark deal with the DM to do something screwy. If they go to high, characters can mutate or become afflicted with maladies.

I generally like all these methods, which is interesting as there is a real mix. What are your experiences with Metacurrencies. When have you seen them work? When have they failed abysmally?
 

I used to be anti-metacurrency in all forms. More often than not I didn't think the implementation was necessary to the game. Other times it felt like there was a best way to use it and any other option wasn't worth it. I've recently found an exception with Darkness Points in Coriolus: The Third Horizon. It's a metacurrency that is entirely in the GMs hands, fits the narrative, and the players generate it by using certain talents or rerolling a bad roll.

As the GM I have certain guidelines on when and how I can use DPs. The players know this. So when I say their starship's power coupling is broken, they know I've spent DP to make that happen. They also know that I only have those DP because they've given it to me. It's a solid balance and the game is better for it.

On the flip side any metacurrency that pulls double duty as short term benefits or xp sucks. Others may not mind it but I know myself well enough to know that I'll always choose xp over the short term.
 

Yora

Legend
Always a big nope for me. I have stopped reading some rulebooks five minutes in because of these.

RPGs are all about imagining characters acting like people in unusual environments. Anything that makes players think about the mechanics of the game conflicts with that.
Having to think about where your character steps to not get stabbed in the back is a mechanical consideration, but it 's at least one that is analogous to something that the character would have to think about as well. And it's an immediate, short term choice with instant consequences.

Special action drama points create problems that only exist for the player, but have nothing analogous for the character or within the fiction of the game. And you have to consider if you should use them now or save them up for a later scene.
 

TheSword

Legend
Always a big nope for me. I have stopped reading some rulebooks five minutes in because of these.

RPGs are all about imagining characters acting like people in unusual environments. Anything that makes players think about the mechanics of the game conflicts with that.
Having to think about where your character steps to not get stabbed in the back is a mechanical consideration, but it 's at least one that is analogous to something that the character would have to think about as well. And it's an immediate, short term choice with instant consequences.

Special action drama points create problems that only exist for the player, but have nothing analogous for the character or within the fiction of the game. And you have to consider if you should use them now or save them up for a later scene.
You don’t think a well spring of heroism or luck is something that occurs in fiction or in character?
Fate intervening, or struggling to shake off that effect?

A lot will depend on the system you’re using. My concern would be when characters are so well tooled that failure is already rare (I’m thinking Pathfinder 1) and then re-rolls make failure go from rare to nonexistent. Where the system has a certain amount to failure or risk built in, I think they are good.

I think players having a mechanic for the character not to die and to somehow miraculously survive at a cost to themselves is a good thing.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Reiterating my position on the podcast, which differed from my esteemed colleagues, I am personally uncomfortable with meta currency to modify behaviour, but I think it can be a great tool for building momentum or tension, or swinging the odds at just the right moment, if implemented right.

Inspiration is, of course, D&D's metacurrency. Rewarded for playing traits, ideals, bonds etc. In my experience (which is hardly universal of course) those rarely get used, and I find Inspiration gets forgotten a lot. Things like 2d20 have a metacurrency built in to the core mechanics, so you build the pool as you play and spend them quite liberally. I've used 'LUCK' dice in my own games.

Quick quiz: on the show I said I thought that WEG's Ghostbusters RPG brownie points was the first metacurrency, back in 1986. I'm sure I'm wrong though--anybody know?
 

TheSword

Legend
Reiterating my position on the podcast, which differed from my esteemed colleagues, I am personally uncomfortable with meta currency to modify behaviour, but I think it can be a great tool for building momentum or tension, or swinging the odds at just the right moment, if implemented right.

Inspiration is, of course, D&D's metacurrency. Rewarded for playing traits, ideals, bonds etc. In my experience (which is hardly universal of course) those rarely get used, and I find Inspiration gets forgotten a lot. Things like 2d20 have a metacurrency built in to the core mechanics, so you build the pool as you play and spend them quite liberally. I've used 'LUCK' dice in my own games.

Quick quiz: on the show I said I thought that WEG's Ghostbusters RPG brownie points was the first metacurrency, back in 1986. I'm sure I'm wrong though--anybody know?
I think meta currency that players gain by acting in a character that they specifically have chosen is a good thing.

I also think using them to represent the heroic nature of an PC as a opposed to an NPC is a good thing in a system where the mechanics of the two aren’t inherently different.

I definitely agree that awarding Advantage often gets overlooked - though it’s always appreciated when I have it. Interesting that the playtest mechanically awards advantage to humans at the start of every day.

I don’t know what came before 1986 but WFRP 1e also released in 1986 also had fate points as a meta currency.
 
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Wolfpack48

Adventurer
I always felt they interfered with the imagined scene. Like a rude mechanical construct inserted into playing out characters or cinemographic description. I suppose it could be done with skilled timing but I just never felt they added much.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Reiterating my position on the podcast, which differed from my esteemed colleagues, I am personally uncomfortable with meta currency to modify behaviour, but I think it can be a great tool for building momentum or tension, or swinging the odds at just the right moment, if implemented right.
This is my take too. I really dislike any feature that is designed to train the players to perform for the GM like a circus seal looking for a fish. I dont want the players to be informed by what the GM wants and rewards. Being able to sparingly adjust the narrative with some guiderails is great as a player just as you describe.
 

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