Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Reward for Heroics

Did everyone have a good Memorial day, or at least Monday if you don't live in the states? How about your Tuesday, was that good? I hope so. I feel totally out of it personally. I tool Tuesday off to get a super long weekend for Memorial day and now I have no idea what's going on. I feel well rested, sure, but tomorrow (today when you're reading this) is going to be strange I think. That's neither here nor there though. Today my post is as much question as advice. See, I noticed something when watching The Amazing Spider-Man the other day, a situation I can't think of a RPG that has a mechanic to represent. Let's talk about it, shall we? Oh, and very slight spoiler warnings for The Amazing Spider-Man (not the end, but something that leads right into the climax)

In The Movie...
In the Amazing Spider-Man there is a scene that while a bit cheesy is also somewhat important, validating, and vindicating for Spider-Man as a character. See, he needs to get to the Oscorp tower to stop the lizard, but he just can't do it and to make it worse he is injured. That's when all the cranes atop the buildings turn and make a bunch of easy to use websling spots over the city so spidey can get there easier. See, earlier in the movie spider-man had saved a man's child, and that man is a manager for one of the crews that runs the crane. He decides to help Spider-man out in a moment when he can, and it lets Spider-man get to the tower in time for a thrilling climax. The question is, how do you represent that?

In Fate
My first thought went to FATE. Not out of favoritism but FATE is designed to represent narrative mechanics and this is definitely a narrative mechanic. Now, technically, the Player could have invoked their "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" aspect to have the cranes turn in thanks for something the "friendly and neighborhood" aspects of that had done. However, this doesn't feel right necessarily. This doesn't feel right though, because the cranes are actually bypassing an obstacle, not helping deal with one. So, instead, perhaps it is a FATE point being spent to deny an obstacle or remove a negative aspect from the scene? It's possible, but it still seems a little weak and I'm not sure you can even do that in FATE.

Mutants and Masterminds
The method in M&M I can see working is using a Hero Point to alter the scene. The thing is, the lack of cranes sounds like something the GM would have had to describe and I don't think hero points can change something that has already been defined.

GM Freebie
I suppose, in any system, this could be the GM giving the player a freebie, or rather a reward for good behavior at a later point int he game. Even this feels a bit off though because the obstacle is clearly "how do you get there when web swinging is hard" and the cranes moving turns it into "web swinging is easy now." Granted, this could still be done as an IC reward - a consequence for previous actions - but I'm not sure how many GMs would know or even think to do something like that. Course, this being a movie and not a game, don't suppose it has to now does it?

How I'd Want It
In a system for it, I think I'd want some kind of karma system. This would be different than XP and character growth. With this the players would basically earn "good turns" by doing good deeds. They could theoretically earn "bad turns" by doing bad deeds, or being involved in less than good results. For example, save the day but end up trashing the store: you get some good and bad karma (these would be separate scores btw.) The GM could then spend your bad karma for bad turns of event - the cops want you arrested, a detective has a vendetta against you, etc. The Player spends the good karma - this particular cop thinks I'm good people and will let me go, the crane operator wants to repay me for saving his son.

Problem is, this could become a lot of book keeping, and I could even see it causing problems with how 'bad karma' was awarded. After all, who thinks they deserve 'bad karma' just because they had some bad rolls or a bus blew up out of their control?

Maybe use reputation instead?

How Would You Do It?
How about you? How would you want to do it?


  1. First off, I'd definitely want a pretty tight system to facilitate this. Otherwise, where does mysterious good karma stop and ludonarrative dissonance begin?

    Reputation seems the most...reasonable, not calling for anything even mildly supernatural. But Reputation would seem to need a bit of "paperwork", if you will. Meaning, even if you have Reputation Points to spend isn't the character going to need to call the crane guy and request he gets all the cranes in place - which will probably take time & a number of his men to show up?

    If the desire is for the cranes to appear in place more spontaneously then you'd have to go more supernatural - the karma route, I suppose. It strikes me that to have these cranes suddenly lined up for a character is a pretty big effect, it feels like spending a narrative mechanic Fate Point - and I would think those would be pretty rare, as Fate Points generally are.

  2. True, though with reputation I'd point out that it wouldn't necessarily need a call. It would just need someone to know that the character needed help and to care enough to provide that help without being asked. It's one of the things that would be hard to codify though...