Page 365-366: Awarding PC Action Dice
We already covered Action Dice a lot, so you should be familiar with them. We also learned way back near the beginning how many the players start with. But, they can get more during the game.
You can award action dice to players who you feel either the player or their character has done something noteworthy.
The book points out six especially noteworthy things to keep an eye out for.
First, if the character does something heroic or selfless, even if it fails. So, for example, one of the players tries to do a swinging from the chandelier to escape scene. Which is awesome! Action Dice for that! Even if they fail miserably and end up faceplanting in the middle of a group of enemies, they still tried, and that is still worthy of an AD.
Second, good roleplaying and character development. Really playing the character well is something that should be rewarded and encouraged. Something that I want to add is that sometimes staying in character is not to the best advantage of the party and using meta knowledge would help. However, if the player still stays in character and refuses to use meta knowledge, that should definitely be encouraged.
Story from the Friday games with Sheskar. We were in a big fight and our party got a bit spread out over a large room with lots of obstacles and a pit in it. The Face ended up in a fight with a stealthy enemy assassin and my turn came up. I had just finished dealing with a major plot threat and I could have gone to help with the assassin, but given the positions of everything and the obstacles I reasoned that Sheskar, my character, could not possibly see the fight with the enemy assassin, but he could see the fight with the mage. As such, I ruled that to stay in-character I could not help with the assassin and apologized to The Face's player for not being able to help him. Luckily, everyone approved of me staying in character, and I got an AD for it.
Third, if a character has an Alignment, they should get rewarded for supporting their Alignment. In the game I am GMing I gave the player Instant Reputation though, as what they did was a bit above and beyond. but, for smaller stuff an AD would suffice.
Fourth, a player/character being a good leader and problem solver. Every party needs a good leader, we have one on our Friday games. Our Face, Janus, fell naturally into this role and does a great job as our leader. Our GM needs to recognize that a bit more and award more AD for that. *Pokes his GM*
Fifth, helping to move the story along. I am not sure exactly what they mean here. Theoretically everything the players do is to advance the story in some way. Is it not?
Sixth, if the player at the table does something that really adds to the fun and enjoyment. And no, I do not think quoting Monty Python counts.
You can award AD for anything you want, but these are especially important as through the positive reinforcement aspect of operant conditioning you will condition your players to do these things more.
And, as GM, you benefit too. Every time you award an AD to a player, you get one as well.
Page 366: Hints
Sometimes the players get stuck. Luckily, they can get Hints to help them with their current problem. Hints and Clues, while similar are still different. Clues are plot stuff that is important for directing the story to future events. Hints are how to solve the here and now. Some players can get Hints using Class Abilities, Specialties, Feats, or other methods. Or, you can offer a Hint and earn an AD for it.
Page 366-367: Narrative Control
The last ability that can be performed with Action Dice. This ability is very powerful as it can dramatically shift the course of events. Players can spend from one to four AD to cause a Perk while the GM can spend one to four AD to cause a Complication.
Perks are various things that help the players. Maybe the players need to sneak in somewhere and to make things easier declare that the guards are playing poker and distracted. Or for four AD maybe the dinner the current shift ate was bad and they are all busy dealing with the consequences. Maybe the players need some cover to help out in a battle, so they declare that something falls over and gives them some cover to hide behind. Or maybe there are story effects, like the players meet a person who knows plot.
Complications are problems that the GM enacts that hinder the players. Taking the same sneaking past guards situation, maybe there was a recent break-in and the guards are on high alert as a result.
The GM determines the cost of Narrative Control; the book provides plenty of examples to help. Also, there are some explicitly defined controls that we will get to soon.
There are a few rules and limits:
If the GM can do it, so can the players. And the other way around applies to. It is either available to everyone, or no one.
Nobody can change established facts. If something has already been established, then it cannot be changed.
Third, the GM gets final say.
And finally, Narrative Control cannot be countered. Once it is approved, it is set in stone. The GM can, of course, simply not approve something, but if they do, they must live with it.
It is a good idea to keep Narrative Control plausible. If the guards are on alert, why are they on alert? If the players lose something, make it happen in a place that it is likely to get lost. If reinforcement show up, there should be a good reason for them being there. However, one exception to all this is a literal deus ex machina; this is a fantasy world, it can happen, especially if you have a priest in your party.
Our party has used this a few times.
Page 367: Player Perks
Now we have some explicitly defined Perks with hard coded prices and effects. These are referred to as Scripted Perks, and each may only be done once during an Adventure.
Page 367: Flash-Forward
The party is in a tedious and boing fight, the players want out. Or maybe they are in a social event and no one is really interested. Well, for the cost of four AD the players can ask to Flash-Forward and skip the encounter. It is then up to the GM to come up with a narrative of how the players get out of the situation, though the players may help if the GM wishes. However, this also comes at a great cost other than the Action Dice: all XP and treasure that could have been gained from the encounter is forfeit, gaining them nothing.
Page 367: I have one of those!
The players are in a situation where they need a particular item, and they forgot to get one while in town... OR DID THEY?! Well, with this perk, they can declare that, indeed, they did remember to get one. The cost is one AD per five complexity of the item. The fluff of how the item is obtained can be anything from a player remembering they have the item to them happening to find one in the environment.
Page 368: Never Tell Us the Odds
If the players feel a fight is too easy, or they want more XP and loot, they can call for the enemy to receive reinforcements. For two AD they get one mob of Standard or one Special Character. For four AD they get a second mob of Standard or a lone Special, or maybe one of each. While this does increase the number of enemies the players have to fight, it also increases the reward for winning the fight.
Page 368: Sympathetic Adversary
For one AD per 20 XP a single Standard NPC becomes neutral to the players and will temporarily join their side. The NPC stays till the end of the Scene, then will leave. The NPC will not take risks for the players as they are only neutral.
Page 368: Unexpected Help
The players can summon help from the Rogue's Gallery for one AD per Standard NPC (I think, the wording is a little odd). This NPC is friendly and sticks with the players till the end of the Scene.
Page 368: GM Complications
Hard coded Complications that the GM can call upon to put in the player's paths. This is different from story the GM has already scripted. This is something that is done on the fly. And many of these are penalties to the players in some way.
Page 368: Adventurers in Town!
Cha-ching! Time to raise prices and make money off all their loot! For four AD the GM can raise all prices by 25% to represent the shops taking advantage of the players. This seems mainly a way to be a money sink.
Page 368: Lots or Stolen Item
For one, two, or three AD you can have a player's character lose track of one item. They can find it again with a successful search, the DC depending on how many dice you spent. For four AD you can get rid of the item permanently. Be careful when doing this as it can make the players unhappy. Also, typo, "resen-tment".
Page 368: Nature's Fury
Have the weather turn bad with various effects ranging from heat dealing subdual damage to wind messing with ranged attacks to just hitting someone with lightning. How many AD the GM spends affects how powerful the effect is. The table is on the next page and... ERRATA ALERT! The Near Strike has been changed to do 3d6 Flash Damage, not 1d6.
Page 368: Reinforcements
Once per round you may, for the cost of 1 AD per 20 XP, introduce a mob of Standards or one Special.
Page 368: Shoddy Item
Increase the Error Range of a player's weapon by two per AD spent, up to four AD. This lasts until the end of combat, or the scene if that ends before the combat does.
Next time, skill difficulty and sliding DCs.