[Poison'd] Trying to understand Currency and Reward Systems

Started by hix, January 25, 2011, 12:33:29 AM

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I have a question that's related to "things on character sheets". Ron, Vincent I'd like to hear your oppinion. If it's too far off-track from the current discussion, I can start another thread.

The "problem" is that often a single stat can behave like any two or more from the list.
Frex, Level/XP in D&D. At first glance it's obviously Positioning - it determines my place in the world. But at times it also behaves like a Resource - it can get lowered to represent harm (undead level drain) and I may deplete it to acheive something (spending XP to craft magic items).
Or Abilities for example - Strength is Effectiveness, but then I get hit by a Ray of Enfeeblement and it gets depleted like a resource.
I'm using D&D examples because they're easily recognisable. I first noticed this when comparing one of my design versus the P-E-R schema and realized many of the numbers on my game's character sheet could be either. Maybe I'm confused regarding the definitions or is this a normal thing that happens?
Gregor Vuga


That's precisely currency in action! Trade positioning for resources, bank effectiveness toward better positioning, burn resources to spike effectiveness, suffer lost resources or positioning when your effectiveness fails - all very common. It's a game's currency rules that create those active relationships, the details of the trading, burning, banking, suffering and so on.


Ron Edwards

Vincent, you're right, but I'm not sure that addresses the question.

A key feature of the Currency concept is that a given game item is perfectly capable of being more than one of Effectiveness, Positioning, and/or Resources. I am emphatically not recommending that a game designer parse out every little detail on the sheet into one and only one of them.

Some related points.

1. Character sheets from different games aren't as immediately comparable as they might seem. "Native land: Perspicania," on one sheet might tie directly into attribute scores that are primarily about Effectiveness. And in some other game the equivalent notation might be specifically about Positioning, whether political or psychological.  And in Hero Wars (now HeroQuest), the equivalent notation provides so much framing information that tons of Effectiveness and Positioning details are set into place, or option-sets are set into place, by that notation.

2. I also want to articulate a subtler point about Currency which I think may be getting lost in this thread. Currency exchange may occur within a given character component category, i.e., within different kinds of Effectiveness; as well as among those categories, e.g., between Effectiveness and Resources.

3. And finally, to reference the older Color-First threads yet again, one of my main points there was that game design itself as well as character creation were acts of "setting the starting game board" for Currency. I wanted to investigate the diversity between fixing this setup prior to player choices vs. due to player choices, and to see whether apparent player choice was illustory in some games. Another was that many games left a crucial step of that process in a sort of limbo between prep and play, and I wanted to see which were productive limbos and which weren't.

Best, Ron


Gregor Vuga

David Berg

Hi Ron,

Quote from: Ron Edwards on February 23, 2011, 10:48:27 PMI do not agree with you that active fiction is Currency-linked at all times, and passive fiction is not.
That is not what I meant at all!  Crap.

What I was trying to get at is exactly what you said earlier: when Currency-relevant info gets into the fiction, how does it get there?

1) One option (which I think might be Callan's sweet spot) is that it gets there by using Currency.  As in Universalis.  Whose method seems clunky until you get the hang of it (Ralph just gave me a helpful hint about keeping a handful of coins that you can drop one by one as you talk), and still doesn't cover emergent effects like my choice to walk down stairs effecting your positional advantage.  (Right?  I mean, you wouldn't actually pay a coin for just using what had already been introduced, right?)

2) Another option is obviously that it gets there by some unspoken/unwritten procedure which may or may not be functional overall (e.g. GM just says so).

3) And then there's your point about explicit talking and listening procedures, which I dig in theory, and have certainly used at times, but I'm having trouble coming up with an example whose ultimate relationship with Currency is clear.  (I found the They Became Flesh comment you mentioned.  Will ponder that further.)

4) Finally, there's my daydream of an alternate version of by using Currency which is not a Universalis-style continuous exercise in measuring/rating every utterance.  I'm not sure if this is possible.  I was wondering if you or anyone else could envision it.

Other options I've omitted seem relevant here too, at least insofar as I understand the goals of this thread.

here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development

Ron Edwards

Hey guys, I'm burning out. There's too much going on with eighty different things to talk about. I think I was able to help with the thread topic, and can't muster the energy to branch out into the next things.

Best, Ron


Does anybody have any questions left about how Poison'd works?



Hi Vincent,

I think I'm good. Thanks to you, Ron, and everyone for digging into this so deeply.

I'll take what I have learned from this thread and apply it to (a) running another game of Poison'd, and (b) designing Left Coast. I think this thread is going to become a regular reference for me!

Find out more about Left Coast (a game about writers, inspired by the life of Philip K. Dick) on Twitter: @leftcoastrpg