In my game I have always found it beneficial to reward my players for doing things that add to enjoyment and keep the story moving. I encourage them to think outside of the box and bend the rules. I want them to make choices that may not be in their best interest because it is what their character would do. I want them to be the hero and get involved with the story and the character.
In old editions I would reward these behaviors that please me by giving them experience points. Since 4th edition, however, I have decided to essentially do away with experience points. They aren’t completely gone, but I prefer to have more tight control of when my players level up. When I feel it is appropriate they gain a level and they usually know when they should be leveling up as well. Another potential reward is monetary but it makes as much sense to reward gold when they do a backflip somersault across the room than it does for a goretusk boar to not have a liver. My new method of rewarding my players is +1 tokens.
Over at the 4e combat forum a DM asked how long an encounter should take and the topic quickly evolved into how to speed up combat. Community member Jurph mentioned a house rule he started in which players were rewarded with a +1 token whenever they spent less than 1 minute on their turns. He states:
I start a 1-minute sand timer for each player’s turn, and if they have substantially resolved all of their actions1 before the sand runs out, they get a token worth +1 to any roll they make (attack, damage, initiative – whatever). Tokens may not stack, but three +1 tokens can be exchanged for a +2 token, and three +2 tokens can be exchanged for a roll of 1d100 on a “Table of Fun”. The entries on the Table of Fun are one-shot powers that give players a cool or fun thing they can do; typically the advantage of such a power is commensurate with a +4 to hit or a +4 to damage, but generally leads to the character doing something fun and cool that amps up the combat. […] They receive the power on an index card and may hold it for as long as they like, cashing it in when they need to turn the tide of battle. I find that the desire to accumulate tokens speeds up the individual turns, and the players cashing in tokens to boost their attack rolls and damage rolls doesn’t really break the game that much. Most players seem to hold them for damage rolls, which speeds up combat in its own way.
Before implementing the rule, combats (7 PCs) could take ~2 hours. Now that everyone understands the rule and tries to get in under the wire, we can do a combat in 1 hour, give or take.
1. At our table, “substantially resolved” means they’ve declared all of their actions, and made all of the rolls, even if I have not yet adjudicated how much of the damage or which conditions will be applied. This keeps players interested in trying unconventional attacks (“He’s standing on a bale of hay, so I want to make the hay bale the target of my Scorching Burst – what kind of Reflex defense and fire vulnerability does a bale of hay have?”) while still rewarding decisive and attentive players.
I loved Jurph’s idea and had to use it myself but found it to be a bit overwhelming. It was something extra I had to keep track of and my players were getting frustrated when I didn’t give them a counter because either I forgot or I thought they took too long. I decided to keep Jurph’s rules the same but instead reward players for doing things that pleased me from thinking outside of the box to defeating a monster quickly. They are rewarded for participating and one of my combat-oriented players who prefers to play the dark-and-brooding-and-doesn’t-do-anything-outside-of-combat starts piping up more often when we have social interactions.
I have decided to make a few alterations to Jurph’s original Table of Fun, both of which can be found below. My slightly modified table in removes some redundancies, changed a few names, adjusted some powers, added a few new powers to replace the duplicates as well. Both will open in Google Documents. If you are a player I recommend not reading them. Part of the fun is in the surprise!
Jurph’s original Table of Fun.
Here are a few example powers shared by both:
|Double Triples||Change the target of one of your at-will attack powers to target “one, two, or three creatures” one time. Each target must be within the range specified by the original power. If you have no at-will attack powers that target only one creature, you may re-roll this token.|
|Deep Reserves||Until the end of the encounter, roll 1d6 at the beginning of your turn. On a roll of 5 or 6, you regain the use of an expended encounter power of your choice.|
|I Can Do That, too!||Minor Action: You study an enemy’s combat technique. If the enemy has used an encounter power that shares a keyword with any of your encounter powers, you gain the use of that power as a daily power. If the enemy has no eligible power, retain the use of this token.|