Bonus Action Point as a reward for players

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Back when I was running a 3.0/ 3.5 D&D game I used to let the Players vote at the end of each night for the character they thought was most spectacular.  Sometimes the winner was the character who performed exceptionally in combat (rolling a crit or taking out a major foe).  Other times it was someone who came up with a clever solution or did some amazing role-playing.  The character who won received a bonus of +10% EXP earned that night.  The Players loved this concept!  They looked forward to seeing who would win the nightly award.

The problem is that it didn't work on the mechanical side of the game.  Often the winner on a night without a lot of heavy combat would feel ripped off as the 10% EXP total did not amount to much.  We don't award EXP to character whose Players miss a game and this combined with the bonus could and did create a 1-3 level difference over time.  It also left yet one more thing for a DM to track...

I plan to run a 4E game within the next 6 months and I was asked by Players if I would return to the EXP bonus.  I am considering awarding a nightly Action Point as a reward instead.  I don't see the characters being able to stock pile more than 3 Action Points as a result of Mile Stones and rewards.  While it could take a challenging combat and reduce it to a cake walk if multiple PCs unload Action Point reserves I also see it as fun for the Players.  Moments of high drama where the Players KNOW they control the conflict.  Of course I can always design encounters so the first part appears to be the finale only to have a greater foe join the combat after a few rounds.

Just wanted a few other opinions...

Oh, I have also considered picking up a pack or two of those new Player Encounter Cards and using one of  those as a nightly reward.  One use only.  The Player draws one from a deck randomly.  Used cards return to the deck.

I give players who keep a campaign journal a free "Use any time action point". They love it, and I haven't seen it blow the power levels up. You could probably do the same thing "At the start of the next session you get a special action point"


A campaign journal is basically an entry on a wiki, or blog detailing the previous session in character.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

I offer three different types of non-XP rewards in my games.

Mastery Bonus: In the One Stone System (see "Two Birds With One Stone" in my sig), bonus progressions are changed to include a +1 to 6 mastery bonus to attacks and defenses.  A character's mastery bonus increases when she achieves a personal goal, advances her plot, or otherwise experiences character growth.  Essentially, it's an reward for making interesting characters and roleplaying them well on a storywide level.  It also serves as a great adventure hook.

Boons: If a character does something exceptional--dramatic, hilarious, awesome, etc--they get a boon (often customized) to commemorate it. For example, after a hilarious sequence in which a thri-kreen PC tried to sweet-talk his way out of the consequences of eating another PC's father (long story), the thri-kreen got a boon that made him take half damage from his allies' attacks.  Unlike the OP, I rarely award these for doing well in combat; I'm trying to reward individual moments of glory, not build optimization.  (I do occasionally grant boons for combat if it was really cool, like when an underleveled PC went toe-to-toe with an anakore and kicked its ass without taking a single hit.)

Stunts: Basically, p. 42 on steroids.  If a PC wants to do something crazy in combat, they can make a skill check to invent a power on the spot.  These powers are slightly better than class at-wills, which really encourages players to get creative.  Our fighter once killed a guy with a flowerpot.

I'm also thinking about incorporating Fortune Cards somehow, to draw players even further out of the "only what's on your character sheet" rut.  I think I'll start with the OP's "nightly reward" idea and see where that goes.
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