Don't know what to do about bonus stuff...

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I love it when players contribute extra stuff to the game.  Drawings, journals, props, all sorts of things add to the overall story in my opinion and I like for people to do it.  So when they do it, I often enjoy handing out bonuses to those who contribute.  The way I see it, when people are doing things for the game completely outside the game they should be rewarded and, thus, encouraged to do it more.  (and I'm not talking bonus xp or magic items or anything, that sort of thing could quickly unbalance the game and make it really hard for me to craft encounters, I'm talking like cards or tokens they can turn in for a free reroll and similar stuff)

Now, ordinarily, there isn't a problem with this.  Those who want these extra rewards, do extra things (like journals or art projects or whatever).  Those who don't care, simply don't do it.

(also, as an aside, I also recently started at the behest of the players to give out these tokens for things like bringing snacks/soda to the game and things, so even the unartsy people aren't left out and have the opportunity)

Recently however, things have changed.

In my last game I had a player who did this sort of thing all the time.  Every session was like opening bday presents, just waiting to see what she would unveil.  Therefore, she had a lot of these tokens and spent them frequently.  I also had another player who could never be bothered to do anything, but he didn't seem to mind that he had none of these tokens.

Now, however, I have recently started a new campaign in the Forgotten Realms.  And though nothing has changed, suddenly giving out these tokens has become some sort of battle of wills.  The first player (the one who constantly did things and got rewarded) seems no longer interested in doing anything outside the game (and, thus, gets no rewards) but gets extremely irritable when someone else gets a reward, grumbling to herself, ignoring the plot to do other things, etc.  The second player has also started getting extremely irritated at any rewards other people get even though he never seemed to care before.  It's as if in this game, (though nothing else has changed except the setting) they no longer see these things as rewards for others' labors, but punishments for themselves.  Almost as if they're being singled out.

I've tried talking to them, asking them what is making them so angry/upset about it.  She denies that she's even getting mad about it and he simply says that he never thought I should give out special rewards, they're unbalancing to the game.  I've tried arguing that "how can they be unbalancing when everyone has equal opportunity to recieve them?"  But he can't seem to illustrate further, simply continues to rant.

How can I keep giving these rewards without stopping my game every time it happens or engendering bad feelings?  I feel like if I don't give them out (which I actually do want to continue) then I'll stop getting cool stuff like artwork, snacks, etc.  (And I already sorely miss player 1's weekly surprises)  After all, forever there's been reward for extra work, why would people still do it if there is no longer (and I certainly agree, it's not fair).  So I don't want to stop giving them out, but I do want people to stop getting mad about other people getting rewards for stuff they could also do themselves.

Basically how do I keep people from feeling like "missing out on extra due to inaction" is not the same thing as "punishment for not doing stuff for my game"?

Sorry for the long post.

Bold added in edit to clarify
Pardon me if I'm wrong but this highly sounds like a "Bring me presents and I'll reward your character" sort of scenario. these never end well. I doubt nothing changed from first campaign and the new one, it's simply become increasingly annoying, and yes it is incredibly unbalancing.

Think of it like a pay to win MMORPG or Online game. One person spends all his money on the game, so he's awesome and untouchable. The other person likes the game but could careless about spending money on it, but he suffers for it. Pretty much the same scenario here. Stop with the rewards, they're silly and discrimatory and serve absolutely no purpose other to show favoritism and to recieve things for yourself.

The most I've ever 'rewarded' in a session is a minor +1 or +2 to their next roll for a super clever line or idea that solved a problem in game, I rarely ever do it, so it's never thought of either way and is a non issue.

The sooner you stop giving out these tokens, and start refusing 'gifts' on dnd nights, is when these issues will stop. Simple as that.

Edit: After re-reading my post I realize I probably came off as a little harsh, it wasn't my direct intention. Although it is my personal opinion that there is absolutely no other way to deal with this issue, and it's a problem you created for yourself. If your players want to write journals about their characters. Stop giving them tokens that can be used in game, reward them by using this new knowledge they've given you, integrate it into the game. Any time my players give me new backstory, I usually take characters from them and integrate them in the plots and my players consider that the reward.

Maybe someone else will have a different suggestion.
I actually think TheeEnthusiast nailed it right on the head.  It sounds as if the rewards you have been giving out are effecting the overall game in a negative way sooner than they would in a positive way.  Even if the overall balance of your game isn't altered at all, your players are still becoming unhappy over it, so it has to go.  

I especially agree with Enthusiast's point about "in-game rewards."  I'm creating my own world using the inside-out method, and I am disappointed to say that I have ZERO time to be creating all the world maps that are necessary for a game setting.  However, one of my players asked if his character could be a hobbyist cartographer, thus mapping everything out for me!  Of course, I said yes, and the immediate reward received by the player is that his fingerprints are now on my world.  Whenever the players are deciding where to sail off to next, he looks at the world map happily, saying to himself, "I did that."

That's a fantastic reward for a player.

Either way, good luck to you!
Wait...players contributing artworks, journals, creative stuff, etc...is not a GIFT to the DM. It's a contribution to the group overall and to the narrative of the game, and makes the experience richer for everyone.

People have lives, so you can't always expect that of everyone, but I do think it's appropriate to give minor rewards to people who do take the extra time. You have to make sure to balance them so they're not too much, but also not so little nobody cares.

Yeah, I think you all are going a bit overboard acting as if this is payola.

However, it does sound like it is causing issues, so my advice would be to do away with the rewards portion of the game. No amount of cajoling will change player perception if they are not happy with the issue, and if you have tried to talk with the players as a group and feel you were not given honest responses, all you can do is change what you are doing.
I edited the post to clarify a bit, because I think people were getting the wrong idea, this was never about the money involved and honestly the snack thing has only occurred like four times, ever.  And it was requested that it be allowable since the person involved didn't like creative writing or crafts of any kind.
Pardon me if I'm wrong but this highly sounds like a "Bring me presents and I'll reward your character" sort of scenario. these never end well. I doubt nothing changed from first campaign and the new one, it's simply become increasingly annoying, and yes it is incredibly unbalancing.

Think of it like a pay to win MMORPG or Online game. One person spends all his money on the game, so he's awesome and untouchable. The other person likes the game but could careless about spending money on it, but he suffers for it. Pretty much the same scenario here. Stop with the rewards, they're silly and discrimatory and serve absolutely no purpose other to show favoritism and to recieve things for yourself.

The most I've ever 'rewarded' in a session is a minor +1 or +2 to their next roll for a super clever line or idea that solved a problem in game, I rarely ever do it, so it's never thought of either way and is a non issue.

The sooner you stop giving out these tokens, and start refusing 'gifts' on dnd nights, is when these issues will stop. Simple as that.

Edit: After re-reading my post I realize I probably came off as a little harsh, it wasn't my direct intention. Although it is my personal opinion that there is absolutely no other way to deal with this issue, and it's a problem you created for yourself. If your players want to write journals about their characters. Stop giving them tokens that can be used in game, reward them by using this new knowledge they've given you, integrate it into the game. Any time my players give me new backstory, I usually take characters from them and integrate them in the plots and my players consider that the reward.

Maybe someone else will have a different suggestion.


This is exactly what player B has recently begun to say.  "they're silly and discrimatory and serve absolutely no purpose other to show favoritism..." and "...it is incredibly unbalancing..."  To which, I rebut with a very large... How?
How are they discrimatory?  They are available to everyone.
How do they show favoritism?  They are available to everyone.
How is it unbalanceing?  They are available to everyone.

This isn't like "pay to play,"  this is "by bringing me these artworks, journals, creative things that add to the overall enjoyment of the game, I will give you a tangible reward in order to encourage this in the future."

I often add these things to the narrative anyway.  But I'd much rather read about John the innkeeper you knew at Fort Whatever and your interactions with him, than have you tell me "I knew this innkeeper named John at Fort Whatever."  I don't understand how you writing me a journal and me giving you a reroll to use once in return is bad.


I actually think TheeEnthusiast nailed it right on the head.  It sounds as if the rewards you have been giving out are effecting the overall game in a negative way sooner than they would in a positive way.  Even if the overall balance of your game isn't altered at all, your players are still becoming unhappy over it, so it has to go.  

I especially agree with Enthusiast's point about "in-game rewards."  I'm creating my own world using the inside-out method, and I am disappointed to say that I have ZERO time to be creating all the world maps that are necessary for a game setting.  However, one of my players asked if his character could be a hobbyist cartographer, thus mapping everything out for me!  Of course, I said yes, and the immediate reward received by the player is that his fingerprints are now on my world.  Whenever the players are deciding where to sail off to next, he looks at the world map happily, saying to himself, "I did that."

That's a fantastic reward for a player.

Either way, good luck to you!


Sure, that's a great reward, and also a great idea for that player to be able to contribute.  But what if that player had wanted to contribute a journal he'd written out?  Or, hell, hand made before writing in it (yes, I've had a player do that)?  It's not like I'm keeping these things, the player keeps them.  I just get the wonders of seeing such fine artwork crafted in response to a game I'm running.  It makes me feel amazing.
And yet that journal doesn't really point in any direction I could take them, that player can't sit back and say "I did that" when looking at a map, because how often are journals of PCs important in the narrative (even if I did make it so, I can only think of it being plausible a couple of times, nowhere near a map).


Wait...players contributing artworks, journals, creative stuff, etc...is not a GIFT to the DM. It's a contribution to the group overall and to the narrative of the game, and makes the experience richer for everyone.

People have lives, so you can't always expect that of everyone, but I do think it's appropriate to give minor rewards to people who do take the extra time. You have to make sure to balance them so they're not too much, but also not so little nobody cares.




Usually I allow the tokens to be a reroll.  Yeah it is probably pretty spiffy but they almost always use it just to avoid a natural 1 (which sucks anyway) so really all it ever does is make people not waste their powers.  Is this too much, you think?  If I lowered it, what could I make it instead?  Where is that balance?
Also, to add this in, only 2 people are expressing unhappiness with this as the above post describes.  The other 3 are perfectly fine with things as they are (as am I, except the unhappy attitudes of course) so to all the people telling me "just stop doing it":  Is it fair/right/whatever to stop doing it because two people are unhappy when everyone else is enjoying it?
Some people just aren't good at that stuff, and/or don't have time.

Treat the whole group equally.  If someone brings in some cool artwork you feel should give bonuses, then give the whole group the bonuses.

Yes, if two people out of the six or so of you are unhappy with something, it's probably something you should think about changing.
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For a long time I did something similar.  I have a bag of (plastic) gold coins that I would hand out as extra XP and the ability to re-roll dice.  each player got one at the start of every session and they would get more for good role-playing, using the right skill at the right time, even doing extraordinary feats in combat.  I gave them out individually and individuals got the bonus XP at the end of every session.  the bonus XP only amounted to an average of maybe 1% of a level.  And in past groups the distribution would balance out over time.

But then in my latest group I had two veteran players and several newbies.  The vets got the lion's share of the coins and started out pacing the newbies - the vets were half way through 3rd level by the time the newbies hit 3rd.  I knew something had to be done.  What I did was I made the coins more communal.  While individuals still got the coins for their "notable deeds" the XP generated from them was divided among the party equally (at the end of the session all the coins were pooled, total XP was calculated and then divided evenly throughout the party).  Furthermore, I allowed a limited number of coins to be shared for dice re-rolling.

My point is that your "rewards" should shift to be more communal as well.

 

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Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
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The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
Also, to add this in, only 2 people are expressing unhappiness with this as the above post describes.  The other 3 are perfectly fine with things as they are (as am I, except the unhappy attitudes of course) so to all the people telling me "just stop doing it":  Is it fair/right/whatever to stop doing it because two people are unhappy when everyone else is enjoying it?



Well, it seems to me there are three people having this issue: Your two players and you. So half of the people playing are having an issue with this.

If you don't believe solution is to stop doing it, and the two people you think have a problem aren't willing to talk about it or acknowledge it is an issue, then your options come down to A. Ignore them and keep doing it, or B. Don't do it. I think you've already had those options suggested, so I don't think you are going to find what you are looking for here.

One more thing, though I don't believe YOU are directly gaining from this, there is an element similar to online microtransaction games. Everyone can play for free, but those who pay get extras that make the game better and give them advantages. There is a huge unspoken pressure then to pay, because otherwise you aren't playing the same game as everyone else.

Again, I'm not saying anyone is paying you to play. I don't believe that is what you are doing. But it sounds like two of your players are feeling that pressure, whether it is real or just perception.
Honestly I do something very similar in my games.  I give out two kinds of rewards:

Player Reward Cards - Whenever someone at the table does something in-game that makes us stop playing and start laughing.

Rising Action Points - Reroll tokens.  These are for anyone who does something extra / writes a session recap of last session.

One of the big things I've found is that giving something non-creative (the session recaps) as a possible reward has expanded the amount of awards people get.  I also never give out more than one of a specific reward per player per encounter.  As far as the PRCs go my players can also donate them to other players should they like (And often they have done so).

The big one here that I would suggest is not to talk to people individually about this sort of thing.  I know that seems counter-intuitive, but having the discussion as a group can help sort out a lot of things.  A lot of people won't tell you something straight on, but will allow it to come out in group discussion and then you can get to the route of the problem.

Good luck though, and tell us how it turns out. 
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Sure, that's a great reward, and also a great idea for that player to be able to contribute.  But what if that player had wanted to contribute a journal he'd written out?  Or, hell, hand made before writing in it (yes, I've had a player do that)?  It's not like I'm keeping these things, the player keeps them.  I just get the wonders of seeing such fine artwork crafted in response to a game I'm running.  It makes me feel amazing.
And yet that journal doesn't really point in any direction I could take them, that player can't sit back and say "I did that" when looking at a map, because how often are journals of PCs important in the narrative (even if I did make it so, I can only think of it being plausible a couple of times, nowhere near a map).




It's funny.  I actually DO keep the things he makes.  

You pose some good points, but there is always a way to make a player-made "thing" into the center of a campaign.  Maybe keep the journal overnight and add to it?  When the players return and see the new writing in it, they'll wonder where it came from.  Perhaps the journal has emotions of it's own?  Or maybe the spirit of a long-dead shaman has been trapped in this book for an age and is now trying to get out, having found a new "master" of the journal?

I'm getting off topic.  Hope I've helped in any way at all though! 
Some people just aren't good at that stuff, and/or don't have time.

Treat the whole group equally.  If someone brings in some cool artwork you feel should give bonuses, then give the whole group the bonuses.

Yes, if two people out of the six or so of you are unhappy with something, it's probably something you should think about changing.



This.  Each individual still has a vested interest in creating the cool little artifacts that help bring the campaign to life and everybody benefits from them.  

I'll also say that I do give out XP awards for neat little things like this because it increases immersion in the game.  If a PC is really going out to understand their character that helps me do my job better and the whole party is going to get an XP bump for that. 
Some people just aren't good at that stuff, and/or don't have time.

Treat the whole group equally.  If someone brings in some cool artwork you feel should give bonuses, then give the whole group the bonuses.

Yes, if two people out of the six or so of you are unhappy with something, it's probably something you should think about changing.



This.  Each individual still has a vested interest in creating the cool little artifacts that help bring the campaign to life and everybody benefits from them.  

I'll also say that I do give out XP awards for neat little things like this because it increases immersion in the game.  If a PC is really going out to understand their character that helps me do my job better and the whole party is going to get an XP bump for that. 



True, but that can cause bitter feelings between the ones always doing the "homework" and the ones who don't try as well.  Its the class project effect.  There is always one person in the group who cares about the grade, and they work their butt off for it and everyone else in the group just leeches.  I hated being that one person, and I resented my classmates for it. 
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It seems to me that in this situation, that may be optimal.
In school, when one person does the work and nobody else bothers, it causes problems because one person is completeing a thankless, grueling task and everyone else slacks off, then reaps the reward. In this case, one player is doing something that they think is fun and is a part of their hobby, and which has in- and out-of-game benefits even without extra encouragement (a more rewarding experience, more convenient play, more immersive RP, etc.). I don't think it would be unfair to give the entire group a reward.
But honestly, It's my opinion that the player's opportunity to use their map or journal or whatever in play is a pretty significant reward. It adds a lot to the game. If you have to add on more rewards, maybe have it be something a little less connected to gameplay than a reroll, like NPC's recognize that their character has the map or journal and responds to it positively. After all, since the things they're working on are for the sake of RP, shouldn't they be getting RP rewards, not mechanical ones? Just a thought.  
Since the PCs are a team a group, any type of special treatment becomes a wedge between the members (even if it's completely out of character).  This affects how each player participates and coordinates with one another.  Instead of giving individiuals rewards, if you want to continue your rewards system, give the rewards to the team.  Set up a chart of conversions, i.e.

If anyone brings snacks, every gets a +1 to any one roll throughout the night
If anyone brings drinks, the group as a whole gets 1 forced reroll they can assign to the DM but only if the majority agree on which roll
If anyone brings an art piece of any NPC, PC, location, etc associated with the story then the session exp will be increased by 5% for all characters


This will let those that don't want to do anything benefit while those that want to do it also benefit.  This lets your table decide if the reward system is right for them.  If the same person is always doing the tasks then let them.  If they are tired of doing it themselves and nobody else is helping, when the she/he stops then nobody gets bonuses.  Just becareful that the other players don't antagonize 1 person to make them feel obligated to perform any said task.
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