Monday, September 21, 2009

Bonus Token Player Reward System (Alternate Rules)

Written by Justin Mason

There are many different ways that game masters have found to reward their players, particularly those who contribute much to a campaign or game session. This could be as simple as a bonus experience reward, or a more complex reward (such as working in some special event into the character's role).

The real question is, how to come up with a system that not only rewards your positive, progressive players, but to also motivates those players who are less than forthcoming.

After all, in many cases, this may be one of the few times everyone is available for a friendly get-together. And, it's very easy to become distracted from the game by catching up with day-to-day life, letting loose some pent up aggression, and sharing the latest jokes from the workplace.

The Bonus Token System is one solution I've come up with and have myself used with quite a bit of success.

Player's earn tokens for things such as attendance, magnificent role-playing, completing of major plot benchmarks, etc. I suggest rewarding 1 token for attendance to be sure everyone at least gets to participate, but not to exceed awarding three to four per player during each game session. Tokens should be rare and valuable commodities.

There doesn't have to be a physical token awarded to the player, though I find handing something tangible over has a very dramatic effect. I use Campaign Coins as a prop to represent the Bonus Tokens I award my players.

These tokens can then be used at the end of the game session to "purchase" bonuses and special features, and upgrades for the character. These should be fairly moderate adjustments, and never anything that would be a "game changer." Though, more powerful benefits could be offered as long as the corresponding token cost is relative to the advantage the character would be obtaining.

For example, below is the basic Bonus Token chart my players utilize for my OGL 3.5 campaigns:

+1 Misc Skill Point = 1 Token
(250 * Level) GP [Max 10,000] = 1 Token
1 Random Minor Magic Item (from DMG) = 3 Tokens
1 Re-Roll Attempt (In-Game Only) = 3 Tokens
(500 * Level) experience [Max 5,000] = 5 Tokens
+1 Ability Point = 10 Tokens
+1 Bonus Feat = 10 Tokens
1 Random Medium Magic Item (from DMG) = 15 Tokens

It can also be fun to find unique and interesting ways to work these rewards into the game session "in-character" to explain how and where they came from. They could even be used as small plot hooks or storyline hints as well.

However you utilize the Bonus Token system, it's a sure-fire way to keep your players on guard, and help keep the focus on role playing.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I've done something similar for years - I call them "Master Points". A player can save these to buy an extra skill, to buy a type of ability not normally available to their class, to gain extra specialization, etc. However, I've only made a notation on the character sheet... the idea of a tangible reward (the campaign coin) is VERY cool!

  3. I like the idea of a prop to communicate the reward.

    I must admit some nervousness regarding the awarding of tangible treasure, character upgrades or magic items, but that might just be my stinginess as a DM coming out, or my lack of familiarity with the 4e approach.

  4. @A Paladin in Citadel: I think it could be a valid concern. I suppose it depends on your style of running a game session or campaign (and the platform being used).

    Maybe have a few items prepared that are a part of the storyline (though *not* to integral to the plot). This way they can easily be integrated and the “random item” is guaranteed to add more to the plot.

    This might even provide some motivation for players to opt for these tangible treasure items, especially if they know it will help expand the story and their experience within it.

  5. Neat idea, thanks for sharing it, I may just incorporate it into my own system of resource card props!

  6. Great idea .... I must figure a way to add it to the new group of players we are forming


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