Metagame Rewards: An example analysis

The discussion on the previous Metagame Rewards article spun off the question of “All of this is well and good to know, but how does it work in the context of an actual gaming group?”  As such, I’d like to take a shot at showing how the previous concepts we’ve introduced come into play when handling my gaming groups for the current 4e D&D game that I’m running.

I’ll be talking in broad strokes here as I’ve discussed these with the players before and put up a few of my notes in my earlier entry: “Campaign Construction Part 4: the Characters”  That being said, let’s begin with a summary of preferences of both teams:

Team 1

  • Christine Prefers: Expression, Kairosis, Kenosis, Closure
  • Alvin Prefers: Agon, Fiero, Humor, Ludus, Naches, Schadenfreude
  • Vicente Prefers: Asabiyah, Agon, Fiero, Kenosis, Ludus, Closure
  • Maddie Prefers: Expression, Kenosis, Paida
  • Pilo Prefers: Agon, Alea, Humor and Paida
  • Heineken Prefers: Asabiyah, Agon, Alea, Fiero, Humor
  • Mappy Prefers: Agon, Humor, Sociability, Venting

As you can see, Team 1 is actually pretty diverse in their interests and where they derive their fun.  The players in this team are less focused on the rules (as evidenced by the absence of Ludus save for Vicente and Alvin), but it doesn’t mean that this team is any less competitive, as demonstrated by a high amount of players who prefer Agon.  In which case I do interpret this not exactly as a means to beat me personally, as much as to overcome the challenges I set as GM.

This groups play style is heavy on the creative aspect, relying on me to make some rules calls on some very interesting situations that are not present in the rules per se, but could feasibly work, like the Fire Beetle Mating Call combo from my 4e Playtest Report #3.  Again this is another example of Agon (“Outwit the GM’s vile machinations!”) coming into play with out the necessity of Ludus (“It says so here in the rules!”) to make it happen.

Special considerations that I’ll have to take with this team is to make sure that I don’t end up neglecting the players who enjoy Kairosis and Kenosis.  These players enjoy taking the time to actually “be” their characters, and experience growth or evolution as a character, so I have to make sure that there are certain downtime scenes between dungeons where they can explore their characters, and their character’s relationships and personality better.

Team 2

  • Blake Prefers: Agon, Fiero, Ludus, Schadenfreude, Venting
  • Nicco Prefers: Alea, Expression, Humor, Ludus, Paida, Sociability
  • Rick Prefers: Agon, Closure, Expression, Fiero, Kairosis, Kinesis, Ludus
  • Panm Prefers: Alea, Closure, Expression, Kairosis, Kinesis
  • Victor Prefers: Agon, Humor, Ludus, Sociability

Team 2 on the other hand is the more on the Ludus side of the equation.  Agon still exists, as a close second.  As you can imagine this has significant impact on how they play.  This is the group that can out-quote me on the PHB, and who know their powers up, down and sideways.  As such, this is the team I have to work harder on in planning for since I’m not completely geared for tactical combat either.

Combat plays heavily on keeping this team on the ball, and I fully expect to end up sweating bullets even when I’m in complete tactics mode.  They derive fun from outmaneuvering me and taking out monsters on the field even in adverse circumstances.

Interesting considerations for this team is the presence of the two “wild cards” of the team in the form of those with a preference for Alea.  They’re not reckless by any stretch, but they do break out of the tried and true strategies by thinking outside the box (or just bumbling into something that works in panms case.) The fun thing about taking risks is getting a bigger reward when it does work.  I’m not going to take that away from them, and I’m glad the DMG does have guidelines when it comes to handling stunts.  Much like Team 1 I also have considerations for Kairosis and Kenosis in this team, so when I can manage some downtime, there will have to be a means by which I can push that story forward so it’s not just all about delving the dungeon of the day.

And there you have it.  A quick analysis of how I handle both teams on how I perceive their prefered Metagame Rewards are geared.  It’s not perfect by any stretch, but it does go a long way to seeing what kind of Combat Encounters, or Skill Challenges will fly with which group.


  1. And Ricky, just because I know you’ll ask:

    Ricky Prefers: Alea, Expression, Humor, Paida, Sociability

    You’ve got a gambler’s streak, and are perfectly willing to throw your character off the deep end just to see where it will end up. You fiddle with the rules, but they’re not your primary concern, and a game that leaves you in tears from laughing so much is a good game.

  2. so far 4ed is giving me a really good experience in dnd, doing things that im not really doing in previous dnd games lol. so far so good keep it up oh mighty GM!!

  3. Interesting. Glad to see a example given to see how it works. Thanks!

    Would you say that the system you are playing has an inclination to reward certain types of players?

  4. Hi Questing GM,

    Well, 4e in general tends to reward Ludus, Kinesis, Agon and Alea most easily. But like in all other games, the system is really only half the experience. The rest of the metagame rewards have to come from how the GM structures play, and composes his scenario.

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