MVP, Workhorse & Embodiment "Contentious"?

So as a result of discussing BW & MG in other forums recently, I’ve been told by several folks that the process of awarding MVP, Workhorse & Embodiment at the end of session of play is “contentious” or “divisive”. This totally gobsmacked me. I noted in many cases the person said “I don’t like /voting/ for MVP” and I went out of my way to point out the book says “don’t vote, decide” but this was brushed off.

I’ve always seen this as an opportunity to celebrate folks who had a special moment that night, or who made a significant contribution to everybody’s fun. It never occurred to me these awards could be seen as competitive.

Has anybody else seen this kind of reaction?

Mmm…on occasion, with folks who aren’t really on-board with the whole BW ethos. Very rarely. It’s disappointing and frustrating when it happens.

I do think there’s a confrontational vibe that I’ve seen BW bring out in some players. That’s all good if people are being principled, but if they start in on that because they want their scooby snax, that’s a bunch of bullshit.

Our group has never seen it as contentious. Usually a player speaks up for another player and everyone agrees and we all pat the player on the back.

Whatever. We’ve never had a problem with it.

I’ve played in non-BW games where the GM does something similar, by handing out bonus XP or whatever to the “MVP”, best roleplayer, etc. We did this in WoD and Reign. Worked great.

I’ve never seen anybody complain about this before. Some people get a bit uncomfortable about having to analyze others’ RPing though. And, depending on the group, you might end up with the same player getting the bennies every session, which can be frustrating for the other players and somewhat embarrassing for the guy receiving the awards.

That happened to me in our Reign campaign, actually. I won “best RPer” three sessions in a row. Was nice, but it made me too self-conscious, like I felt I was maybe hogging the spotlight too much.

I love MVP and Workhorse! It’s a great chance to get to say “Hey buddy, that maneuver we just pulled? It was my conflict scene, but I couldn’t have done it without you.”

I’ve always found them affirming rather than contentious. In fact, the contention I’ve seen has been mostly “Well, actually everyone really pulled together on this, who do we not award it to?”

I’ve never experienced these awards as contentious.

When we get to these awards, the first thing a group does is ask: What was the key moment of the session? Was there a test that everything turned upon?

Generally it’s pretty clear what the moment was and who the key player was in that moment. That person is the MVP.

Sometimes there is no key moment. Maybe it was a low-key session, or everyone was pursuing their individual Beliefs and not a communal goal. In that case we simply don’t award the point.

It’s the same with Workhorse. It’s often pretty obvious who the Workhorse is. They’ve spent their spotlight time doing the things to set the stage for the MVP moment rather than taking center stage at the most exciting moments. They’ve usually been lending lots of helping dice to everyone. Again though, if there’s no Workhorse then we don’t award the point.

Embodiment is generally a once every few sessions kind of award. It’s for those moments when a player’s roleplaying gives you a deeper and richer understanding of the character. When that happens in a session, generally everybody realizes it and no one is shy about awarding that player an Embodiment point.

It makes me feel uncomfortable having to vote or look at how another player RPlayed his character.

Why? You’re judging them anyway. (Yes, you are. You’re human.) Might as well reward them when the judgement is good. Just don’t confuse the carrot for the stick and you’ll be fine.

Personally I like Embodiment as it’s rewarding people for roleplaying really well and that will enhance any gaming session. The other two bring in a bigger focus on being better than the other players though, given that you are supposed to actively go for the rewards, and there are some aspects there that I don’t know if I feel they enhance the group dynamic. As always thing will of course differ depending on which people you are playing with.

I don’t like straight-up “roleplaying awayrds”, but I think MVP, Workhorse, and Embodiment are working on a different level. You’re not judging “roleplaying” from an on-high pseudo-objective standpoint. Rather, you’re being asked to think about how the other players’ contribution to a session affected your fun. Who stepped up to drive the story forward? Who worked diligently to set up fun stuff for the other players? Who changed your mind about his character? You’re not telling people “You’re a good roleplayer” (or, conversely, “You’re a bad roleplayer”); you’re telling them “Thank you for making this game extra-fun.”

I think MVP and workhorse work both ways. On the one hand players get rewarded for positive behavior :slight_smile:
On the other hand the gm notices when certain players haven’t been in the spotlight for some time. Especially with MVP, when a player hasn’t been receiving it for while, it’s time to hit his beliefs, hard!

Thor, so you folks do MVP and Workhorse potentially every session? We’ve been doing it every several sessions, but I’ve felt it should be more often.


We do it every time there was a scene in the session that clearly represented an important step toward the group’s goals.

I always saw this as a positive thing, you get a chance to go around the table and talk about what everyone did that was awesome, and by the end, the group celebrates one person for really pushing it in good ways. Even if you don’t get the reward, you hear about things you did that other players liked, that maybe you didn’t even think about.

It’s a post session check in about “What do we like? What do we want to see more of? And by the way, you’re awesome for that!”


I miss not having this type of feedback mechanism in other RPGs. There are so many times that someone does something awesome in a different system, and I want them to be rewarded for it!

I was just discussing that with a co-player in our BW game, who plays in my RQ game. I’m thinking of tying POW gain rolls to Beliefs the players write up for their PC’s. I love the easy way BW gameplay flows, with a bit less prep for the GM. It’s too cool.

I can see how it is contentious—but at the same time it is something that I have been forcing my players to do in every game. It also hurts if the players who think it is contentious have not been writing good Beliefs. Having a steady supply from Beliefs will make them feel better about awarding a player for being an MVP or Workhorse.