Using Artha Counters

In my new BW campaign, we’ve been using little plastic counters for Artha. When a player earns a fate or persona point, I (as GM) slide a counter their way. I don’t need to pause the action, because it’s non-verbal, but it is much more immediately satisfying than waiting for the end of the session to dole out Artha. We still do workhorse and MVP votes at the end, but those feel totally separate from GM-distributed Artha now. I think this has helped me track who needs the spotlight and which beliefs I haven’t engaged enough. It also keeps us from rushing through Artha at the end of the session. As a fun bonus, the colored chips match the banner of the PC’s religion.

Have other folks tried this? Are there risks or shortcomings to this method that haven’t occurred to me yet?

I’m sure Luke and co. have some specific, good reasons why they tell us to wait until the end of a session to award Artha. The thing I would be worried about is players putting too much focus on the resource management aspect, trying to get Artha early in the session in order to spend it later in the session. Of course, given how Artha is earned, I’m not entirely sure this qualifies as a failure mode.

All in all though, I think this is a pretty minor rule modification. I doubt it will be too much of an issue.

BWR used to award Artha during play, rather than at the end of it. I know my group, and I’m guessing several others, tended to drift toward holding off until the end to offer awards. We did it because trying to award during the game felt like just having one more thing to keep track of, and one more reason for dominating personalities at the table to dominate. By doing it at the end, it really let us take a step back and look at what was going on at the table, among the players. If one person wasn’t getting Artha, then we all knew that they needed to either work on actionable Beliefs, or for the louder players to step back and give the others some focus. I don’t have any real evidence for it, but I’d guess that Luke and co. probably were seeing the same patterns, or drifting the rules in the same way, before BWG got released.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with drifting back to the old system, if it’s working. The only thing I’d keep watch on is Fate Point bloat, if you’re not using the scripted subsystems often, and then only because having a whole bunch of physical bits at the table can be somewhat distracting.

How do you handle pursuing versus accomplishing beliefs? It seems like this way you could get both Fate and Persona from the same belief in the same session, which seems like double rewarding to me.

Shaun: I appreciate the well-argued counter-point. In the end, it may just be one more thing to manage. We’ll keep trying it for this campaign (which will be only 4 or 5 more session) and see how it goes. I really appreciate the thoughtful response.

Taelor: Double Rewarding hasn’t happened (or I haven’t caught it) but it totally could. Good catch. Further evidence the RAW are a precise machine.

I’m not 100% sure what the RAW is on this, but with every BW game I’ve ever been in we, as a group, always discuss all rewards together. Like “Did this person’s belief actually come up? Did they accomplish it?” It’s never been 100% the GM’s decision. We don’t necessarily care about coming to a total consensus, but it’s nice to know what players think about each others’ beliefs and such and whether they came up in an interesting way.

I agree with that totally. Its the way we’ve always played as well. It’s always a group discussion as to how hard each player pushed towards their beliefs. And that good a lot of the time, as one player may remember something that stuck out to them more than to another. Its never 100% just up to the Gm.

Yeah, Jeremiah. Another solid point. The GM-centrality of this method is a drawback. We have paused a couple times to ask, “Do you feel like that belief has been resolved now?” but we have kept it minimal to keep our heads in the scene.

When we go over at the end to see what we missed, it’s still a whole-table conversation.

So: while I like the visualization of Artha pools, we may go back to RAW to keep Artha grounded in that collaborative conversation. Thanks for helping me think this through, all.

Shaun and Jeremiah have it. It’s just a better, more productive way to play BW. Awarding in play really changes the dynamic of the game. It becomes a lot more “here’s a cookie!” style. And we just don’t play like that. Plus there are so many economies to track in play, it makes sense to set one aside until the end!

Lastly, I think the end of session discussion that J mentions is vital to a successful BW game.