Want to earn some Brownie Points with your GM?

Sure, I know we all like going with simple combat cues sometimes. I’ve been playing a ton of 4th edition D&D and my Fighter relies on moves like “Shield Feint” and “Tide of Iron” and “Steel Serpent Strike” for his combat abilities. But I have to say this gets a bit old after a while. Don’t get me wrong, I love my fighter – but combat in 4e gets to be a bit of a Chinese menu sometimes… a bit from column A, a bit from column B, and bingo we’re on to the next round.

browniesFor this Lost Age campaign using 5e D&D, I would really like to change this a bit. Instead of “Bob the Fighter attacks the orc with his Greataxe. I got a 17, did I hit?” I’d rather the player use some storytelling. “Bob grips the greataxe in both hands and attempts to cleave the orc in two in a downward stroke… I got a 17, did I hit?” Isn’t that more exciting?

But it’s not enough to ask for such additional creativity and roleplaying even in combat… We must also encourage it. As a result, we’re going to add the idea of “Brownie Points” officially to the system. You’ll need to note the number of BPs on your character sheet. At the beginning of each session, the number resets to 1. These are purely to be used during sessions, so you can’t store them up from session to session – you should use them while you have them!

Note that this is not a new idea. It’s one I used to use when I GM’ed all the time when we were playing our Moebius Adventures system back in the 1990s. It’s just time to dust it off and update it a bit for 5e D&D.

Depending on the action, you will be able to use these BPs to…

  • Add a die to the current action. For instance, a player could use a BP to add an extra die to their damage or automatically gain the Advantage for a roll.
  • Subtract a die from the current action. Perhaps the player is about to have an unfortunate amount of damage done to their character and would like to reduce it by one die.
  • Introduce a Disadvantage to an opponent.
  • Ask the GM for a favor such as an item they forgot to buy or suddenly realized they needed. (This can only be done outside of combat.)
  • Invoke a boon from the character’s deity.
  • Just about anything is possible – talk to your GM and see if you can negotiate something close to what you’re looking for…

We want to encourage our players to use big, cinematic, flashy actions in combat like heroes do on the big screen. As a result, when a player does something spectacular during a session, the GM may bestow a BP upon them to add to their their total for the session. We may even see the rest of the party petition to have BPs bestowed at the end of a particular encounter.

Edit: One caveat for BPs… You must DECLARE that you are using a BP at the beginning of an action before ANY dice are rolled. You can’t roll a critical hit and suddenly decide at the last moment you want to use a BP to bump the damage up by a die. You must declare you want to use a BP at the beginning of your turn and must choose how you wish to use it at that point.

What kinds of acts might earn a BP? Maybe an unexpected hero throws themselves in the line of fire to protect a party member or innocent. Or perhaps instead of “My character attacks the monster and does [x] damage…” the player uses more descriptive language to say “With a flourish, my swordsman leaps into the air and comes down on his foe with a vicious two-handed grip to thrust it deep…”

BPs can also be traded between players. Imagine giving all your “luck” to a particular character to accomplish a simply amazing goal at a critical moment…

Like I said before, use your BPs by the end of a session. They don’t “keep” from session to session.

And never forget that your GM can probably be bought or bribed… Bringing ACTUAL brownies to the table might work in your favor!!!

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3 thoughts on “Want to earn some Brownie Points with your GM?”

  1. This is an interesting concept. You don’t mention in this article, but 5e has something similar built in called “Inspiration”. If a player displays good role-playing the DM can award an Inspiration point. The player can then use this to take Advantage on an attack, save, or ability check roll (Roll 2D20 and take the higher one). Players can also “lend” their inspiration to other players. The difference is the players can only have one inspiration point at a time (per core rules).

    1. @Joseph – That’s fantastic. I haven’t read through the entire 5e Player’s Handbook or DMG yet, but that’s exactly the kind of thing I was going for. Of course, my BPs have been around long before 5e but I’m excited that a similar concept made it into the 5e rules!! 🙂 Thanks for pointing that out!

  2. Interesting idea and I like the name! I think it is good to have a little extra motivation in the game to incentivize quality game play. We play http://fyxtrpg.com/ for our tabletop system. In that there is an optional rule to do something similar to BP. Players can earn tokens through good play that can be used later to increase a d20 roll. These can be used after a roll to kick them up just enough to be successful. I have also heard about many other ways to do things. But ultimately, it no matter what game you’re playing, encouraging and rewarding players for good game play is vital to a great gaming experience.

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