Should I Reward the player for doing "the right thing"?

As you might know I’m working on an exstensive Hyper-realistic zombie-horror game. Throughout
the game there are many scenes in which there is an obvious “moral choice” (for example, giving an injured man your painkillers). Becuse of the game being very realistic, most of the times you get absoluotly NOTHING in return (when you give the man the painkillers in the example above, he thanks you, and that’s about it). My question is: should I reward the player for making those altruistic
choices (apart from changing his moral stats)? Or should I keep the game realistic?


Perhaps roll a die and add a small amount of chance?

I don’t use chance/luck in my game at all. I don’t like doing that.


In Choice of Games, there should not be a ‘right thing’ so to speak or a wrong one. All paths should be equally valid, and as interesting storyline-wise.

Changing the moral stats is certainly a reward though. It doesn’t need to be an immediate story reward. Perhaps you could have things unlocked further along that require a high moral stat. Or even an ending that’s only accessible to those who’ve high morality.

The obvious thing is, when you give an injured man painkillers, it allows him to survive. He thanks you. He tells someone else of your good deed who will react favourably to you in the future and trust you more. Or you meet up with him later, and he helps you.


I’d say it depends on your goals and the in-game goals of the MC.

Being “Human” is a trackable stat in @JimD’s Zombie Exodus series; if you have not looked at that, I suggest doing so just to see how easy (or hard) doing something like it is in implementation.

Morality is such a tricky thing

Rewarding a person for an action taken is usually a give-and-take - I think you need to define this before you can answer your initial question for your story…

If you give that person in your hypothetical the pain-killer and they survive, won’t that effect the way they and those they associate with (their faction) see you - likewise if you kick dirt on him and his family found out, shouldn’t that influince them?

Is there a God or a Deity in your game that would see your actions?

etc. etc.


I role play evil charácters so for me I think you are taking a wrong perspective. In a cog you shouldnt think A SUPER HEROIC PATH IS GOOD A RUTHLESS IS WRONG SO I HAVE TO PUNISH EVILDOERS AND REWARD MORAL WHITE CHOICES. You should think in the action itself and character plans to look is a good action or not for them.
An example a Mara ruthless character could heal the injured to gain his trust and learn where his loot is or where is his group to slave them. There is no white or black actions the moral depends of character motivations.


I don’t think you should outright “reward” players for altruistic choices but more think about what consequences the players action will have for both good and bad. Just like in real life some people do cruel things and get away with them, sometimes it comes back to bite them in the a**, sometimes altruistic action don’t get rewarded, sometimes they do.

You are creating this world with it’s different story-branching, so in the end it’s your choice if there’ll be consequences for our different actions in the game or not. I think, if you have a mix between having visible and no consequences for the MC, whether it’s via altruistic or cruel actions, it’ll force people to choose their actions based on RP, rather than what they get rewarded/punished for.

Also with your example, for some people (it depends on the player and the amount of RP they do), the fact that they get to help another human being can be reward enough. I can imagine for some people, when the world’s gone to s**t, it’s comforting to know that you can still be a “good” person.

I don’t think you should outright “reward” players for altruistic actions. But maybe alternate between having consequences, and no consequences for both cruel and altruistic actions.


How about making the consequences more elaborate. Such as in your situation, giving the man the painkillers would lead to him being more capable of something in future, since he’s free of pain. Or if you don’t do it, you have the painkillers to give to someone later, or use yourself.

In real life there is no return on good deeds usually, beyond it feeling good to have helped someone. What @FairyGodfeather said is the best way, I feel, because that also allows for what @poison_mara’s scenario - setting it all up for a potential betrayal - albeit a long shot in such a world, as there is no guarantee the recipient will survive or even be very grateful - perhaps they too are manipulative like Mara… :scream: Of course, if we have witnesses they might get a certain impressions, and so forth.

No need for stats to track it, merely a flag showing you did give it - or not with potential stat for what the witnesses might think, if they indeed are around. But what comes after this gift of anti-biotics, we, the players, cannot really know, unless we replay and abuse Out of Character knowledge, which we never would do, right? Right?. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I summary, a good deed is its own reward, whereas @poison_mara’s deed is a hope of an investment. :grin:


Ahahaa! I do like how Mara points out that sometimes you might do good deeds for selfish ends. That morality is not black and white. That even the wickedest of people might find it useful to help others out, even if it’s for their own manipulative ends. The charming sociopath and all that.

I can keep these painkillers for myself, or I can give it to that guy and then HE WILL OWE ME!!! His life will be mine! And surely someone owe me that huge a favour, for something I can find more of, is useful.

Sometimes the fuzzy feelings of a good deed is reward enough. I’d almost always play such a game as good as possible. Not killing unless I have to, being nice to everyone. Admittedly if this ends up in me getting punished for it, it’s probably not a game I’m going to enjoy playing. I like having rewards for being good.

I think it’s encouraged that rather than have a whole lot of booleans to keep track of of whether you did or didn’t do a thing, you increase or decrease stats instead that give an overall picture.


It was an example normally a Mara character alone with the guy will kill the guy and loot his body . Only give a medicine if she believes he is valuable or somebody near him is.

True, but what should that picture represent? Overall, potentially misleading (Mara!) reputation? If so, how does said reputation spread? Or does it stand for something else? Honestly want to know what you had in mind for this. :relaxed:

Still an investment. :grin: My thoughts about reputation still also applies, so unless the fella’s group have contacts then it is all a shot in the dark too (beyond enslaving them - cue evil laughter (looks at @poison_mara :wink:)).

I think Champion of the Gods has a system of keeping track of two variables, one of which represents what you think, the other of how people perceive your actions. I think it allowed you to lie about certain things. The details are fuzzy though.

It’s mostly to stop you needing booleans to keep track of every single event and simplify things, because having so many booleans can get really complicated and hard to keep track of. Someone who’s written both Hosted Games and Choice of Games, like @JimD might be better able to explain. I could be speaking nonsense.

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I will put the example of other wip Guenevere. Poison Queen is all Mara it can be. Manipulative, ambitious, ruthless. However, she didnt do a simple bad action all was good and proper of a faitfull queen.that games track my hatred and lies to let me ploting If you dont track WHY characters do stuff you are screwed; you will ost half of character consistency

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The most recent example I can think of that rewards players realistically for their actions would be The Lost Heir 2, where depending on your choices and stats, both “good” and “bad” deeds are rewarded realistically, such as you can save a possessed man… And later he will offer a cache of food to you and your army, whereas a reward for an “evil” deed may be, say, a legendary mount or some such. It all depends. As in real life, good and evil is(mostly) a matter of perspective. Hope this helps.

Thanks for all the answers!

I just want to make it clear that in my game I don’t have (and I never planned on having) a “Humanity”/“Morality”/“Good or Bad” stat. My way of keeping track of that is an opposed pair of Emotion vs Rationality. This way there’s no clear good/bad. Not giving the man the painkillers would result in your rationality rising, becuse keeping the pills for yourself is the logical choice. Giving him the painkillers will result the opposite.

I have a second stat to help with that, but you’ll find out what it is when I publish the Wip of the game (hopefully this week).

Why is giving pain killers emotional? If i do it to gain a leverage to con his loot or a future reward is clearly rational. It is rational giving the pills if you have several and need some meatshield. Or the contrary. There is no a Rational vs emotional there. No for all characters you are limiting character buildings with that.


Note to self:If you ever meet Mara in a real apocalypse situation. Run away as fast as possible.

Not every good deed will require a reward. Though I hope we’d see this character again later. At least to know we didn’t waste our supplies. Or seeing him dead anyway to show we can’t save them all. I prefer actions that have story consequences,not stat boosts.


That’s exactly the problem i’m facing: let’s say we don’t meet that man again - not becuse he died or anything, becuse he was just a minor character we encountered on our way once.
I’m not sure if knowing you helped the man is a good enough reward for wasting my precious first aid kit or my extremely rare sleeping pills which are the only way for me to fall asleep.

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For some people it will be, for others it won’t. I for instance would give the meds to him if I had no one else to worry about. If I never saw him again so be it. However if I had someone to look out for (girlfriend, child, dog,ect) I wouldn’t give it to him when we may need it.

For me a stranger just isn’t important enough to give supplies to if I have to keep other people safe.