Download the most recent version of The First Hundred: A Drama System Series Pitch

Free RPG supplement alert: I adapted the premise of one of my favorite science fiction series (the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson) to a series pitch for Robin D. Laws‘ Drama System RPG. Drama System is a mechanics-light narrative RPG system where the GM and players take part in a collaborative storytelling session (or series of sessions). The “series” is the setting or scenario–think “TV show series” like Carnivale or The Walking Dead.

This “pitch” is designed for groups that would want to run a series based on the premise that one hundred scientists are sent to Mars to form the vanguard of the colonization of the red planet. From the pitch:

One hundred scientists from all over the world embark on a one-way mission to establish the first permanent human settlement on Mars. Their decisions about design, social structure, and use of Martian resources pave the way for the development of Martian society and future waves of colonists seeking new opportunities on the red planet.

Your journey to Mars awaits. How will you shape the future of space colonization?

Graphic design and layout for The First Hundred by Daniel Held.

Download the Most Recent Version of the Crescent City Quickstart

So here’s a blast from the past: Crescent City (the quickstart version anyway.) This was an RPG system I wrote for a long-gone PDF anthology called Beyond the Storm that pulled together a bunch of RPG authors and people in the games industry for contributions, and then sold copies for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Naturally, I was paid nothing to write this system.

I really like the idea of using a tarot deck for resolution mechanics, because tarot and its symbolism starts to bring some very natural, Campbellian symbolism into the game through the imagery of the major arcana and the names of many of the cards. It lends itself to a magical realistic world-that is, a world that is mostly mundane but the suggestion of mythic, magical connections lies just on the fringes. Tarot is, of course, completely mundane, but the lizard parts of our brain love to suggestion that maybe, just maybe, there’s something else going on with those cards.

I always intended to do more with this game (like, say, publish it and include a pack of tarot cards in a bag with the book that I’d sell to game stores-just ask my wife, a box of shitty Miss Cleo tarot card decks sat unused in our garage for years.)

This game was heavily influenced by the popular Indie RPGs of the early 2000s: My Life with Master, Dogs in the Vineyard, and so forth. Reading through the rules again there is quite a bit of their legacy here.

So here’s Crescent City. Enjoy. I doubt I’ll ever get back to doing anything with it, but there you go.

Writing About Writing

Posted: February 5, 2013 in creativity, writing

The last couple of months have been some of the most productive in my life in terms of creative writing. I changed jobs, and planned to get back into writing for National Novel Writing Month. I’d had an idea for a book I was kicking around for a while—sort of a Cormac McCarthy-meets-Gabriel Garcia Marquez set in the Old American West—and I planned the whole thing out and started writing my masterpiece.

I washed out of NaNoWriMo well short of my word count. Before Christmas, I stared at my 36,000 words and tried to find the motivation to keep going.

Then I had an idea for a story. A “wouldn’t it be cool if?” sort of thing, much more wacky action movie than Great American Novel. But I wrote a scene, then another, then realized the story was there just waiting to come out.

This last weekend, I finished at a little more than 62,000 words, all written between January 8 and February 2 (although I officially wrapped Draft 1 on January 31.)

In the last several weeks, I’ve realized a few things about how I write. These may apply to how you write or the might not—I don’t know. This may be Universal Truths for me, or they may only apply to my life such as it is in February of 2013—I don’t know. But here we go.

1. Write what you want to write. For a long time, I was hung up on being some strange combination of Stephen King, Vladimir Nabokov, and Cormac McCarthy. On some level this is natural. Artists see other people’s work and sometimes think one of two (polar opposite) things:

  • “Holy fuck this is fantastic and I want to do something of this level of brilliance.”
  • “Holy fuck this is awful, and I could do so much better!”

We take something away from the first, and the second gives us a threshold to aim above.

Part of my realization was that I wanted financial independence or security (I ought to be paid to make art full time! Also I hate sweating the bills each month!), but I also wanted recognition (I want people to feel the exact same way about something I wrote, that I feel about Nabokov or Rushdie or McCarthy!) Add to that the middle-class feeling that if recognition of brilliance, then financial security. In other words, if I’m so amazing, people ought to see that and of course give me moneys.

It took ten years to realize how wrong that is on so many levels. The world just doesn’t work that way. It never has, and it never will, and I’m not sure where this myth even comes from.

My rambling point here is that I kept trying to write something that fulfilled one or both of these two things. It had to be brilliant. It had to make a difference. If someone didn’t read what I wrote and come away feeling motivated, inspired, or changed, it was failure. And if I wasn’t making enough money to be financially secure doing it, it was a failure. Whenever I felt like I wasn’t doing that, I felt like my writing was failing.

Even the book I started for NaNoWriMo fell into this category. It was going to be a brilliant piece of Magical Realistic Western literature, like 100 Years of Solitude meets Lonesome Dove.

I realized I didn’t want to write that book. I wanted to write something fun.

So I started a story about two cowboy con-artists who resurrect the recently-deceased from town graveyards with a zombie serum developed by the Russians during the Napoleonic invasion, and used in the final days of the Confederacy as a last-ditch effort to try to win the civil war. The cowboys then kill the zombies in exchange for a payout, then move on to the next town.

Who knows? Maybe this will end up being life-changing to someone. I don’t know. Some of the books, games, comics, and so forth that inspired me as a kid weren’t intended to be Great Artistic Statements when they were created. It was just someone doing what they wanted to do, and making the very best thing they could.

So there’s #1. I’m not King or Nabokov or McCarthy. I’m just the very best me I can be. If you want to read what I write, awesome. If not, awesome.

2. The Write Time and Place. It turns out I can’t just write anywhere. I can write in some strange places, but there have to be barriers and boundaries. I don’t mean that I can only write on certain kinds of desks or in total silence or in the woods or anything like that. In fact, my guess would be that I’m way less OCD about this than some other writers. I have learned a couple of particular things about myself though.

I can’t really write in the evening. Anything I produce past 8 or 9pm takes forever and just doesn’t read very well.  I’m decent in the early morning, great after 2-3 cups of coffee, decent in the afternoon, but after dinner my mind’s turning off and I want to relax. If I get into the zone late at night, then chances are I’m not going to sleep.

I also can’t write at work. I write for work, so I don’t mean I can’t physically do it—I mean that I’ve mindfully been keeping the actual execution of my creative project separate from my job. On one level this is a conscious choice about keeping my job separate from my personal life (more on that in a minute). On another level, it’s because I’ve worked on creative projects at jobs in the past and it doesn’t really work well, because inevitably your real work suffers.

3. The Write Job. My job (my 9-5) involves a lot of writing. It’s also the first time in about ten years where I work a job that “ends” at the door.

Last October, I realized that my old job had burned me out to the point of ineffectiveness. I was waking up at 6 (if I slept much at all), opening my work computer, checking my email, and more often than not starting Skype conversations with my colleagues on the east coast. I’d then work until 7 or 8 at night, and check email until I went to bed anywhere between 10 and 11. My cellphone was my workphone, and even if I didn’t have my work computer, my email was on my phone.

It never turned off, ever.

I’m not discouraging anyone from this kind of lifestyle, but I had reached my own personal breaking point. Something had to give.

I’m convinced that if I had not left I would not have been writing nearly as much as I have since November. I’d probably still be sitting here frustrated and maybe writing some jerkoff shit that no one was going to read or care about, about social media marketing.

Instead I’m writing about cowboys shooting zombies in the face!

4. Fill your time with good stuff. My wife and I don’t watch much TV. We go out of our way to eat dinner at the table most nights and talk to each other. We manage it 3 or 4 times a work-week most weeks. That has been a very conscious choice on our part, because time is limited, and we’d rather spend it with each other than in each other’s presence when we’re doing something else (IE, watching TV.) We play board games, drink wine, hang out by the fire in the winter and on the back porch in the summer.

My point is that we’ve very mindfully tried to occupy ourselves with good things. Since our time is limited, we’ve tried to spend it doing things that are meaningful. My own time is spent playing games or reading books, and I’ve become very selective about both. I don’t waste hours grinding out achievements anymore. Not that I wouldn’t enjoy that, but it’s just not how I want to spend my time.

This was a big learning for me, because doing things that nourish and stimulate the mind has given me the headspace to start thinking about things more abstractly, and I swear has stimulated the creative process. I’ll admit my evidence is circumstantial, but it certainly makes sense.

5. This should be fun. One last nugget: writing should be fun. Not that it won’t be hard at certain points, but ultimately storytelling should be an enjoyable experience. That was part of the problem with all the other stuff I tried to write: it wasn’t fun. There were elements of fun in it, but when I stopped having fun telling the story and just turned it into a grind, it lost its appeal to me as a writer. As a result, the story suffered, and I eventually abandoned the project.

The great part about the cowboys-killing-zombies project is that it’s been fun to work out front to back. There have been hard elements to write, but for the most part, I’m excited to get back to it each day. I’m looking forward to telling more of the story because I kind of want to know how it turns out, and I have been having a blast coming up with ideas and jokes and fun stuff on the fly.

So that’s what I’ve figured out in the last few weeks about how I work and write.

It’ll be interesting to come back to this in a year and see how much of this still holds true.

The Great 2012 Twitpocalypse

Posted: November 15, 2012 in Twitter

I haven’t used Twitter with any regularity for the last couple of years. Every time I’d open Tweetdeck, it was an endless parade of headlines to irrelevant news stories, retweets of some social media guru or another, or a river of stuff I didn’t care about.

I followed about 1800 people. Most of them were professional contacts from earlier parts of my life, either bloggers, PR / social media folks, or old clients. Here and there were friends or people whose opinions I valued-but that was byfar the exception.

So I realized it was time for a purge.

I spent the bus ride home last night, a bit of the evening, and the last part of my lunch hour today purging the people I follow on Twitter. I planned a post about the criteria for whether I kept someone, but I realized I could summarize it with this phrase:

If the content you produce is somehow relevant to me, then I’m still following you.

If I unfollowed you then please don’t take this to mean I don’t like you (except in a few instances, but I’ll keep those to myself.) It’s just that the content you’re producing isn’t what I’m interested in. I’m not doing digital PR anymore. I don’t live in London anymore. I am writing a lot of fiction and games, and I’m still interested in what a select few people have to say about the development of the Internet as a social platform, and I care about what my friends are saying. Apart from that, I’m glad to have trimmed my follow count down significantly.

I started with 1800. Now I’m at 394.

Let’s see if this makes Twitter relevant again.

This is the blog post I tried four times to write prior to the 2012 election. Now that it’s called and the dust has settled, I think I can finally put what I’ve been feeling into words.

This is not a post about gloating. It’s a post about my feelings about the modern Republican party, and the politics of division. It’s my appeal to bring back the party of Barry Goldwater and ditch the party of Robertson, Buchanan and Bachmann.

And because every political conversation I’ve had online in the last several months has inevitably resulted in some clown misrepresenting who I am and what I believe, let me get the “manifesto” part out first:

  • I’m socially liberal. Hopefully that’s not a surprise. I believe in allowing women choices in reproductive rights, in giving everyone equal rights regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or creed. Or lack thereof.
  • I believe we have a responsibility as a society to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. I feel that a society should be judged on how it treats its poor, its infirm and disabled, its mentally and physically ill. Sometimes that means we’re going to end up paying for things that will never offer a return on investment (health care and housing for a permanently disabled or mentally ill person.) Sometimes it means giving people a nudge so they can pick up and start helping themselves.
  • In my past, I have been a social worker in a predominantly poor, African-American part of Tulsa. (If you don’t think segregation is alive and well, take a drive north of Admiral in T-town.)
  • I have also lived in the United Kingdom and experienced socialized (socialised?) health care and low-income housing firsthand, something most Americans cannot say.
  • I identify with neither political party, and have voted for candidates from both in every election in wich I’ve voted (at least, I’m pretty sure that’s the case.) I definitely did in this election. Not on the national level perhaps, but certainly on the state and local level. More on that below.
  • I personally feel the two-party system is unhealthy and permanently screwed up. I participate in it grudgingly because right now it’s the only system we have and I respect my freedom to participate in any system at all.
  • However, I actively campaign to attempt to change it.
  • At a fundamental level, I believe that communities will govern themselves best from a bottom-up approach: active participants in a neighborhood can govern themselves, which ratchets up to the community level, then to the county, then to the state, and finally the federal government, which ought to be as small and non-involved as possible in our daily lives, although it has its place in other things.
  • I am not religious, but do not begrudge anyone their beliefs as long as those beliefs are not foisted on others. I simply ask for the same respect in return.

Now that you know where I’m coming from, this is where I’m going. The Republican party has issues. Big issues. I have several friends and family members who are party members, and this is my way of imploring them to look for ways to enact some serious change in your party.

I was a potential swing voter in this election. That’s right, you could have had me! I went all-in for Obama in 2008 but was disappointed with his first term on several levels. I’m not sure the economy is on the right track, and I thought Obamacare was a misplaced priority.  But as it stands I will not consider the Republican party until the party of Goldwater and Eisenhower is back. My list of recommendations. Think of this is a customer feedback if that helps put it into context for you.

  • This is not the party of Lincoln anymore. It’s not the party of Goldwater either. Goldwater preached fiscal conservativism with social liberalism (or libertarianism). Religion was not a huge part of his platform apart from the preservation of the right to believe as you choose. There’s a reason Martin Luther King was a Republican until JFK pulled off one of the greatest political coups in history.
  • You have to recognize that this is not the current state of your party. At the 1994 convention Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan began the slide to appeal to the religious right – traditionally Democrat southerners disenfranchised by the passage of the Civil Rights Act by Johnson–in an effort to make inroads in the House and Senate, and set themselves up for retaking the White House. Congratulations, it worked! But the party has been railroaded by this element, made even worse by what the Tea Party has evolved into, and Mitt Romney, who should have been a Goldwater-style conservative, was forced to appeal to that element to try to bolster their support. In so doing, he lost voters like me forever. And the election. Oops.
  • Please stop glorifying ignorance. If you’ve got a guy who thinks the Earth is only 6000 years old, don’t put him on the House Science committee. If you’ve got candidates who actually think that legitimate rape can’t result in a pregnancy, kindly ask them to change their party affiliation. You can only fix these problems from inside, not outside. Goldwater’s fiscal policies were based on study, fact, science and reason. Don’t eschew those things to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
  • This goes for willful ignorance of facts. Climate change is real. Denying it is becoming a joke. Watching Karl Rove argue with Fox News after the called the election for Obama was like watching Baghdad Bob claim they were going to crush America even as the tanks rolled through the background. Your party has a major issue with facts: if they don’t confirm what you believe, whether you call it your “gut instinct” or “religious teachings” or whatever–you can’t simply stick your head in the sand and expect it to go away. Nate Silver didn’t predict Obama winning the election because he’s a liberal who hates Romney, he did it because he look at an analyzed data. This is how we’re going to have to live in the 21st century. The age of ignoring fact and data in favor of bias (or worse, claiming facts are biased and your bias isn’t) is over. Please realize this and move on.
  • Recognize that Fox News exists solely to motivate people through sowing discord, and that the Republican Party talking points these days are finely honed to excite those people as well. Again – it’s not working out for you. Bring the rhetoric back to Earth please. Obama isn’t a socialist, he’s an American citizen, and we’re all tired of hearing otherwise. If anything, you’re distracting from honest criticism that might have won you the election.
  • (Most) liberals don’t think you’re a bunch of mustache-twirling villains ready to deny people rights and tie America to some train tracks. I think that your leadership has been great at misleading you in an effort to gain power and make a ton of money, but that’s hardly on you. Just see it for what it is, and change it.
  • Speaking of rhetoric, if someone disagrees with you and offers facts that contradict your beliefs, they’re not bullying you or being mean to you. If someone is asking for equal rights for all, that does not infringe on your rights. Claiming either of those things makes you sound like a petulant child who isn’t getting his way. If someone’s challenging your beliefs, use logic and reason to defend them. If you can’t, it’s not your challengers fault. Take responsibility for your reactions to this conundrum. Own them. It’s how we all improve as people after all.
  • The Tea Party has got to go. It was initially a great movement that helped sparked national conversation about the awful fiscal policies of George W. Bush and the 2000-2006 Republican congress. Now it has devolved into something resembling a crazy militia movement from the mid-1990s after it was co-opted by the southern right. People like Michelle Bachmann are embarrassing not just to your party but to America as a whole. You know what the Occupy movement has been up to? Leading Hurricane Sandy relief in New York City, and be some accounts doing a better job of it than FEMA. Or keeping libraries in Seattle open. What’s the Tea Party done lately apart from lose you an election? Ditch them. Make them be a third party and see if their beliefs will stand up in that context. Goodness knows we need viable third parties anyway.

One last note before we go: we’re all Americans here, and we’re all in this together. At our cores we’re here because of freedoms we all love: the freedoms to speak and be ourselves. The idea here was that it’s not just our side vs. your side. Or liberal vs. conservative. Or good vs. evil, or whatever. This goes back to that community thing: the only way we’ll fix this and make it better is to work together.

Listen to customer feedback. Adjust your product. There are people out there waiting to buy if they like what they see.

See you in 2016 guys.

Tim Minchin Quote

Posted: September 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

Science adjusts its views based on what’s observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.

Source.

Good news: the entire 2012 presidential campaign was fought in microcosm yesterday. There’s no need for an extended election cycle, endless attack ads, emails from tinhat survivalist bunkers with FW>FW>FW>FW> in their subject lines, and intolerable Facebook posts for the next five months. We can pack it up and go to the ballot box.

Two extremely significant things happened yesterday, and neither of them have much to do with the Republican National Convention.

I’m trolling the Republicans, right now, just by being alive and awesome.

First, President Obama decided to connect with a key supporting demographic in the 2008 election and did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit (author’s disclosure: I still prefer Something Awful to Reddit). In a few minutes he managed to crash the site’s servers repeatedly from the traffic, and he was only on for a half-hour. In that time Obama answered 10 questions, ranging from the inspiring (Space!) to the mundane (beer’s good folks! Jordan’s my favorite hoops player!) Nothing was really said about economic recovery or his apparent lack of strategy to motivate his supporters this campaign.

This was timed, of course, to knock the RNC off the trending topics on Twitter, which it immediately did. It brought most of the geekier side of the Internet to a screeching halt as we all mashed F5 repeatedly to get Reddit’s constantly-crashing servers to load Obama’s replies to our hastily-compiled questions.

He even ended the AMA with a nice shout-out to the NOT BAD Obama rageface meme, once again proving he’s one of the cool kids.

Can you honestly tell me this isn’t the person you’d want leading the country?

Second, Romney’s campaign noticed that Obama shooting to the top of Twitter during their own convention, cleverly upstaging them using a technology into which they have sunk tons of money to appear as though they are attracting more people than they actually are. So what does the well-funded Team SuperPAC do? They buy #BelieveInAmerica as a trending topic, and slap this Romney tweet up top:

“The right course for America and our future is putting our faith back in the American people #BelieveInAmerica

Never mind that you could replace the word “faith” with the word “hope” in that sentence and you basically have an Obama slogan from 2008. Never mind that I’m a little confused about when we have apparently lost faith in each other – was that when the Republicans endlessly started attacking every single word that came out of Obama’s mouth? Hint, Republicans: “we” the people haven’t lost faith, just you guys. Congratulations, you’re the problem.

I digress. I can tell you from professional experience that trending topics don’t come cheap in Twitterland, and the Internet is a wonderfully self-correcting place. When you click on “#BelieveInAmerica” as a trending topic, what do you get? Here’s a nice screenshot that shows this phenomenon at work (pardon the timecodes, I loaded this before I started writing this post): 

LOL U MAD MITT???

Wait, that actually looks like an excellent way to spend SuperPAC money – so that people can consider both the meaningless marketing message up top and the very real concerns about Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate, voiced by everyday citizens in a way that cannot be silenced like the GOP silenced Ron Paul supporters daring to question the anointed party line yesterday.

Yesterday was historic not just for a sitting head of state and political candidate using Reddit to connect directly to what can be a collection of some of the worst trolls online – the campaign was run in microcosm, in its entirety.

Obama skillfully used new technologies to connect to his base, but ignored important questions about his platform. Also, he likes Jordan and the Bulls.

Did I mention that Obama likes the Greatest Basketball Player of All Time Michael Jordan and the greatest team of all time the Bulls (assuming 1990-1997 Bulls?) Because he does and that’s a game-changer.

Romney, realizing he was behind, threw a bunch of SuperPAC money at a problem and it ended up biting him in the ass.

The next three months are going to be lather, rinse, repeat, so we might as well go to the polls and vote today. What fun!

Old School Hats

Posted: August 20, 2012 in games, gaming, Old School Hats, RPGs, writing

Download the Most Recent Version of Old School Hats

Old School Hats is my loving hack-up of Kirin Robinson’s brilliant Old School Hack ruleset. Old School Hack captures the fun of Red Box D&D and turns it into an easy-to-play, cinematic hack-it-up with an emphasis on doing awesome, cool stuff. Old School Hats is my attempt to adapt that rules-set into a mythologized, cinematic Wild West.

Like Old School Hack this is totally free to download right now. There’s no Paypal donate button and no Kickstarter to support so you can get some stickers or something along with your PDF. It’s Creative-Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike, so feel free to take this and hack the heck out of it. I encourage it.

I’d also really like to hear what you think about Old School Hats. My only caveat is that if you think it sucks then give me some specific reasons why it sucks. If you think it’s great, ditto. If you found typos or rules that don’t make sense or have other suggestions to make, please feel free to drop me a line. I suggest my Twitter account.

I will update the above download link as I release new versions of this PDF.

New Game Coming Soon!

Posted: August 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Good news: the RPG system I’ve been working on for the better part of the last year is done, and first-draft-laid-out. I’ve got a first round of edits and comments from Seth Johnson and will be incorporating them shortly.

Bad news: the week of GenCon is a really bad time to put out a free RPG because many people aren’t online and it could potentially be lost in the noise from the show.

So I’ll be spending this week making edits and tweaks. Next week: a brand-new, no-kickstarter, open-source, free-to-download RPG from me!

One of the key components of recent games and game-like applications and services has been the addition of the digital badge or achievement system – something you unlock for meeting a specific set of requirements in the “game.” Xbox 360 did a killer job of implementing this with its Achievements back in 2006, and it’s been copied by every online game service since, expanding even into gamelike services like Foursquare. It was a component of gamification advocate Jane McGonigal’s Gameful community – now in its latest incarnation on Ning.

I’ve been very interested in the psychological drive that trophies, achievements, and badges create. I’ve compared them in the past to ranks in Boy Scouts (or more appropriately, merit badges) where you achieve a “level up” through fulfilling a certain set of requirements and get a nice shiny patch to put on your uniform. This is partially fair because you are doing a certain thing (shoot five arrows into a single bullseye!) and get a badge for it (Archery merit badge!) but most gamified systems don’t necessarily rely on the badges for leveling up or advancement, or grant the badge itself through the very act of leveling up.

This may or may not accurately reflect my experiences in Boy Scout Archery.

There’s a fascinating Native American tradition called counting coup (pronounced coo): rather than injuring or killing an opponent in battle, the most badass thing you could do is run through danger – say past the guards in his village or through a hail of arrows – and touch him with something, like your hand or a special stick called a coup stick. Then you had to get away and back to safety without getting killed. If you succeeded, you got to add a trophy to your coup stick, showing the people in your village and anyone else in on the meaning how hardcore you were. The more feathers on your coup stick, the more impressive you are.

To be fair you could do some damage with the proper application of a coup stick.

It’s also worth noting that this is not an extinct tradition – as recently as 2010, Lakota warriors counted coup on the 7th Cavalry at Wounded Knee.

Rather than comparing gamelike badge systems to Scout ranks, a kind of digital coup stick may be a more meaningful and useful comparison. Badges tend to only mean anything to those people who have self-selected into the group (or to use Godin’s term, tribe) around the system. No one outside of the gaming community cares that I ground out killing 53,000 zombies in Dead Rising, and it’s doubtful that anyone outside of my Foursquare buddies cares if I’m mayor of my local Mexican restaurant. The coup is meaningful to my tribe and those in similar tribes who recognize its meaning but it becomes much more abstract beyond those boundaries.

The trick with digital coup is to give people chances to do something badass or cool to do within their tribe, and a recognizable symbol to put on their digital coup stick for doing it. Achievements are one of the first things you can look at on someone’s Xbox profile (and conveniently you can compare yours to theirs with a quick click.) When you look at my Foursquare profile, my badges are clearly and colorfully displayed and my Mayorship tally is right beneath it.

And you thought being mayor on foursquare was just bragging rights.

The coup is merely the symbol for what’s been accomplished: the feat of bravery or dedication. Setting up those meaningful opportunities within a system (app, community, etc.) for your members and followers is the first step. These can be as varied as your community and its goals – and can even be ad-hoc creations of the community itself – but tap into the psychological drive to do great and cool things, and display a little trophy to show everyone else (who cares) how cool you are.