What was the best reward you’ve ever gotten in a game? What made it so great? How much do you need tangible rewards (loot, leveling, etc.) to enjoy a game?
The more that I read this list of questions, the more that I think it’s really oriented towards D&D/dungeon crawl gaming. The games that I generally play don’t have an ‘item’ reward, and they also don’t usually have levels. You get XP, you slowly buy new powers or increase characteristics or decrease disadvantages. In Champions, if you want a +2 Sword of Muppet Bashing, you design it and buy it.
I have no problem with leveling/loot-based RPG’s, they’re just not what I usually played.
Thinking back to the early days of gaming and about today’s games, I wonder how prevalent leveling vs non-leveling games are. A lot of the early games, D&D/Tunnels & Trolls/Top Secret were level-based. But there were also a lot, the Hero systems games (Champions, Espionage, Danger International, etc.), I think the Runequest family (Call of Cthulhu, Superworld, etc.) were not level-based. Now, we look at Fate games such as Dresden/Spirit of the Century/Bulldogs, Fortune’s Fool, Lady Blackbird, The Laundry, and w have XP and advancement but no levels. I think the telling difference is the use of pre-defined character roles. In non-level-based games, there’s a marked absence of these roles, or the roles are more open/vague. If you want a fighter with a mystic ability to heal, you’re going to have to stretch some rules to plug it in to a fighter role in some games, in other games it’s no problem at all.
I like no problems. Your limitations are what you can imagine and what your GM will let you get away with.