Wednesday, 5 October 2011

all that glitters...

...isn't gold.  There's other stuff too.  This month's RPG Blog Carnival is hosted by Campaign Mastery and considers how to make the treasure part of the adventure.  Putting hooks on your loot is one approach, though it risks drowning players in minutiae.  When it all matters, nothing matters.  So how do you make the treasure something that players want to follow up on?
  1. Deeds of Property
    Giving your party deeds to property doesn't necessarily tie them to a location - a ship may be the springboard for a wavecrawl or visits to far-off islands.  Some properties may need maintenance or repair - a cure for excess wealth or drive for further adventures.  Some deeds may provide revenue and a place to park followers busy while dealing with really deadly stuff.  The deeds themselves can be contested by acquisitive rivals, provoke attacks by enemies or be stolen by thieves.  What's not to love?
  2. Dungeon-In-An-Item
    This involves extra-dimensional or magical shenanigans.  Fans of Roger Zelazny (the Jewel of Judgement in Amber) and Clive Barker (Hellraiser, Weaveworld) may have their own ideas on how this works.  Mythic or surreal elements are easy to introduce as the normal rules don't always apply.  Finding their way in is only the beginning... and getting out may need some very specific things.  It might even be a whole new sandbox - or just a temporary change of pace.
  3. Keys
    Give them a key and they'll find the lock - even if it's half a world away.  If the key is made of precious materials, it may be a status symbol (keys to the city) or have more prosaic properties (a gold key unlocks a lock made of acidic crystal).  The lock may be time-specific (think The Hobbit), already opened or worse, opening it could be a Really Bad Idea.  A guest key to R'lyeh is a mixed blessing.  And some keys may not even be keys but tactile maps.
  4. Map
    Maps are a staple of pirate adventures but a good map is worth fortunes to both scholars and navigators.  Maps not only have value in their inherent physicality (precious materials) but also in their content.  A map to a treasure hoard is good.  One showing where traps are or an exit may also have merit.  Recall 'the map is not the territory' and most maps don't automatically update over time without help. 
  5. Monster
    Sometimes your treasure is living.  Bringing back something alive for a gladiatorial arena or wizard's menagerie; working out what to do with that dragon egg - all are worthwhile puzzles.  Besides issues of feeding and transportation, there may be other issues.  Taking an elven prisoner through hobgoblin lands may be a problem.  Also what happens when that egg hatches and the baby imprints on the first creature it sees?  Roleplaying opportunities abound.
  6. Puzzle Piece
    It may be a Macguffin for a quest.  It may be part of a collectible set.  It may be the last part of a mechanism.  Every puzzle has pieces - recognising the item as part of a greater picture may be a challenge in itself.  The setup on this needs more work though the payoff may be iconic, recall the medallion and staff in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Consider workarounds and opportunities for props at the game table.
Treasure has value, not only in physical makeup or it's information but also in context.  Align the context with character motives and goals.  People justify all manner of actions or behaviour if the context is consistent with their character.  From such acorns do mighty campaigns grow.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Greatest Hits