"...and take their stuff" should be as fun as "kill monsters..."

edited November 2009 in Story Games
The Goblin Chieftain lies dead at my feet, because I used good tactics, managed my resources well, and pulled a couple of lucky dice rolls. I loot the body and find 13 electrum pieces and a +1 stabby stick because... the GM said so?

If I have to roll To Hit vs. Armor Class, why don't I have to roll Adventuring Acumen vs. the adventure's Profitability Resistance? When I level up and get a feat, why don't I have to choose between Great Cleave and Enhanced Return on Investment?

Comments

  • You find it because D&D PCs need a certain amount of loot/items in order to keep pace with the leveling curve. If you give PCs abilities that make them better at maximizing their treasure-gathering, you blow the curve.

    XP and gold/items are the reward for play. Why would you want to have players roll dice to see if the system rewards them for the dice-rolling they did to get to the point of being rewarded in the first place?
  • Video games are way ahead of us there. Check out Torchlight: your feats (and magic item properties) can be something like "+5% gold found" or "+3% rare items found".

    (And what an addictive game that is...)
  • I can at least envision a game about (i.e. all the tactics and such are centered here) securing bigger and better lootz from people and/or monsters, where whenever you accomplish a big hard task of convincing the king of MagicSwordLand to give you a BigMagicSword, you can choose a dragon to kill to increase your reputation by +1 Dragon-Killing, an army of invaders to repel for +1 Mercenary, or a dungeon to clear for +1 Mining.
  • If you're just generally finding that there's not enough treasure on enemies you kill that could be a result of bad DMing. It could also be the system. 4e, for example has very distinct packages of loot that are supposed to be found each level, and AD&D had treasure tables you'd roll on (which could lead to disproportionally low or high treasure amounts.

    I think the reason you don't see "find more money" feats (aside from maybe a higher search skill in some games, although this requires there to have been hidden treasure and many GMs will be nice and just give such things to you regardless of skill). Well, on the one hand it doesn't make sense for there to be more treasure someplace just because you have a feat... (unless you're in a CRPG or an MMO).

    I have seen some games with "mercantile" skills that let you maximize loot selling profits and open up more merchandise in shops, so it's not completely unheard of. I personally don't find those feats very fun (and their use often ties into people spending a lot of time playing "Accountants and Actuaries" which is frowned upon in many circles).

    As for a fix, maybe you could make the loot based on effort (which would require you to not care about simulating anything), make a skill to better get money ("take the teeth! I know a guy who'll buy em' for 4 silvers each!"), or just skip loot and if you still want that get better stuff feel have maybe some alternate system besides looting corpses (maybe an employer regularly supplies better weapons, or the existing equipment of the players unlocks new powers, or whatever).
  • Aren't GMs evil though?

    Clinton Nixon's Donjon puts treasure decisions in the players' hands by allowing them to specify one thing per point of victory.

    But if you insist on playing with a GM, it's your fault for putting up with it. Just grab the GM's Guide and help yourself to all the treasure you like. That's what I'd do.
  • edited November 2009
    Kids today. No sense of history.

    Donjon has a great system for this. You roll the level of the baddie you just defeated vs. the level of the thing you want to loot. So, tougher monster = more likely to find something powerful. Nice and elegant.

    Crossposted with Steve, who was close, but no cigar.
  • In my D&D 4e mini-campaign, I would occasionally call for a "treasure hunt" scene at appropriate moments, which is essentially a skill challenge where you roll an appropriate skill to search for treasure (Dungeoneering, Thievery, History, and so forth), with the DC based on the level of the item you want. You can take a risk, and try for a high-level item, or play it safe and have a near-lock on something dinky. If you blew the roll, you wound up with a handful of coins, but if you made it -- woo hoo! Big fun! It was basically the Donjon method adapted for 4e.
  • I agree, wholeheartedly.

    I should mention that I find fiddly tactical combat somewhat tedious in a table-top RPG context. CRPG/MMOs making it fun by having the computer crunch the numbers for you in real time and provide cute little avatars and graphics. However, that's not how they make the economic-aspects fun. Usually, the economic item hunting is lengthy, tedious, fiddly and full wiff moments. I was discussing this with a psycho major and they figured the reason 'grinding' doesn't derail the whole game is built as a very intense positive feedback loop, not unlike slot machines.

    If you can exploit the thrill of risk-taking and gambling, as mentioned above, in your design as well as the comfortable hording and intellectual exercise of "Accountants and Actuaries" then you could make it as fun, if not more so.

    As an aside: my understanding of EVE Online, having never played it, is MS Excel: The MMO. Tru fax?
  • You should have to accomplish this without rolling some invented statistical bonus vs. reality's resistance to your greatness. That Donjon system sounds lovely.
  • My initial response assumed we were talking about current D&D. Are we just talking in general? Then, Donjon, yeah.
  • Labyrinths & Lycanthropes makes looting fun in this vein - inspired by Donjon naturally.
  • Thanks for the responses, everyone!
    Posted By: buzzXP and gold/items are the reward for play. Why would you want to have players roll dice to see if the system rewards them for the dice-rolling they did to get to the point of being rewarded in the first place?
    The more I think about it, the more I realize that I never really saw money as a reward in D&D. To me the reward of any given combat was that I got to see what happened next. Experience was a reward, because once I got enough XP "what happened next" was my guy leveled up and could do new things, and magic items were much the same way, again letting my guy do new things.

    But money? Other that first level where you're trying to scrounge up enough copper pieces to afford another dozen arrows or some trail rations, it just seemed like another number to keep track of.
    Posted By: John HarperKids today. No sense of history.

    Donjonhas a great system for this. You roll the level of the baddie you just defeated vs. the level of the thing you want to loot. So, tougher monster = more likely to find something powerful. Nice and elegant.
    Oh, man, I'd totally forgotten that Donjon did that! I've never played it, but I've read through it numerous times. I guess I'll have to look into it again, thanks.
    Posted By: whiteknifeWell, on the one hand it doesn't make sense for there to be more treasure someplace just because you have a feat... (unless you're in a CRPG or an MMO).
    I don't see why not. If you see stats as just representing a character's physical and mental traits, then no, but if you think of the character's stats as indicators of the likelihood of given events happening to the character in the shared fiction then it seems just as logical to have a stat that makes you more likely to find treasure as it is to have one that makes you more likely to hit monsters.
  • Posted By: Bill_WhiteInmy D&D 4e mini-campaign, I would occasionally call for a "treasure hunt" scene at appropriate moments, which is essentially a skill challenge where you roll an appropriate skill to search for treasure (Dungeoneering, Thievery, History, and so forth), with the DC based on the level of the item you want.
    That looks really fun.
  • Posted By: Daniel H.Posted By: Bill_WhiteInmy D&D 4e mini-campaign, I would occasionally call for a "treasure hunt" scene at appropriate moments, which is essentially a skill challenge where you roll an appropriate skill to search for treasure (Dungeoneering, Thievery, History, and so forth), with the DC based on the level of the item you want.
    That looks really fun.

    You know, it really was. That whole mini-campaign restored my faith in D&D. I want to try it again soon.
  • Posted By: Ron HammackBut money? Other that first level where you're trying to scrounge up enough copper pieces to afford another dozen arrows or some trail rations, it just seemed like another number to keep track of.
    That's why I really liked the magic item creation rules in 3/3.5e; finally, a reason to save up cash, and something to spend it on that isn't just buying rounds of drinks for an entire town or renting out a castle instead of staying in the inn.
  • The Dungeon Construction Kit uses a system of cards to manage treasure. Tripping various scenario triggers earns you draws from the deck which at the end of the scenario can be converted into cash or applied towards acquiring a magic item of your choice based on the quantity of each type of card you drew.
  • Posted By: Ron HammackThe more I think about it, the more I realize that I never really saw money as a reward in D&D. To me the reward of any given combat was that I got to see what happened next.Experiencewas a reward, because once I got enough XP "what happened next" was my guy leveled up and could do new things, and magic items were much the same way, again letting my guy do new things.

    But money? Other that first level where you're trying to scrounge up enough copper pieces to afford another dozen arrows or some trail rations, it just seemed like another number to keep track of.
    In 3.x, and to a lesser extent in 4e, gold is a point-buy system for acquiring the powers you need to keep pace with the challenge rating system. Fuck with the gold (or the items you found), and you fuck up the whole advancement system.
  • Assuming "taking their stuff" isn't necessarily the fun part, perhaps fun could be had in "selling their stuff" or "trading their stuff"? Is there any juice in those concepts or does it stray to much from core conceits of D&D?
  • Posted By: DanielSolisperhaps fun could be had in "selling their stuff" or "trading their stuff"? Is there any juice in those concepts or does it stray to much from core conceits of D&D?
    Anecdotally speaking, many players have enjoyed a good game of Barter: The Haggling.
  • One neat little feature I noticed recently while playing Borderlands (a loot focused FPS) was that the loot was generated when the npcs were generated rather than after they were killed. The important factor was that they would then use that gun/grenade/shield rather than the default for their type. Thus if they were to receive a particularly good item a generic mook could become nearly a mini-boss in difficulty or an actual boss into a truly fearsome monstrosity.

    A way I can see incorporating this concept into a rpg would be to use it as something of a player controlled 'difficulty' level. They can request specific or better loot from the GM, but the counter part is that they indeed have to TAKE said loot from the monsters who should incorporate it into their tactics. A couple goblin archers on the other side of a crevase may not be too concerning, but if on of them were 'upgraded' to a mage with a staff that flings fireballs and a necklace that deflects missiles attacking him and his minions, that little encounter could lay out a serious hurting.
  • Ha, that's pretty good. And a very flavorful way to incorporate loot requests into the setting, too!


    I remember back in our high school AD&D game the one thing guaranteed to send pangs of anguish through the entire party....the sight of an enemy drinking a potion. "Stop him! He's destroying our treasure!", we'd cry, and the DM would take malicious delight in describing how many empty potion vials we'd find when we searched the bodies afterwards.

    Permanent items, on the other hand, were always fun for everyone. We'd all dogpile the bad guy with the glowing sword, because by rights that sword belonged in the hands of our fighter. That wizard who just cast an amazing spell? Take him down fast, and for god's sake, make sure you get his spellbook! Did anyone see if that one was wearing a ring before he went invisible? Because I could really use a ring of invisibility...
  • edited November 2009
    Posted By: philarosAnecdotally speaking, many players have enjoyed a good game of Barter: The Haggling.
    Well alright then, I'll humbly submit the market mechanic I've posted here before.
    - Roll a pool of d6s.
    - For each die resulting in 1-3, one banana is available for purchase.
    - Each die resulting in 4-6 is how much one banana costs.

    In other words, when there is a lot of resource available, it costs less. When there isn't much available, it costs more.

    For example, you rolled 5 dice and you got 1, 4, 3, 6, 2. That means there are three bananas available and each one will cost you 2 bucks.
    Quentin Hudspeth explored the market mechanic in the PDF here.
  • edited November 2009
    Hey,

    I'm writing a game based on the idea of battlefield looters, called Vultures.
    It's a tactical game about "taking their stuff". It plays using decks of cards and some other components that are fuzzy to me right now.
    You get to loot bodies, fend off other looters, barter, and learn about the war (which helps you improve set-up positions for the next raid).
    It is directly inspired by this thread.
    It's short.

    I'd like to send it as a christmas present to whoever wants it.
    Whisper me if you'd like it, and list your email address.
  • I think one of the main reasons traditional RPGs don't have you roll "Adventuring Acumen vs. the adventure's Profitability Resistance" is that the presence or absence of treasure is something that (in principle, at least) has already been decided. That is, in those games, you only roll to find out what happens next, whereas the contents of the box you're opening is a function of what's happened before. I know some games like to fiddle with that distinction, but in most games that I've played/GM'ed, that's been the norm.

    To me, it breaks verisimilitude to have part of the surroundings be so malleable and dependent on a dice roll, especially something as important to the game as treasure.
    As a corollary, the better GMs of this style are either good at making snap decisions if you veer off in an unexpected direction, or are good at hiding their random determinations. (I know other types of games handle this differenly, I'm just sayin'.)
  • Dreampod -- that reminds me of how Len Lakofka (one of the great old masters) used to handle the Wish spell in AD&D. You could wish for any item you wanted, and get it...only complication is that it always came with an appropriate wielder. So if you wished for that Sword of Sharpness, you just had to take it from its owner.

    I've got some more comments to make on the topic, but they will have to wait for later.
  • You could use treasure as a motivation for adventure.

    DM: So what do you guys want to do now?
    PC: I want to track down the Invulnerable Coat of Arnd.
    DM: Uh... okay. How are you going to do that?
    PC: Is there a sage in town? Maybe he has some information.
    DM: (thinking quick) There is, but he's mysteriously disappeared!
    PC: Oh noes! I will have to track him down.
    etc.
  • edited November 2009
    One of the more memorable adventures we had back in the day was when we found a 4' Anubis of solid onyx. The statue weighed a whole lot, and it was a major undertaking (and much interesting gameplay) to get that back to some place where we could sell it. We had to first chisel it out of its mounting, then put it on a series of come-alongs to get it out of the dungeon, then put it on a cart and haul it through across the countryside fending off bandits. Once we got it to town we still had to find an appropriate buyer without letting the church know that we were selling church property.

    So that's sort of the macro approach: make "and take their stuff" feed back in to ongoing gameplay. You can do this in many ways. A few that come to mind:

    -- searching the habitation of the defeated foe to find all of the treasure therein
    -- transporting items back to civilization for sale
    -- trial and error discovery of an item's powers
    -- finding an appropriate buyer
    -- finding an appropriate barter if the item is too precious to be sold for mere money
    -- finding someone who knows how to activate a magic item

    These can all be ongoing campaign fodder. Even discovery of an item's powers can be ongoing. I once had an item that I used for well over a real-time year before I discovered its last power (which came as a bit of a surprise when it happened). "Finding an appropriate buyer" is often more interesting if the PCs' varying skills feed in to this (ie, the dwarf is more likely to know someone who might want gems or jewelry, ...).

    So the macro approach involves taking "and take their stuff" and stretching it out into further adventures. The micro approach is makes stuff-taking into a minigame that is resolved at the time the treasure is found, or one that determines when and how treasure is found (as in Dungeon Construction Kit). DCK has 2 kinds of treasure cards: Final Item Cards and Treasure Cards. You get Treasure Cards after each encounter. Some will be monetary treasure; they are immediately cashed in. Others have "magic item points." If you collect enough points, you can buy a magic item of your choice. After earning enough Treasure Cards, you can activate the Final Encounter (which will award you the Final Item if you succeed). Some players seem to really dig this minigame, and the treasure cards as a physical representation of the treasure that they are acquiring. The game's original prototype, in DnD 3.5, used the Appraisal skill and craft and profession skills to help govern how much money you could get for certain pieces of loot. I sort of wish I still had those to work with in 4E. In 4E, Skill Challenges could certainly be used to detemine how much cash the group might get for a major piece of loot that doesn't have a ready market.
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