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30 Days of Gamemastering: Part Eighteen

October 19, 2013

This is part eighteen in the continuing series of posts for the “30 Days of Gamemastering Challenge” from Triple Crit.

How do you handle rewards, be they XP, magic items, or gold?

When I was a noob gamemaster, I tended to be a little free and easy with the treasure. We played primarily fantasy-based campaigns and I was what you called the “Monty Haul“-type. We were even playing a sci-fi game (Star Frontiers) and the PCs nearly took over their little part of the universe because I failed to grasp the need to control the amount of “treasure” changing hands. As a result of my past failures, I come to be a lot more conservative with the gold or other material treasures.

I’m a much better gamemaster now than I use to be. I like to think that I craft games that are a lot more nuanced than “slay the dragon, grab the girl, grab the gold”. As a result, I have much more subtle ways to mitigate the “more money than sense” problem with PCs. I use my economics table (mentioned here) to help give the PCs a sense of the ebb and flow of the economic tide. I try to be realistic in the expenses involved in traveling (gate taxes, feed for animals, etc.). I also try not to only provide gold and magic items as treasure, but other less material benefits.. My PCs have learned the value of influence and reputation as rewards for good roleplaying and heroic deeds. Not only do they want the filthy lucre, but they want that letter of reference to show future employers as well.

But, to be honest, I’m really digging getting into games where the acquisition of “stuff” isn’t the goal. Storytelling games like The Dresden Files RPG, where the end goal is to solve the mystery, not collect a horde, are really tripping my switch right now. That’s why I dig mechanics like Fate Points, Plot Points, and the like. They give instant gratification for “random acts of cool” in the game.

What about you? How do you dole out the bennies in your campaign?

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