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7/17/2014 8:12 am  #21


Re: Experience and Wealth

Ynas Midgard wrote:

Or how Jack Shear rewards (by replenishing HP) characters having a monologue on nature's grandeur (something very frequent in gothic literature).

... And I've hijacked my own thread.

Jack must be quite a character.  That sounds so pretentious to me that I think I'd cut my wrists if my players tried it.  Anyway, I was the one who hijacked your thread and I apologize. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/embarrassed.png


Getting back to your original point, what specific harm do you envision following from the PCs having a lot of gold they can't spend?  I mean, unless you make powerful magic items you don't want them to have available to buy (and why would you do that, if you don't want the PCs to have them?), it really won't impact the game, right?  If anything, having more gold sitting in a bank vault would give the PCs something to lose if they ever have to flee town, so it's almost more of a burden than an asset.  I guess I'm not sure what concrete problem the players being wealthy creates, if it doesn't give them any undesirable advantage in the game.

(But if you really do want to soak up some extra wealth, you might do what I do when I run AD&D, which is encourage the PCs to bedeck themselves in jewelry, gem-encrusted belts and scabbards, gilded weapons and armor, etc.  I make this stuff readily available, and encourage the players to get really descriptive and boastful about what they're wearing.  I find that most players love that stuff, and walking around flaunting wealth is very true to that pesky literature and mythology.  Plus it gives me an excuse to target them for robbery.)


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

7/17/2014 8:31 am  #22


Re: Experience and Wealth

@ Blackadder23
Okay, I think I wasn't as clear in the OP as I hoped to be. My problem is: why give the characters wealth they can't spend in meaningful ways?

I nevision two approaches that directly deal with this:


  • The amount of gold (or equivalent) is greatly reduced (say, by half). However, this would make other sources of XP (namely killing monsters) more prominent, so to counteract it, we reduce the amount of XP awarded from other sources, as well. Obviously, this would make advancement slower, so in order to preserve the current speed we reduce the required amount of XP by half, as well. Nice and clean approach that preserves the feel of the game, but it would also make some pieces of equipment relatively more expensive, and certain class abilities (for instance, creating scrolls) would also be hindered.
  • Ways to spend gold is offered; butt this approach may substantially alter the game. The more common methods are the following: magic items for sale, high quality items with slight advantages for sale (durability, reaction bonus, +1 to-hit or damage, etc.), magic item creation (probably for both money and special ingredients), and learning skills (mundane or adventuring related). Domain-related stuff is already included, but it may be emphasised, as well, and made available at lower levels (but this also shifts the campaign to a very different reaction from regular adventuring).

     Thread Starter
 

7/17/2014 9:43 am  #23


Re: Experience and Wealth

chrisj wrote:

I think there are a lot of ways to do it and they all work fine. The important thing is that the DM make enough XP available so the characters can advance at the rate the DM wants.

Setting the appropriate rewards has been a struggle at times in my own campaign. In the current campaign, we've played 20 sessions and the PC's are 3rd and 4th level with no one close to 5th. That seems about right to me, but that's just how it worked out. If I want to maintain that same rate of advancement going forward, I need to increase the amount of XP that are available to the players.

We have played about 25-30 sessions and we have some 5th and 6th level characters.  Its probably speedier than most but fun is being had.  
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

7/17/2014 10:10 am  #24


Re: Experience and Wealth

Chris, that sounds about right to me, too. I think as they edge toward that mid-level range, the monsters will prove tougher (more XP) and the treasure will prove richer (again, more XP), so if you are following the general guidelines for XP awards -- and you continue to do so -- there won't be anything you'll need to do, adjustment-wise, as it is a self-correcting process (at least in my experience playtesting and running this game).


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

7/17/2014 10:32 am  #25


Re: Experience and Wealth

Ynas Midgard wrote:

@ Yora
I am quite interested in hearing more about the specifics of your "standards of living" rules.

Most of it is my two first posts here, with flat prices for buildings further down. There is no real benefit for it other than showing of your riches, until you get to the point where you can maintain your own stronghold with guards and servants, who might come in handy at some points.

If you grant XP for spend money, then players could be quite likely throw it away like there's no tomorrow for frivolities.


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
 

7/17/2014 10:54 am  #26


Re: Experience and Wealth

Ynas Midgard wrote:

My problem is: why give the characters wealth they can't spend in meaningful ways?

I'm honestly not trying to be snarky, and I'm definitely not trying to bust your chops, but let me just ask: why is that a problem?  Or to turn the question around the other way, why is it necessary that PCs be flat broke and spending every copper they find?

I really can only see two outcomes of possible concern if a PC has a lot of gold in the bank:

1) The player decides to stop adventuring with that PC because he no longer needs gold.  This is poor sportsmanship, in my opinion, because the player knows very well that it's a game about adventuring, not microeconomics.  If appeals to reason fail, various means can be used to impoverish the PC of such a mule-headed player and force him to return to adventuring.  Or more drastic steps can be taken.  My personal response would be: "Your PC has an attack of sanity and very reasonably decides to retire to a farm and live off the proceeds of his past adventuring.  Please roll a new character at first level."

2) The player has his PC continue adventuring despite being flush with gold.  The only problem here might be a concern with "realism": if a PC already has a lot of money, would he really risk his life to acquire more?  So then we should ask: is the real world rife with examples of people who already have more money than they can possibly ever spend, and yet are still willing to go to almost any length to gain even more?  Is fantasy literature and myth (and history) full of already-wealthy merchants, princes, and kings who go into battle to win still more wealth?  If the answer to either question is "yes" - and I think we all know the answer to both questions is "yes" - then any concern with "realism" would seem to be misplaced.

The only other issue I can see with characters having some money in the bank is the idea that sword-and-sorcery characters are "supposed" to be broke all the time.  I'm not entirely sure this is supported by a reading of the literature.  Most sword-and-sorcery characters are fairly reckless and not what I'd call prudent, so I can readily see them being broke more often than not.  Still, not even Conan was broke all the time.  Eventually he became a wealthy and relatively sober-minded king.  Even before that, there were periods when he lived a relatively luxurious life as a bandit chieftain or pirate captain or mercenary general.  Other times he was penniless and living in the woods.  Fair enough; life has its ups and downs for an adventurer.  I'm just not sure why emulating Conan's penniless periods is "sword-and-sorcery", but emulating the times when he was wearing silks and jewels is not.  And with respect to AS&SH specifically, I see a lot of character types - necromancers, magicians in general, clerics, priests, monks, paladins - that don't seem quite as likely to be drunken and debauched as a reckless barbarian like Conan allegedly was.  Why force them to emulate Conan's supposed profligacy?  Can't a prudent fighter or thief stash some gold for his old age?  Must he have empty pockets and be face down in his own vomit every night?

Don't get me wrong: I think it's hilarious when the players are broke, especially when it's because a little girl just blew up the horses that were carrying all their wealth and possessions.  It's just that I think it's fine for them to have gold too.  Or at least I don't see any real problem with it.

Last edited by Blackadder23 (7/17/2014 10:57 am)


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

7/17/2014 11:41 am  #27


Re: Experience and Wealth

Player characters don't exist in a vacuum. If they have riches, they should store them (see previous page). If it is stored somewhere, how is the place kept safe? Who's the owner? Did the PCs buy it and set it up on their own? With what money? Etc etc. If they are significantly wealthy, don't people around them notice it/know about it and their exploits? Are NPCs coming to them asking them to invest money in their own ventures, in establishing trade posts, or financing the construction of the village on the borderlands or whatnot? And if they hoard it all, buy small pieces of jewelry to carry it all at all times, then springs the question of how much jewelry is available around them to begin with? And if they can spend it all that way, who's the seller? Doesn't anyone else know about it? These are things that can be carried, and therefore can be lost, stolen, etc. 

Also, investing in henchmen taking a cut of the treasure, hirelings with wages, even building manorial houses and castles, taking ownership of a shop or an inn, setting up a watch-tower for the baron, none of these things are strictly limited by level, which means, you don't have to hit a certain level to then be "allowed" to spend your coin. 

The real issue here is the connection of the player characters with the world around them, how they engage with the game milieu, and the same way, how the game milieu reacts to them and their wealth. It's something that you can discuss in order to offer advice and examples, but ultimately it's a function of the game world (and therefore, its specifics, and the way it comes into play in the interactions of players and referee around the game table) more than it is a function of the rules.

Last edited by Benoist (7/17/2014 11:43 am)


Author, Hyperborean Laboratories, AFS Magazine Issue 3
Co-owner, partner at GP Adventures
The Hobby Shop Dungeon
 

7/17/2014 11:43 am  #28


Re: Experience and Wealth

One thing to consider is that our example character of Conan was not a dungeon crawler by profession. .He frequently got into well secured places to steal valuables. But he either did it for the challenge and quite often ends up failing and escaping without any treasures at all, or he breaks into a place because he's currently broke and wants to grab some easy cash. In either case, he doesn't compulsively hunt for treasures to add to his hoard. Getting rich doesn't even show up on his list of priorities.

My understanding of early D&D, where most of the standards of the game have been established, is that it was primarily a tactical wargame. You fight monsters and bypass traps for the sheer joy of doing it. The challenge of how much stuff you can survive with your randomly generated character is the heart of the game.
The idea of setting these dungeons crawls in the context of a larger story is added on later.

And at some point you got Dragonlance played with rules originally intended for something quite different. But it works just fine because the basic framework of attributes, hit points, Armor Class, and saving throws is simple and verstile enough to be used for all types of campaigns. But everything beyond the basic combat system needs to be treated as optional suggestions and dropped, altered, or replaced as best suits the specific game. While AD&D got the Appendix N, my perception of the rulebooks is that Gygax was still seeing the game as the old tactical wargame. But he was aware that lots of people had other applications for his rules system and encouraged that people play the game they want to by changing the rules as they thought best. But mostly the rulebooks are the rules as he would use them. Which aren't meant for either Conan or Lord of the Rings. If you want to play a campaign in that style, you should customize the rules to fit it.

AS&SH is by far my favorite published interpretation of the rules. But I think Jeff stayed quite close to the default assumptions of D&D. Which is good for compatibility, but I think for Sword & Sorcery some more drastic modifications actually get you a better result. My modification of AS&SH I use for my own campaign would be barely recognizable. Money and Encumbrance work completely differently, I have my own monster manual, a much shorter weapon list, different types of armor, positive AC, and a completely different spellcasting system. And of the 8 character classes only fighter, thief, and scout are still identical to the rulebook.


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
 

7/17/2014 11:51 am  #29


Re: Experience and Wealth

Yora wrote:

My understanding of early D&D, where most of the standards of the game have been established, is that it was primarily a tactical wargame. You fight monsters and bypass traps for the sheer joy of doing it. The challenge of how much stuff you can survive with your randomly generated character is the heart of the game.
The idea of setting these dungeons crawls in the context of a larger story is added on later.

That's not actually correct. Before there was D&D was a game called Chainmail. And a group of aficionados, including the creators of the game, created something called the Castles & Crusades Society, with each member taking on the role of a lord, baron, duke, earl etc in exchanges within the Society (Gary Gygax was the Earl of Walworth, for Walworth County in Wisconsin, for instance). These persona were part of The Great Kingdom, which was a fantasy setting which, in time, would become the World of Greyhawk.

Then Dave Arneson basically got this idea of putting Chainmail into a dungeon with a one-to-one character player exploration game. That was the prototype of what would ultimately become D&D.

So it's important to understand what we are talking about. "Wargame" in this instance does not mean the types of game we know today, especially not the kind of game like D&D Miniatures or HeroClix and the like we think of today when we say "tactical wargame". In wargames up to that point, whether you were using chit and hex and board, or miniatures on a sandtable, the scale of the conflict was LARGER than what would become D&D, by virtue of "role-playing" the commander of an army in a war scenario, rather than smaller. 

So no, it wasn't "just" a "tactical wargame" on which a larger scale of meaning and setting and background was grafted on later on by the "magic of Dragonlance" or some such, far from it. 

Last edited by Benoist (7/17/2014 12:08 pm)


Author, Hyperborean Laboratories, AFS Magazine Issue 3
Co-owner, partner at GP Adventures
The Hobby Shop Dungeon
 

7/17/2014 12:03 pm  #30


Re: Experience and Wealth

Dragonlance is merely the most extreme extend to which story elements were added to the basic dungeon crawling rules system. It's a gradual development, and even lots of people who love a good deal of story and plot believe that Dragonlance well overshot the target and went too far.
But from what I know about it, that campaign has no place for training to gain a level or establishing a domain and ruling over followers. Or creating characters by rolling 3d6 in order and picking races and classes depending of the qualifications you meet. Those are elements of the rules that make sense in the context for which they were created, but inappropriate for other ways to play the game.


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
 

7/17/2014 12:09 pm  #31


Re: Experience and Wealth

What happened with Dragonlance and its likes is that the story of D&D, which is the story of the world, the campaign milieu, of which the player characters are but a part, became instead the story of the player characters themselves, with the world just acting as a cardboard backdrop for the Epic being told, with the PCs as its main protagonists. This was a change in focus and aims of the game that would carry enormous consequences in game design up to this very day. Hence, since the wargames' days, the scale of the make-believe actually shrank, and did not grow.

Last edited by Benoist (7/17/2014 12:41 pm)


Author, Hyperborean Laboratories, AFS Magazine Issue 3
Co-owner, partner at GP Adventures
The Hobby Shop Dungeon
 

7/17/2014 12:12 pm  #32


Re: Experience and Wealth

Blackadder23 wrote:

Ynas Midgard wrote:

My problem is: why give the characters wealth they can't spend in meaningful ways?

I'm honestly not trying to be snarky, and I'm definitely not trying to bust your chops, but let me just ask: why is that a problem?  Or to turn the question around the other way, why is it necessary that PCs be flat broke and spending every copper they find?

Let me assure you, I didn't find your comment snarky ;)

But the problem I presented is more gamist in nature, I beleive. Money is a resource in the game; not only in the fictional milieu but from a systemic point of view, as well (an associative resource, if you will), just as other things represented in the fiction can be mapped to things in the system (weapons, armour, etc.).

Rephrased, the problem is the following: why should players keep gathering a certain resource which has no value? Awarding XP for recovering treasure is an awesome idea, but still, if it's done only for the XP, then it's not much different from killing everything that moves soley for XP.

I find not having definite means of using money (of quantities comparable to what adventurers recover) inefficient in design.

     Thread Starter
 

7/17/2014 12:15 pm  #33


Re: Experience and Wealth

Yora wrote:

Dragonlance is merely the most extreme extend to which story elements were added to the basic dungeon crawling rules system. It's a gradual development, and even lots of people who love a good deal of story and plot believe that Dragonlance well overshot the target and went too far.
But from what I know about it, that campaign has no place for training to gain a level or establishing a domain and ruling over followers. Or creating characters by rolling 3d6 in order and picking races and classes depending of the qualifications you meet. Those are elements of the rules that make sense in the context for which they were created, but inappropriate for other ways to play the game.

Even the very earliest versions of D&D featured wilderness, towns, and interacting with NPCs in a wider setting in addition to "dungeon crawling".  Certainly AD&D had all these things and more, including adventures on other planes of existence.  I don't really see any innovations at all in the Dragonlance series, other than a railroaded "plot" derived from Tracy Hickman's awful novels.

Last edited by Blackadder23 (7/17/2014 12:19 pm)


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

7/17/2014 12:45 pm  #34


Re: Experience and Wealth

Ynas Midgard wrote:

Rephrased, the problem is the following: why should players keep gathering a certain resource which has no value? Awarding XP for recovering treasure is an awesome idea, but still, if it's done only for the XP, then it's not much different from killing everything that moves soley for XP.

 
I thinkt the one thing that is overlooked here is that you don't get treasure from defeating a monster.
Very often, and probably most of the cases, defeating an enemy also gets you treasure.
But you can also defeat an enemy and not getting any treasure (because he doesn't have any).
And you can get treasure without defeating an enemy!

That's what makes XP for treasure relevant. Sometimes an enemy can't be faught, or the risk is regarded as just way too high. But if you can find a way to get his treasure while avoiding him entirely, you still created a clever solution to a problem. Which is rewarded with XP.
Even in a game where money has no practical use, treasure still serves as a measure of your accomplishments. When you return to town, the treasure you bring back with you is your proof for your deeds.

And that's also what I meant in an earlier post. You can't make the player feel the comforts the money of the PC can buy him. And it's extremely difficult to really play out the benefits of good clothing and a fancy house. To the character, being rich has great value and benefits. And when the chracter sees a golden idol, it is luring him with expensive wine and crocodile skin boots. But since comfort does not carry over to the player, XP can serve as a substitute lure. Instead of dollar signs in the players eyes, it's saying "XP". What matters is the emotional response.
When the GM describes a golden idol with ruby eyes on a pedestal, the player should think "I really, really want this. I hope there's a way to get it without getting killed."

On other games like D&D 3rs edition and later ones, the player will want to have it because it can be traded in for magic boots or enchanted armor. So there is no need to add the additional lure of XP.


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
 

7/17/2014 12:52 pm  #35


Re: Experience and Wealth

Ynas Midgard wrote:

But the problem I presented is more gamist in nature, I beleive. Money is a resource in the game; not only in the fictional milieu but from a systemic point of view, as well (an associative resource, if you will), just as other things represented in the fiction can be mapped to things in the system (weapons, armour, etc.).

Rephrased, the problem is the following: why should players keep gathering a certain resource which has no value? Awarding XP for recovering treasure is an awesome idea, but still, if it's done only for the XP, then it's not much different from killing everything that moves soley for XP.

I find not having definite means of using money (of quantities comparable to what adventurers recover) inefficient in design.

To really answer your question, you would need to talk to the multigazillionaires who could never possibly spend all their existing wealth, but still grasp for more.  Why do they do it?  I don't know.  But it seems to be human nature to hoard wealth for its own sake, so the PCs going out in search of more loot they don't really "need" is by no mean dissociated.  It's all too true to life.

Anyway, I think the BTB "gamist" answer (since AS&SH retains the domain management rules of AD&D) is that the players are supposed to be stockpiling wealth to eventually become powers in their own right.  Whether this means building a stronghold, or hiring an army of mercenaries and overthrowing an existing ruler, or buying a fleet of ships and becoming a merchant prince, or building a temple where they can be high priest, or starting a guild of thieves or assassins.  The idea is that eventually they'll move beyond conventional dungeon and wilderness adventures and into the "big leagues".  When they're ready to do that, they'll need the gold they accumulated at the middle levels.  You don't have to introduce those elements to the game, of course, but those are the kind of activities that were intended (by Gary, and apparently by Jeff) to bleed off the excess wealth that was stockpiled earlier in the campaign.

(I should add that I've run a lot of AD&D, which has an economy similar to AS&SH, and even without domain management I've never noticed the PCs becoming all that wealthy.  Something always happens to put a dent in their bank balances.  If a fighter in full plate fights a black dragon, he'll likely soon be spending another 2,000 gp to replace his corroded armor.  Item saving throws are one of the most overlooked ways to make the PCs pay and pay.  It can add up.)


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

7/17/2014 1:26 pm  #36


Re: Experience and Wealth

Benoist wrote:

Player characters don't exist in a vacuum. If they have riches, they should store them (see previous page). If it is stored somewhere, how is the place kept safe? Who's the owner? Did the PCs buy it and set it up on their own? With what money? Etc etc. If they are significantly wealthy, don't people around them notice it/know about it and their exploits? Are NPCs coming to them asking them to invest money in their own ventures, in establishing trade posts, or financing the construction of the village on the borderlands or whatnot? And if they hoard it all, buy small pieces of jewelry to carry it all at all times, then springs the question of how much jewelry is available around them to begin with? And if they can spend it all that way, who's the seller? Doesn't anyone else know about it? These are things that can be carried, and therefore can be lost, stolen, etc.

Heh.  I'm pretty sure it would be an even split in the group between those who would rather have their character die than lose all their gold.  There are some good ideas here to give players options if they want them.

Morgan


 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

7/17/2014 1:42 pm  #37


Re: Experience and Wealth

I have a player whose character would probably stop adventuring if he had a big enough pile of money. Logical, but not much fun in an adventure game. I have another player who always wants his character to be working to get extra money when he isn't adventuring. I have other players who really don't care about money as long as they have enough to carouse at the end of the session.

 

7/17/2014 1:52 pm  #38


Re: Experience and Wealth

chrisj wrote:

I have a player whose character would probably stop adventuring if he had a big enough pile of money. Logical, but not much fun in an adventure game. I have another player who always wants his character to be working to get extra money when he isn't adventuring. I have other players who really don't care about money as long as they have enough to carouse at the end of the session.

Most want to play the game so the money doesn't matter anyway. Except they have asked about spending options. For the cautious fellow if he gets enough and wants to retire so be it, start a new character and let the old one become a major NPC! 

Morgan
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

7/17/2014 2:54 pm  #39


Re: Experience and Wealth

Yora wrote:

Even in a game where money has no practical use, treasure still serves as a measure of your accomplishments. When you return to town, the treasure you bring back with you is your proof for your deeds.

This is a good way to look at it. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png
 "Experience" is possibly not the most evocative term Gary could have chosen.  If it were called "renown" or "fame" it might be more obvious why overcoming foes and bringing back wealth contributes to it.
 


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

7/18/2014 7:39 am  #40


Re: Experience and Wealth

Blackadder23 wrote:

Even the very earliest versions of D&D featured wilderness, towns, and interacting with NPCs in a wider setting in addition to "dungeon crawling".  Certainly AD&D had all these things and more, including adventures on other planes of existence.  I don't really see any innovations at all in the Dragonlance series, other than a railroaded "plot" derived from Tracy Hickman's awful novels.

I think that in the long term, Dragonlance was innovative, because it was trying to force story elements into the game. It did it poorly, but (like I6, also Hickman) the DL series was experimenting on how to bring more story into the game - through game modules specifically.  Seen in that light, one could argue that some RPGs took that cue to evolve into games like World of Darkness and Fate which have built in mechanics for storytelling. Did these games grow from the forced plots of DL? I don't know, but I'd suspect there was an influence.

Last edited by joseph (7/18/2014 7:41 am)


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