Friday, 29 March 2013


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How do people make it interesting? 
(don't say "make it hard to get" .What are you? My dad?)
 Does it even need to be that interesting ? (right now, however , I can't even make myself write 200 gold pieces plus assorted gems without my hand rebelling and drawing a flying skull ship instead)
It often turns into semi-abstract units of advancement, like the transformers and their energon cubes..

"..and here is your share of the exp loyal henchman"

because it is pretty much a semi-abstract unit of advancement.
Like you can write a tidy little description of say," a pearl and serpentine necklace with the pearls carved to illustrate hubris and the serpentine carved to illustrate a humbling" but like if the p.cs are going to need a couple of 1000 of them to make it to the next level, then very quickly it's just so much box text.

Anyway my point is it's one of those things that is there because of how it is entwined with the flow of play more than how it is part of the setting/world building/simulation/whatever.

(I prefer personally to not do the 1 gold piece 1 exp thing. Like I have 5 categorys of thing (conquest, cunning, diplomacy, exploring, riches) and you get either 10/20/50/100/200  per level for whatever categorys depending on if there was abit/kinda/yes/heaps/hella amounts of that thing in game.
And each character chooses a category that they focus on , they get double in that category, and can change it once per level. Still tinkering with the numbers.

Also it sometimes gets brought up that 1 gold piece = 1 exp is way of exactly defining the amount of achievement and that it is too much work to try and decide what is worth 500 exp without such a formula. I don't really understand this at all, like sure, it is harder but its still not actually hard to make up some fucking numbers. Also say the players steal an antique ebony writing desk to convert into energon cubes sell for gold. How much gold is it worth? OMG YOU HAVE TO MAKE UP A FUCKING NUMBER CRAZY

And that other thing that gets said and I struggle to not be rude about because why am I even being rude about a fucking game mechanic anyway, is that if you make exp mainly from fights then p.cs have to go around fighting stuff all the time and that makes the flow of the game wack. Which is true, but the goldpiece standard also makes the game go to some pretty wack( or colossally entertaining depending on tastes) door knob stealing places.

You have a thing for the p.cs to want to get, and a way to reward them when they get it and they get enough of the reward and they can do new things hooray.

Anyway I was thinking about other things that could do this, as a thought experiment more than anything else.

Junk:  miscellaneous scrap metals and debris, to be utilized by the scavenger community you are part of when you successfully come home with it . Junk can be found lying around and stashed in ruined and buried military bunkers  (teeming with mutants, killbots, cyborgs and bioweapons, who of course, yield "treasure" when killed) and if you felt like being fancy could be broken down into categories such as "researchables", "metals/basic materials" , "fuels" , "rare components", "semi-operational parts".

A nice mechanic would be that once certain amounts of a material were retrieved  to the community things would change. Get enough basic materials and better housing happens. Enough "researchables" make it back and someone has better weapons they can make for you.
The role played by magic items could instead be played by actually blood dripping hunks of cyborg monster that you bring home to have installed into you.
 And if you as g.m did not want to have such a direct sudden mechanic improvement, then treat the trophy as "treasure" ie it generates exp, but can still shape the characters mechanical improvement more directly than "I have 10, 000 gold pieces, what can I buy?"  (and without resorting to magic item shops which clunk.

IF the characters were some kind of horrible cyborg bioweapon , new abilitys and classes  could be unlocked by the increasing development of the scavenger community. Like "oh we have enough fuel that we can install a jet pack in you/ or you can start purchasing levels in a living gun/fusilier class now" etc.


The p.cs are physics, obscure ghosts, or miscellaneous freak shows. They are on this earth to eat psychic trauma residue, which congeals in the secret places of the dark underbelly of the earth. Often Horrors, murderous angels , and reality chewing worms lurk there  and are, more often than not,  the cause of the  trauma. The suffering/treasure could have some physical form or could require the p.cs to deduce what has happen there in order to digest it (or filing reports??) and thus cleanse the environment.
So the more accurate your report / understanding of the event, the more exp you are getting.
In a way this could be "evidence" as "treasure"

Might overlap with the above. There is secrets. The more you learn the more you are. Either like the Planetary or like the characters as barely real dream spirits , growing in actualness and power. Similar game flow as suffering, but more investigatory/exploring.
At the end of the session , the players relate to the d.m what they have unravelled (and can prove?) and get exp based on how much they have got right.
character selection screen?

Souls: The world is dead, everyone is dead, but various souls are left trapped in the husk of the world. You have to find them, liberate them from their horders and take them back to the void where they can disperse freely.


like you get exp when you are back in the drinking hall and have a great story to tell. And something to prove it. So severed heads are always good, but also, say, the beard of the red lake king, cut from him while he was sleeping, or the golden cattle of the honey lands, or a flower from the
garden of death. Basically treasure is anything you can impress everyone with by showing it off back in the long house.
What would be really good here is if the end of session exp tally had some kind of specific boosting/bragging minigame.

Mike's blog seems to be in status mode at the moment , which is a shame for it does wonders with the idea that treasure is food you bring back to your tribe to increase your mana (not as in magic, but a word meaning social standing, personal power and responsibility ), ie your exp.

Also shout out to Zachs "dungeon Chernobyl" involving treasure as weird tech, anomalies , and dangerous artifacts of science 


  1. You've basically described the treasure structure on the HMS Apollyon. The PC's first big score was 600 lbs of copper cable, the next a working 4 inch rifled gun, and adventurers are called scavengers. The fact that they rescued a band of creepy flesh-crafting leechpeople now means there's a place to trade monster parts for a possibility to but future magic items. I also frequently place items that are worth X gold or a favor from a faction if given as a gift.

    I also have factions pay for maps and the town will expand into areas that have been cleared if the PCs and NPC parties do a good enough job.

    I like the soul and ghost hunting options you suggest.

    1. It was late and I was tired, but I wish I had done a shout out to the HMS Apollyon because reading the play reports would of definitely inspired what I wrote about junk as treasure. LADYS AND GENTLEMEN, SUNDRY AND VARIOUS : GUS L OF THE HMS APOLLYON ...

    2. It wasn't my intent ti dig for a link, only to reminisce about me game. On a semi-practical note, as PCs gain levels "trash grubber" works worse.

      5th level parties demand working machine tools, bulk high carbon steel (which can be a problem when they flood the market with a ton of +1 weapons). To keep the bulk effect of salvage is tricky when you need a 10,000 GP haul. To keep the "is that worth monwy" factor is harder.

      I've adopted a "valuables for choice of weak magic" approach to things like trains and power suits

    3. Oh no , don't get me wrong, it was a link drop I wanted to do , and was an oversight that I didn't include it. Did not read your comment at all as whine or anything

  2. Junk as treasure is cool and ties in with the whole idea that the aim of the game is not to roll dice because rolling the dice gets you killed and if you can instrumentalise some aspects of what the dm has narrated as existing within the game to achieve your end using lateral thinking and as few dice as possible then that's the smart thing to do.

    I like the idea of trophies (glory treasure) as well because carting severed heads and hands and hides out of the dungeon in grisly wheelbarrow-loads is too much fun. And you can easily stick a price on wyvern-stings and such as an alternative means of tracking monster xp.

    AND I like the fact that your five flavours alter the trajectory of each character's arc so that they relate to the setting in a different way.

    Potentially more xp can be gleaned from a setting if more trophic niches are adopted, like it's an ecology and you've got carnivores (glory pigs) and herbivores (Secret-hunters) and detritivores (whatever) and you each percieve the dungeon differently because your perceptions are ecologically embedded.