Sundry’s Critical Role, and welcome to my fun
little video series on tips and tricks for game
masters and dungeon masters alike. Today, we’re
going to be discussing player rewards (sinister
chuckle). That’s right, players. We’re talking
about you, and what makes you happy.
First and foremost, money’s always good! Giving
away money in the game as general currency is a
helpful way to reward players for finding cool
little hidden alcoves, for defeating powerful
enemies, for completing story arcs. Gold is that
kind of open currency in role playing games, or
credits and other forms of currency in sci-fi and
modern games. It’s always a good go to, but you
want to consider the current player level and what
their financial situation is, and then provide
rewards accordingly. If the players have come into
a heck ton of money through just sheer luck or if
they’ve earned it, then maybe start considering
other alternative rewards that aren’t directly
monetarily just building onto that giant treasure
hoard that they’ve been building.
Keep it interesting. Also keep in mind not all
enemies drop gold. There’s nothing weirder than
killing a bugbear and it coughs up 56 gold pieces.
You wonder: first off, where it hid it, and two,
how’d you find it?
Consider that some of these creatures or things
that wouldn’t carry money on them may have
spirited away from the corpses of things they’ve
killed and brought them to hidden alcoves or nests
or burrows where they live. You’ll find it
under all the sticks and refuse in that area. You
might find some pretty cool items or sacks of
money that was left behind by these unfortunate
souls that crossed this creature’s path in the
past. There’s also private collections that bad
guys may have in their abode, or crooked merchants
may keep a secret cache of hidden artifacts. There
are cool ways to find loot after a battle aside
from just finding it in their pockets immediately
on them. That’s what we’re used to in video games,
but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Another cool way to reward your players and a
consistent way to do it: equipment upgrades!
Whether that be cool futuristic sniper rifles, or
a magical flaming shortsword, most systems have a
really good way to track player advancement and
corresponding equipment power levels. Usually
these are in the game master’s guides or those
sections of the systems, but they’ll have some
good suggestions as to when and how often you
should dole out these type of equipment-based
rewards. Make sure you don’t want to dole it out
too often, because one, they lose their impact and
their cool factor when the players do find them
and all of a sudden it’s like, “Oh look, another
magical shield.” They just throw it over their
shoulder. They become less appreciative of these
cool rewards, and it kind of unbalances the game.
Which, if this does happen, especially if you’re
new to the GMing system and after a while you
realize, “Oh, the players are really well decked
out in powerful stuff and they’re killing everything I
throw at them that should be a fair challenge.”
You’re in control of that spigot. Make it tight,
slower trickle. Give out different things for a
while and let it balance itself out.
Also don’t be afraid to customize and create
equipment and items if you can’t find something in
the books, or the Dungeon Master Guide, or any of
the treasure hoard supplements you out find out
there that fit what you want to give the players.
Feel free to create stuff. They can be tailored to
players, or tailored to in-game events, and if you
are worried about it not being balanced or being
too powerful or too weak, there’s a whole
wonderful thing called the internet. There are
wonderful tabletop RPG communities that are more
than willing to give you feedback on items before
you dole it out to a player. You can go on forums,
go on Reddit and be like, “Hey guys! Does this
seem cool?” and they might be like (angry), “No!
That’s too powerful!” or “No, that’s bullshit!” in
which case, you just go ahead and tweak it.
Criticism can be harsh on occasion but they’re all
there to help, they’re all there to help each
other make a better experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask the internet
for some balancing help.
There are also alternative rewards you can give
out, outside of both money and items. You can give
bonus experience points if someone does something
really cool in a game, or completes a really major
story arc. Just give them a little bump of XP to
get them to that next level a little faster.
There’s also jewels and rare art pieces or
contraband that can be found, that can be traded
or sold in other aspects of the world if you have
the right connections in that society. Which is
cool if you have the opportunity and the time, you
can create actual small props when you give these
out. You can find plastic jewels pretty cheap
online if you wanted to give someone a few actual
gems at the table. If someone wanted to find a
rare art piece, you can actually get like a really
cheap picture frame and pass it over. It’s cool to
create small props when you’re giving out some of
these rewards that might correspond to it as well.
It elevates the experience for the players at the table.
Some rewards could be alliances. If you end up
doing something really cool in a city or within a
society, you might through that experience gain
new allies. That can lead to access to new
merchants, and the ability to purchase things you
couldn’t previously have access to, having
discounts on those commerce, finding rare
equipment that now, as opposed to being found, can
be purchased and now readily at your access. Other
cool things, especially if they are dealing with
RPGs that have gods or magic power that is beyond
the mortal realm, you can be granted boons. These
boons can be like, if you do something really good
for a good deity and help defeat evil in a land
and cleanse it of some curse, the deity that looks
over that realm might come down and be like, “You.
“You are my chosen champion. For this good gift, I
grant you…” and they touch that player, and all
of a sudden they are given a permanent plus one to
their constitution. That’s a reward you can
totally do and it kind of fits into the theme, and
it’s a pretty awesome ability. It could be even
temporary boons, like for the next month or so you
have additional resistance against this type of
damage. They can be permanent or temporary
boons, but they also work as good story rewards.
Also, transportation! If you do a cool story, you
might get a new mount, or you might manage to
commandeer or be granted a great spaceship that
can travel twice as fast across the galaxy, or is
able to warp to previously inaccessible portions
of that galaxy. Even just faster transport to get
you from point A to point B a lot quicker. Those
make for great rewards and there’s overall the
progression reward. Which is the access to
previously inaccessible areas on your map. That
involves getting access to or paperwork that
allows you to bypass a barrier that previously you
could not. There was a landscape that was
previously at war with the kingdom that you’re
part of, and once you manage to stop that war, you
can now enter that kingdom without being attacked.
You have access to all the secrets and all the
knowledge and all the power that that kingdom has.
That’s a really great long term reward
to add to the story as well
that could tie into all the rest
of what I just discussed.
Looking over these, think of what different,
creative ways you can reward the players as your
story goes on to keep it both interesting, varied,
and for you at least, feel like you’re
appropriately rewarding different
cool actions and successes that
the party manages to achieve as they progress.
Thank you so much for watching! I hope this has
been somewhat helpful and entertaining for you as
a dungeon master, game master, or otherwise. You
can check out more of these videos on
geekandsundry.com and I will see you around, one
way or another.