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View Full Version : Rewarding Players: How important is that loot?



RazorChain
2016-10-17, 09:19 PM
I'm just curious to know how important coins, magic items are?
Is it more important in different genres? Or is it relevant to the system or style of play?

Thrudd
2016-10-17, 10:33 PM
It's entirely dependant on system. In pre 2e D&D systems, loot is the whole point of the game: coinage, magic and other. Can't play without it, that's what you're playing for. In 2e you can get away with less depending on the XP variant rules the DM chooses to use, but still need magic items in there to some extent. In 3e, coinage isn't as essential, but getting magic gear upgrades is required if the DM is following the challenge guidelines. In 5e both are less essential, depending on the type of challenges the DM wants to use.

How much magic you ought to have always depends on what sort of challenges the DM will use. No magic weapons means using fewer monsters that are immune to non-magic damage.

Many non-D&D systems often have no loot at all, or no specific rules for it. Narrative driven Story Game systems in general often need no loot.

Geddy2112
2016-10-17, 11:08 PM
Second Thrudd entirely.

That said, players might not need "loot" in the form of gold, magical swag, items and weapons for their character, but they need some form of reward.

Regardless of system, they need to be rewarded when their actions produce favorable outcomes. What that reward is and what a "favorable outcome" is depends entirely on the setting, players, characters, etc.

But with few exceptions, there has to be a reward of some kind for playing.

Thrudd
2016-10-17, 11:16 PM
Second Thrudd entirely.

That said, players might not need "loot" in the form of gold, magical swag, items and weapons for their character, but they need some form of reward.

Regardless of system, they need to be rewarded when their actions produce favorable outcomes. What that reward is and what a "favorable outcome" is depends entirely on the setting, players, characters, etc.

But with few exceptions, there has to be a reward of some kind for playing.

Generally, the real reward is XP, or whatever mechanic is used to advance the characters to become more powerful. Getting loot either does that by awarding XP or by adding to the character's power in a direct way. Getting more powerful lets the characters and players achieve more favorable outcomes.
Of course, in some games participating in the story is meant to be the reward in itself: playing out a hopefully satisfying story is all the reward the game gives you.

Knitifine
2016-10-17, 11:18 PM
I'm just curious to know how important coins, magic items are?
Is it more important in different genres? Or is it relevant to the system or style of play?
In 3.5e, and 4e magic items are absolutely essential to game balance.
In 5e, magic items aren't balanced in any way, shape or form, but neither is anything else. Regardless they seems to be handed out with pretty high frequency.

Typically coins, magic items and loot come in three forms as far as my experience as a player goes.
1. I need this to be contribute.
2. I care about this because of how it was acquired.
3. Oh, it's an artifact.

RazorChain
2016-10-18, 12:36 AM
Second Thrudd entirely.

That said, players might not need "loot" in the form of gold, magical swag, items and weapons for their character, but they need some form of reward.

Regardless of system, they need to be rewarded when their actions produce favorable outcomes. What that reward is and what a "favorable outcome" is depends entirely on the setting, players, characters, etc.

But with few exceptions, there has to be a reward of some kind for playing.

Well I'm thinking entirely in the sense of loot or other rewards like xp, something you can write down on your character sheet.

I'm not thinking about favorable outcomes or good consequences based on choices within the game.

Martin Greywolf
2016-10-18, 02:24 AM
Loots are only relevant to a player because he's playing the game in question to experience a specific type of engagement and the loot helps him towards it. The concept of engagement types is explained here (http://angrydm.com/2014/01/gaming-for-fun-part-1-eight-kinds-of-fun/), among other places, they are: sensory pleasure, fantasy, narrative, challenge, fellowship, discovery, expression and submission.

Some of these tie into the loot directly, challenge and fantasy both need vast wealth rather directly, albeit for different reasons - a player going for fantasy may be okay with super rare painting for his OC, one going for challenge will probably sell it as soon as possible to get a slightly better sword.

Others may or may not tie into loot, narrative can be about dangers of greed, so the person in question will seek out loot, but not for the sake of loot itself. Similarly, someone playing Conquistador-style game will want to find that city of gold, but will want to do so because of sense of discovery, rather than to tank his nation's economy by incredible amounts of debauchery once he gets back.

That said, there are some systems that have the material wealth of PCs ingrained into their core assumptions (DnD and its wealth by level are an example) - your players need to spend that amount of money intelligently to be at an expected power level for their, well, level. At least, that's the idea.

RazorChain
2016-10-18, 02:55 AM
In 3.5e, and 4e magic items are absolutely essential to game balance.
In 5e, magic items aren't balanced in any way, shape or form, but neither is anything else. Regardless they seems to be handed out with pretty high frequency.

Typically coins, magic items and loot come in three forms as far as my experience as a player goes.
1. I need this to be contribute.
2. I care about this because of how it was acquired.
3. Oh, it's an artifact.

So if magic items and gold were removed it would skew the balance of the game. Doesn't that mean it's so ingrained in the game that they are a core mechanic?

Does this means that loot is directly connected to character progression?

The Fury
2016-10-18, 03:56 PM
So if magic items and gold were removed it would skew the balance of the game. Doesn't that mean it's so ingrained in the game that they are a core mechanic?

Does this means that loot is directly connected to character progression?

Yes on both counts. At least in conventional D&D, D20 and what have you. I mean, try making a level 12 character with level 1 starting equipment and have them try to face a level appropriate threat. Chances are that character won't fare too well.

There's the incentive side to it as well I guess, which is more appealing to some players than others.

Niek
2016-10-18, 04:12 PM
Personally I'd rather not be bothered having to keep track of inventory details as a player unless the loot in question A) comes with plot hooks attached or B) has history to it that makes it a good conversation piece

AnBe
2016-10-19, 02:00 AM
I honestly care little for loot as a player. But as a GM my players are always DEMANDING LOOT. It often becomes a balancing act, because I don't want to give them loot that is too powerful and unbalance the game, but I don't want my players to get sour if they get loot that is insufficient in their eyes. More often than not I am too nice of a GM and hand out a little more loot than I should. They do have to face dangers and challenges for the loot, but I often find myself underestimating the player's skills and abilities.

hifidelity2
2016-10-19, 04:58 AM
In D&D its part of the game and without it it would become increasingly hard for the PCs to tackle the relevant threats (i.e. no magical weapons makes it almost impossible for the fighter in the party to help in fighting any monster that requires (say) +1 or better weapons

However in other systems it may not be so critical

In a Long running GURPS campaign (set in a low magic world) magic items are incredibly rare the party has only 3 (working) majic items between them, a staff, a leather jacket and a dagger. They are also most of the time (cash) poor as I keep finding good ways to part them from their money. This all adds to the flavour of (this) game

Mark Hall
2016-10-19, 12:30 PM
A comparison might be made between Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2.

In Mass Effect 1, I joked that Shepard's secondary MOS had to be Quartermaster, since you could spend a lot of the game fiddling about with who uses what weapon and what armor and what mods and ooh lets change the mod load-out for this one because we know there's a lot of geth and blah blah blah. It could be really time consuming, but FAILING to do that would screw you over, big time... you really can't go through the entire game with your starting weapon and starting armor.

In Mass Effect 2, this changes a LOT. You CAN just take your starting equipment and play the entire game with it. There's some "special" loot later in the game that you can take advantage of (upgrades to the various weapons, the chance to pick up a weapon outside your usual range, special armor pieces that rearrange some numbers), but I could take a 1st level Shepard and a 50th level Shepard, and it's not a horrible choice to just keep using the same weapons... and even if I want to change, it's ONE change, not a change after almost every major fight or event.

It's a very different mechanical focus. In ME1, Loot is pretty paramount. In ME2, while not irrelevant, it's limited to special items.

In a way, I would equate AD&D with the ME2 model... there was special loot (magic items), but it was rarer, and not always necessary (aside from a few monsters only hurt by magic weapons, you could do fine with an unmagic weapon... not as well, but fine). 3.x and 4e tended more towards the ME1 model... loot was crucial to future success, and the balancing of loot in your party was part of the game design.

JeenLeen
2016-10-19, 01:15 PM
As others said, depends on game and player. But I'll talk about myself in a few games.

In general, I like some sort of reward beyond xp. XP is what you get for just playing. (We do level-ups by plot points/progression in story, with minimal xp per session if not really progressing much in plot, not by XP from so many kills.)

3.5: magic gear is important due to the build of the system. loot and gold is as if not more important than stuff like my stats, at least in many build (and especially non-full caster builds) I've made.

5e: magic gear is nice but not crucial. I like getting magic gear, but I'm about as happy getting favors or other stuff that is built-in. I do feel a bit of a burn if no magic gear in an entire dungeon, but I think that's hang-ups from 3.5. (Never played 4e.)

Exalted/Mage: The Ascension: magic gear is nice, but it's rare and supposed to be rare. I like getting a good item, or relevant favor/background, every arc to feel like there's an incentive, but otherwise, I'm cool with just the xp.

Note that I'm comparing magic gear with favors/backgrounds--basically, if they help me be able to accomplish things in-world that my stats alone can't do, it feels like a cool boon.
Gold (or whatever money) may or may not be this, depending on the game. So far in 5e, gold seems fairly useless after we can get a suit of full plate for the heavy armor user and stock up on some PHB-listed 'potions' (antitoxin, potion of healing, holy water, etc.) Gold's nice, but not crucial.