And to put my mouth where my money is at, Here's a bit from the Red Eft Game Master's Guide on rewarding your players....
Everyone loves a treasure hunt, but far too often
treasure in an RPG is treated like treasure in a video game.
Characters come upon a chest of gold coins, it rings with a bright
bling noise as it is hoovered up by a sack of holding and then it
becomes nothing more than a score at the top of the screen. Treasure
becomes a number we think fondly of because we have been raised to think that way. Treasure rarely comes back into the game and when
it does it often makes the game less interesting by making everything
too easy. Powerful weapons and magical items can so dramatically
unbalance a game that they can actually be a threat to your campaign.
The notion of “Rewarding Your Players” is a dubious matter at
Ingrates. First and foremost, your
players should be happy just to be playing the game. It is not often
so many people can take so much time out of their lives to come
together and entertain each other by rolling dice and pretending to
be elves. However, reprogramming your friends is not an option.
If your players get a gleam in their eye when you
mention large rubies worth untold fortunes then you should ride that
desire as best you can. This doesn't mean you should actually let
them have it, but it is perfectly legal to dangle it in front of
their noses like a carrot to get them to move.
You should certainly not let treasure disappear into
a bag of holding only to re-emerge whenever the PC's need to buy a
shank of mutton. You do not have to forbid easy magical storage
devices, but do your players really know where all that wealth is
going? How do they know they can trust such amazing
once-in-a-lifetime wealth with a magical sack? It may be working now,
but what happens when they open it up and nothing is there?
If the PC's choose to carry their booty around the
old fashioned way, that chest full of gold coins is going to be heavy
and hard to haul. When they drag it into a local village everyone is
going to turn out to take a look and hopefully get a bit of it for
themselves. Things can get quite ugly when the local thieves guild
and/or tax agency gets wind of it. There is a very good reason why
pirates bury their treasure and closely guard the maps leading back
to it. Players should feel those forces and maybe even pushed to do
Kill Boredom, Kill Repetition. What is
often meant by “Rewarding your Players” is actually “How do I keep my players from being bored?” If your players
are becoming bored there is a reason for that and you need to find it
and kill it before it ruins your game.
The most common cause of boredom is repetition. You
can only fight a goblin horde so many times. Some repetition can be
tolerated as the nature of the game, especially if the players
themselves are the cause of the repetition. However it is always a
good idea to try to get your creatures to react in such a way that
avoids doing the same things over and over and over.
Action movies are good about this (at least the good
ones are). Often an action movie is nothing but one fight scene after
another but it is not too hard to see the director pulling strings to make sure the film does not seem like one fight
scene after another. The
same thing never happens twice in a row.
If you just had a bare knuckle brawl then make sure anything else
happens aside from yet another bare-knuckle brawl. If unavoidable
then change the nature of the brawl itself – different creatures,
different weapons, different settings – just so long as it is not
the same thing as what you just did.
Another common repetition problem comes from making
too many action checks for a single situation. No one wants to make
twenty action checks for a single activity. It will wear the corners
off your dice! If the PCs are chasing some villainous cretin
through a volcanic cave, leaping from one unsteady pillar of rock to
the next, have them make one agility check for the initial leap and
if they succeed let it cover all the other leaps made until they come
upon one which is obviously harder than the rest. Or, if they scored
a little or normal success while the villain scored a great success
let them try to improve their success in an effort to keep up with
We often think of an action as lasting only as long
as one roll of the dice. You make the roll. It succeeds or fails.
Then it is gone. Another way of looking at it is to picture an action
as causing success that lasts until the game changes on it. If a
character is in a library researching one thing or another a whole
day could be spent among the shelves but just a single research check
should suffice. There is no reason to do another check until perhaps
the character leaves the library and goes to a different one.
Of course, some times the problem is simply too much
dice rolling. Which is more fun? Walking into a library and making a
willpower check, or walking into a library, talking to the librarian
and being led down into the basement to a secret room where large
dusty tomes are kept, chained to the walls and almost seeming to
pulse and burble where they sit on shelves, shelves inscribed with
strange arcane symbols....
Levels. Another way to avoid boredom is
to let your character's level up. This is often seen as a reward by
other games. It makes the characters more powerful so they can then
go on to encounter more powerful creatures, which doesn't make it
much of a reward at all.
The true reward to be found in levelling up is that
the nature of the game. Heroic-level
characters may cover the same terrain as Mortals and Demi-Gods but
they will experience it in a vastly different ways.
The catch with leveling up is that once your
characters increase in level they are not going to want to come back
down. This leads to one of the biggest ironies in level-based role
playing games. Some of the most challenging and enjoyable games are
Mortal level games. By the time the PC's become Dieties they are
often too powerful and overwrought to be of any interest to anyone.
sometimes it may be the game itself. You
can have too much of a good thing.
Maybe it is time to put the Red EFT aside and go try one of the
thousands of other tabletop games out there. Just be sure to come
back. You will be missed if you don't.