One of the things that has bugged us as we developed Infinite Earths is, “why would a monster of any kind ever have any kind of treasure?” If you think about it, it makes no sense from a sociological perspective: if “x sentient monster” has no need for treasure, because he cannot spend it, why would he consider it treasure and keep it around? The age-old argument, of course, is “it’s shiny and pretty, which is the same reason why people value it, and besides other adventurers have been there before you and been slaughtered.” And from a certain point of view, that makes sense.
But we didn’t care overmuch for that.
So as we started working on the advancement and treasure rules–and there have to be something like this, even though our goal is to make treasure and magic items feel like treasure and magic items, not just “the thing you have to get so that you are optimized for combat”–we hit upon an idea that we’re quite fond of.
Now, this has to be (heavily) playtested to make sure that it’s balanced properly, so I won’t really share too many numbers here. But the gist doesn’t need numbers.
Ambition generally comes in the form of three different types: wealth, influence and power. So we took those concepts and folded them into our system. When your character advances (generally through the achievement of some plot objective), you can choose the form of your reward.
- If you crave wealth, then wealth you can get–in the form of gold and silver pieces, or gems, or some other form of monetary compensation. Wealth is often provided by the entity or entities that set you upon your quest–or, if appropriate, stolen from the corpses of your slain enemies.
- If you crave influence, then you can get it–word of your deeds spread throughout the land, providing you fame and reputation. When you return to civilization, you will find that people recognize you more readily, and are more eager to please you.
- If you crave power, personal power, then you can elect magic or items to boost your ability to accomplish your goals and succeed where otherwise you might fail.
Now, you might at first say to yourself, “Oh, I always need to choose power or wealth–power so I can have the requisite items I need to be the badass I need to be, or wealth so I can buy the requisite items I need to be the badass I need to be.”
But then we’d remind you that we’re not balancing the numbers around magic items, wealth, or anything of the sort that contributes to the Christmas Tree Effect. Any wealth, influence or items that you get will be to enhance your character and make your character more likely to be successful, rather than just letting you “keep up with the DCs.” For that reason, the balancing I mentioned earlier is not “balancing it against the rest of the system,” it’s “balancing the three different types of rewards against each other, to ensure that none are superior or inferior to the others.”
We like this idea because it allows for more variety for both players and GMs, which we hope will lead to more satisfactory gaming for everyone.
Thanks for reading, and please remember: if you have not gotten an email from us about playtesting yet, please check and make sure we have not wound up in your Spam folder!