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hivemind

Loot Is Broken

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This impacts everyone, and multiple working groups, so let's just have this discussion in the open and let everyone have some input.

 

Premise: our system of distributing loot to PCs via encounters is broken. Players regularly deal with such irregularities as:

 


     
  • Extremely difficult encounters that yield, occasionally, nothing, and often as little as 2-3 coin per PC.
  • Random distribution of magical loot.
  • NPCs that have powerful items that do not use them.
  • Uneven distribution of loot during a shift, sometimes resulting in a massive payout at the end of the shift on a trivial encounter, or large amounts of loot in the first two hours that trickles down to none by the end.
  • Long walks in inclement weather and/or in the dark for little reward.
  • Set amount of treasure per shift means that some encounters simply won't have loot if it's a busy shift.
  • Lots of other frustrations.

 

Solution: we will develop a system of rating an encounter's difficulty, and develop a chart to guide staff as to how much and what kinds of treasure should be on each encounter.

 

Caveat: This topic is not here to compare GMs, nor to point fingers and assign blame. It's here to fix a problem, nothing more.

 

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Here's what I'm thinking. We all know what makes an encounter difficult: stuff like a caster, ways to get through defenses like Shadowskin, large numbers, monstrous or armored foes, high-level NPCs, missile weapons or spears, and so forth. We can make a list of those things, assign each one an arbitrary value, say, 1-3, then total those modifiers and look on a treasure table to assign loot to each encounter.

 

My initial list of "Encounter Modifiers" looks like this:

 

0 = 5 or fewer NPCs

1 = 5-9 NPCs (each respawn you give a monster is one additional NPC)

2 = 10-19 NPCs

3 = 20 or more NPCs

 

0 = NPCs armed with claws, single weapons, or dual-wielding

1 = NPCs have armor (any number)

1 = NPCs have shields (any number)

1 = NPCs have Great Weapons (any number)

1 = NPCs have missile or thrown weapons (any number)

1 = NPCs have monstrous armor (any number)

3 = each NPC that is a Weapon Master

 

1 = NPCs can cast spells or have effects level 1

2 = NPCs can cast spells or have effects level 2

3 = NPCs can cast spells or have effects level 3

4 = NPCs can cast spells or have effects level 4

5 = NPCs can cast spells or have effects level 5

2 = NPCs can cast spells or use items that penetrate defenses (Silvershine, Transmutation, Hand of Death, Wraithbane, Primal Form, Enchant Weapon, etc.)

3 = NPCs can cast Dispel Magic

3 = NPCs can cast powerful defensive spells (Improved Magic Armor, any immunities)

1 = NPCs can cast Dissipate

3 = NPCs can cast Ley Lines

 

2 = NPCs have traps

2 = NPCs are laying an ambush

1 = NPCs are targeting a specific PC for death or capture

2 = each NPC with a Damage Requirement Magic, Silver, Nature, Poison

3 = each NPC with a Damage Requirement Elven Steel, Primal

1 = each NPC with thrown poisons or acid

2 = each Monstrous NPC

 

0 = NPC hits for 1-2

1 = NPC hits for 3-4

3 = NPC hits for more than 4

 

0 = NPC has 0-1 body

2 = NPC has 2-3 body

3 = NPC has 4-5 body

4 = etc...

 

0 = NPCs are coming to town

1 = NPCs are in the immediate area of town (the fields, the little loop behind the cabins)

2 = NPCs are some distance away (beach, field across the road from Confirmation Lodge, Covered Bridge)

3 = NPCs are far away (Lootsville, Pine Plantation, Shrine of Draconus, swamp)

4 = NPCs are really far away (Sluice Gate, encounter goes to multiple other far away locations)

 

-2: each NPC in a mask that's impossible to fight in (Waspoids, Minotaur, etc)

+2: each NPC that is a superior fighter

 

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Now to add the treasure. I think my initial thought is:

 

2 coin or 2 coin of loot (jewelry, gems, etc.) per +1

1 level of consumables per +2

10 coin worth of magic items per +5, minimum of +25 for any magic item

 

all rounding down...

 

Thoughts? Someone work some hypotheticals here for me...

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How would things like RP encounters fit in? There's no intrinsic danger in a talky plot, but there's the ability to do it "right" or "wrong", and we try to reward "right" choices. So how would we fit that in?

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Hypothetical: Dan, Dave and Scott go out as Wraiths. Dan and Scott are dual-wielding, Dave has a spear.

 

0 = 5 or fewer NPCs

0 = NPCs armed with claws, single weapons, or dual-wielding

1 = NPCs have Great Weapons

2 = NPCs can cast spells or use items that penetrate defenses (Silvershine, Transmutation, Hand of Death, Wraithbane, Primal Form, Enchant Weapon, etc.)

2 = NPCs can cast spells or use items that penetrate defenses (Silvershine, Transmutation, Hand of Death, Wraithbane, Primal Form, Enchant Weapon, etc.)

2 = NPCs can cast spells or use items that penetrate defenses (Silvershine, Transmutation, Hand of Death, Wraithbane, Primal Form, Enchant Weapon, etc.)

3 = each NPC with a Damage Requirement Elven Steel, Primal

3 = each NPC with a Damage Requirement Elven Steel, Primal

3 = each NPC with a Damage Requirement Elven Steel, Primal

3 = each monster listed as Extremely Rare

3 = each monster listed as Extremely Rare

3 = each monster listed as Extremely Rare

0 = NPCs are coming to town

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

25

 

50 coin or coin equivalent

12 levels of consumables

50 coin magic item

 

 

That sound fair for killing three wraiths?

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How would things like RP encounters fit in? There's no intrinsic danger in a talky plot, but there's the ability to do it "right" or "wrong", and we try to reward "right" choices. So how would we fit that in?

 

I think the RP is it's own reward, but perhaps those NPCs have treasure according to this table as well, and can give it out if the PCs do what the NPC wants.

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caveat: We'd need to fix the Encounter Codex if we want to use "extremely rare" in the stats. Those categories are borked by our habit, practice, and available costumes.

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Hypothetical: Orc O'Clock. 12 orcs (6 with shields, 5 with armor), one shaman (casts Magic Armor, Silvershine, and Slaying Swarm), two ogres (Great Weapon and dual-wielding).

 

1 = 5-9 NPCs (each respawn you give a monster is one additional NPC)

2 = 10-19 NPCs

0 = NPCs armed with claws, single weapons, or dual-wielding

1 = NPCs have armor (any number)

1 = NPCs have shields (any number)

1 = NPCs have Great Weapons (any number)

1 = NPCs have monstrous armor

1 = NPCs can cast spells or have effects level 1-2

2 = NPCs can cast spells or use items that penetrate defenses (Silvershine, Transmutation, Hand of Death, Wraithbane, Primal Form, Enchant Weapon, etc.)

2 = each Monstrous NPC

2 = each Monstrous NPC

0 = NPCs are below level 10

1 = NPCs are level 10-19 (the shaman)

0 = each monster listed as Common

1 = each monster listed as Uncommon

0 = NPCs are coming to town

-----------------------------------------------------------------

16

 

32 coin or equivalent

8 levels of consumables

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Wouldn't this eventually cause a problem with massive inflation in-game? I suppose that happens anyway, and god knows I'm no economist, but I'm just wondering.

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caveat: We'd need to fix the Encounter Codex if we want to use "extremely rare" in the stats. Those categories are borked by our habit, practice, and available costumes.

 

Yes, and not an impediment.

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Wouldn't this eventually cause a problem with massive inflation in-game? I suppose that happens anyway, and god knows I'm no economist, but I'm just wondering.

 

We've tried to control that for years by putting a hard cap on the loot that goes out per shift. I now feel that is inherently unfair. Besides, coin doesn't do all that much in our game while there's still production limits in place. Ivan has around 2000 coin right now, and so what? What am I gonna do, kill monsters by throwing silvers at them? We've seen that, at some point, PCs simply plateau. Once all your slots are filled with awesome, and your weapons are awesome, you're essentially done - and one dude with a Dispel bends you right over now. :)

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I don't have an EC handy (nor do most players), so it's harder to do your hypotheticals. But.

 

an angry Piscean spellcaster

two angry Piscean thugs with poisoned martial weapons

waiting in ambush at the beach

 

=

 

0 = 5 or fewer NPCs

0 = NPCs armed with claws, single weapons, or dual-wielding

2 = each NPC using poisons

2 = each NPC using poisons

2 = NPCs can cast spells or have effects level 3 or greater

3 = NPCs can cast powerful defensive spells (Improved Magic Armor, any immunities)

1 = NPCs can cast Dissipate

2 = NPCs are laying an ambush

1 = NPCs are level 10-19

1 = NPCs are level 10-19

2 = NPCs are level 20-29

2 = NPCs are some distance away (beach, field across the road from Confirmation Lodge, Covered Bridge)

____

18x5=140 coin

 

That seems way high to me.

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Practically speaking, I think this is do-able and could work really well for us. I also think your x5 multiplier is high. x2 or x3 would be more in line with a satisfying experience we're all more comfortable with. I think x5 would lead to a season of "HOLY SHIT I'M RICH!" after every single encounter, because it would be so far outside our current scale that it would blow expectations out of the water. A smaller start would be "Rock on, great shift" but without the "OMFG WOO!" factor.

 

I mean, not that I object to happy PCs, but still. It just feels skewed.

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Maybe we need a:

 

-2: each NPC in a mask that's impossible to fight in

 

And maybe the +2 for each poison is high.

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Looking at your last example after editing the first post, now it does this:

 

0 = 5 or fewer NPCs

0 = NPCs armed with claws, single weapons, or dual-wielding

2 = NPCs can cast spells or have effects level 3 or greater

3 = NPCs can cast powerful defensive spells (Improved Magic Armor, any immunities)

1 = NPCs can cast Dissipate

2 = NPCs are laying an ambush

1 = NPCs are level 10-19

1 = NPCs are level 10-19

2 = NPCs are level 20-29

2 = NPCs are some distance away (beach, field across the road from Confirmation Lodge, Covered Bridge)

-2: each NPC in a mask that's impossible to fight in

-2: each NPC in a mask that's impossible to fight in

-2: each NPC in a mask that's impossible to fight in

-------------------------------------

8

 

16 coin

4 levels of consumables

 

Maybe there's no magic items until we hit a threshold. Changing that now.

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Previous examples all edited to reflect first post.

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I completely agree with a negative multiplier for mask. Having fought in almost every type of mask we have, I can say that across the board, they make it more difficult to see and fight.

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What about players potentially not going after an encounter because it's too small. Does anyone feel like this would cause players to be lazy? Yes, it's their own fault and loot they are missing out on, but could this cause people to not go on hooks of orcs and so on? Just throwing out another point of view. I like this system a lot personally. I guess my question is, would their be exceptions to this, in very rare chances.? Perhaps a small band of orcs having a magical item, simply to keep players guessing and always wanting to encounter everything.

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I think that this is a good starting point.

 

I agree with Jenica on the modifier of a x2 or x3.

 

I think that monstrous creatures should also give a modifier.

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Version two sits better with me. From a logistics standpoint, I love this kind of idea, so long as we can find a balance that feels good for the GMs and players. As the logistics staffer, it sucks to have to say to the GM, "Pull back, you're running out of loot and it's not fair if this shift dumps cash in when the others didn't", particularly when you see cool stuff going out the door to engage the PCs but there's not much loot to offer based on our current $$ balance.

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What about players potentially not going after an encounter because it's too small. Does anyone feel like this would cause players to be lazy? Yes, it's their own fault and loot they are missing out on, but could this cause people to not go on hooks of orcs and so on? Just throwing out another point of view. I like this system a lot personally. I guess my question is, would their be exceptions to this, in very rare chances.? Perhaps a small band of orcs having a magical item, simply to keep players guessing and always wanting to encounter everything.

 

It probably would have this effect. To which I say, "Not our problem." I talked with a player this weekend who said he always breaks 100 coin for his event, and I KNOW that's because he goes out on everything he sees -- never a quiet moment. I, on the other hand, choose to sit and stand around and RP with other PCs half the time, or go for patrols where we encounter nothing, and I avoid plots that look like they're going to annoy me. And so I make far less money, by choice. I think those patterns would still stand.

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Also, wouldn't there always be low-level PCs who need to make some dough on low-level encounters?

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I think that monstrous creatures should also give a modifier.

 

 

Yes, forgot that, adding it and updating examples.

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Also, wouldn't there always be low-level PCs who need to make some dough on low-level encounters?

 

This is a very good point.

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This is a very good point.

 

Yes. When Ivan was a new PC, level 14, he was a hustlin' mofo. Anyone remember "Now I can eat!" Ivan? Now, he simply doesn't care unless it sounds like a massive haul, there're innocents in danger, or there's a female involved.

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Here's my only concern... People would get lazy, probably even more so than some of us do already when we're tired... "Orc's are burning down my house".... Response: "meh, fuck it, ask those people over there."

 

Maybe use this chart as a "minimum" amount that the group MUST have. That way people get something regardless, but there's still the chance of something nice. Let's face it, not everyone can kill three wraiths. So if ALL the "good" stuff is only on freakishly tough monsters, than the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

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I'm not sure on your reward numbers, but I like this idea.

 

Some issues:

 

1. NPCs vary wildly. Dan, Scott, and Dave as wraiths is considerably different from Amanda, Ann, and MK THREE UNNAMED NEW PLAYERS as wraiths.

1a. NPC tactics also vary wildly. I don't know if I think the reward needs to be greater, but I'm usually much happier if we chase down Tony Servello as a boggart than if we straight-up-fight someone else as a boggart.

 

2. Loot. We'd need to speed up the production of it. Making a handful of 2nd level consumables takes a loooooong tiiiiime. Making a magic necklace takes less time, but still awhile. The staff would have to work together to churn out a pretty big magic item pool, and instead of unsigned consumables in the boxes we could just "finish" all of them.

 

3. Math. I think it would be much smoother if we had something like a POS system to dial up monsters, calculate loot, etc.

 

Whipping up some hypotheticals now.

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