How to keep players motivated (or, "change that smelly old carrot once in a while")


What's on your mind?

+ Log in or register to post
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 21
  1. #1

    How to keep players motivated (or, "change that smelly old carrot once in a while")

    The more I think about it, the more I realize that the old D&D boxed systems did a marvelous job of handling munchkin tendencies... by giving players new foci and new goals and new carrots.

    Remember the Basic Set? Handled levels 1-3, the entire thing was "enter the dungeon, slay the beast, grab the treasure, go home." It was all about survival in the dungeon, including mapping and 10' poles. The "carrots" were gold and magic items, but in moderate amounts and only minor in power.

    The Expert Set (levels 4-14) introduced wilderness, the concept of "Name" level, and rules for building castles and keeps. One carrot here was moderately more powerful magic items and larger amounts of gold... but the main "carrot" was to reach "Name" level (9th) and spend all that gold creating a stronghold where they can gain followers (IOW, becoming a real leader of men). It kind of implied that once characters start hitting 9th or 10th level, it's time for them to "settle down" a bit and stop the "hunt, slay, grab treasure, lather, rinse, repeat" process.

    The Companion Set (levels 15-25) introduced rules for ruling a dominion, rules for planar travel, and rules for mass combat. The implication? Characters of this level don't spend most of their time hunting beasties in dungeons, they are concerned with larger matters as they are now barons and counts (and advisors to such). The characters lead armies and explore new dimensions. The "carrots" here became effective administration not just of a small group of followers, but of a city or a feif, including defending that feif against armies. In addition, the carrot of "planar travel" was there - players could explore new and fantastic realms. Magic items - especially weapons and armor - became fully fleshed-out (much more so than in AD&D until 3e) and customizable.

    The Masters Set (levels 26-36) introduced characters to the highest levels of play and added the rules for seige warfare as well as weapon mastery (IMO a better idea than weapon proficiency/focus/specialization, though somewhat broken in its implementation - the second-most powerful weapon by damage at high levels is... a DAGGER?!?!?). But the "carrot" was no longer the accumulation of magic items or even of worldly power - the "carrot" was questing for artifacts in the search for immortality.

    The problem, IMO, with AD&D - and even 3e rules - is that the "carrot" never seems to change. The core rulebooks barely touch upon the possibilities of keeps, strongholds, feifdoms, kingdoms, and planar travel. I am REALLY looking forward to the stronghold builder's guidebook for this reason - it will "fill the gap" currently missing in 3e.

    I have applied the same pattern that the old D&D Boxed Sets gave me to my 3e games... when players start reaching the point where it takes a REALLY big threat to harm them, it's time to coax them into building and ruling a keep or stronghold and get some followers (leadership feat or not)... a wholely different set of challenges. Once they have that taken care of, I drop a noble title on one or more of them and let them figure out how to deal with ruling a kingdom (and include some mass combat to let them get out their aggression). They also start taking short planar jaunts to get them used to planar travel. When they get a handle on THAT, it's time to start introducing the concept of artifacts and divine ascension - including LOTS of planar travel. When they get a handle on THAT, well, they're demigods and therefore NPCs and we start the process all over again... the challenge of "survive, slay, grab treasure" is fresh again by this time.

    This of course means I keep my old boxed sets close at hand for the rules on such things as stronghold building and mass combat. But thus far, it has worked wonders on my campaigns... I think a lot of people who missed that Boxed Set time miss out on the progression of goals inherent in the sets. I have DM'd literally hundreds of players over the years, from jaded old-school guys to wide-eyed newbies, and have only had one guy I could label as "munchkinesque" - and all of the feedback I received from my players (even from the munchkin) is that I run great campaigns because they never get bored - there's always something new and different to learn or do.

    I have guys that haven't gamed with me for years asking me when I am going to start another campaign so they can join in again (currently, I'm a bit busy with house-hunting and other less-than-fun real life things, though I read and write RPG stuff almost every day). I attribute that success to my changing the carrot from time to time - a skill I learned from the venerable boxed sets (thank you, Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and Frank Metzger).

    This is of course IMO, YMMV.

    --The Sigil

 

  • #2
    Registered User
    Magsman (Lvl 14)

    Hobo's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Michigan S. S. R.
    Posts
    19,124
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews
    Blog Entries
    20

    ø Ignore Hobo
    Great job noticing that, Sigil! That's something that I internallized but never really understood coherently until you stated it so clearly! All I knew was that it was boring to just do dungeon crawls all the time, especially as characters advanced.

    "I realize that I am generalizing here, but, as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care." Dave Barry

  • #3
    Registered User
    Novice (Lvl 1)



    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    386
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    ø Ignore Valicor
    That is a pretty good system to follow. The problem in 3e about players following the old system, is the level advancment is so fast. The amount of time pc's would have spent doing the dungeons crawls compared back then compared to now is significantly less. 2 or three dungeons now can easily put a character to levels 7-12 range.

    often a player needs to have a character for alogn time before he decides he wants to settle the character down, and look at issues like, building a keep, raising an army, and seekign immortality. I liek the course you have layed out, i feel that 3e character advance to quickly to follow into that path though.
    If you were me, and I was you,
    what would you do?....

  • #4

    I suppose...

    Originally posted by Valicor
    That is a pretty good system to follow. The problem in 3e about players following the old system, is the level advancment is so fast. The amount of time pc's would have spent doing the dungeons crawls compared back then compared to now is significantly less. 2 or three dungeons now can easily put a character to levels 7-12 range.
    Wow, really? Those must be RttToEE-type dungeoncrawls... in my experience, a good dungeoncrawl will bump characters up one, possibly two levels.

    My first 3e campaign went for about 12 months (weekly 4-hour sessions) and the characters were about 10th level at that time. I took them through:
    Wizard's Amulet (Necromancer Games)
    B11 - King's Festival (old D&D module I converted to 3e)
    The Lost (free PDF - i think it's now out of print, though)
    The Burning Sage's Demense (my own creation - free at http://www.cooleys.org/publishing/ )
    B6 - The Veiled Society (old D&D module I converted to 3e)
    B8 - Journey to the Rock (old D&D module I converted to 3e)
    B10 - Night's Dark Terror (old D&D module I converted to 3e and fleshed out enormously - I slipped in four of my own adventures on the side)

    The Wizard's Amulet was finished in a session; the others took 2 to 4 sessions each (except B10, which stretched about 4-5 months with all the extras I dumped in). By that time, the PCs were starting to feel like settling down.

    I have found that PCs can typically handle about 4-7 encounters per session, with 5 being a typical number. This means that on average, if the PCs are faced with challenges appropriate to their level, they should level up about once every 3 sessions (levels 2 and 3 tend to be gained a little faster than later levels). This means that I expect PCs to be 10th level in about 30 weeks or 8 months. That's about the tiem I expect them to be ready to settle down. 8 real-time months is a LOT of time to spend with a character.

    Of course, your mileage may vary - these are just what I have seen from my own campaigns. Yours may run faster or slower.

    often a player needs to have a character for alogn time before he decides he wants to settle the character down, and look at issues like, building a keep, raising an army, and seekign immortality. I liek the course you have layed out, i feel that 3e character advance to quickly to follow into that path though.
    Perhaps, but as I mentioned, it takes about 8 months for the character to hit 10th level (my usual "settle down" target level - perhaps not coincidentally very close to "Name" level - 9th - under the old system). IMO 8 months is plenty of time. 3e can go pretty quickly, as you mention, though... you don't get the "levelling off" effect of previous editions.

    It's not perfect for everyone and every campaign (that's why YMMV) but I think having the concept in the back of your mind may help keep things fresh. If it's not for you, ignore it completely! I won't mind.

    --The Sigil

  • #5
    Registered User
    Novice (Lvl 1)



    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    386
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    ø Ignore Valicor
    Ya, i guess the capmaigns I have been in go alittle faster. the current one I am in started at level 2 back in Oct and we are sitting at level 12 right now. We do miss weeks in there two. there probally a total of 6 weeks owrth of missed playing in that entire time. Not that I don't mind going fast in levels, it jsut somtiems makes the game feel like the motivation steps away from story.
    If you were me, and I was you,
    what would you do?....

  • #6
    Registered User
    Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)

    Mouseferatu's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    9,252
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews
    Blog Entries
    10

    ø Ignore Mouseferatu
    My communities:

    Hmm. On the matter of level-speed, I just wrapped up an eight-month campaign, playing an average of once a week. The characters were 12th level, but that's because I gave them a deliberate boost at one point. (They managed to bypass a few side-plots I had planned, and got to their main objective before they were technically ready. Rather than nix their idea--which was a good one--or let them be slaughtered because of a good idea, I pretty much "gave" them a level. They should have been 10th or 11th at the end there.)

    But it's important to understand something. I don't use the standard XP system. I rarely have more than one major fight per game session, and I don't feel like figuring out what the CR is of every puzzle they figure out, mystery they solve, or clue they track down. So I do story awards only. That said, I try to keep a "three or four games per level" average.

    I've never had a problem with "carrots," but that's because most of my campaigns have one major plotline, either entertwined with all the smaller stories or without smaller stories. In these cases, the characters have motivation already built into the campaign. In the case of my non-story-arc campaigns, I always make sure that characters have goals starting off from day one. Those goals may change over the course of the campaign, but at least they start with something specific to work toward.
    Ari Marmell, aka Mouseferatu--Rodent of the Dark

  • #7
    Registered User


    Quickbeam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    In The Game
    Posts
    1,866
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    ø Ignore Quickbeam
    My communities:

    Very interesting observations regarding the smelly old carrot. I hadn't thought about it much, but I must agree that there does seem to be something missing in terms of an ultimate aspiration for my characters in 3E. Perhaps now I'll find myself waiting for the stronghold builder's guide too, along with other epic level campaign material.
    LIVE STRONG

  • #8
    Registered User
    Guide (Lvl 11)

    WizarDru's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Downingtown, PA
    Posts
    5,612
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    ø Ignore WizarDru
    My communities:

    Re: How to keep players motivated (or, "change that smelly old carrot once in a while")

    Originally posted by The Sigil
    The problem, IMO, with AD&D - and even 3e rules - is that the "carrot" never seems to change. The core rulebooks barely touch upon the possibilities of keeps, strongholds, feifdoms, kingdoms, and planar travel. I am REALLY looking forward to the stronghold builder's guidebook for this reason - it will "fill the gap" currently missing in 3e.
    Actually, I don't think you're comparing apples to apples, here. You're using FOUR sets from Basic D&D, and then comparing them to one core rulebook set (three books, but for all intents and purposes, one set).

    The topics you discussed are all available, just not in the core books. You're getting the Stronghold book, the Epic Level book and you've already got Manual of the Planes. Remember, 3e was supposed to be "Back to the Dungeon". 2e had tons of supplemental material like this, and unless my memory was faulty, there was plenty of material in AD&D 1e for fighting your way to the top. After all, in 1e, you couldn't obtain some levels unless you KILLED the person already holding that level, or somehow got them to 'step down' from being the Guildmaster or the like.

    You also seem to level your group faster than most that I've met, unless you meet very regularly. The Savage Sword of Meepo (my players) have been playing for almost two years, and are only 12th-14th level. That's after clearing Sunless Citadel, Forge of Fury, three Homebrew adventures running a total of 18 to 20 sessions, and Nightfang Spire.

    I agree that 3e needs these things...I just don't think they're actually missing them.
    "I'd say it's more appropriate to say that videogames are RPG-ish, wouldn't you?"

    Have you read our current Zad/Wizardru's New Story Hour (Updated 9/8)

    or our older WizarDru's Story Hour?
    You Should.
    I ain't linking to Piratecat's story hour...no sir, I just won't do it. He can just get the next half-million reads on his own.

    Did I mention that I have a Livejournal? It's possible that I have.

  • #9
    Registered User
    Novice (Lvl 1)



    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Cambridge, UK.
    Posts
    191
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    ø Ignore Eryx

    XP?

    How often are you guys handing out XP?

    I hand it out only when they finish the addy and never allow more than 1 level at a time. Your players seem to be levelling very quickly by the sounds of things...
    In Darkness was Beauty Found.

  • #10
    It took our group about one school year of play to go from level 6 to 12. We had alot of trouble with the Heart of Nightfang Spire though. There's killer stuff in there that rips you off on XP.

    I'm not sure I like the idea of "forcing" characters to have titles, settle lands, and ruling positions. Those kinds of positions aren't going to fit into everyone's concept, or abilities. Fear the 8 CHA, 10 INT fighter "leading" an army.

    Of course, if the world is well defined, the characters can find plenty of things to do. For example, characters who finish clearing out dungeons in FR and who are near the Dales might decide to kick the drow back underground, or whatever. People should be defining their own goals, although DM input is pretty necessary. It wouldn't be much fun anyone if the players spring somethign on the DM so he can't prepare a decent adventure.

  • + Log in or register to post
    Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

    Similar Threads

    1. Replies: 321
      Last Post: Monday, 15th June, 2009, 08:34 PM
    2. Give me a competent arguement that WotC is "changing rules for the sake of change"
      By Gundark in forum Older D&D Editions and OSR Gaming
      Replies: 120
      Last Post: Sunday, 23rd September, 2007, 08:07 PM
    3. "Lazy" GMs and "overworked" players
      By Voneth in forum General RPG Discussion
      Replies: 15
      Last Post: Tuesday, 24th September, 2002, 08:58 AM
    4. [Satire] "Pizza" players vs. "Potato Chip" players
      By HalfElfSorcerer in forum General RPG Discussion
      Replies: 21
      Last Post: Monday, 24th June, 2002, 08:34 PM

    Posting Permissions

    • You may not post new threads
    • You may not post replies
    • You may not post attachments
    • You may not edit your posts
    •