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The DM Giveth, so the DM Taketh Away?

Kid Socrates

First Post
While reading Crothian's thread/poll about giving his second level characters 30,000 gp, I saw a fair amount of replies from people stating that then their players would find themselves the targets of all the bandits and thieves in the area, and they they'd be lucky to get back to town to spend it, or things of that nature.

Now I know the importance of keeping things seeming realistic, so forth, so on, but this almost seems cruel -- not needlessly cruel, but maybe a little too rough. I've done battles/scenarios where items get lost/taken away, and it adds motivation for the character to get it back, but giving players something with the sole intention of taking it all back through means that they can't control seems a little rough, to me.

Is this something DMs often do? What's the benefit to it? Trying my best not to sound judgmental -- I just don't see the point in it.
 

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BiggusGeekus

That's Latin for "cool"
Kid Socrates said:
Is this something DMs often do? What's the benefit to it? Trying my best not to sound judgmental -- I just don't see the point in it.

Well, there is a point in giving something to a player, having the player become attached to it, and then having your bad guys target it. The player becomes emotionally involved in defending the thing.

But to do it often, or right after you just gave it to the player seems extreeme.
 

The_Gneech

First Post
Well, a few years ago, I had a rakshasa capture and replace an NPC in the party as they were looting an ancient ruin filled with all sorts of goodies. He'd go into the dungeon with them by day, and his henchmen would carry off the loot by night.

They were roughly 4th-5th level when they got wise to the situation, and went to confront him in his lair. The rakshasa offered them a deal: they could have the NPC back if they'd just walk away and leave him with the loot. It was a tough encounter, but they had a fighting chance, and I assumed that they'd attack to get all the treasure they'd been collecting back. (Something along the lines of 5,000 gp worth, which was a lot of money to them at the time.)

Instead, they looked at the rakshasa and his henchmen, collected the NPC, and stalked off, grumbling. I must admit, I was baffled ... and I felt bad about having soured their adventuring success by "stealing" it that way. Ever since then, the party has been blasé about loot to the point of not even looking for treasure when an encounter is complete ... they often just move on to the next room. I'm worried that as time goes on, they won't have the necessary gear to survive higher-level fights ... but I can't exactly wave "Treasure here! Nice, juicy loot!" signs all over the place.

-The Gneech :cool:
 

Odhanan

First Post
Now I know the importance of keeping things seeming realistic, so forth, so on, but this almost seems cruel -- not needlessly cruel, but maybe a little too rough.

I'm with you pal. I try to avoid giving cool stuff to the PCs just to take it away a moment later. Sometimes it's justified, and sometimes it's just mean. If you don't want to bitch at the PCs arsenal, don't give them stuff you can't handle, and they've got to be aware of your opinions on the matter.
 

KRT

First Post
The_Gneech said:
Instead, they looked at the rakshasa and his henchmen, collected the NPC, and stalked off, grumbling. I must admit, I was baffled ... and I felt bad about having soured their adventuring success by "stealing" it that way. Ever since then, the party has been blasé about loot to the point of not even looking for treasure when an encounter is complete ... they often just move on to the next room. I'm worried that as time goes on, they won't have the necessary gear to survive higher-level fights ... but I can't exactly wave "Treasure here! Nice, juicy loot!" signs all over the place.
-The Gneech :cool:
Odd way for the party to react. I would have suggested that as DM you introduce some NPC help later (i.e another group that got stiffed by the same Rakshasa). Propose that the 2 groups work together to take this guy out. The rewards would likely be more than just what they lost. This Rakshasa probably has done it many times. ANyway the point is that what the DM offers to the players are challenges not obstacle or roadblocks. I have given my players heaps of gold before (1 million gold pieces - with pinky finger in corner of mouth) and the challenge was to see how much of it they could get back to a secure location. The player knew up front that they were likely to lose a lot of it. One of the NPCs even made one of the players a side bet (the PC thought very little of it would get back and the NPC figured on at least 20%) the player was quite happy he lost the bet in the end as they got over 30% of it back.
 

MacMathan

Explorer
I wouldn't just take it away unavoidably.

It would be entirely based on the PCs actions after they got it and how discrete they were about carrying that sort of wealth at such a low level.

I wouldn't give it to them unless it had a point and I wouldn't try to take it away unless it made the game more interesting also.
 

Kid Socrates

First Post
KRT said:
I have given my players heaps of gold before (1 million gold pieces - with pinky finger in corner of mouth) and the challenge was to see how much of it they could get back to a secure location. The player knew up front that they were likely to lose a lot of it. One of the NPCs even made one of the players a side bet (the PC thought very little of it would get back and the NPC figured on at least 20%) the player was quite happy he lost the bet in the end as they got over 30% of it back.

Oh, yeah, with it being a spelled-out challenge, or at least something the player knows, I wouldn't find any problem with that at all. I think that's a great adventure idea, trying to defend a wagon from raiding bandits as it goes through ambush-heavy terrain.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Kid Socrates said:
Is this something DMs often do? What's the benefit to it? Trying my best not to sound judgmental -- I just don't see the point in it.

Well, that seemed to me to be much of the point - "If you do X, then Y is a natural consequence, and that consequence isn't pretty. So, I'd probably not do X."

There are times when this all works though - McGuffins are a tried and true dramatic device, after all.
 

Orius

Adventurer
You know the title of the topic doesn't really help deal with some of the god complexes I come under when I DM.... :lol:

Anyway, moving onto more serious on-topic matters: :)

Odhanan said:
I'm with you pal. I try to avoid giving cool stuff to the PCs just to take it away a moment later. Sometimes it's justified, and sometimes it's just mean. If you don't want to bitch at the PCs arsenal, don't give them stuff you can't handle, and they've got to be aware of your opinions on the matter.

I totally agree. The DM is the one who decides what kind of loot the PCs find, and if they get too much, it's his fault for putting it there in the first place. It's one thing when a novice DM throws too much into a campaign; that happens, and the DM learns from it. But an experienced DM should have a feel for how much gold and magic his campaign can handle before it explodes.
 

ThirdWizard

First Post
I just noticed that I havn't had anyone attempt to steal the PCs' stuff in years, beyond the bandit in the woods.

KRT said:
Odd way for the party to react.

I disagree. A 4-5th level party against a rakshasa, who is apparently very sure of himself, and a henchman? Exit stage left. Like the time my PCs met a lich, who just waved them away because he couldn't be bothered. Not gonna try their luck with that!
 

Corsair

First Post
ThirdWizard, that reminds me of an encounter my party just had in the town of Nulb in RttToEE. The found Lareth in the herb shop, and Lareth just wanted them to go away. They were debating whether or not to attack him (the paladin detected him as evil) but finally decided: "This guy is powerful enough to live in a ghost town which is literally full of undead and other nasties. Do we really HAVE to pick a fight with him?"
 

The_Gneech

First Post
ThirdWizard said:
A 4-5th level party against a rakshasa, who is apparently very sure of himself, and a henchman? Exit stage left. Like the time my PCs met a lich, who just waved them away because he couldn't be bothered. Not gonna try their luck with that!

Well, on top of everything else they had a crossbow specialist and a cleric with plenty of bless spells, and they had a record of taking on much harder challenges without breaking a sweat, so like I say it was theoretically a tough-but-winnable fight. (This was also in 3.0 days ... I notice that the rakshasa CR has bumped up a point from 9 to 10 since then.)

I have been considering a rematch, however ... they're 7th-8th level now, and would probably love the chance to get their hands on him...

-The Gneech :cool:
 

diaglo

Adventurer
lessons learned?


i mean if you give 2nd lvl PCs 30000gp and they start spending it like they got money to burn.


doesn't it seem like well... people would notice.

however, if that same group takes the money and only spends small unmarked coins at multiple places instead of one big splurge... then... just like real life... maybe it won't hit the radar.
 

dfmoss

First Post
Our Current Campaign

I am currently involved in a homebrew campaign in which our fairly low level characters found a pretty good stash - 5700 gp. We were all 2nd or 3rd level.

We had been warned that the creature ruling the area was dead set against anyone but him having precious metals or steel. We blundered into a fight with him and lost badly. We had to give up everything made of steel, gold, silver or platinum. Our coppers we were able to keep, along with a few gems.

We stragled back to civilization with just about nothing. Think about it, you have a steel or iron belt buckle holding up your pants!

The DM later said that he was very surprised when we did not high-tail it back to a town and do something safe with all that gold. He was further surprised when we proceeded deeper into this creatures domain. Our own choice and there went all the loot.
 

JoeGKushner

First Post
diaglo said:
lessons learned?


i mean if you give 2nd lvl PCs 30000gp and they start spending it like they got money to burn.


doesn't it seem like well... people would notice.

however, if that same group takes the money and only spends small unmarked coins at multiple places instead of one big splurge... then... just like real life... maybe it won't hit the radar.


But what happens when the characters are higher level? Do other people not notice or does the GM just not bother with it because it's too petty and the party has level appropriate funds?
 

diaglo

Adventurer
JoeGKushner said:
But what happens when the characters are higher level? Do other people not notice or does the GM just not bother with it because it's too petty and the party has level appropriate funds?


what do you mean what happens?

hopefully, they have learned lessons by the time they reach higher levels.

so they use the lessons learned.

the GM therefore only challenges them with something new.

their reputation... based on the level and missions accomplished... may be their biggest ego boost and their biggest threat level now.


edit: a relative of someone they killed and took things from may be looking for them. hiring someone to kill them. trying to reclaim thru the law some family heirloom. etc...
 
Last edited:

JoeGKushner

First Post
Uh... I meant that if they're higher levels and spending large sums of cash, does the Gm still have some, at this point, lowly bandits come after him, or does he just wave his hands and move onto other encounters that are more powerful?

If you're saying that at lowever levels they spend a lot and risk getting attacked by bandits, etc..., then if they're higher level and spending a lot, that risk should still be there, but because they're higher level, most DMs aren't going to bother with that as it's generally a waste of time in most cases.

I've seen it done where it's like the scene where a bad guy walks into a cop bar, and that turns out pretty funny and allows the players some time to shine and show off their abilties, but most GMs I've seen are interested in getting to the next big thing in the encounter.
 

diaglo

Adventurer
this is where knowing the PCs background helps.

you can work hooks from the background into the reasons for challenging the party. you can get them to find ways to "bury" their treasure. or store it with friendly NPCs. like higher level mentors.

you can "tax" them. lawful good paladins or clerics may want to tithe.

you can get them to do things like spend on gather information... hiring scribes or bards to write about them or make up ballads...
 

diaglo

Adventurer
JoeGKushner said:
Uh... I meant that if they're higher levels and spending large sums of cash, does the Gm still have some, at this point, lowly bandits come after him, or does he just wave his hands and move onto other encounters that are more powerful?

If you're saying that at lowever levels they spend a lot and risk getting attacked by bandits, etc..., then if they're higher level and spending a lot, that risk should still be there, but because they're higher level, most DMs aren't going to bother with that as it's generally a waste of time in most cases.

I've seen it done where it's like the scene where a bad guy walks into a cop bar, and that turns out pretty funny and allows the players some time to shine and show off their abilties, but most GMs I've seen are interested in getting to the next big thing in the encounter.


well.. that's why i mentioned reputation.

perhaps low level bandits know these guys are tough. so they get more help. or more powerful help.

or maybe higher level NPCs hear of the challenge to their own reputation the party poses.

but yeah. you can have them mop up the low level guys first. and then do a Kung Fu Hustle style... bad guy show up
 

ThirdWizard

First Post
The_Gneech said:
I have been considering a rematch, however ... they're 7th-8th level now, and would probably love the chance to get their hands on him...

Ooh, I wonder what he's been up to in the meantime. :]
 

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