Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rewarding the PCs in my Traveller game

This is what we do adventure for.

Recently I posed myself the question "what could I give PCs as rewards for completing patron missions besides credits?"  Cash is always handy, but might there be some other kinds of assets that will provide their own adventure hooks, or build the game world, and therefore be more than a number noted on the character sheet?

The answer of course is Yes.

First idea: unique items. Works of art, first editions of books/movies/sound recordings. Something that has value but is not just cash. Artworks might need special care, be difficult to transport, and may put the PC in the sights of art thieves. Possession of a unique item should get the PC on the radar of other people who have similar items or are collectors. Any object could have been the possession of a famous person before - and suddenly the PCs have some current or historical NPC to investigate.

Similar concept: Give them access to exclusive events, like concerts or parties or political/social events.  The clever PCs can do networking, and pick up all kinds of useful Rumors, or find new Patrons. Showing up at the 'right' functions could help bolster a PC's SOC rating.

Next idea:  weapons in Traveller are generic, reflecting the similarity of technology across cultures. A pistol is a pistol is a pistol, unless it is a pistol custom-built for the PC by a known gunsmith. Maybe it's got a +DM that makes it better than an off-the-shelf pistol. Maybe it just 'looks cool'.  Maybe it comes with a cool holster that enables quick-drawing?  Give the weapon even a little distinction, and the PC & player have a reason to hang on to it, and expend the effort to get it back if it gets lost or stolen.

Next idea:  Give the PCs information, or information sources - books! Historical or scientific works, or even literature can be fun little bonuses in the course of an adventure. 

Referee: You see an array of symbols etched into the wall of the structure. They're possibly pictograms of some type.
Player:  Hmm. I'd like to make an Education throw to interpret them.
Referee: OK, but your character doesn't have a background in linguistics. Throw 3D+6 under your EDU score.
Player: Rats. Hey, wait. What about that book the museum director let us have?  It was a history of this planet, does it have anything in it to help interpret the symbols?
Referee (consults notes): Yes, it does. Now your throw is 3D+2 for EDU or less. 
Player (throws): Sweet, got it!
Referee: OK, you figure out that the symbols are the account of a battle with gigantic water-dwelling creatures. Wait, isn't this structure right next to the lake?

Another idea:  Consult the Trade goods table, and reward the PCs with a cargo container full of salable items. However, to keep it interesting the goods should not be something the PCs can immediately use, like a two-ton lot of precious metal ingots.

It's worth a lot, but not directly useful unless they go to a low-tech planet that uses bartering. Again, make it worth their time to keep it, but give the PCs options to do things with whatever goods they've obtained.

It's like money but not quite: The PCs could be paid in bearer bonds or negotiable commodities, but they have to travel to a specific location in order to redeem them. There are worse ways to persuade the players to go to wherever you've got your next adventure set. Stock certificates can easily be cashed out, but the PCs might keep them as a more reliable source of income, and a reason to be interested in the financial well-being of the entity that issued the stock. Suddenly they've got a new patron.

Further idea: Any object from the equipment or vehicle lists could be offered as reward for doing a job, but that's dull. Make the equipment of superior quality or more ornamental. Maybe it's guaranteed never to break down, or is the cutting edge of fashion, so that NPCs will be more favorable to them.

Ordinary non-adventuring objects could be given as well. If the PCs have a ship, let patrons give them custom furnishings. Wire up a ship with a slammin' sound system and you've got the Party Cruise ship, which brings in more customers!

Adventuring gear can have advantages of lighter weight, longer battery life, better range than standard. Anything that keeps the item from being dull, easily replaceable and generic is good.

Vehicles can be good rewards, and create adventure possibilities. The referee should not hesitate to let PCs have cool or super-charged vehicles, as long as they thereby become plot points. Sure your G-Carrier is 15% faster than standard, but it is more finicky and requires more maintenance. Or it only takes manufacturer's replacement parts, which are not available on all worlds. In the other direction, yes, it's an air/raft, and yes, it flies, but it has a terrible paint job, or its got mis-matched exterior components welded on, and NPCs laugh at you when you fly into town.

In summary, whatever the referee gives the PCs as a reward for doing a job, the ref should put some thought into how that item is going to affect the PCs in their day to day operations. It's not just payment, it's world building.


  1. If you can get a copy of 101 Vehicles it can enhance your idea of giving them something different. You don't need to use MT to use the vehicles the most important parts would be the picture and performance numbers.

    1. Warren, I do have that book lying around somewhere. Thanks for the suggestion, I'll dig it out and have a look.