Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thor's Day Trope #2 - PLUNDER

So one of the fun things about doing this specific series of articles is actually exploring and then thinking about how to implement a specific trope into gaming. Since I'm working on the Interface Zero 2.0 Equipment chapter, and starting design work for the Gamma Crawl Classics equipment section, I think I'll cover the Trope of Plunder. Tonight it's just rambling as type what comes to mind, so please excuse me. not a lot of time tonight (had to go to the kid's High School Orientation....thing....not really an orientation, more of a "start thinking about extra-curricular stuff display, for when the kids come here in August" thing.)
From TV
"The Heroes may be saving a Distressed Damsel. They may be fighting against The Empire. Being a hero is a hard job. But it has its perks. And one of the biggest is...
Yes, indeed even our heroes need something to satisfy their sense of mischief and avarice. They need to take joy in depriving their foes. For our heroes make money the old fashioned way: they steal- wait- plunder it. When done by soldiers in a war, this is sometimes called "Spoils of War"note However, the Geneva convention actually allows for soldiers taking anything necessary for warfare from the enemy. That is, you can plunder ammunition, guns and fuel (as it allows you to keep on fighting and prevents the enemy from doing so) but you can't steal someone's watch, food or valuables, for example.
Within games, it is like Experience Points (and commonly both used, as well) - a reward from defeating your enemies. The difference may be generally more less certainty in what you may get from your enemies where with Experience Points, it is generally clearly aligned by certain parameters.
Related to this is Pirate Booty which is a treasure hoard gathered by pirates when they do this.
Compare Kleptomaniac Hero and Rewarding Vandalism, which are the video game equivalents of this trope. The villainous equivalent is Rape, Pillage, and Burn, where stolen property is not the only offense. As well, the common gaming term of this trope is "loot, lewt, or 13\/\/7"."
For hilarious and insightful examples of said Trope, visit their site. 

Now if you're a gamer you know how treasure hungry adventurers can be. And if you read the other tropes in the above quote, you get a good idea of the bad kind of treasure related rewards. If the enemy has a +2 dagger, well you just gave the group a +2 dagger, what the enemy has, the players will take and sell.

In old-school games, decent items were squirreled away in hidden places, as characters weren't expected to have access to "Ye Olde Magick Shoppe" in which to sell all their ill-gotten gains, nor were they expected to be able to throw gold at the GM and say "I make a +1 brilliant fire burst long sword". In published adventures, treasure could be had by mucking through the middens, or the otyugh's bed (a trash heap). A shiny sword might lay hidden in the depths of the well that the water weird was lairing in.

Plunder is really the reason for adventurers, one of the great things about Dungeon Crawl Classics, is that it is actually ALL ABOUT PLUNDER, Gold and Glory, winning it by sword and spell. But get too powerful and the gods will be jealous!!

Plunder is rampant in online games, you loot pretty much every monster in games like, Everquest and The Old Republic, and can even randomly get really good items off of 'yard trash'. Fallout is all about stealing people's stuff, aka, possession is 10/10th of the law.

Some games are good at plunder, or loot. Others are better at far ranging stories, FATE system is more about stories, DCC is about Loots, but also about the high strangeness of magic. Monty Haul is a trope I'll cover on another day.

I personally prefer the old school way of loot management. The game master puts the treasure in, the players discover it, they use it. I also like adding in valuables in a dungeon that are very expensive, but are possible trophies as well. A 20' tall tapestry hangs from the wall, well made, depicting a scene from history, possibly the history of a character in the group. In games where characters can't spend all their cash on upgrading their gear, they tend to decide they want a castle, or a manor house, start a town, attract some followers etc.

Whatever way you run your game you're going to run into Plunder. Decide how you want to do it, and which system works best with how you've decided. Don't run Pathfinder RAW if you want control over what your characters have. Though if you want, you can easily house rule all the item creation rules into oblivion.

Well this little speed of though session is at an end. I have design work to do.

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