Here’s A New Source Of Treasure For Your Campaigns
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0843
So I’m building a world.
Because I’m so busy with work and projects these days, I’m letting the world come to me. When ideas strike, I type them into Campaign Logger and tag them. When I eventually do carve time to start fleshing the setting out, I’ll have a bunch of ideas ready.
One approach I’m taking is to treat Third Party Products (3PP) as treasure. Here’s how it works.
Play With Core
The first campaign I launch in my new world will stick to the core rules.
I’m not sure yet what game system I’ll use. 5E maybe. The Black Hack RPG. FATE. Maybe a system I design. Not sure.
Regardless, the main rulebook will serve as campaign default and what the players build characters from.
Expand With 3 PP
Then I’ll scoop up 3PP. There are lots of talented independent writers and designers out there. So really good extras are available for almost every game system now.
The stuff in the 3PP books will be treasure for the PCs.
Feats, equipment, spells. New bits of crunch that I’ll add to the possible treasure list.
The stuff I like, I’ll queue up. The characters can find this as rewards during play.
A Few Wins
Therefore, the game rules expand as play progresses.
A risk with 3PP is it might not work well in your campaign. The design might be fine or awful, but regardless the new rules do not fit well with your world, GM style, players, or game rules.
Therefore, instead of mixing all the paints together at once and just getting grey, I’ll make one or two additions at a time and test their hues.
Rewards serve as the perfect channel for this. You don’t hand out all the rewards at once — you dole them out over the life of your campaign. So the 3PP gets a good pacing structure baked in.
I also get a whole bunch of instant treasure options just handed to me. A new spell, for example, is already statted up and described in the 3PP. I just need to award it. Same with most of the other 3PP stuff. With minor mods or none, it’s ready.
3PP is also strange, wondrous, and unique to players who have already memorized the core rules or who have played the rules so often no corners remain unlit.
A Simple Playtest
Some 3PP content might feel tricky to you. You worry it’ll unbalance your game or be a bad fit.
I intend to deliver a lot of 3PP rewards via NPCs.
Non-player characters make the perfect vehicle to playtest, showcase, and incentivize new rules.
When the party hears of Gnulb the Goblin terrorizing a nearby village with his goons and some sort of terrifying fireworks that turn people into zombies for awhile, I’ll get to test his Zombie Charm spell out in-game.
If the spell does not meet my criteria for mechanics, flavour, and fun, I have choices.
I can fix what’s wrong and then give it to the PCs when they discover Gnulb’s spellbook. Or I can have the spell go missing so it does not fall into player hands. I could also make the spell a limited use magic item that’s almost depleted when the players get their hands on it, limiting a potentially broken mechanic.
Many New Options
With so many cool ideas out there on this internet thing, giving out 3PP as treasure is a fantastic way to playtest stuff first without committing it to your campaign.
By making it treasure, you get an instant supply of rewards that players will truly want.
And by often using NPCs to test the new crunch out, you get all kinds roleplaying possibilities.
It’s Agile GMing at its best.