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Don't Players Ever Learn?


Gamer Talk

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I cannot count how many times I have had players that have decided to buy major items when they get treasure. I'm not talking about ordinary run of the mill stuff, I mean major magic items that have to be custom made and major equipment like a ship.
In one of my campaigns the crew got a ship as part of their payment for mapping the world for a Pathfinder. In turn they picked up a food shipment from one country and delivered it to another...what they didn't know was the food was for Absalom and they went to Alkenstar. In Alkenstar they picked up some weapons and some passengers (thanks to the thieves guild). They made over 300,000gold and stopped in another town to have custom magic items made.
I told them it would take a couple of months to make and he needed gold up front. They agreed and later went back to get it...too bad so sad.
The mage told them he had been robbed of the items and the gold. His bluff was high enough that none of the players disbelieved him.
Another campaign someone wanted to buy a ship...on the blackmarket. He put 10k of gold in the mans hands...he went back the next day to see if he had his ship and found the man had skipped town.

When will my players learn they will get what they need instead of forcing the issues?


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I am saddened by the fact that I am not surprised to see this post.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

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xanthemann wrote:
When will my players learn they will get what they need instead of forcing the issues?

Probably when their GM learns that there's little point to having a gold system in the game if it never matters.


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Oh the gold matters. They are able to pay for services and rent places, heck they can buy places, but I am talking about game breaking items. My players know what I am talking about...don't you?


Was it impossible to get beat the bluff check at their level or did they just not focus on sense motive? If it is they prior then you should handle it out of game, if there is a playstyle conflict.

Shadow Lodge

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Back before magic marts littered the landscape, adventurers in D&D did what it's most believable that such heroes would do with their treasure...they spent it on ale and wenches!

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

xanthemann wrote:
Oh the gold matters. They are able to pay for services and rent places, heck they can buy places, but I am talking about game breaking items. My players know what I am talking about...don't you?

Do you prevent them from taking Item Creation feats? I hate "game-breaking items" as much as the next person... which is pretty much why you'll never see me letting my players get their hands on 300,000gp (unless it's vaguely level-appropriate).


xanthemann wrote:
Oh the gold matters. They are able to pay for services and rent places, heck they can buy places, but I am talking about game breaking items. My players know what I am talking about...don't you?

Gamebreaking is subjective, and if you don't want them to buy certain items until they get to certain levels then don't give them the gold.

Let's say you want them to have an airship. Well don't give them the money for the airship, find a way in the game to just give them the airship. If they are making a delivery and they are supposed to return the gold to another NPC, then let them know the power of the NPC they work for, and/or have a 2nd NPC that works for the main NPC tag along to hold onto the money. If you someone game me 1 million dollars , and told me how to spend it, then it would defeat the point. I would rather just be given what I was allowed to spend.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

xanthemann wrote:
When will my players learn they will get what they need instead of forcing the issues?

It sounds to me like you and your players have very different expectations for how much freedom they have in your campaign. Until you're on the same page (either you loosen up the restrictions on them a little, or they get comfortable being railroaded in regards to item acquisitions), you're going to get conflicts like this.

If the PC's earn a whole bunch of money, and the only thing stopping them spending it on magic items which you view as overpowered, then they shouldn't have been given the money in the first place. Figure out ways to reward them - as wraithstrike suggested - with useful/necessary items directly, rather than just handing over mountains of gold.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
xanthemann wrote:


When will my players learn they will get what they need instead of forcing the issues?

From the way the post reads, probably about the same time they realize that every time they lay out cash for services the NPC will screw them over because the DM has control freak issues.

Shadow Lodge

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xanthemann wrote:
My players know what I am talking about...don't you?

Nope.


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Some NPCs should be dishonest con men/grifters. Some should be scrupulously honest. Others might be dishonest, but afraid of crossing a band of armed and magically powerful killers. A lot of PC parties that I've seen would try to hunt the thieves down and make them pay.

The description in the OP sounds like an "every NPC is an untrustworthy @$$+0|3" game. Maybe I'm assuming too much here, but I've been in a campaign where every NPC would betray you sooner or later and its not a good thing.


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xanthemann wrote:

I cannot count how many times I have had players that have decided to buy major items when they get treasure. I'm not talking about ordinary run of the mill stuff, I mean major magic items that have to be custom made and major equipment like a ship.

In one of my campaigns the crew got a ship as part of their payment for mapping the world for a Pathfinder. In turn they picked up a food shipment from one country and delivered it to another...what they didn't know was the food was for Absalom and they went to Alkenstar. In Alkenstar they picked up some weapons and some passengers (thanks to the thieves guild). They made over 300,000gold and stopped in another town to have custom magic items made.
I told them it would take a couple of months to make and he needed gold up front. They agreed and later went back to get it...too bad so sad.
The mage told them he had been robbed of the items and the gold. His bluff was high enough that none of the players disbelieved him.
Another campaign someone wanted to buy a ship...on the blackmarket. He put 10k of gold in the mans hands...he went back the next day to see if he had his ship and found the man had skipped town.

When will my players learn they will get what they need instead of forcing the issues?

Sounds like every npc in this game is an a**hat, that or the gm is.

Every NPC screws over the pc's on any "major purchase" they make.. I'd be hunting down/ killing alot of npc's... or if the gm is one of these " oh they disappeared without a trace" kind of guys... evil alignment here I come. I'd go on a tear to earn back the gold I was just scammed out of =P .

The PC's in that game really need to wise up too, if every NPC is doing this.. throw out a geas or something on them to complete the contract as expected.


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I'm not sure how to take the OP. Is this just about the characters being naive, or are you saying you will just thwart them no matter how savy they are?

In other words, are these characters being naive and reckless with their money or are these players being naive by thinking they have a GM who will allow their choices to be meaningful?


If you don't want them to buy these things... why did you give them 300,000 gp?

Edit: and then YOU included an NPC who could make it and was willing to make it?

It seems like you set up these situations where you need to steal the money/items away. Instead of just giving them cash, why not have someone pay them in land if that's what you want them to have?


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I agree that your players should be learning a lesson. I doubt that the lesson I'm thinking of is the lesson you're thinking of, though.


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Sorry I have been away for a while, it was my anniversary with my wife yesterday.

I give my players free run in the campaign. I don't really restrict them as to what they want to do, but I do try and steer them in the direction of the adventure. Rewards are normally large in size when it occurs due to what they have accomplished, like the last time when they saved a member of royalty from being a slave. For that they received enough to rent a small fort in Absalom. They are also on call by the Grand Lodge.
Few of the players try and go against what the group is doing and try to reduce the need for others by getting equipment to take their place or give them the ability to do what others can do. Some even try and deal with unsavory people (that is when they are taken advantage of.). They are only up to 3rd level at the moment and do not have need for all some are striving for. At higher levels they will be able to get what they are after, for sure. They will need it then; specifically the River Kingdoms.
Most of the party know I will not send more against them than what they can handle, so if the other few get their way with equipment I will have to send so much against them that some will not be able to do anything save for try and survive.
In short, I am trying to maintain balance between encounters and players, so that everyone will have a chance to do something important in game. This is why some of the players get ripped off, by unsavory types. It is due to their greed for power above others.


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xanthemann wrote:

Sorry I have been away for a while, it was my anniversary with my wife yesterday.

I give my players free run in the campaign. I don't really restrict them as to what they want to do, but I do try and steer them in the direction of the adventure. Rewards are normally large in size when it occurs due to what they have accomplished, like the last time when they saved a member of royalty from being a slave. For that they received enough to rent a small fort in Absalom. They are also on call by the Grand Lodge.
Few of the players try and go against what the group is doing and try to reduce the need for others by getting equipment to take their place or give them the ability to do what others can do. Some even try and deal with unsavory people (that is when they are taken advantage of.). They are only up to 3rd level at the moment and do not have need for all some are striving for. At higher levels they will be able to get what they are after, for sure. They will need it then; specifically the River Kingdoms.
Most of the party know I will not send more against them than what they can handle, so if the other few get their way with equipment I will have to send so much against them that some will not be able to do anything save for try and survive.
In short, I am trying to maintain balance between encounters and players, so that everyone will have a chance to do something important in game. This is why some of the players get ripped off, by unsavory types. It is due to their greed for power above others.

If you want to maintain balance between level-appropriate encounters and player characters, you should try to give out level-appropriate rewards.

300,000 GP at level 3 is nothing even vaguely resembling a level-appropriate reward, so you should not be at all surprised when the players attempt to use such grossly inflated resources to attain grossly inflated power for their PCs.


That reward was at a time when I really didn't restrict the players whatsoever. I have slightly limited them from that time, but I try to leave the game open for what they want...as long as we can get the campaign accomplished...and in a balanced fashion.

Shadow Lodge

TOZ wrote:
xanthemann wrote:
My players know what I am talking about...don't you?
Nope.

Me neither.


Tell me. How is owning a boat (a galleon even) an *overpowered* item?

Sure, it's convenient, but the regular outlay of cash to keep the thing afloat is huge. Gotta have food. Gotta have fresh water. Gotta have a crew large enough to sail the boat. Gotta have officers who know what they are doing. Gotta pay those guys. (not to mention the ship-board medic, cook, and so on....)

Next question: Dude, seriously, what is going on with your neck?? :D kidding

Qadira

I have to agree. I'd rather the party travel by boat than by teleport. More chance of random encounters and just better adventure seeds by virtue of having to actually travel.


Another point to keep in mind is that NPC merchants who cheat their customers should either be new in town or have bad reputations that can be discovered with some Knowledge (Local) checks. Also, there should be some variety in their personalities -- otherwise, all NPCs seem like manifestations of a weird group consciousness in the DM's imagination. I tend to suspect the latter because the PCs twice got cheated out of large sums of money by NPCs who proved to be untrustworthy. Do trustworthy NPCs who care about their reputations even exist in this game world?


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You do understand that if you reward them, then dm fiat a way to take it away, you didnt actually reward them right? If you dont want them to be able to buy certain items, say 'there was no one able to craft that item available'. And if you dont want them to get 300k gold worth of stuff, dont give them 300k gold.

And by the way, you are not in fact leaving the game 'open for what they want'. You are in fact more restrictive then a railroad dm. At least when a dm railroads you, you know what you can and cant do. As opposed to being allowed to invest time and energy getting rich in the shipping business and then having the rewards for those labors made useless or simply taken away.

You then come onto the message boards saying 'haha, look at my stupid players, why dont they 'learn''. Thats not being a good dm, thats being a jerk. Dont be a jerk. If you dont want them to have level inappropriate gear, talk to them as human beings and likely friends, and say 'hey guys, why dont you go after that goblin camp instead of starting up a shipping business. It will fit a little better with the campaign i have planned.'

Shadow Lodge

^ what he said ^

Silver Crusade

I've ran games where the players amassed huge wealth in terms of ships, and stuff like that. One group even went so far to capture like 6 ships. They ended up running a mercantile group that ran itself when they were off adventuring... so every month or so, they got an additional couple thousand gold.

If they wanted a powerful item, they had to manufacture it themselves... that is, take the feats, learn the spells, and do it. If they knew a powerful mage, they may help, at the expense of performing quests for them...

I've pulled a stunt where like 30k gp were "stolen", but they had the chance to find the "thief" and get it back, and then some... just to take it? No...

If you give them a problematic item/gold/etc, then talk to the group out of character and discuss it. You'd be surprised how cooperative most players are.


I guess it sounds worse than it actual was. One of those 'you have to be there' moments, so to speak. They have the opportunity to track down these people that did them wrong. What I am doing is trying to keep them at the same power level as one another. Once they attain a higher level they will have the chance to get what they desire...The reason they can afford these things is because I didn't limit them and the reason it is taken from them is they were power hungry. (The ship is still there for the taking. It isn't gone, it just isn't clean. It was manned by gnolls). In the last campaign, where they received 300k gold, the players agreed that it got out of hand.

Give me some time so I can get a player or two to chime in on this.

Grand Lodge

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WHAT!? 300,000 GP for LEVEL 3 PLAYERS?!

Let me show you something. It's called the Wealth By Level table.

Now, from the way you talk about your campaign, it looks like you actually have a pretty firm grasp of the world of Golarion (that, or you play a lot of PFS, since you toss around terms like the Grand Lodge and all that). That's good. And the fact that you know where one can deliver goods from one place to another shows you know far more about Golarion geography than I ever will.

However, I'm going to tell you this right now. Three hundred thousand gold is incredibly excessive, and you should really look to changing how you GM.

The fact is, like it or not, the Pathfinder/D&D system is based upon, in part, on the balance of how its wealth system works.

The strangest thing I find about most GMs is that they often don't realize that the Wealth table actually sets the tone for your game.

The fact of the matter is, how strictly you follow the Wealth system, and the kinds of resources you allow your players to access, has a greater impact on your game than the actual structure of your party (whether you have more Casters or Martials or whatever).

When you allow players to access that amount of gold, but don't want them to spend it on anything, you're really just being a jerk. You should tell you players up front (rather than smugly telling the Paizo boards) just what your expectations are of how they should spend that gold, rather than robbing them blind by having the shop keepers run off with their money. (Which by the way, is really a very terrible thing to do. If players cannot trust the economic system of the game itself, it really creates a very chaotic environment. Real life and RPGs are not that far off from each other. If property rights can't be trusted, then there's little point to engaging in the world in a civil manner.)

Which by the way, is fine if that's the sort of game you want to play, I suppose (I personally like it when I input 4000 GP into the shop keep, he gives me my Headband of Intelligence +2, rather than the GM saying "Haha! Jokes on you!")

Really, being "tricky" with the players in this manner is just a very cruel thing in general. The reason for this is that we do not actually inhabit the make-believe world mind of the GM. We do not have any idea of just what kind of world you actually have, other than what you tell us from your own mouth. When you betray that, when you abuse your power as the GM to interpret the world so that you can screw over your players, it really really undermines the immersion players can have in the world, in general.

xanthemann wrote:
When will my players learn they will get what they need instead of forcing the issues?

Uhh, exactly how on earth does this reconcile with your statement that you're giving your players "free run" of the campaign?

Look, I'm a railroady GM. I tell my players from the start "Welcome about Zean's RPG express. I have an idea of where this story is gonna go, and I'm gonna take you there! All aboard!" And that certainly isn't a good thing, but at least I'm honest about it. And being honest about this allows me to do some things with my players that many other GMs lose. For instance, I opened up the Core Book, pointed to the WBL table, and told them "you can expect to have at least this much GP at each level. We are going by the Fast Advancement Experience path, so you generally will get a ratio of 1 XP per 1 GP. By doing this, I build trust with my play group that while the overarching story (I'm running Rise of the Runelords) has a sort of set structure and plot independently set and decided already, the players still understand that they actually do have real control over their characters' fates. I do this by establishing expectations for them ("expect most challenges to be about +2 CR versus your APL") and describing the world clearly and fairly. The players know they will get gold and experience and level up in a predictable manner, and thus they can at least build the mechanical frames of their characters in such a way so as to control the power level flow of the game itself.

And strangely, when players have better control over their builds and reasonable expectations of the future, they can start to interact in the world with even greater freedom because they are keenly aware of their own powers and limitations ("okay guys, we have enough GP for 1 raise dead. We can afford to go through a few charges of our expendables in case things get tough, and overall, we could probably take 2 or 3 challenges of X difficulty on a given day").

Giving players no direction, a bucket full of money beyond their party level, and a world set out to screw them over if they try to use said money in a way that maximizes their own utility, is not freedom. It's hell.


He did say he will get a player or two to chime in. I am interested to hear the other side(s) of the story. Hopefully one of them will be the player trying to make the power grab.


I see people feel very strong about this matter. I don't mean to offend anyone or get anyone hot under the collar. This is meant to be an exercise in entertainment (like the game).

Direction is something I do give, but I also GM in such a way that it gives the players an 'open field' to do what they wish. Most of the players go with the direction, but I am talking about a few who are not exactly in line with the majority. Some players have actually knocked out the other players that disrupt the game by doing these things. Open play is how they got the 300k, because I allow them to do what they would do (I just didn't expect them to be so savvy at disrupting cities. I did however have them make amends by performing certain duties for said cities).

As far as level vs the money they made...do you know where the etrade baby idea came from? A baby was left alone with the family pc and by random clicks it bought a bunch of stock in some company and netted his father millions. I bring this up because the baby isn't even 1st level, but wasn't limited on how much he could make.


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Back in the day, your problem would have solved itself.

Old School:
Back when getting treasure gave you xp.

Shadow Lodge

xanthemann wrote:
As far as level vs the money they made...do you know where the etrade baby idea came from? A baby was left alone with the family pc and by random clicks it bought a bunch of stock in some company and netted his father millions. I bring this up because the baby isn't even 1st level, but wasn't limited on how much he could make.

The etrade baby also doesn't have an invisible overseer making sure that all that money gets lost in order to keep it at a par for its non-existant level.


@ COG, too true, too true.
@ TOZ, that is also true.
@ wraithstrike, thank you. I have put the word our to my crew and hopefully one or two will chime in.


I just want to think outside the box for a second. A crazy gonzo game where the party was always getting massively wealthy and then losing it all every few sessions could be really fun, if that's what everyone wants.

Maybe that's all that's going on here?

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I look forward to hearing from the player side if so!


This seems like a situation where some GM-player communication would have been helpful. Something like "Look, guys, I realize I gave you 300,000 gp last session, but I don't think I can properly balance encounters for 3rd level characters with 10th level wealth. Could you: retroactively knock a zero or two off that number/not spend more than X/clear any purchase greater than X with me/buy 20,000 head of cattle (or land or some other vanity item)/suggest some other option that would prevent your wealth from breaking the game?"


xanthemann wrote:


I told them it would take a couple of months to make and he needed gold up front. They agreed and later went back to get it...too bad so sad.
The mage told them he had been robbed of the items and the gold. His bluff was high enough that none of the players disbelieved him.

what was the reaction of the players? I mean, the chcaractes did not notice the lies of th mage, but what the players said/did about this?


indeed, i have played PCs that have destroyed cities for just such a thing. hell hat no fury like one of my characters screwed out of the chance to have an airship


in fact i remember a druid character of mine who was saving his wealth for an Instant Fortress (the magic item of 50-60k gp cost). We were getting roughly wealth by level and i wasnt spending mine, i was saving it. So anyway the GM has me robbed while we are on a ship crossing an ocean. So i warped holes into the bottom of the ship and sank it, then wild shaped into a sea turtle and tried to get away and the DM had me eaten by a dragon turtle.

end of story, TPK.


The players did not beat the bluff checks and didn't bother trying to track down the supposed thief. If they did it would have panned out into another adventure. I should have pushed thatcone a little more, but the ship can still be aquired...it has to be cleaned seeing as how you have to pass a fort save just to climb onto the ship.


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xanthemann wrote:
The players did not beat the bluff checks and didn't bother trying to track down the supposed thief. If they did it would have panned out into another adventure. I should have pushed that cone a little more, but the ship can still be acquired...it has to be cleaned seeing as how you have to pass a fort save just to climb onto the ship.

But did they know OoC that they had been stolen from?

And if they had gone after him would they have got extra cash or would what they reclaimed have just made then upto a 'fair' WBL. If the later why bother they could have fun adventures rather than getting back their cash.

And regarding the last part of the quote, why would they steal a ship? Even if they had tried to pay for it.


ok...so being one of the players in both campaigns...I admit than when I got my 300K in gold...I went to all the taverns and popped bottles of ale and made it rain silver pieces on many a wench...who didn't? What, just me?

okay, seriously, I went for better armor and better weaponry...magical, of course, and a couple magic items...necklace of fireballs, if I remember was one...

although a little concerned, that it was too much too soon, but as it was explained to me, our two leaders...an arrogant wizard and a shifty rogue were doing these deals and were making the rolls for said negotiations and said loot...I can't fault the DM when the characters make the rolls for negotiating payment...

Everyone went a little crazy and our DM calmed us down and pointed out that even though you have all these magic items...you're still only level 3, i.e., still somewhat squishy...

Still...those who wanted really extravagant magic items had to wait for them to be crafted or brought in...when a few came back and the stuff/money was "stolen"...no one persisted in hunting down the thieves and I don't even think it was thought of by anyone to do so...

Go to next mission...hey guess what...it's in Alkenstar...no magic...i thought we were gonna be so screwed...we still came out fine...

New campaign...found a Lady who was about to be enslaved...got in good with the Pathfinders/Grand Lodge and heads of state...got put on retainer and reward/payment in gems...someone has the idea of getting the gems cut to get better money...rolled a nat 20 on said roll to determine value...we got 36K out it...first thing I said..."we find a place to rent and HQ our adventures from here for the now"... Pathfinders/Grand Lodge helped us out with a better place for the price we were paying...i upgraded to masterwork weapon and +1 armor...nothing else, cause hey lesson learned...

I think it's one of those things where if you're going to do something, be thorough...gotta a wish...take it to a lawyer and have it looked over meticulously...going to a shady dealer should have possible consequences (random roll?) than going to reputable dealer...did you look at the ship before putting down 10K gold?...if you don't ask "what do I see when I look in the room" the DM may or may not give you the info...

I think it's a lesson learned but that's just me...


That's fine, I just don't see a problem with what the players did over all. If I as the GM give you 300k, then it's a no brainer someone is going to try and get a powerful magic item. If you put places in town where they can get them... Again, no brainer.

It's good to hear that the game is going well overall, but the tone of the topic title didn't accurately portray the "lesson" that most people saw here.

Shadow Lodge

xanthemann wrote:
When will my players learn they will get what they need instead of forcing the issues?
Fiendish_Dr_Wu wrote:
I think it's a lesson learned but that's just me...

Question answered, thread over.


It has been awhile and I wanted to give an update on the original matter of this thread. I didn't think it was worth creating a new thread 'cause let's face it there are too many that say the same thing already.

As one of my players had mentioned earlier, the lesson has been learned and we have done a reboot of the campaign that actually spawned this thread and everyone is being far more responsible with their parts (including myself).

They have a fleet of ships and an army of wagons with enough gold to fund several kingdoms, but instead of buffing one character we are expanding the group. The characters have contracted other characters (multiple pcs for each player, but only one or two per region) to be a part of a reactionary force in different regions.

The reason is because of how honorably they have fulfilled the contracts from the Grand Lodge. They are in demand around the known lands and could not possible be everywhere at once, so they are using their wealth to expand their reach. They even had a Cleric make up a contract that binds an individual to the spirit of the contract (not the loopholes) through divine means.

At first I thought this would be to keep new recruits in check, but the players offered to sign the contract...willingly! They have proven themselves truly worthy, honorable and respectful with their characters actions.

There is so much I could say on the subject, but I will leave it as it is. I will answer comments or questions on the matter though...well, I will try.


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in an old 2nd edition game, i had a wandering merchant/bard relieve my brother's fighter of (i don't remember, 10,000gp or something, which in those days was a lot) in exchange for a large chunk of "transparent adamantite", which turned out to be glass.

He tracked the merchant down for much of the rest of the campaign, and killed him. And then from then on that character and all of his other characters have summarily executed every bard they have ever met.

Taldor

jerrys wrote:

in an old 2nd edition game, i had a wandering merchant/bard relieve my brother's fighter of (i don't remember, 10,000gp or something, which in those days was a lot) in exchange for a large chunk of "transparent adamantite", which turned out to be glass.

He tracked the merchant down for much of the rest of the campaign, and killed him. And then from then on that character and all of his other characters have summarily executed every bard they have ever met.

Because there is no action like overreaction and there is no kill like overkill...

I have a player like that. He hates fey creatures. I don't understand why. I mean, it's ok to hate evil fey, but there are some good fey. So, when he was reincarnated i had him inhabit a body of a satyr.


xanthemann wrote:
When will my players learn they will get what they need instead of forcing the issues?

Probably about the same time you stop sending them mixed messages about what they should expect.

It's like if you give a little kid $500 and take him to a toy store, let him buy a whole bunch of toys and then when you get home, before he ever gets a chance to play with them, you ground him for "Being greedy and irresponsible with his money".


xanthemann wrote:
When will my players learn they will get what they need instead of forcing the issues?

This post feels like deja vu.

So you screw your players over when they don't like your handouts, imagine their PCs differently than you do, or take an interest in gear? Nice. (That's sarcasm btw).

Maybe you should relax and not screw your players over and allow them some input into the game. It' everyone's game, not just yours.

If you don't want someone to have something, you tell them that no one knows how to make item X in Ultimate Equipment, very few people in the world know. But don't let them purchase from a bona fide crafter and then steal their money. That is, if you want to continue to have players.

Silver Crusade

I admit, stuff like this makes me look forward to Ultimate Campaign and its promises for detailing how to handle player run businesses.

I just hope its not some sort of huge meta cop-out like 'Wealth by Level Must be Maintained!'

If the party is clever enough, canny enough, and capable enough to make a business work in a fantasy game where they can earn something from it, then that's like them earning levels to go up.

The problem arises when people think they can just sell 10gp item for 12gp and get 2gp without taking into account issues of opportunity cost, overhead or the like. Or..competition.

Also, the players get what they want. This is one of the reasons I started forcing myself to random treasure generation.

The party might not benefit from finding a +1 anarchic siangham (I think the precise phrase they used was 'What sadistic bastard created this thing'), but they can sell it.

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