Do treasure bundles fit in Society play?

Organized Play General Discussion

5/5 *** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht

Okay, apologies for the clickbaity title, but I had a discussion with some friends about this, and I wanted to see how the Paizo hivemind thinks about this.

First of all, this is just from a mechanical point of view. Flavourwise, the Society pays you (in part) with the loot you found on your mission, but let's leave that aside for now.

The conclusion we got to was that treasure bundles/loot drops feel more appropriate for modules/APs, not scenarios. You know, proper adventurers, not hired help. See, I ran an adventure where the mission was simple: rescue Person X. My players circumvented part of the scenario and skipped a portion of the dungeon part. They rescued Person X and got away safely. But in doing so, they skipped several treasure bundles by not looting the dungeon. If the mission was to get Person X and get out (which it was, and which they did), why would the Society pay less for a job equally well done?

I've seen several scenarios where the author needs to contort themselves into weird positions to justify handing out item drops. Save a sick commoner? They or their family will scrounge some gold/items together to repay you. Retrieve some stolen goods? The NPC will reward you with more money than the goods were worth. This all makes sense if you're a regular person, not someone with a paid job who will get their money regardless of how many people you help. Yeah, I know, some people like to use scenarios as part of their non-Society adventures, so you need to cater to them as well, but still.

Look, I'm not saying to ditch the loot system and pay people regardless of how well a job you do. You want to be able to measure success, and reward people who do well (conversely, punish people who murderhobo through every scenario and not bother with skill checks), otherwise especially replayable scenarios will just become a race to the finish to earn credit as quickly as possible. But I mean, there has to be a middle ground, yeah? It leads to box-checking and metagaming where people will kick in doors just to get treasure. "Hmmm, we've technically already beaten this boss of this cultist hideout, but there's still two rooms we don't know what's inside of. Do we check them out for more loot, or get the hell out of here?" (Yeah yeah, the Society's motto is "EXPLORE, report, cooperate," but if you've already beaten a mission, does that one odd broom closet hold that much value to the higher-ups?)

I don't have a better solution, nor am I demanding for things to change. I'm just throwing this out there to see how other people feel about this. Rewarding people for smaller tasks feels like it belongs in module/AP writing, I feel. An idea would be to do it like how most secondary success conditions do it: do X out of Y tasks, where none are mandatory, but either help the Society's reputation, discover some lore, or go the extra mile. It's maybe a bit too similar to treasure bundles, but more retrospective: did I do a good job on this mission, or did I go for the "good enough" option?
It would be more hassle to keep track of as a GM, but for instance, you need to earn "points," and at a certain threshold you get paid in full (like, 20 points available in total, 10 is enough for full rewards): Killing the final boss would be one point, bringing them in alive two points (where applicable, of course. I doubt that many undead/demons would surrender, though there have been instances where they did), broker a peace three points, and so on. It's also metagamey, and authors would need to make sure it isn't too rigid (help X people, kill Y bad guys, discover Z lore in every single scenario), but it would avoid the problems I had with the situation I explained before (people rescuing their VIP, but don't get full pay because they didn't look for the shiny behind the door on the other side of the map).

Any ideas?

2/5 5/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Massachusetts—Boston

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From a theoretical standpoint I liked the PFS1 approach of 'assume full credit and list places where you can lose something", that tends to avoid some of the contortions authors are forced into in terms of finding enough things/places to put TBs.

However people didn't seem to like that approach (maybe because it was large/odd values not simple/small 1-10s). And it kinda felt like people were more willing as GMs to just give full credit and not bother tracking it. The simple ~3-5 point checklist at the end of the scenario feels like a format people are willing to enforce/review after the scenario, so practically I think its working.

Now perhaps we could flip it around:
Assume 10 TB, and then have a list of 2-3 things that cause a deduction (and a blanket rule in the guide, that if people just give up and skip the mission they don't get the default 10 -- though all the corner cases that might be needed could get messy) and GMs would still find it easy enough to run through and do. However, I'm not sure its worth the change.

The other approach, that i think could work, is have more places where you have ~5 TBs for accomplishing the mission and then 1-2 bonus ones spread out where it makes sense. Rather than expecting the author to find a way for every encounter/skill challenge to have a meaningful TB.

5/5 *** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht

Ooh, good ideas. The deduction for "bad behaviour" is nice, that makes sense. Like a less punishing Infamy, and a lot easier to track. Rather than checking what you did do and adding them up, you check what you didn't do.

The guaranteed TBs with bonus TB is basically what Paizo's doing now. Lots of scenarios have TBs tied up in defeating challenges, so when you finish a combat, you get your TBs. The only way to miss out on those if you skip/fail those fights.

2/5 5/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Massachusetts—Boston

The difference on the guaranteed + bonus approach, IMO, would be:
--ask the authors to come up with what rewards make sense during the scenario, where do you want to give the party extra resources
-- figure out how much those are worth and place those, and only those TBs.
-- fold all the rest into pre-existing secondary/primary success condition based TBs that are flavored more as 'here's what the society pays you' rather than as TBs you've looted/sold back,

Horizon Hunters 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Agent, Indiana—Indianapolis

As a GM, I certainly don't mind the way TBs are allocated in scenarios. I think it works fine.

However, if you switched it the way others have suggested, you take a tiny bit of workload off the GM to track them. Right now, the GM generally has to track the treasure bundles as they are acquired. Switching it to where it is assumed characters earn all treasure bundles unless some exception occurs only requires GMs to track the exceptions.

I don't think it's a deal-breaker either way, and switching to the assumption that PCs earn all treasure bundles unless something happens won't make the PCs overly wealthy.

So, I mean, I guess I'm neutral on the whole thing, but the alternative proposed above isn't game-breaking, so I am okay with that, too.

Scarab Sages 4/5

I’m not certain that all of the instances described should have resulted in lost treasure bundles. If it’s possible in a dungeon to skip past rooms, but there’s no reason why they PCs can’t explore the dungeon in full after the final fight, most GMs aren’t going to deduct a treasure bundle because the PCs went right at the entrance instead of left. Things that are in a broom closet should be able to be found after the scenario, unless the dungeon collapses at the end (which has happened). If the PCs visit the broom closet, but fail a perception check or don’t detect magic to notice one of the brooms is magic, then they shouldn’t get the treasure bundle, but not just because they happened to skip that room on the way to a fight.

Also, isn’t there something about placing the treasure bundles in an alternate location if something like skipping a section of the adventure happens?

1/5 5/5

That's under 'Creative solutions', if memory serves.

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