Adventurers settling down

One of the things I struggle with as a DM is getting my players interested in my game world. To accomplish this I try to make the game world seem as alive as possible; if they ignore a quest too long someone else might well come along and do it, or something bad might happen due to the absence of heroes. I try to get my players to see their characters as real people not just collections of stats and maybe a personality. Real people tend to think about the future at least somewhat; they want to have a nice home, a family, go on a fun vacation, buy something extravagant, etc. When PCs manage to get some sweet treasure the goals are immediately to get better gear so that they can get more treasure, and then they spend every last penny on gear before setting out again.

To me the above situation just reeks of meta-game thinking. Of course there will be more loot the next time you go out, and it will likely be a bigger haul than the first this is an adventure game after all and we just leveled. From my experiences PCs rarely if ever try to buy a farm or settle down for a while. I know that doesn’t make for thrilling action, but it does make a lot of senses and could help put some logical downtime into the game.

When I was a kid I used to love watching Conan the Destroyer. My dad had this beat up VHS and we watched it at least once a month for several years until the tape finally just gave out from use. At the end of the movie the princess asks Conan to rule at her side, but he declines because he must become king by his own hand.

King by his own hand. That is a pretty good motivation for a character to have. The desire to someday be king of your own lands and people that you yourself conquered and tamed can drive someone to go on very dangerous adventures and tackle seemingly insurmountable foes. This is the kind of goals I try to get my players to think about, but I have had little success. They seem content to just adventure, loot, repeat rather than really building a place for their characters in the world.

I stumbled across this post about the loss of D&D’s Endgame over at Grognarida and thought that this lost endgame is what I am after. Unfortunately I don’t want to deal with the complexities of a retro clone. I’m just too used to having feats and skills and not having class/race restrictions.

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~ by katallos on February 3, 2010.

4 Responses to “Adventurers settling down”

  1. Shame on me for missing this post! We share common campaign design goals and sometimes it feels like I get the same results you do, where players just want to wrack up video game points instead of building a rich fantasy life. I’ve run campaigns with complex, even adult situations, characters owned houses and land, they had family members and friends and it wasn’t just about collecting stuff.

    • What methods did you use to get your players to think in terms of accumulating real wealth, land, social connections, etc. rather than saving up for that +5 vorpal butter knife in case their toast got uppity?

  2. One of the things I often did was put them in realistic life situations. I often used character background to do it too. I created either a very real desire or a real need for PCs to acquire a place to hide and plan. Like in sales, the GM often has to create the desire to buy what you’re selling. However, a player who’s really in the mood to play a role is also essential.

    Case in point, I had a character in my campaign that didn’t know who his real mother was and when she heard he’d won a large mansion from a defeated villain, along with some wealth and fame, she came to him looking for her piece of the pie. It’s a long story but one very well worth telling as a great example of how, together, we to made great plots happen. I’ll tell that story on my blog. I think this is great topic and well worth exploring at some length.

  3. As the wizard says, tying the characters to the setting is usually key in this sort of play. Players who are interested in the setting and its people are more likely to want to build things in that world.

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