“This creature is the scourge of the region. It threatens the very way of life for everyone who lives here. If a band of brave adventures doesn’t do something soon I fear we all shall perish. This is the kind of event that you live for, surely. The bards will sing songs of you for generations if you succeed, and you will have saved the lives of those you live amongst!”
“Yeah…How much does this job pay?”
I have witnessed this scene play out so many times at my and other’s game tables. So much that I wonder if we it is appropriate to call a band of PCs “adventurers.” I think it is more accurate to call them, “profiteers.”
Even players who claim that they have a vow of poverty or that honor drives their actions, seem to look for ways to ensure they can alter the character sheet slightly to bump up the treasure to higher levels.
I get it, to a certain level. Money is the key to making improvements to a character that don’t involve leveling up. Games are designed to make sure characters don’t get too powerful before they should. But if a PC has some extra coin in his pouch then they are off to the weapons shop that sells weapons that will offer pluses to hit and damage. But does this make for a good story?
How many books have you read where the protagonists stop and haggle over how much money they will get paid? Obviously there are tales where the main characters are of questionable morals, but I would label those as the exception. Frodo didn’t decide to stroll into Mordor because Gandalf promised him 1,000 GPs up front and more if he destroyed the One ring. Frodo took on that quest to save the world, he lived in by the way, from evil.
We as gamers love role playing. We enjoy having motivations that spur a character along that belong to that individual PC. Sure, money can be the motivating factor to the more roguish of the spectrum. But do we as players need to lean on the crutch of money to be our character’s spark to seek out danger? And even if we do a job for free, it is a good bet that the adventure will result in treasure being handed out. Shouldn’t a character’s motivations be as strong as their background? I would wager that money is to PC motivation as being an orphan is to a back story.
Just a quick thought on a Monday morning.