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HappyDaze

Enough of the "Keeping the Players Hungry" Silliness Please

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I've had the time to read over Mask of the Pirate Queen, and my disdain for the idea that rewards have to be crazy small is growing to an active dislike. Without spoiling anything beyond the first meeting, you get the "quite lucrative"  offer (that's what the book says) of 10,000 credits per crewmember to bring in the head of a pirate band. This is stupid, and here's why:

 

1) A variable bounty paid per crewmember means that a single hotshot bounty hunter that brings in the pirate queen gets 10,000 credits but a large ship with a massive crew might get hundreds of thousands or even millions of credits. This makes no **** sense, as the job is the same no matter how many people it takes to do it. Unscrupulous ship owners would be quick to fill up their ship with drifters and bums making them contracted crewmembers that just sleep in passenger bunks just to make more credits. Even without such an exploit, it just doesn't make a lick of sense.

 

2) Assuming that the crew size is 4-6 (fairly typical for PC groups), the offer amounts to 1/3 to 1/2 the value of the typical  group's starship. When you're going after a pirate leader that captures ships as a lifestyle, there's a real possibility that you may lose your ship. Doing such a risky job for less than it would take to replace the vessel is just foolish, and this doesn't even cover the real risks of death or capture. This is not going to be a walk in the park, so the pay needs to be significantly higher considering such risks. Considering the losses that the hiring party is taking, the offer given is insulting.

 

3) With pay this low, the PCs are going to be wanting to loot everything they can get their hands on, including enemy starships since many of those can get by for a short time with a crew of only 1 or 2. This has the potential to be more unbalalcing to the game than a larger set reward but a contract that demands all vessels captured be turned over to the hiring party.

 

OK, enough of the rant. I just hate it when the PCs are treated as being crack addicts that have nothing to their names and need to get their next fix right now no matter how illogically low of a payment they're offfered.

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Yeah I noticed that too.  There doesnt seem to be much guidance in the way of doling out credits during play.  And regardless of what I do my players first response to when I describe the things in a setting is "how can we steal it".  It gets booring. 

 

If I introduce an inquisitor they want to steal his saber,

 

Introduce a bounty hunter they want to steal his ship.

 

Have them get pulled out of space by an Interdictor and I have to spend an hour explaining that it would be suicide to try and comandeer it.

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It's all why I made the changes I did to credits and uses for xp.  The prices scale wonky between items and vehicles.   I'm actually happier when they want to steal things to get them as opposed to playing RPG Amazon and just rolling dice on a chart like they're shopping online.

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It's all why I made the changes I did to credits and uses for xp.  The prices scale wonky between items and vehicles.   I'm actually happier when they want to steal things to get them as opposed to playing RPG Amazon and just rolling dice on a chart like they're shopping online.

 

What changes did you make?

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Without giving anything way, is that for the entire gig? In another words, would you get the 10K after finishing the entire adventure?

 

I'm of the opinion that the big adventure books should offer a pretty sweet payoff. And the smaller 1-2 session modules like Under a Black sun would offer that 10K rewards.

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It's all why I made the changes I did to credits and uses for xp.  The prices scale wonky between items and vehicles.   I'm actually happier when they want to steal things to get them as opposed to playing RPG Amazon and just rolling dice on a chart like they're shopping online.

 

What changes did you make?

 

I'm loathe to even post it because invariably the 'gotcha' crowd comes in and turns a thread into a pissing content or a 'why the pirate is a F discussion', suffice it to say to me as soon as I read 'keep the players hungry' when I saw this game I knew that meant there was some kind of an issue with money in the game.

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Is that reward just for the Pirate Queen herself?

How much was the bounty on Han Solo?

Whilst Jabba is a Hutt, if that reward is posted by the Empire it might be closer to 10,000 MCr to coin a Traveller economic reference and even then they'd probably steal anything they could and not declare it!

So is that module any good?

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And regardless of what I do my players first response to when I describe the things in a setting is "how can we steal it".  It gets booring.

So, I’ve heard that kind of criticism before, and I am somewhat concerned about it myself.

As a player, I know that can be an issue.

One thing that did occur to me is that if all the “specialness” of something was wrapped up as skills, talents, etc… that are inherent to the NPC they are opposing instead of provided by gear, then once they kill/defeat that guy, then all they’ve got left are relatively boring pieces of gear.

Alternatively, you could work to make sure that the equipment in question is one-time-use-only, or gets destroyed in the combat, and therefore it is not salvageable.

Or, maybe you give it a nice flavour description, and the item looks really cool, but the actual stats for the item are pretty basic.

Or, you use their acquisition of that item as a way to attract more attention to themselves by unwanted parties who are looking to do the same thing to them as they have done to others. But make sure that they can really annoy the PCs, or even be serious threats to them.

And if you get a double triumph in combat, or they roll a double despair, don’t be afraid to destroy their play-pretty. ;)

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And regardless of what I do my players first response to when I describe the things in a setting is "how can we steal it".  It gets booring.

So, I’ve heard that kind of criticism before, and I am somewhat concerned about it myself.

As a player, I know that can be an issue.

One thing that did occur to me is that if all the “specialness” of something was wrapped up as skills, talents, etc… that are inherent to the NPC they are opposing instead of provided by gear, then once they kill/defeat that guy, then all they’ve got left are relatively boring pieces of gear.

Alternatively, you could work to make sure that the equipment in question is one-time-use-only, or gets destroyed in the combat, and therefore it is not salvageable.

Or, maybe you give it a nice flavour description, and the item looks really cool, but the actual stats for the item are pretty basic.

Or, you use their acquisition of that item as a way to attract more attention to themselves by unwanted parties who are looking to do the same thing to them as they have done to others. But make sure that they can really annoy the PCs, or even be serious threats to them.

And if you get a double triumph in combat, or they roll a double despair, don’t be afraid to destroy their play-pretty. ;)

 

 

 

Thanks for the advice.

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Galactic economics surely need a bit of work in this system, that's for sure.  If money were as difficult to come by as it seems, who would be buying the hundreds of thousands and millions of ships being manufactured at Fondor, Kuat and Corellia?

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Ugh, 10k per character?  They'd be better off smuggling an old man, a boy, two droids and no questions asked.  Do that four times and you get the same payout (more, if they haggle themselves up to 17!), and you're not dealing with thousands of pirates.  Also, yes, the price should be for the job, not the number of people doing it.  I'm pretty sure bounty posters in the old west said, "$100 paid when suspect is delivered to Sheriff Whatsisface," not, "$100 to every schmuck in the office when Sheriff Whatsisface picks up the prisoner."  Actually, I know this, because I have an old bounty flier hung up in the bar where I work.

 

Also, I imagine a lot of players are going to be doing the big published adventures in order.  That means they've done The Jewel of Yavin, which has a much bigger payout at the end.  Granted, there are a lot of complications in getting ahold of it, but if they do, we're talking 200,000 credits to split, minimum.  Probably much more, if they're good at schmoozing, plus 10-20k if they win the race, plus the Jewel itself.

I hope the adventure makes allowances for players who say, "Why would I want to capture this pirate queen?  I'd much rather join up with her, as she's obviously providing a livelihood for a kingdom's worth of pirates.  Perhaps she even needs a Pirate Royal Consort..."

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Early out of the starting gate, I could understand playing close to the vest with the credits. Until they get established, the money is going to be understandably lean. But give some time to the game and for the players to establish their bonafides, I don't see why they shouldn't occasionally get a good payday.

 

I just dropped 50 large on the players last week, and all they did was upgrade their business and establish themselves in the community more. Net effect on the game? Zero.

 

Besides, any GM worth their salt will be able to deal with players with bankrolls. Being rich doesn't mean the problems go away, it just means that they have all new and different problems now.

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Thanks for the advice.

I just had one other idea — make the item like “Stormbringer”, in that it demands sacrifices in order to function. Make it powered by ancient Sith sorcery, or Ssi-Ruuk Entechment, or whatever.

So, they have to murder with it to get additional activations. Not just kill in combat or whatever, but outright cold-blooded murder. Every Minion they murder gives them one activation. Each Rival they murder gives them two activations. Each Nemesis gives them five activations. Double the number of activations if they torture the person to death in a manner that would make Darth Vader or Darth Sidious proud.

If they choose to feed it themselves as opposed to murdering others, make them give up a skill point for one activation. An attribute point could be ten activations.

Make it hurt. Make it hurt A LOT. Make them become the biggest criminals in the galaxy, if they want to use that device.

Edited by bradknowles

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And regardless of what I do my players first response to when I describe the things in a setting is "how can we steal it".  It gets booring. 

 

Perhaps talk to them? Find out what they want money for - do they have a specific goal in mind? Do they have some equipment they need? Or do they just want to have a Scrooge McDuck money bin?

 

If there's a goal, if they need the money for a operation for their sick sister, to pay off the mortgage on the homestead or whatever - then work that into the narrative.

 

If they are working towards equipment, work with them. Make sure that what they want isn't too crazy powerful and game imbalanceing and then give them a series of paydays that work towards getting them that item.

 

If they just want the Money Bin, then tell them to put on the big boy pants and knock that S off. That's not the type of story you are trying to tell. But you have to talk to them and work with them, not just lay down the law and sabotage their efforts in game. That will only end in frustration for the players (as you hold them back) and frustration for you as they keep trying to undermine the story you are telling.

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There's a lot of hand-wringing over a tiny detail that ultimately doesn't matter.  Make the payout relevant to your campaign and be done with it.

In-game incentive to actually take the mission is important for players that like simulationist styles. Not everyone wants to ignore in-character concerns and take the job just because the GM bought the module.

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There's a lot of hand-wringing over a tiny detail that ultimately doesn't matter.  Make the payout relevant to your campaign and be done with it.

In-game incentive to actually take the mission is important for players that like simulationist styles. Not everyone wants to ignore in-character concerns and take the job just because the GM bought the module.

 

 

Then increase the bounty by what you feel would please your characters. 100 000, 500 000, 1 million credits? You choose at the end.

 

For me 40 000-60 000 credits, the fame of capturing a famous criminal and building a name inside a big organisation like the Zan Consortium that could lead to even more lucrative jobs in the futur is a good payout for a starting or low experience group. (wich is what the designer had probably in mind when they write this adventure.) I agree for more talented PCs it could need adjustement.

Edited by vilainn6

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All of FFG's pre-written adventures seem to be written for first-time players or early campaign play so I'm not going to get het up about the amounts. Plus, Negotiation skill rolls can always increase the promised pay.
 

In-game incentive to actually take the mission is important for players that like simulationist styles.


Given that this game line is narrativist in design, those players have a tough road ahead of them. Two Triumphs will end any piece of personal equipment. Even a big payout doesn't mean much when almost anything money can buy can be easily taken away.

Edited by Concise Locket

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The reward listed in a module is just a starting place you can of course raise or lower it depending on the needs of your table. As for the per crew member portion it is like schrodinger's cat there is a fixed price for the mission. You just don't know what it is until you have the group assembled. The NPC is not saying I will pay you 10k credits for every person you can fit on your ship so please pick up every hitchhiker you can find. The idea is that if 4 pcs show up the bounty is and always has been 40k. If 6 show up it is and always has been 60k in the narrative and if that strikes you as too much or too little then by all means change it.

 

Keeping the players hungry is a way of keeping them to come back. I assume each of us goes to a day job because we are not fabulously wealthy. If someone came by and dropped a few million dollars on my desk it would be my last day. Characters are the same way would you continue risking life and limb when you could just buy your own pleasure palace and live out your days in comfort. I understand that sometimes the keeping players hungry idea can feel a bit artifical but bribes cost money so does information. There are a lot of ways you can have players dwindle a fortune away without having them end up with an armada.

 

Then again there is nothing wrong with the lowly smuggler rising through the ranks of the underworld and founding an organization that rivals Black Sun. It changes the pace and play of the game but if that is where your table wants to go then by all means strike out in that direction.

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There's a lot of hand-wringing over a tiny detail that ultimately doesn't matter.  Make the payout relevant to your campaign and be done with it.

In-game incentive to actually take the mission is important for players that like simulationist styles. Not everyone wants to ignore in-character concerns and take the job just because the GM bought the module.

 

I'm not disagreeing, what I'm saying is, if you're the GM, just change the payout to whatever you think is appropriate.  FFG can't predict what goes on at people's tables, judging from this thread, it's highly variable.

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Yeah I noticed that too.  There doesnt seem to be much guidance in the way of doling out credits during play.  And regardless of what I do my players first response to when I describe the things in a setting is "how can we steal it".  It gets booring. 

 

If I introduce an inquisitor they want to steal his saber,

 

Introduce a bounty hunter they want to steal his ship.

 

First, time is your friend.  They need a goal beyond the immediate payoff, something that pulls or pushes them away from the current scene in a hurry.

 

But mainly it also sounds like they're well-trained to expect to win, which you might want to change.  Exhibit #1:

 

Have them get pulled out of space by an Interdictor and I have to spend an hour explaining that it would be suicide to try and comandeer it.

 

 

Seriously?  Why explain anything?  Instead, let them try.  Of course, it's incumbent on you as the GM to make sure they fail spectacularly.  Unleash all the game mechanics you need to, capture them all and take all their stuff.  Prison breaks can be a lot of fun, even if they end up starting up again naked and vulnerable.

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All of FFG's pre-written adventures seem to be written for first-time players or early campaign play so I'm not going to get het up about the amounts. Plus, Negotiation skill rolls can always increase the promised pay.

 

In-game incentive to actually take the mission is important for players that like simulationist styles.

Given that this game line is narrativist in design, those players have a tough road ahead of them. Two Triumphs will end any piece of personal equipment. Even a big payout doesn't mean much when almost anything money can buy can be easily taken away.

The fact that equipment can be so easily destroyd just gives more reason to have a larger payout.

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I think the Duty reward system is good for ramping up the payout given. But in general I agree, equipment is fun and there is so much variety why hold back, let them have their fun, especially when there are expensive things like Cybernetics and Vehicle Modifications. And that's not even getting into bases/business and bigger star ships that need repairs.

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