What Loot Can Do With Your Plot

It’s been a while since I did an RPG Blog Carnival, and I’m almost surprised I made it to this month’s. It’s over at Campaign Mastery now, and the theme is “Making the loot part of the plot”. I’ll admit, loot was never really a driver for me; I spent most of the last few years in systems where character advancement did not usually take increasingly powerful shiny objects found in the most bizarre places for granted, and we were powerful enough and growing constantly enough in our skills that requiring the Sword of Whatever to complete an objective seemed a little too arbitrary. But that meant that when we did have plots driven by loot, it was easier to recognize them as such, and thus know what they did for us and how. So what can loot do with your plot?

Its acquisition can serve as a goal, usually because acquiring the item will be helpful (or vital, or anywhere in between) for accomplishing a bigger goal. We’ve all seen stories in which the object was to go fetch the great artifact of whateveritwas down from whatever middle-of-nowhere place full of nasty traps it had been stashed in, because it’s vital to the effort to save the world, rule the world, or whatever. This works just as well for objects with known properties as it does for MacGuffins. Best of all, learning more about the object might be part of the route, as long as they know enough to know it’s important—and that keeps people curious.

The object of the game might be to get rid of it. Think Lord of the Rings, if nothing else—item needs to be destroyed, despite the miles of terrain and loads of people with other ideas in the way. On a more personal level, it might be one of those nasty items that carry curses around and can’t just be thrown into the bushes and left there.

What about finding out more about it? Like the item destruction plot, this one’s usually kicked off by the item falling into the hands of one or more characters who might have an interest in it—who made it? What was it for? Where has it been all these years? Why did it suddenly come to me? Are there things it can do that I haven’t figured out how to tease out of it yet? Curiosity can be an amazing motivator.

Then there’s the collection plot. Sometimes, it’s just taking advantage of the natural human tendency towards completeness—there are a ton of these items of a certain class out there, and (for bragging rights, because I want to see what they look like, so I can get a really good price for them and buy this other thing, whatever) I WANT them! Another, popularized by video games, involves acquiring a group of items and hauling them to somewhere between one or [n, where n equals the total number of items] different Important Places so something will happen.

Throwing an item into the plot works best when you know what kind of plot you want it to kick off—particularly, whether that plot is going to require the item already in hand. Think first!

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Impractical Applications (Swag!) | Exchange of Realities
  2. October Blog Carnival Wrap-up: A cavalcade of posts about goodies | Campaign Mastery

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