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One of my biggest weaknesses as a GM is my lack of proper preparation and focus when it comes to rewarding my players for a completed adventure or campaign. To play the campaign I prefer intrinsic motivation of the players/characters and as a GM, I am quite content if a story was fun, the climax satisfying and everything worked out well. For the players I haven't found a solid system to reward them to make it more memorable, give them a proper sense of achievement and make the character more "their own".

There are the usual suspects like experience points (I play tde, not sure how dnd handles that) and riches, but both are sort of expected and not really rewarding, as characters get more experienced by default and need money to live.

The next level of reward system for me is customized improvement options, meaning I give the players the option to improve specific skills or talents of their characters for a "cheaper" price than usual. E.g. If the adventure at hand involved lots of wilderness skills, these could be skilled more cheaply afterwards. I prefer that to immediately give them improved stats, as I believe that to be too hard to balance sometimes and also prefer to put the choice of character development into the hands of my players.

As a third option, I sometimes award players with specific artifacts that give them access to specific skills or spells (this is rarer occurrence in the world of tde). For me this is tricky, because I want these artifacts to be interesting (yay a staff that can shoot fireballs, very creative...), useful (yay, fireproof candles...) but still not overpowered or too gamebreaking (yay, a black hole in a box) and also fitting the story, lore and context (yay, the wise and nice white mage gave the spellbook of doom to our rogue).

Finally, there are player-based rewards. If a player wanted to be knighted, be accepted into priesthood etc. then it can be a nice reward to "give" that to the player for a job done well. These are my favorite rewards, as they help develop the character, can be used to thicken the plot and enrich the world the characters live in. Still, I rarely find occasions to do something like that, because not every character has such a explicitly defined goal. Some just like to go on adventures and I don't want to force them to go into one direction or another.

So, what do you do in terms of rewards or are your murder hobos happy with just playing for the story?


CL Byte Sprite
Staff member
Wizard of Adventure
Faster Combatant
Adventure Builder
Gamer Lifestyle
The ability to award in a crunch-like manner depends on the system you are using, IMO. In every system, you can add something to the world concerning the characters and keep describing it consistently, though.

The first thing (besides XP and monetary loot) I like to award is reputation:
- The characters resolve a murder mystery, the village population recognizes that and feels safer now, and next time at the bakery they will get bread and a cake for free.
- The characters rescued townspeople during a festival gone dire, the mayor recalls her names and deeds during their next speech.
- The characters saved children from a burning orphanage, they will receive admiration and small child-made things during the next few times they visit the town.

The next thing is contacts/connections: they help/rescue someone and get a contact or even friend who will help them in turn.

I also like to give them admirers and offer them possible apprentices who follow along, learn from them, and take care of daily nuisances. Those are also good for some roleplaying when deep in a dungeon, to lighten the mood, or to reflect the character's behaviors and to get them thinking about what they are doing (e.g. anti-murder hoboing).

Most characters have a dream, a hobby, or something else. Maybe one wants to raise horses in the future, let them find a derelict ranch they can build up, use as a base, or remember later when the time comes to raise horses. Or let someone know of their wish and have them award a breeding stallion.
Maybe someone likes pets, let them keep animals they find or rescue.
Maybe someone really admires swordsmithing, let them find books describing rare techniques about that.

My players usually find this far more rewarding than XP and valuables.


Now that you brought it up, I really like the idea about reputation! To make that reputation more "portable" one could also give the players insignia or letters of reference of renown npcs. That allows them to take their reputation with them, while still allowing the GM to decide if the NPCs recognize the recommendations as valid or not.

The apprentices sound awesome, too!

Ronaldo Lima

Adventure Builder
Rewards is one of my big weaknesses too... so, I appreciate this thread.
For sure I am going to work with reputation and I really loved the idea of apprentices... I am seeing as ongoing opportunities to "poke" PC's personality and motivations, giving the players more frequent moments to bring internal/emotional/reasoning "stuff" out in regular day-to-day interactions.



Active member
Adventure Builder
It depends on what you play. If it's shadowrun, new contacts, some nuyen, a little karma and some development from previous contacts, and their lives, which are not always guaranteed.
Other games have different settings. In some of them the reward is the story, because character advancement is slower and is more about adjusting the character and only occasionally improving it, like in fate core.


CL Byte Sprite
Staff member
Wizard of Adventure
Faster Combatant
Adventure Builder
Gamer Lifestyle
In some of them the reward is the story, because character advancement is slower and is more about adjusting the character and only occasionally improving it, like in fate core.
Especially concerning Fate Core, I like the Malmsturm approach to loot: Your character is growing slowly, but you get situation aspects lasting the coming session for loot. This could be extended in awarding situation aspects in general.


New member
Wizard of Adventure
Adventure Builder
I've given out a magical "add-on" that they can add to an item they have. They can take it to an NPC in town, a blacksmith, who's dad is the local magic user. Between the two of them (plus some gold), they can figure out how to incorporate the "add-on" into a character's weapon and make it better. Like an extra enchantment buff. It adds to the role playing, and it helps the players fall deeper in love with their items. (The "sword of awesomeness" now becomes the "super sword of awesomeness" which can become the "super sword of awesomeness and might!")

These add-on magical items have been the goal of some mini-quests. (Hey, here's a rumor about a magical living gemstone that would fit nicely in the pommel of your sword...) My players like that kind of stuff. But, they are all between the age 8 and 14, but I think it would work for anyone.
Hey, I was wondering the same thing and did some research to make a list. Its beneath this:

{1d6} Ancient texts
{1d6} Arcane reagents
{1d6} Architectural drawings
{1d6} Assorted silverware filled jars
{1d6} Barrels of foodstuff
{1d6} Barrels of rare foodstuff
{1d6} Beetle wing filled jars
{1d6} Blessed objects
{1d6} Blessed oils
{1d6} Blessed unguents
{1d6} Blueprints
{1d6} Bolts of satin
{1d6} Bolts of silk
{1d6} Bolts of valuable fabric
{1d6} Bolts of velvet
{1d6} Bolts of wool
{1d6} Bottles of spices
{1d6} Bottles of valuable oils and salts
{1d6*10} Brass ingots
{1d6*10} Bronze bars
{1d6} Casks of ale
Ceremonial armor
Ceremonial weapons
{1d6} Cinnamon jars
{1d6} Cloth of silver
{1d6*10} Cloves
{1d6} Vials of cobra venom
{1d6} Consecrated bones
{1d6} Copper bars
{1d6*10} Copper ingots
{1d6} Crystal balls
{1d6} Dragon bones
{1d6} Dragon eggs
{1d6} Drake eggs
{1d10} Drake scales
{1d6} Dwarven ale casks
{1d6} Enchanted mirrors
{2d4} Exotic plants
{1d3} Expensive cheese wheels
{1d6} Fine brandy
{1d6} Fine elven wine
{1d6} Fine wines
{1d6*10} Fruits in a basket
{1d6*10} Exotic fruits in a basket
{1d6} Ginger filled jars
{1d6*10} Gold bars
{1d6*10} Gold ore
{1d6} Grain filled sacks
{1d6} Griffon feathers
{1d6} Griffon talons
{1d6} Harpy talons
{1d6+2} Historical documents
{1d6*10} Incense sticks
{1d6*10} Iron bars
{1d6*10} Iron ore
{1d6} Kegs of beer
{1d6} Kegs of mead
{1d6} Lamp oil Bottles
{1d6} Legal documents
{1d6} Letters of credit
{1d6} Lycanthrope claws
{1d6} Lycanthrope fangs
{1d6} Machine parts
{1d6} Machinery gadets
{1d6*3} Magical spices
{1d6*2} Magically infused objects
{1d6*2} Treasure Maps
{1d6*3} Maps
{1d6*2} Medical supplies
{1d6} Minotaur horns
{1d6*10} Mithril bars
{1d6} Musical instruments
{1d6*10} Mystic salves
{1d6} Naga scales
{1d6} Navigation charts
{1d6} Ogre tusks
{1d6*6} Pelts
{1d6*4} Perfume bottles
{1d6} Phoenix feathers
{1d6*10} Planting seeds
{1d6*10} Platinum bars
{1d6*10} Platinum ingots
{1d6} Potter pieces
{1d6} Poultices in jars
{1d6} Private documents
{1d6+1} Property deeds
{1d6} Rare ales
{1d6} Rare book
{1d6} Rare earths
{1d6} Rare herbs
{1d6} Rare spices
{1d6} Rare tea
{1d6} Rare text
{1d6} Ritual book
{1d6} Ritual scroll
{1d6} Roc feathers
{1d6} Saffron filled jars
{1d6*10} Sanctified incense
{1d6*10} Silver bars
{1d6*10} Silver ingots
{1d6*10} Silver ore
{1d6} Star charts
{1d6} Tools (for things like carpentry, sewing, cooking, portable hides and skins tanning device, etc.)
{1d6} Vials of valuable dyes
{1d6} Valuable spice filled bottles
{1d6} Valuable writings
{1d6} Various arcane components
{1d6} Vellum bolts
{1d6} Vials of acid
{1d6} Vials of holy water
{1d6} Vials of ink
{1d6} Vials of powdered bone
{1d6} Vials of powdered metal
{1d6} Vials of sacred earth
{1d6} Vials of salt
{1d6} Wheat filled sacks
{1d6} Whiskey Bottles
{1d2+1} Trained Riding Horses
{1d2+1} Trained War Horse(s)
{1d2+1} Trained Draft Horses
{1d6} Oxens
{1d6} Donkeys
{1d6} Lama
{1d6} Goats
{1d6} Sheep
{1d6} Trained Hunting Hawk
{1d6} Trained Hunting Eagle
{1d6} Trained Guard Dog
{1d6} Trained Hunting Dog
{1d6} Telepathic Dragonet
{1d6} Trained Telepathic Hunting Dragonet
{1d6} Telepathic Fox
{1d6} Trained Telepathic Hunting Fox
Discounts at a Junk Shop
Discounts at a Weaponry Shop
Discounts at a Bar
Discounts at a Tavern
Discounts at an Inn
Discounts at a Forge Shop
Discounts for an Organization and related services
Permission to have restricted goods
Permission to access restricted services
Permission to have reserved goods
Permission to have reserved services
A Prefix Title such as 'Sir' or '˜Archmage'
A suffix such as '˜the Great' or 'the Blood Warrior'
Acknowledgement by Important People (Ex: Tribal Chief)
Honors by Important People
A Personal Seal or Crest in recognition of powers or deeds
A Badge in recognition
A Sash in recognition
A Brooch in recognition
An Item of some sort to be worn in recognition
A Tax-free waiver for a building or land owned
A deed to a [|small|medium|large] [|Mage's|Wizard's|Knight's|Druid's||||] [|tower|mansion|house|land plot|commercial building|fortification]
The Construction of a specific building at an allowed maximum size
Ownership of a [|normal|magical] [|Cave|Quarry|River]
Healing and Medical Attention for Free
Messenger Services for Free
Transportation Services for Free
Animal/Beast Care for Free
VIP Services for Free
Luxury Services for Free
Higher Priority for Services
Magical [|shielding|warding|protection] bestowed to [|house|land|location]
Melee Combat Training
Armor Usage Training
Throwing Weapons Training
Group Combat Training
Large Scale Combat Training
Physical Training
Athleticism Training
Riding Training
Educational Training
Etiquette Training
Acting or 'Poker Face' Training
Charisma Training
Body Language Training
Rouge Training
Bureaucratic, Political, or Institutional Training
Magical Power/Ability Training
Knowledge of Top Secret things
Knowledge of Secret Organizations
Knowledge of Useful Contacts
Any form of Knowledge Characters might be interested in.