Saturday, June 11, 2011

Blending Alignment and Treasure Hunting

Building off of my last post, and Jaap de Goede's comment on it, I started thinking back to my earlier breakdown of Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic as the conflict between civilization and the forces that would destroy it.

Hunting for treasure is not in and of itself anti-heroic. 

XP for treasure is a simple way to include "story" awards in D&D.  Too much treasure kicking around the campaign can be a problem for certain styles of game.

Alignment can be problematic, but the simpler version of Classic D&D works for me.

Taking all of the above together, let's combine my ideas on alignment with the Dave Arneson houserule that you only gain XP for 'frittering away treasure on hookers and blow.'

  • Lawful characters, being concerned with advancing Civilization, only gain XP for donating their treasure to some agent of Order and Civilization.  This could be their liege lord, the Thieves' Guild, a temple or church, the Tower of Magery, a museum, local charities, and the like.
  • Neutral characters, being concerned with their own interests first, only gain XP for wasting their treasure on some hobby, or their own pleasure (the standard Arneson rule, in other words).
  • Chaotic characters, being concerned with halting and reversing Civilization, only gain XP for destroying or hiding treasure in some way.  And it has to be gone in a way that it's not likely to come back soon.  Sinking a treasure ship before raiding the hold, dumping coins down bottomless pits, crushing gems to powder, melting down jewelry, using alchemy to turn gold into lead, or feeding it to a powerful dragon all count.  Simply burying it in the woods pirate style to dig up later doesn't.


  1. to the chaotic, what about using it to fund or create things that would hurt a civilization. ie.... bribe orks to raid a village. create magical weapons of mass destruction. that sort of thing?

  2. Lawfuls should be corrupted by the treasure and hookers and blow requirement so that they become haggard shadows of their former selves, forced to question what it's all about. Chaotics could donate their treasure to political campaigns or otherwise have it actively contribute to discord within society. Thinking about it, treasure is really good at this all on its own. Maybe they could set up lotteries and publicise the names of the winners, inciting envy and strife? Or wildly inflate games of competitive display among island chiefs? (check out what happened to chiefdom in Hawaii some time) Or maybe best of all, use the treasure they have to spread rumours of a golden far-off land dripping with rubies and send civilisation's finest on endless useless dungeon crawls, preventing them from building anything.

  3. I dislike the phrase "should be" with regard to RPG characters. "Could be" is fine, but that's up to the individual players, not the DM.

    And if you read my earlier alignment post, IMO Chaos is not Evil, and Lawful is not Good. Supporting political campaigns is still a very civilized thing to do, even if it's evil.

    Now, the rumors of far off golden lands, bleeding society dry, that's the sort of thing I'm thinking Chaotics do. I'd definitely give a Chaotic character XP for that.