So, I was out trying to catch up on my RSS feed list (2 weeks of content on 50 blogs represents a lot of missed opportunities, I’ve found…) and ran across Psychochild’s latest weekend design challenge re: quest rewards. Woot, a topic for a post, and it’s been less than a week since the original post! (sigh)
First, off the top of my head, a list of potential options…
- Equipment (specific item, select from list)
- Cash (or equivalent)
- Experience points (skill points, talent points, etc)
- Special ability/technique, short term or permanent
- Blessing/buff/attribute increase, temporary or permanent
- Relationship with NPC (special pricing, “cell phone” access from CoH/CoV)
- General Reputation (“karma”, faction, “honor”, etc)
- Badge or Title (overt indicator of status)
- Access to new area or opportunity (“quest chains”, keys)
- Time/delay (assassinating the current trog king delays the invasion for a month)
- Future favors/IOUs
My own preference is for quest rewards to be combinations of the above, emphasizing the bottom end of the list as opposed to the top. I also prefer options over specifics where it makes sense. For example, a blacksmith wouldn’t have to give you a suit of armor, how about an ironbound chest, or a shield, or an IOU for a future item of your choice?
Balancing such diverse rewards is the issue. Are 25 ”faction points” and 50 gold pieces equivalent to a healing potion and 150 xp? Do you want them to be equal? That probably gets more into the specific design goals than anything, but I’m not sure you want all rewards to be equivalent, even within a specific quest.
For example, a “defeat 10 foozles” quest might be relatively easy for a melee class, but difficult for spell casters, if foozles are highly magic resistant in that setting. It would make some sense to have the reward that is tailored to the magic users (assuming a selection was offered) be a bit more powerful overall than the one aimed at the melee classes, since the level of challenge was uneven.
(I had more, but I’ve got to get moving, 3 calls from work so far and it’s not even 8am, it’s apparently going to be another one of those weeks…)