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So, my guys just saved the big capital city from imminent disaster - as you do. However, in next session, they are planning to claim their reward. These players are only level 5-6, so I don’t want to give them a metric ton of gold or rare items, but I don’t want to disappoint them.

What could I give the players to reward them sufficiently for saving an entire freaking city, without breaking the campaign?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Wibbs, Miniman, Bloodcinder, NautArch, Szega Mar 10 '18 at 14:49

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this isn't necessarily opinion-based - "how do you give a major reward without it being money or magic" - but it does run the risk of being a too-broad list question, as it tempts people to respond with one specific reward idea instead of addressing how to provide major intangible rewards. Consider retooling the Q to get it reopened. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Mar 11 '18 at 3:14
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Let’s say you saved a city in the real world and were recognized for it. What would you get?

Probably not insane amounts of money or whatnot - no one budgeted $1M for the “saved us from disaster fund.” What you would probably get is:

  1. People in the city liking you (fame, romantic opportunities)
  2. Discounts when shopping, freebies (drinks on the house!)
  3. Invitations to exclusive events, secret societies, whatnot (power)
  4. Money if you somehow capitalize on the fame (book signings, talks)

In general whatever your city is like and whatever the power groups are, see what they would do in thanks. “Sure you can copy spells from the Mage Library for free man!”

Of course with fame comes opportunists who want to somehow cash in on that themselves by exploiting you...

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    \$\begingroup\$ Players rarely remember the piles of money their characters get. But they never forget that touching scene where little Timmy and his friends gave the heroes the "very best cat in the city"; or when the local lord knighted them all in the town square, to the cheers of a grateful city. \$\endgroup\$ – ValhallaGH Mar 10 '18 at 14:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ potentially lots of side quests.... \$\endgroup\$ – Jasen Mar 15 '18 at 6:57
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If you want to give them a substantial, but non-campaign-breaking reward, real estate is a possibility. It also provides a way for the city to influence them to stay in the city, ready for the next problem. Of course, this depends on your plan for the campaign, but cities are often keen to have powerful adventurers living there, if they can be trusted to be law-abiding.

The city could offer them houses and/or land if they're willing to base themselves there, and help defend it.

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I usually deal with this in the following way:

  • the characters get a favor with someone important. This is flexible, and should be someone powerful enough to be useful, and at the same time not a pushover. This leaves you the option of rewarding the characters later, or letting them use it to further the campaign at a later point One very good use of this is access to a priest or healer - just in case. That can be a powerful boon, but at the same time will allow you to up the ante at times, since from now on, they always have that favor ;)
  • If the characters have concrete needs and wishes, this is a good opportunity to be a bit more lenient than usual. While perhaps too early in the campaign to dish out powerful items, one can still give the characters over something genuinely useful which they otherwise would not have access to. I tend to look for improvements in areas the characters are lacking, but of course that depends on how well you know your players.

Regardless, reputation and fame as far as reasonable should of course accompany this feat. This can be useful in a number of ways, and I tend to mention it frequently. You guys need an audience with the local lord/lady? Oh yes, of course we have heard of you - give a bonus for the roll. Give occasional reductions on prices in inns or taverns etc. I don't think there's a need for instant reward.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Powerful items? You can give them strong items the can't use now. A flaming sword they must practice to use. For example: now it's just a +1 But if they practice real hard they can unlock the magic inside to make it flaming and then do addation fire damage. (Perhaps at level 6 or 7) \$\endgroup\$ – Night Owl Mar 10 '18 at 14:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's certainly a valid option, but not one I like. If I hand out objects, I prefer to make them available immediately, or perhaps connected with a quest etc. Besides, I prefer being able to keep some connection to the originating event. \$\endgroup\$ – bytepusher Mar 10 '18 at 14:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ A +1 would be useful now over a sword without a +1 the y use this technique in video games often. You are level 5 and find a sword you are not powerful enough to use until you hit level 7. \$\endgroup\$ – Night Owl Mar 10 '18 at 15:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ As I said, it's an option, but not one I would choose. Feel free to write your own answer and include it :) \$\endgroup\$ – bytepusher Mar 10 '18 at 15:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, it is an option often used in video games. That doesn't necessarily make it a good option. I'm far from the only one who thinks it's a poor mechanic made solely to serve out-of-game goals with no in-game logic to support it. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Sherohman Mar 11 '18 at 11:56

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