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I am running a Star Wars (d20) campaign in which the players are playing as a group of smugglers.

Originally, I was going to use debt as a motivator, and I gave them 350k credits of it (mostly for ships and lost cargo).

But with an unprecedented string of luck, the players managed to get 640k credits from a single spice run (64 tons of spice, practically filling their hold).

So they paid off their debts, bought everything they wanted (including a bacta tank) and then proceeded to pull off a casino heist on Abenedo, which will no doubt make them more money.

I am worried, because it was only the first session and a lot of the upcoming story missions use credits to get the party to go along with it, and it seems like this campaign now has a bad motivator.

What can I do to keep the people going on these missions, now that they don't owe a thing?

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There are infinite ways.

The easiest way to approach this is to ask your players themselves: what sorts of things would you like your characters to accomplish? Other options involve you, as GM, simply dropping a plot onto them-- once they have come into possession of the Death Star plans, through whatever means, they're enmeshed in the rebel plot no matter what they do.

You can draw on your own ideas and knowledge of the characters for motivations: once someone is fabulously rich, or at least not indebted enough to be forced to work, what might they do? What might they care about?

I wouldn't pull back any of the things they've already purchased (something like that would seriously displease me as a player), but the fact that they've had a couple of big scores doesn't mean that they're free and clear of all difficulty or desire. A lot of that is in your hands as the GM.

Debt is a fluid concept, and you can still use it as a driving plot element. Even if the casino heist goes off exactly as your players have planned it, they'll have stolen a lot of money from someone sufficiently connected and dangerous to respond. They may have X credits in their pockets, but the casino owner may very well consider that to be a personal debt of X credits owed to him- or herself. Or maybe the money they stole is "hot"-- counterfeited, part of a money laundering scheme, etc., and so even though they have it they can't really spend it (safely). Or the only way to make it spendable is to launder it (at an unfavorable rate to the players), or plan some other scheme.

Maybe the audacity of the heist is much more of an insult than the value of the cash itself, and so players can't simply pay the casino owner off-- they'll do jobs for the casino owner until he or she feels whole, or else they'll face endless waves of assassins (or other inconveniences) which indefinitely prevent them from doing more than surviving (at best).

Perhaps the money is only a peripheral motivation, and the characters really want the fame that comes with being a famous band of smugglers. In that case what they want are more and harder heists to pull or blockades to run. The money's part of the offer for future jobs, but it's the challenge that's enticing.

Or maybe they didn't smuggle quite as well as they'd thought, and the authorities are on to them, hunting them to dissuade others from the (apparently very easy-to-come-by) rewards from smuggling.

Maybe it's all of those!


The most important thing: a motivation that can be satisfied in a single session is not a good driver for a plot.

Dice confound all GMs at some time or another, but in planning out this game and running this session it might have been better for it to be impossible for the players to clear their debts with a single job available to them. The mismatch is the problem. They should have owed far more money, or their smuggling opportunity should have had a much lower ceiling on how much money it was worth.

Future motivators should have that same consideration in mind. Whatever goal you end up assigning them (or that they assign to themselves), their missions should be fundamentally incapable of satisfying those motivations so quickly and easily, luck or not. I hate using GM powers to enforce that, but sometimes it's inevitable. Players come to play the game, not so much to win it.

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1st motivation before anything: Staying alive

They just stole for 20 freighters (a used Y-1300 is around 29000 credits, around 100k when brand new), there is no way the original owner (or organization) will let it pass, and they will steal from a casino?

Hey bounty hunter, you know like Boba Fett...

They may want new identities, but... a new identity with the same ship won't do, and good new identities cost money - lots of money - or favors...

2. Recover their property

(optional unless they are careless)

They've got a top equipped ship and are a bunch of nobodies? unless they have top notch security, if they land on any world that is not imperial, the ship will be stolen.

If they land in imperial world, I hope they are human... procedure may take time for those of inferior race...

Once they have lost it, that's the campaign! Some Hutt/crime lords may trade his knowledge or equipment in exchange of help; that doesn't need to take too long.

3. Fallout

Once they have worked for a Hutt, that one has leverage, and will use it to give them missions (he will pay, of course, but will take the most part of it)... So they need to plot behind his back to get really free.

And when they have killed their old crime lord boss... Remember, a Hutt can hurt a Hutt, but any other race will have a bounty, so... back to square one.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Stealing the ship is a HUGE violation of player trust. Especially in a good faith game where the party is simply doing what they think is best with zero spite for the DM. This falls into the realm of making it a competition between the DM and players rather than the in-game world. Especially if this is never hinted at as a possibility. The inevitable result winds up being one player staying with the ship and essentially forfeiting the ability to play the game as any NPC is run by the DM and steals the ship. Use this option carefully and sparingly. \$\endgroup\$ – Robert Valentine Aug 30 '19 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ that's why I say it's optional, and if it is done, it must be the focus (hook) of the campaign, and they should recover it. This may not need to be long, as they need to compromise to get it back ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Alkano Sep 3 '19 at 12:43

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