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Achievements in D&D, part 2

No music spotlight today - instead, update on the D&D Achievements system! We finally managed some D&D game time on the weekend, for the first time in months. I've been gradually adding more and more achievements to my master list for some time now, and decided to implement them in Saturday's game.

I printed all the achievements I'd come up with on 2.5" x 3.5" cardstock cards (baseball card size) with the name, point value, and criteria (and a little line at the bottom for the achiever to write their name). An empty box to check when the points had been spent, and I was ready to go.

I told my players, and they were excited about this new element of the game. One thing I was sure to emphasize was that in general, each achievement would only be attainable once, ever. I told them it would make sense later.

The first achievement

About 20 minutes into the game, the first achievement was given out! It was one for rolling over a 30 on a skill check. This was a perfect opportunity to explain why each achievement was only attainable once - in this case, it was so that the other players, upon learning of the criteria for an achievement, didn't go out of their way making silly skill checks or stacking bonuses to get a result over 30. I think that unlike video games, purposefully "farming" achievements would ruin the game and get everyone distracted and preoccupied with metagame thinking.

Problem: Tracking long-term stats

I quickly ran into a predicament with some of the achievements though. Long-term ones such as "kill 100 enemies with melee attacks" quickly made me realize that I need some sort of easy recording method, as it's quite tough to keep track of in the heat of battle, especially when you're running half a dozen monsters and numerous abilities, status effects, etc. A master list with each player's name & current kill count already written down will help. Since this is an ongoing, permanent stat sheet, it should be easy to keep updated.

Problem: Tracking short-term, temporary stats

The other type of achievement that caused me headache were the short-term ones such as "Fail 5 saving throws in a row." Not only did I need to track each PC when they had a status effect, but if they saved against the effect and then received a new one, I had to start counting all over again. I haven't yet figured out a nice way to handle these.

For both of these, I could ask the players to help me, but I think asking them to keep track of how many saves you fail in a row would tip them off that there's an achievement related somehow, which I want to avoid.

Problem: Need More Achievements!

One player got a little disappointed after pulling off a phenomenal series of actions to keep the entire party AND a room full of important dignitary NPC's alive, and not getting an achievement for his efforts. We laughed about it, and I told him flat out that I mistakenly forgot to design some healing achievements (though I do have a long-term one for restoring 15 allies from negative HP to positives).

While this wasn't a big deal, it did slightly set off alarm bells that getting achievements was already an important objective in my players' minds, despite there being nothing to redeem the points for yet! I'm hoping this was just because they were new and fun, and everyone wanted one.

Overall, the achievements were a great success. For next time, I'm going to try to come up with some better bookkeeping methods, and maybe a fun little sound to play when an achievement is received - maybe the Final Fantasy victory jingle?


Paul said...

This is similar to the Renown Points part of the D&D Encounters program that is most attractive to experienced players.

PCs earn Renown Points during each week’s encounter (usually 1 or 2 for each achievement) and then are given a metagame reward once they reach a certain number of Renown Points (a physical bookmark with a printed bonus, such as ability to reroll a saving throw). The starting 12 Renown Point Accomplishments are here

Also, Twitter is being used to add skill bonuses real-time on Wednesdays from the Wizards account: (or hashtag #dndenc)

Paul said...

Greg Bilsland made a "Fun List" that he lets players roll d% for once they've reached 10 "fun points"

Todd Johnson said...

Is there any way I can get a list of the achievements you used?

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