Probably the first thing I started thinking about once I finished jotting down notes for Ascalon locations, was how to assign items for encounters. I already had in mind some ideas for updating, or “translating” the concepts of stable and unstable locations, but what about items? Spells? What about Clue tokens?

Well, after creating the “treasure parcel checklist” for The Catan Horror, I’ve had thoughts on and off about how best assign and diversify treasure. When I started, you got six treasure parcels per level, and you were allowed one each time you cleared a milestone (every other encounter, basically). It worked out pretty well at first.

I even had this idea, since you’re supposed to receive a magic item of “your level plus two,” the character could craft that item themselves by undertaking the appropriate Creation Challenge. You want a crafting system? I’ll give you a crafting system. This works out great, up to a point. My primary concern is in characters falling behind.

See, it isn’t always advantageous for players to continue tackling encounter after encounter, so the likelihood of them acquiring treasure necessary for advancement decreases dramatically. They don’t have enough equipment to take on encounters, and they risk fewer and fewer Challenges. It’s a downward slope.

Elder Sign proved to be an inspiration in this case. The fluid nature of the reward system, disposable weapons, spells, and trophies — helped me to picture treasure that adventurers might “use once and then drop” in the course of their journeys. Rewards of a less temporal nature might be available through the use of subplots.

For the moment, I’m looking at rewards divided into two categories: treasures and trophies. Treasures are more often awarded by finding caches of money and when completing missions. Trophies are usually picked up through events like monster encounters and by completing quests of less material nature. (An atonement quest.)

Similar to the “parcel checklist,” a character may only find and carry so much treasure at once, but I’m working on some ideas that combine parcels with Elder Signs’s purchase/exchange system for trophies and other items. For example, if you find enough money, you can turn it in at “the smithy” to upgrade your equipment.

edit: Of course, I still have to figure out how to assign rewards to different locations, but that’s a topic for another entry.