Wednesday, November 04, 2015

A Short Note on the Structuring of Monster Bounties

I recently had a prolonged talk with a senior clerk of a well-known Adventurers' Guild, and learned a great deal about the workings of monster bounties. While most of us will only understand bounties as being well-illustrated posters with a description of the task to be undertaken and a reward to be dispensed upon completion, there is actually an art to the creation of the bounty poster.

An uninformed person, such as I myself was before my conversation with the clerk, would think that the most important detail when creating a bounty poster was to accurately price the reward. I was quickly informed that this was in fact incorrect; the prize money was itself secondary; correctly describing and scoping the quest was an order more important.

The clerk then accounted to me several instances where the bounty task was improperly designed, leading to worse outcomes. Consider the most basic of quests available to adventurers, which is that of eliminating common pests or wandering beasts. Not only once has an inexperienced guildsclerk offered a reward on each rat or wild snake killed and brought in; the bounty was quickly exploited by unscrupulous adventurers who subsequently began breeding and farming the very creatures they were supposed to eliminate! Thus, it is a common practice nowadays for bounty descriptions to mention concrete outcomes such as the permanent removal of a specific threat.

Another mistake is to be too specific in the methods to be applied. As a general rule, bounties should not restrict the approach adventurers can take in handling a problem. For example, if one offered a reward for the defeat of a dragon in order to release the captive princess, it might be a long time before a sufficiently strong hero capable of slaying a dragon actually arrives. On the other hand, if the specific task (rescuing the princess) was presented as a quest, then other more feasible alternatives become possible, such as a stealthy operation into the dragon's lair. Of course, if the task were phrased instead as that of obtaining the princess' freedom, then even more possibilities present themselves, such as negotiation with the dragon itself.

Monday, November 02, 2015

A Short Note on Adventurers' Guilds

For some reason, adventurers are much more capable of dealing with monsters and demonic threats than standing armies. From data compiled by the royal historians, of the last 100 threats rated as "Kingdom-threatening" and above, 90 were defeated by adventurers, and only 10 were successfully resolved using armies.

The obvious realization should be that soldiers and knights are a waste of money, and ineffective at dealing with such problems in the first place. In fact, in many small kingdoms and independent city states, it has become increasingly popular to reduce the army to a small core of soldiers, and to use the resulting savings to establish and fund "Adventurers' Guilds". For the unacquainted, Adventurers' Guilds are state sanctioned bodies to organize adventurers and channel them towards useful work. The most basic guilds can be as simple as a bulletin board to advertise monster bounties and a clerk to handle bounty claims. On the other hand, the more elaborate guilds offer other services such as training, healing, and equipment maintenance.

Of course, several mistakes were made in the initial iterations of Adventurers' Guilds. Open bounties that could be attempted by everyone had the tendency to attract people attempting to make a quick fortune, but who were not sufficiently skilled for the task. While this did not drain the state's resources, as no payout was made to failed bounty attempts, it resulted in an overall loss to national productivity as labor was lost to failed adventuring, not to mention the possibility of lives being lost in reckless bounty attempts. After undergoing much experimentation, the majority of Adventurers' Guilds today incorporate some kind of tiering system for adventurers, gating the scope of available quests for adventurers of different skill.