Friday, September 26, 2008

What's my motivation?

You know the type. You've set up a wicked cool dungeon for your crew to crawl through, dice are thrown for new PCs, equipment purchased, and you're all ready to hit the ground running. Then that guy pipes up: "Why would my puny wizard risk life and limb in a dank, smelly dungeon?" It never even occurs to most of these blackhearted jackanapes that coming up with a reasonable motivation is their own damn problem. Meanwhile everybody else at the table is smart enough to realize that scoring XPs, winning fabulous prizes, and killing orcs are their own rewards. Why is this stupid git harshing the buzz before the game even starts? Is he really that dumb?

Never again do you have to be caught unprepared for such shenanigans. Just instruct the ill-mannered fool to roll d12.

Random Dungeon Motivations

1) PC is obsessed with proving the existence of the Hollow World.
2) PC quests to retrieve bones of famous adventuring ancestor and re-inter them in family tomb.
3) PC has terrible but enticing dreams of sitting on the throne of a vast underworld kingdom.
4) PC owes d6 x 10,000gp to Jabba the Hutt.
5) PC seeks vengeance against the Troll King.
6) Family member of PC afflicted with disease that can only be cured with the waters from a sacred subterranean spring.
7) PC haunted by visions of a beautiful witch/drow/princess/goth chick living on an island at the center of a vast underground lake.
8) PC seeks one segment of the Rod of Seven Parts. Must obtain all seven to save homeland from foretold doom.
9) Evil duplicate of PC (twin? simulacrum? clone?) has fled into the dungeon. One or the other must die before both go mad.
10) PC's true love has been trapped in amber and is on display in the trophy room of Lord Utterdark.
11) PC's parents imprisoned. Corrupt official will release them in exchange for the Star Ruby of Umman-Gorash.
12) PC quests for legendary sword (fighter), archmage's spellbook (MU), or holy relic (cleric).


  1. 4) PC owes d6 x 10,000gp to Jabba the Hutt.


  2. Please publish a PDF of your random tables please. Will give you internet points of your choosing.

  3. 13) Character wants to kill monsters and take their stuff

  4. This nearly derailed a Burning Wheel game I played in last year. The players had all agreed that the first session would entail the heroes leaving the village and heading into the mountain wilderness. All went well until the assassin, after a night of drinking and whoring, declared that he saw no reason to leave the comfort and safety of the little town. It actually took PC vs. PC social dice rolls to convince him to, y'know, play the game we had all agreed on.

  5. /print

    /add to DM Notebook

    /laugh evilly

  6. Jeff, how do I go about nominating you for sainthood?

    If only I had this 9-10 years ago. I was running a game in what was then my regular group, when one of the players asked that very question. He snarled up the game for quite a while.

    Now, here's the kicker: I was only running to give him a break; HE was the regular DM for the group!

    He always did that. He's the kind of guy you love to see behind the screen but not in front of it. In short, he makes a lousy player. Not because he's not creative, but because he's too creative. And he wants to pull things the way HE thinks they should go, regardless of the DM or the other players.

  7. *enthusiastic fist-pump*

  8. 14) Because playing games is fun and being ignored while the rest of the party plays is not

  9. Anonymous12:26 PM

    This is awesome, and needs to be expanded to a d100 roll ASAP. Thank you.

  10. the best part is the use of the much maligned d12 for the table itself.

    WOhoo! d12 FTW!

  11. Anonymous12:43 PM

    Well done Jeff.

  12. Anonymous12:45 PM

    I think you could add a subtable to roll on if they roll a 4 though:

    PC owes d6x10,000 gp to:

    0-50% Jabba the Hutt
    51-00% Pizza the Hutt

    Actually this could get expanded quite a bit to include all sorts of interesting people to be debt too...

  13. Sounds like we need a debt sub-table...

  14. Sweet list. I actually used #2 to introduce a new player to my current game - she joined the party as it was about to go adventuring through a Gate because her brother had died on the other side some years ago and she wanted to recover his remains and his heirloom items. Worked reasonably well - better than a "Hey, you're gonna go kill giant ants? Sweet! I wanna go kill giant ants too!".

  15. As others have noted, there's an easy solution to that:

    "Okay, you stay behind. I'll get back to you after everyone else is finished with the dungeon."

  16. Jeff, sometimes greatness is born freely, and sometimes you have to drag it out kicking and screaming. Almost all of them are newbs, and thus sometimes don't "get" why they're taking on things like giant ants or evil gypsies.

    They are being educated...

  17. I've experienced this before. Here's my EnWorld sig:

    exasperated DM: "Underlying what? ... motivation? Do you want to play Dungeons & Dragons or not?"

    drama obsessed player: "How can I narrate my character's co-mingled sense of alienation and ennui towards modern society in this second-rate dungeon hack? My character returns to the surface and uses his remaining gold to start up an organic coffee shop that caters to left-wing revolutionaries... and hot elvish chicks."

    Thus I think more need to be added...

    How about:

    "After riding on a freaky amusement park ride, you somehow got sucked into this creepy dimension. Some short dude told you that you can find your way home by going down in the dungeon."

  18. d% Motivation

    01-95 Crass greed
    96-100 Roll on Subtable A, Above

  19. 10) PC's true love has been trapped in amber and is on display in the trophy room of Lord Utterdark.

    Especially appropriate for thri-kreen PCs. :)

    Glorious chart, many thanks.

  20. Regarding #12: What about thieves?

  21. Anonymous7:10 PM

    @Erin: Thieves are questing for all of the above. Greedy bastards.

    15. Character recently developed agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), dungeon seems much more appealing now.

  22. Regarding #12: What about thieves?

    No self-respecting thief should need to roll on that table. They're in the dungeon for the gold.

  23. Jeff, this is about the funniest post (and set of replies) I have read in weeks. Thanks, man!

  24. Anonymous1:19 AM

    Well done, Jeff! Any such recalcitrant knave *deserves* to owe 60,000 gp. to a bossy, murderous Hutt.

  25. Very nice list and very funny. I need to get one of these random rollers for my everyday life, because I'm often asking myself, "Why the hell should I go into work today?" and "What possible reason could there be for me to pay for this?"