One of the things that I really like about the Lair Assault program is Glory awards. These are objectives that the characters can do throughout the course of the adventure that will earn them points. The points have no in-game significance; they’re merely earned by the players for bragging rights. At first I thought Glory was just a nice add-on but after only one or two sessions I realized that the players had their character take actions simply to fulfill the conditions listed on their Glory tracker. The more I thought about this phenomena the more I realized that using something like a Glory tracker in a home game could help the DM guide the party in certain directions without railroading the group. It could also add some brevity to the game as the PCs tried doing all sorts of crazy things simply because it was on their to-do list.
Initially I thought about just creating a laundry list and calling it Glory just like Liar Assault, but then I had a brainstorm: D&D Bingo! As players or their PCs accomplish pre-defined objectives they get to mark off squares as complete. The DM can elect to award prizes if PCs complete a single line, two lines, inside square, four corners, X, T, or full card – it really doesn’t matter. The idea is that once every player has a D&D Bingo card they’ll find additional motivation to do things they might not otherwise be inclined to do.
The DM needs to decide early on if the spaces on the D&D Bingo card will be things that the players can do out of game (for example, roll three 20s in a row), things that the character can do in-game (for example, slay a Dragon), or a combination of the two. I suppose it really depends on if the D&D Bingo cards are transferred from character to character by the player running them or if each individual character gets his own card. With Liar Assault the Glory awards are by player. So it doesn’t matter if the player uses three different characters during three different attempts at the dungeon, all accomplishments are scored until the card is full. I’d recommend doing the same for D&D Bingo. It makes things a lot easier.
Creating the cards should be a group exercise. I’d recommend that everyone begin with a blank card. The DM should have many examples ready but don’t share any at first. Explain to the players how D&D Bingo is going to work and then get them to create cards.
Each player makes a list of 25 objectives (no free spaces in D&D Bingo). These should be at least 2:1 character objectives to player objectives. If the players can’t come up with 25 objectives on their own the DM should provide examples.
Once everyone has completed their list they then share it with the table. The group will decide by voting if the objectives are too easy, too difficult or just right. This will likely mean that no one’s list will still have 25 objectives on it after the first read through. However, now that the players have shared their lists some of the other players might want to borrow a few objectives to round out their own card. After all if three people in the party have the objective “Slay the Dragon” there’s a much greater chance that the party will agree to go hunt a Dragon.
When everyone finally has an acceptable list of 25 tasks it’s time to place them on the D&D Bingo card. Try using dice to randomly assign places to each objective at first. When there are only a few spaces remaining it might be more practical to just assign them manually. Once the D&D Bingo cards are done the DM should collect all cards and then let the players choose a card randomly. Make sure that no one gets the card they created. One variation is to have a roll-off and the player with the best roll gets to look at all the cards and then pick the one he likes best. By removing the blind draw it will encourage the players to keep the cards balanced so that the guy who rolls a 20 doesn’t get the easiest card.
Once everyone has a D&D Bingo card it’s time to set the stakes. I like the idea of in-game and out of game rewards. The rewards should be discussed and agreed upon by the party at the beginning so everyone understands what’s at stake. In game I’d recommend that a certain percentage of all loot found (say 5 or 10%) is put in a prize pool. The first time a player gets a line they get a set reward based on their level and the size of the pool. The DM can decide what other lines or shapes on the card will yield other results. A full card will be exceptionally difficult to accomplish and will likely take a lot of real time to complete so the DM should dangle a really good prize in front of the players to keep them coming back. A free magic item normally outside of their power range is a good suggestion.
I’d also suggest that there be real-life rewards as well. They can be simple, like the first person to get a Bingo designates someone as the servant for the night. The servant must fetch drinks, answer the door when the pizza guy arrives, and grab books from the shelf as needed. Players with a few bucks might want to throw a few dollars into a real-life kitty and award the cash to the first player to complete their card. The prizes are completely up to the groups to decide.
As some objectives will likely be difficult to accomplish at low levels, I’d suggest that the DM create a mechanic for changing or swapping squares on your card. Perhaps every time the PCs go up a level the player can trade out one square for something new. The new square will still need to be approved by the group but it might give the player a better chance of actually getting a single line completed. I’d also allow players to trade squares at this time, as long as they aren’t trading for something they already have on their card or for an objective they’ve already completed.
Remember that at the end of the day the idea behind D&D Bingo is to help motivate the players and their PCs. The DM can use the D&D Bingo cards to create adventure hooks or greed traps for the PCs. The cards should be used as a way to spice up the game and add fun and frivolity. Never again should the DM have any trouble putting the PCs back on the adventure path he’s set for them.
Here’s a sample D&D Bingo card to get you started.
DM: You guys need to decide if you want to head north or south from here. Remember that you have heard rumours of that vampire who was charming the young women in the community just south of here. Hey, Neil, don’t you have “Slay a Vampire” on your D&D Bingo card?
Neil: As a matter of fact I do. I vote we go south.
Dave: I have “Kill a Zombie with a crit” on mine. Any chance the Vampire has an undead army at his disposal?
DM: It’s possible.
Dave: I vote south as well.
Liam: Fine, we’ll go south. But I’m warning you, I’ll be doing my best to make someone “Snort soda out of their nose” the whole time.
- Character Motivation
- Why Are We Doing This?
- Achievement Rewards Are Coming To D&D
- Ameron’s D&D Bucket List