Rewards that players want

I am on the home straight for the release of my soul-like adventure.
As in Dark Souls, the path is quite set, in the end it is a hack and slash, but it does not lack detours, and areas that are not strictly necessary to visit.
These optional areas exist, a player could get there simply because he doesn’t know the way.
Arrive, kill what he finds, recover standard treasures such as equipment and gold, and then have to go back because in a dead end.
Treasures that can be found safely on the main road.
Here, what could incentivize a player to reach an optional area? What kind of treasure?
As this adventure is thought, it cannot be gold, XP, standard magic equipment.
I don’t like equipment that is too upsetting, such as that which provides talents or immunities or spells, which replace talents and abilities that a character would otherwise have to acquire at level up.
I’m looking for something different, which the player cannot acquire through character building.
For the moment I have thought of stones, which provide “something” once you have them in your inventory.
At the moment I thought of a stone that provides you with HP bonuses, useful for any class, and a sequencer stone on which spells can be stored, almost all classes cast spells.
Maybe add stones that provide the “if hit” ability to the equipped weapon.

Do you think of anything?


I don’t fully understand the situation. Will a player know ahead of time what sort of treasure an optional area will have?


No, they don’t, but I want to incentivate the exploration, make them understand that anyway there is a reward. :slight_smile:

Not the first time anyway, this would like to be a fixed reward in that place.

Well, an incentive to explore based on a possible reward must be explicit, of course. Otherwise the player won’t realize there may be a unique or interesting reward in some out of the way place. So, you need a way to foster the idea, maybe with NPC conversations saying something about finding strange things out in the wilds, etc.

One thing that can motivate a player is completionist syndrome. So, if they get something in one area, it is made obvious it is part of a set, or that pieces relating to it aren’t there. Again, the player must realize this fact for it to be an incentive to seek out other parts, pieces, complementary items, whatever.

Another way is to involve the PC (not necessarily the player per se) with the desire to explore for exploration’s sake. An NPC might mention a sight she saw once, an unusual location or ruin, not as a place to further explore, but just how cool it was to actually reach that spot, to see that vista, etc.

Class specific unique items are another lure: A cleric of Mielikki might be inclined to exploration if a rumor of a hidden waterfall somewhere contains the long-missing holy symbol, cloak, or sacramental robes. Note that none of those items has any ‘power’ above ordinary magical items. But they are meaningful to that class.

Not sure if any of these ideas are helpful to you. Good luck!



An item that has a story becomes desirable loot despite any lack of bonecrushing power.

Consider these item descriptions:

  1. +1 dagger

  2. +3 dagger, +5 against goblinoids, keen. Cast fireball 3/day

  3. A small steel dagger with a shadowtop handle, Applebane was once owned by the halfling thief Peliwen Redgrass. Peliwen was a kind but morose individual who spent most of his time sitting in a large rocking chair that he took with him on adventures. Before important adventures, he would just sit in his rocking chair and eat apples with the aid of his dagger. Peliwen’s blade was so rarely used for combat that his comrades starting calling it “Applebane”.


Here’s some more basic ideas for items

- an item that teleports around to significant places in the module/campaign. It’s not required to complete the story, but handy.

- a one-use item that grants the party a forced rest (even during combat)

- a one-use item that grants a permanent ability-increase of one pip

- a scrying device that prints out all the stats of a hostile creature (3…8 uses) (whether in the chatbox or a custom gui)

- any uniquely designed, equippable item(s) … or create an item-set of multiple parts (each part found in a different side-adventure)


As an avid Dark Souls (and Neverwinter Nights of course) player, here are my primary reasons for exploring off the beaten path, not necessarily in order:


  1. Finding unique weapons. I adore weapons with unique moves/weapon arts or move-sets, for example Black Knight (powerful knockdown heavy attacks) and Dragon Tail (highly damaging shockwaves on heavy attacks) weapons in the first Dark Souls. Movesets are unfeasible to implement in NWN1/2, but i can see a Weapon Art mechanic done using the Unique Power On Activate or On Hit on special weapons.

  2. Gearing up for Fashion Souls. I enjoy combining bits of armor to achieve I perceive is the best look for my character, only changing if I require a certain type of damage resistance or encumbrance level.

  3. Permanent passive upgrades. An easy example would be Estus Shards and Sublime Bone Dusts to upgrade your limited Estus Flasks in Dark Souls 3. Physical/Elemental infusion gems found throughout the world and rarely on creatures can potentially enhance your build greatly too.

  4. Uncovering secrets, mysteries and possible power along with it. Think of the Great Hollow in Dark Souls 1, as intimidating it might be at first (gravity), a player will descend not only for the goodies (shinies and crystal lizards), but to satisfy the curiosity of what dangers lurk in this colossal tree, and what lies at the bottom of it all… lo and behold ASH LAKE, home of the last Everlasting Dragon and Dragon Covenant, which with enough progression offers the Dragon Head+Torso Stone.

  5. Following NPC questlines. Be it friend or foe, I pursued their storylines for I got to learn more about them and be involved in more unique encounters. Sane folk are rare, so they are a welcomed change from the usual hack & slash. Have them involve less obvious parts of the world.

  6. Covenants/Factions. They offer players unique merchandise should they join and offer you exclusive missions for you to gain ranks plus the rewards that come along with that. Dark Souls 2 had factions mostly for multiplayer interactions, but one called the Pilgrims of Dark is a set of 3 dungeons with a tough boss at the end.


I’m with JFK here. Knowledge of the potential benefit is implicit in your question. So the obvious first step is to put the idea in the player’s head. Rumors, notes, maps, books, dying requests, and lore checks are all ways of putting the idea out there for consideration.

As to not overbalancing the game, depends on what level the play will cover and the intended audience. One possibility is a ‘nice to have’ feat. Something that would make life easier but that most players don’t add to their character build because they need the slots for much more critical feats.

Example: I created a ‘brewer’s cauldron’. It grants the “Brew Potions” feat. Downside, it weighs 5.5 pounds (10 in the first version). You still need to be able to cast spells and you need a supply of potion bottles. A low strength wizard would have to balance its usefulness against the extra weight. A paladin or ranger could make a few extra potions to make better use of their limited spell casting abilities. A cleric might just make a few extra potions to supplement their income. Since the feat is limited to spells level three and below, it loses relevance as the level of play increases so the effect on game balance is self -limiting.

Hope that helps.