I’m not convinced that unbalanced encounters and high variance in treasure are connected. Presumably you could have the second without the first, and it would be just as addictive as a slot machine (consider Diablo and World of Warcraft).
I also enjoy unbalanced encounters, but I think they scratch a different itch, which is the desire for a sense of wonder while exploring the campaign world.
– Brendan 2012-08-15 18:16 UTC
I agree, the two don’t need to be connected. I was just considering “surprisingly weak monsters” and “surprisingly much gold” two different kinds of unexpected rewards that act as reinforcer.
It’s quite conceivable that the encounter difficulty is not viewed as a reward in this sense but rather as an indicator of a living and breathing world.
Based on what I’ve seen at my table, however, I suspect the two reinforce each other. If a small tribe of lizardmen ends up guarding a treasure worth many thousands, if two mind flayers are all that stand between the party and a spelljammer ship of their own, then that seems to be perceived as an extra bonus.
– AlexSchroeder 2012-08-15 18:48 UTC
If I understand your example correctly, it’s the obstacle/reward ratio that has to vary time to time, isn’t it?
– Ynas Midgard 2012-12-21 11:57 UTC
That seems like another way to phrase it.
– AlexSchroeder 2012-12-21 13:14 UTC