Thursday, January 21, 2010

4e DnD Achievments: My Take


I hate writing an article that I know was inspired by someone else's work; but for the life of me, while researching for this post, I cannot find the original source for this idea. I like the idea a lot, though, so I've decided to write up my own take on it. However, before I get into that, I want to thank that original poster with the idea of achievements for 4e dnd...whoever you are.

So...if you've read this article and you think it might have originally been your idea, please comment. I'd love to give credit where it's due.

Okay. That said, I'm inspired by the idea of using achievements as a form of reward in 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons®. Experience points are great, and treasure is awesome; but the idea of gaining a little something extra by performing little tasks (both in game and out) is an idea that has merit.

Obviously, this idea isn't a new one. MMO's have been using this idea for years. The idea is that once you accomplish a set task or tasks, your character gains a boon or reward. Simple enough, right? Well, I thought so too. However, instead of just in-game achievements, I was inspired (by that unnamed source mentioned above) to include out-of-game achievements in order to keep my players excited and engaged between our game sessions (which are usually once a month). Presented below are a list of 10 Heroic achievements for my players both in-game and out-of-game. Each achievement is worth 100 experience points.

If you're one of my players reading this blog, please link to the Obsidian Portal site where I have my campaign info. (Sorry, other readers, my campaign on Obsidian Portal is private. Do check them out, though, for your campaign wiki needs. They are the BOMB!)

Heroic Achievements (In Game):

01) Successfully complete a skill challenge without aid.
02) Roll a "natural 20" at least once during the game session.
03) Creatively use a combat power in a non-combat situation (utility powers don't qualify).
04) Adventure through an entire game session without being "bloodied".
05) Come back from unconsciousness at least once during a game session.
06) Strike a killing blow against one of each of the following types of creatures: Animal, Undead, & Humanoid.
07) Use personal funds to provide something the entire party needs (food, supplies, bribes, etc.).
08) Defeat a foe without using a power.
09) Strike up a conversation with an NPC that lasts longer than 3 minutes.
10) Donate 100 GP to a worthy cause (as adjudicated by the DM).

Heroic Achievements (Out of Game)

01) Write a short fiction piece describing something your character is doing (or has done) during an extended rest.
02) Come fully prepared to a gaming session with each of the following: character sheet, current coinage, item cards, and miniature.
03) Arrange for (but not necessarily pay for) a gaming session's food requirements.
04) Write up a session's gaming notes from the point of view of your character.
05) Cancel or dodge another event in order to attend a game session.
06) Volunteer for mapping duties for an entire game session.
07) Give an RPG gift (dice, reference book, accessory, etc.) to another player or players.
08) Avoid all conversations and references to another hobby (WoW, Crafts, Sports, etc.) unless specifically needed for an in-game use for an entire game session.
09) Describe an "RPG related" activity you've done (watching a movie, reading a book, attending a convention) and how it might influence your role-playing.
10) Provide constructive feedback to the DM on how you think a game session went.

Like I mentioned above, each achievement is worth 100 XP. While I don't expect my players to complete every single achievement; if they do, they'll earn a total of 2,000 XP while their characters are in the Heroic tier.

As my players' characters get closer to the Paragon tier, I'll publish another list of achievements that are appropriate to those levels.

Until next time...

Game excellently with one another.


  1. Kyle Ferrin4:05 PM

    Very cool. I think I'll add: "50 XP per slice of pizza given to the DM"

  2. R.M. Walker4:17 PM

    LOL! I was very tempted to go with DM greed factor here, but decided I didn't want to be lynched! :-)

  3. Swordgleam7:08 PM

    A lot of the in-game achievements look a little too easy. Come back from unconscious? A lot of my group does that once a combat. Maybe "fail two saving throws" or "reach negative your healing surge value."

  4. Swordgleam7:08 PM

    Two death saving throws, that is.

  5. R.M. Walker7:16 PM

    My group are pretty conservative, and they watch each other's backs pretty closely. You're right, though. I wanted a mix of both easy and challenging so if they want to grab low-hanging fruit, they can. They only apply once each, so if the easy ones go first, it's no big thing.

  6. Mad Brew11:08 AM

    I totally dig the idea (especially about getting players engaged with the game beyond the table).

    I do stuff like this, but usually don't award XP (because I usually just advance characters when I think its necessary and not according to actual experience derived from encounters). Instead, I award priceless expendables (such as action points, healing surges, etc.).

  7. R.M. Walker12:26 PM

    @Mad Brew Thanks! I focused on XP awards for now, since we don't play but once a month, and sometimes my players grumble a bit about advancement. In the future, though, I should consider other "expendables" as you mentioned. I know they'd love those, too.