I want to take a moment to discuss a little homebrew idea I have been milling over. I have done some play testing, but the idea is still raw and I am more than open for any feedback.
The gambler is the trickster god. He appears to the players and offers them power, health, strength, and even a wish, but there is a catch depending on the deal they strike. I plan to have the gambler apear once per story arc in my campaign and interact with only one player character at a time. He will offer them four contracts and it is up to them to choose if they want to enter into one or not. If they do not, the gambler will move on to the next character. I will do this out of game to keep it an overarching mystery in my campaign. The gambler and the deal struck with him must always remain a secret. Any buffs and debuffs gained from entering a contract are permanent and can’t be undone, even by magic. Player characters are limited to one contract per session with the gambler.
There are two cardinal rules when dealing with gambler
- You must never speak about the gambler or the deal you have made with him. This includes above the table conversations that happen out of character.
- Deals that are made can’t be unmade
The gambler will present the players with four different contracts, of which they can only choose one. He will offer them accuracy, power, endurance, and a wish. Each contract has it’s own components and set of consequences.
Contract of Accuracy
This contract grants the user a truer aim against enemies. If the player chooses this contract, she will gain advantage on the first hit on a new enemy. This includes spell attacks and ranged attacks. A new enemy is one that has not been previously attacked by this character. The enemy can already be damaged. In exchange for this buff, the player must forfiet 30% of their total health excluding temporary hitpoints.
Example: The barbarian makes this deal. For simplicity she has 100 total hp. After this deal she will have 70.
Breach of contract will result in in disadavantage on all first attacks against new enemies and the 30% life lost.
Contract of power
Taking this contract grats the player better stats. If a player chooses this contract, they can choose one base stat to increse by one point. In exchange, the player character must give lose a point in another stat. Stat points can not surpass 20.
Example: The barbarian takes this contract because she wants a better constitution. Her current constitution is 16, if she takes this deal it will not be 18. In exchange she will give up a point in intellegence turning her 10 into an 8.
In addition to exchanging points, the player will owe the gambler one favor that he can call on at any time in the campaign. It doesn’t have to be right away and there should be tangible consequences that affect the story. It is important to note that this should be a task that uses a skill they are not proficient in. They will get three opertunities to complete a favor for the gambler, but they only have to succeed once. There is always the option to decline the proposal but doing so results in a fail. Failing to complete a favor for the Gambler will result in a breach of contract.
Example: The party goes to the magic shop to stock up on potions. As the barbarian waits for her turn she hears the Gambler’s voice in her head say “I am here to collect. This merchant has a very rare magical sword crafted with enchanted dwarven steel. Steal it for me and our deal deal is done” The barbarian with low stealth and sleight of hand will attempt to steal the sword if she chooses.
If this contract is breached, the character will take a -2 to the buffed stat. If she had a +3 in the buffed stat, she will now have a +1. The point that was traded previously will remain traded. This deal cannot be repeated unless the favor has been completed.
Contract of Endurance
Taking this contract will make the player sturdier. If the player takes this contract, they will gain 20% of their total health and 1 point added to their armor class. In exchange, the player will always start with 2 failed death saves.
Example: The barbarian who takes the deal starts off with 100 hp and will end up with 120 hp
If this contract is breached, the player will take a 20% loss in their hp and they will lose 1 point to their AC, in addition to the points added to their initial total. The 2 failed death saves will remain.
A player who enters this contract will get access to the wish spell in exchange for their soul. A player who chooses this contract will fail all their death saves and cannot be revived by any means. The sould of the player’s will be in the Gambler’s service. For the rest of the campain, the sould of the character will hunt down the party.
Example: The barbarian uses the wish spell to get a new axe. The barbarian dies and the gambler comes to take her soul. For the rest of the campain, the party will encounter the soul of the barbarian who comes to kill the party.
If this contract is breached, the gambler apears to the player and takes her soul right then and there. No saves, no fight, just instant death. There are a few caviats to this contract. Contracts made with the Gambler cannot be undone by the wish spell. The gambler cannot be undone by the wish spell. A soul taken by the gambler cannot be persuaded or reasoned with. Nor can it be retrieved or revived. This deal can only be made once.
This is Important
It is important that the players keep their deal a secret. Even if eventually all the players have made a deal with the Gambler, they can not speak about it. The gambler chooses who he wants to apear to and can’t be summoned, even after a deal has been struck.
What do you think? Any ideas on how I can improve this system?
I think seeing more of the ways a character could breach one of the Gambler’s contracts could help with this. We know that they can breach the Contract of Power by refusing or failing all three of the Gambler’s favors, but what about the other three?
This seems like a fascinating way to add a little chaos to a game while still allowing the players to choose if they want to interact with it or not.
Thank you for the imput. I have implemented it already in my game and my issue now is that it’s almost like a free upgrade. I think for the other three they will need to do a favor in exchange as well and something that is hard but not impossible to make it worth it. I was thinking that maybe they should do something that is the opossite of what they get. If they choose to get the combat bonuses they’ll have to do something where they have to talk their way through for example.
Do you have any ideas on how to make it a bit more chaoitic?
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More chaotic I’m not sure on. I feel like the favor being something that relies on the opposite skills to what they exchanged for is a good start, but a lot of the chaos factor is, by its nature, going to have to come from the players themselves.
You could maybe add an element that later favor attempts are more difficult or outlandish things. Make it a puzzle unto itself for a player who’s either failed or refused a favor, where they have perhaps more places where they could get creative?
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