Many Happy Returns

Life can be funny sometimes. In this case, not a ha-ha funny; more of a “didn’t expect to be here” funny. I have a new, permanent, full-time job in a field I love (I know, boo-hoo-hoo, right?), which has required me to put just about everything else on the back-burner as I get settled in and figure out my new work/life balance. Now that I’ve figured that out, mostly, I’ve started adding back the other things I enjoy. Like this blog.

So I’m happy to finally return and I hope you’ll be happy with it as well. I have a plethora of gaming articles, campaign advice, and game reviews (something new for the site) coming. Starting today, actually…

Several months ago my friend Scott celebrated his birthday. He and I game together a lot. I mean a lot a lot. So I knew I wanted to get him something game-related, but I didn’t want to just buy him another sourcebook or boardgame. I’ve been warming to the idea of making things for my friends these days; it’s more personal and I know I love getting something a friend has made for me.

Since I am Scott’s GM in at least one game, I hit upon the idea of giving him player coupons which he could redeem during the course of the campaign. A few gave innocuous enough advantages and bonuses, but most gave some pretty amazing benefits (both for himself and other players), balanced by some pretty nasty penalties.

Below is the text for the 12 coupon set. I printed them out on nice card-stock, with a graphic design behind the text, but if you decide to use the idea you are free to present them however you like. You’ll also notice that the text is pretty Pathfinder/d20 specific. That’s because we primarily play Pathfinder together, but the coupons could be modified easily enough to fit any system.

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1. Thanks, Community College! – Make a check in a skill in which you have not trained, as if you were trained in it at your current level. Apply any bonuses from items, abilities, etc. Put a check mark in the top right corner. Once the coupon has three check marks it’s expired.

2. As You Give, So Shall You Receive – Give another character a magic item or items, with no recompense. At some future date the GM will give you a magic item of equal or greater value. Asking the GM when this will happen nullifies the coupon. When you receive your item, the coupon expires.

3. Ultimate Sacrifice – When another character has died, present the GM with this coupon and say, “I wish to make the ultimate sacrifice.” The dead character is restored to life. However, at the GM’s discretion, something which your character desperately loves/wants will be taken away. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But soon, and for the rest of your life…

4. Laughter is the Best Medicine – If you make the GM laugh at the gaming table, receive one of the following: cure light wounds (1d8+5), lesser restoration, remove curse, cure blindness/deafness, channel positive energy (30’ diam. burst centred on you, 5d6), stabilize, restoration. When you use an ability cross it off; it cannot be used again. Coupon expires when each ability is crossed off.

5. Sometimes You’re the Statue, Sometimes You’re the Pigeon – For one session, you may add any bonus you like to your d20 rolls, even going so far as to ask the GM what you need to succeed on the roll. This cannot be used to generate critical threats but can be used to confirm them. However, in your next session the GM will apply matching negative modifiers to your d20 rolls, in order. The coupon expires after this session.

6. Big Bad-a-Boom! – Apply any three meta-magic feats to the spell you are casting without changing its caster level. At some future time, a spell you cast will go catastrophically astray, likely when it is most useful/amusing to the GM.

7. One Shot, One Kill – You may, in place of your normal attacks, make a single attack as a coupe de grace against a creature your are fighting. The creature does not have to be helpless. However, this earns you infamy as a foe of that creature’s kind. Any future creature of that type you encounter begins with an attitude of hostile (once they know who you are) and automatically confirms critical threats against you.

8. Nobody’s Good at Everything – At character creation, pick one racial or class ability. You are twice as good at it (darkvision/low-light vision range is doubled, you get a +4 instead of a +2 to an ability, etc). However, some other skill suffered; choose another race or class ability and reduce its bonus by half.

9. Bleed for the Cause – You can spend hit points to gain bonuses to your rolls, on a 1-to-1 basis. However, these hit points cannot be healed by any means until your character has dropped into negative hit points for any reason. Once your character falls into negative hit points the coupon expires.

10. There’s No Place Like Home! – Present this coupon to the GM when an encounter is going horribly wrong. You and your party are instantly teleported a safe distance away from the encounter, to a location determined by the GM. Of course, it may not be safe where you end up, just safer…

11. Charity is Its Own Reward – Write the name of another character on the coupon, and hand it to the GM. He will ensure that character gets something he/she really wants. He may even throw in a little something for you…

12. You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me – Spare the life of any one intelligent living creature you are trying to kill. That creature now considers you a friend, and becomes a companion NPC under the control of the GM. Becoming your friend does not necessarily change the creature’s basic nature; the goblin who likes you, for instance, is still an amoral psychopath. But who knows, you might be a good influence.

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There you are! Feel free to use them or let them inspire coupons of your own.

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