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...And Services

Twenty dollars?! I wanted a peanut!
Twenty dollars can buy many peanuts.
Explain how.
Money can be exchanged for goods and services.

When we talk about tabletop roleplaying games, one thing often featured prominently (usually via tables) is all the things you can buy in-game. You’ve got standard adventuring gear such as rope, backpacks, and bedrooms. You have arms and armor from rapiers and plate mail to blasters and jumpsuits. You can find specialty consumables such as scrolls, potions, ammo and energy packs. You might even have magical, or mystical, items such as bags of holding or kyber crystals. There are also the purchases that almost split the difference between "good" and "service" - for example, the meal you might eat at an inn includes the not only the food itself, but also its preparation, having it served to you, and the clean up. So for all the talk about purchasing goods, you ever hear about other services far less often. (And no, we’re not talking about those of a more... intimate nature.) So, as a service from Never Say Dice to you dear readers this week, let us ponder a few different services we can bring into our collaborative narratives to make the stories more interesting and the settings more developed.


We’ve talked about the use of fast travel in TTRPG games before. Travel can be fast or “slow” when approached as a service as well. This is already a more common idea in games, than you might think: very often the characters themselves will be hired to provide another service, usually as guards, for some mode of transport. Or your players might get hired on as deck-hands for a ship when they're trying to get from one port to another. Certainly there are other opportunities to use transport services, though, besides direct player involvement. Just getting around a large city in a game can be a time-consuming chore if you're trying to keep a believable sense of scale. Giving players the option of hiring a car, shuttle, or carriage to move about the city (or to go from one city to another) is one way to make the world around seem more vibrant. You can even give them the bonus of being able to get more done in a day of game time to entice them into the expenditure.

Scribes and couriers

What hero wouldn’t want their adventures written out and spread across the land? Okay, there may be a number of valid reasons not to want that, but, should the players want it, Scribes and Couriers are excellent ways to include another potential service. While games with magic may lean towards using magical means rather than mundane professionals, hired scribes and couriers can still add something to your game. While some player characters may suffer from the "dead parent syndrome" that plagues many pop-culture heroes, not everyone is going to be like that. They’ll likely have ties to some relation, or at the very least a person who had previously hired them for their own missions. The convenience of sending a benefactor word of a mission accomplished and having the reward sent to a bank, or a promissory sent ahead to the party's next destination, would save many an adventurer tons of time.

Cook or Quartermaster

What character in a tabletop role playing game hasn’t visited a bar or inn? As clichéd as they may sometimes be, characters need a place to gather, have food, and rest after a hard day of fighting off owlbears or shooting it out with stormtroopers. But is there any reason they can’t take that out on the road with them? While the role of a cook might often fall to one of the party members, certainly it's another service we could put into our worlds. Having someone to set up a campsite, cook meals, set out bedrolls, and light the fires would be a fine comfort to many characters, especially those that have been beaten near to death during that day's adventure. Roleplaying aspect aside, you’ll probably need an additional incentive to get players to approve of spending their hard-earned (or ill gotten gains) on this seeming luxury. In which case, you might consider offering players some sort of “rested bonus” for their characters if they take on this service. They might get temporary hit points, be more alert during the night’s watch or be more ready to take the initiative the next time trouble is brewing. All very easy temporary bonuses to give, but worth the spare coin/credit to a player.  

These are just a few ideas for options to enhance your own games at home through paid services. In our own world, services come in many different varieties, and there's no reason we can’t use those as inspiration in adding services to our games. While a number of these may provide the challenge of additional NPCs, it doesn’t hurt to give your players a potential mouthpiece to bounce off of. While not every service belongs in your imaginary realms, certainly there is room to add another way to take your character’s money provide new role playing opportunities. Until next week dear readers, get out there and break some dice. Hope we’ve been of service.

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