In a gaming setting with at least slightly-ahead-of-future technology, everyone has personal infotech, including the bad guys. And when the player characters defeat them, they can still act through preprogrammed incentives.

One of the obvious ones for mercenaries is to have their gear detect defeat in combat and pop up bounties for the defeated mercenary to be delivered to competent medical care. The value would need to compete with the value to the victor of “kill the bad guys and take their stuff” (or sell them into slavery or killing them and harvesting their organs or whatever amoral profiteering the players can come up with). This also creates a rational in-game incentive for characters to rush to the sides of people who were, moments ago, trying to kill them, and performing first aid and packing them into ambulances.

It’s also an amusing way to play with the traditional “treasure drop” phenomenon, dating back to original Dungeons and Dragons, where monsters would be carrying treasure that it would make no sense for them to have. (“Where does it keep that stuff? Why would it keep that stuff?!?”) The offered ransom might be in hard credit, or in particular goods, or an interesting item that might itself be a new plot hook.

The basic idea behind the Seas of Chaos campaign was to have an in-game excuse to rip off any fantasy setting (whether novel or comic book or video game) that we wanted. When I sat down to browse the D&D 3rd edition books for ideas, I noticed that they had really gone overboard on all the hybrid characters; there were rules not just for half-elves and half-orcs, but half-dragons, half-demons, you name it. And that gave me an idea for a plot theme...

A background thread from a recent storyline )