Excerpts Archive | 9/8/2009
Article Header Image
Excerpts: DMG2 Ch. 5 Adventures and Rewards
Dungeon Master's Guide 2

In today’s Dungeon Master's Guide 2 preview, we explore the fifth chapter of the book -- on the subject of adventures and specifically alternate rewards for their completion!

Chapters 6–8 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide cover creating and running adventures, weaving them into campaigns, and rewarding players. Chapter 5 of the DMG2 expands on the information presented in that book. The range of topics presented here can help you create exciting, immersive stories and epic campaigns for your players’ enjoyment.

  • Alternative Rewards: Sometimes player characters appreciate rewards that are less tangible than a magic item or monetary reward. This section discusses divine and legendary boons and grandmaster training, which function like magic items but allow you to tell different stories in your game.

  • Item Components: As an alternative to simply handing out magic items, you can require characters to gather the ingredients of an item and assemble it to earn their treasure.

  • Artifacts: Building on the four artifacts presented in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, this section further discusses how to use artifacts and presents seven new artifacts. Unique artifacts in this section include a few designed to benefit a whole party of characters and one intended to remain relevant for an entire campaign.

  • Organizations: This section discusses how to add depth to your campaign with organizations, such as villainous groups, rivals to the player characters, and friendly organizations that might be patrons to the characters.

  • Campaign Arcs: The chapter concludes with four example campaign arcs—broad storylines for campaigns that take characters from levels 1–30. This section gives special emphasis to the paragon tier, leading into the paragon campaign material presented in the next chapter.

Alternative Rewards

In a D&D game, rewards can take on a wide variety of forms. Your players might most appreciate piles of gold coins and glimmering magic weapons, but characters in books, movies, and comics rarely receive such rewards. Who wants to always read about a boring miser who counts his coins or a brute who believes his magic sword makes him the greatest warrior in the world?

Stories and characters do draw on such themes, but for your game, consider those themes the exception rather than the rule. In D&D campaigns, DMs can award treasure as a pat on the back for a job well done. Treasure acts as a reward that boosts power in addition to that gained with a new level.

A hard-fought, tense victory over a troll horde feels greater if the trolls’ treasure chest contains magic armor a PC desires. Yet not every fight plays out as a tense, life-or-death affair, and not every treasure chest contains items the PCs want. This section discusses variant rules for treasure, with a focus on more story-focused rewards that can increase the sense of mystery and wonder in your game. Players might find it more interesting if, instead of treasure, you hand out a boon from the gods or an offer of training from the world’s greatest fencing master.


The alternative rewards presented in this section share the following rules characteristics:

  • An alternative reward replaces a magic item. When you place treasure parcels, you can use an alternative reward in place of an item.

  • You can use alternative rewards alongside traditional magic items. Without additional changes to the rules, you should replace one magic item per level with an alternative reward. Optional rules later in this section explain how to make alternative rewards more prevalent.

  • These rewards occupy the same mechanical space as magic items. They balance on the same power curve and aim at the same place within the body of a character’s abilities.

  • An alternative reward lasts for five levels of play and then fades. This rule applies because characters normally sell or replace items as they gain levels. Alternative rewards occupy the same space in the game, so a similar process applies to them.

Reward Types

Applying Boons to Items

For your own convenience, you can transform mundane items, such as weapons or armor, into magic items by imbuing them with divine and legendary boons. When Ivella the tiefling fighter pierces the dying dragon’s heart with her broadsword, the fiery blood of the ancient wyrm transforms her sword into a flaming weapon. When Uldane the halfling paladin performs a great service for Avandra, she transforms his +5 magic short sword into a holy avenger.

Using boons in this manner offers you another way of giving magic items as treasure. This approach has more flavor than hiding an item under a monster’s bunk or buying or creating the items, and it remains firmly in the realm of the standard D&D reward system.

This section describes three types of alternative rewards: divine boons, legendary boons, and grandmaster training. These reward categories reflect three iconic stories of how and why characters earn such rewards.

Divine Boons
Individuals who aid a deity’s holy cause receive wondrous, divine gifts. A particularly blessed character, or one who earns a deity’s gratitude, can gain a divine boon.

Legendary Boons
Great deeds can confer wondrous powers on individuals. A character could earn a legendary boon by bathing in the blood of an ancient dragon, reading a tome of esoteric knowledge, or solving the riddle of an immortal sphinx.

Grandmaster Training
The absolute master of a craft, such as an archmage or the greatest living swordmaster, can teach techniques and abilities that transcend a character’s normal limits.

Divine Boons

Although the deities in the D&D world do not have omniscient powers, they do take an active interest in important events. A character might gain a divine boon as a reward for doing something that directly aids a deity or harms a deity’s enemies.

An adventurer’s typical activities fall into that definition. A divine boon comes into play when the gods take a personal interest in an event, such as a character performing a task worthy of drawing the gods’ attention. Killing orcs that attack a temple does not deserve a divine boon. Slaying the high priest of Tiamat as he attempts to rally an army to conquer an entire continent in the Dragon Queen’s name—now, that accomplishment deserves a divine boon.

Ioun’s Revelation
Level 3+
Ioun rewards study and the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Supporters who earn her favor gain the ability to master any task, no matter how daunting.
Lvl 3 680 gp
Lvl 8 3,400 gp
Lvl 13 17,000 gp
Lvl 18 85,000 gp
Lvl 23 425,000 gp
Lvl 28 2,125,000 gp
Divine Boon
Property: Gain a +2 item bonus to skill checks.
Power (Daily): Minor Action. Until the end of the encounter, you and your allies gain a +1 bonus to skill checks with a single skill of your choice.
Level 8: +2 bonus.
Level 13: +3 bonus.
Level 18: +4 bonus.
Level 23: +5 bonus.
Level 28: +6 bonus.

The Raven Queen’s Shroud
Level 3+
The Raven Queen cloaks her champions in a shroud of darkness, a halo of divine magic that aids them in enforcing the dictates of fate.
Lvl 3 680 gp
Lvl 8 3,400 gp
Lvl 13 17,000 gp
Lvl 18 85,000 gp
Lvl 23 425,000 gp
Lvl 28 2,125,000 gp
Divine Boon
Power (Encounter): Minor Action. Choose a target within 10 squares of you. That target gains the mark of the Raven Queen until the end of the encounter. On your turn, you can reroll the result of one damage die against that target. This reroll does not alter the damage for other targets hit by an area or close attack.
Power (Daily Teleportation): Minor Action. You teleport adjacent to the target that bears the mark of the Raven Queen.
Level 8: You gain a +1 power bonus to attack rolls against the target until the end of your next turn.
Level 13: You gain a +1 power bonus to attack rolls and a +2 power bonus to damage rolls against the target until the end of your next turn.
Level 18: You gain a +1 power bonus to attack rolls and a +4 power bonus to damage rolls against the target until the end of your next turn.
Level 23: You gain a +2 power bonus to attack rolls and a +4 power bonus to damage rolls against the target until the end of your next turn.
Level 28: You gain a +2 power bonus to attack rolls and a +6 power bonus to damage rolls against the target until the end of your next turn.

Excerpt Schedule

Monday Friday

August 17

Ch 1. Group Storytelling

August 21

Ch.1 Companion Characters

August 24

Ch. 2 Advanced Encounters

August 28

Ch. 2 Terrain

August 31

Ch. 3 Skill Challenges

September 4

Ch. 4 Customizing Monsters

September 7

Ch. 5 Adventures and Rewards

September 11

Ch. 6 Paragon Campaigns

Follow Us
Find a place to get together with friends or gear up for adventure at a store near you
Please enter a city or zip code