Content of the article: "The Law of Surprise – A fun and interesting reward from The Witcher Netflix series"
Hello all! Long time lurker, and DM for a little over a year, here to ask a question about a new possible reward to throw some interesting twists into my games.
I was a huge fan of The Witcher video game series and the new Witcher Netflix series does a great job of reshaping the orginal story from the books. While I never read the books myself, something key to the Netflix version is The Law of Surprise:
"The Law of Surprise is a custom as old as humanity itself. The Law dictates that a man saved by another is expected to offer to his savior a boon whose nature is unknown to one or both parties. In most cases, the boon takes the form of the saved man's firstborn child, conceived or born without the father's knowledge."
Now recently I was reading a post on reddit asking about how money should be dealt with and what other rewards DMs could give their players. This made me think about The Witcher and consider: Could the Law of Surprise be a good addition, in the form of a fun, non-standard reward, to my games?
My idea was this: I would use The Law of Surprise sparingly, so as to make it somewhat special. It would mainly be used by people of poorer status, or anyone who'd want to give something other than money/goods as a reward. One of my players might save a man from near death, and then the man insists on giving them something, and decides to invoke the Law of Surprise. Once the man has something of value (in the case of DnD this likely wont be a child) that the player might want the Law can be invoked again and rightful ownership will go to the player.
I think this idea of something special coming back to your players if they keep in contact with your world's NPCs is a great way to: create NPC friends, have the players explore the world less linearly, add in side missions/plots later down the line, etc. There's also some fun in a "surprise" coming later on, that you could keep track of and at some point say, "Oh and remember that farmer you saved, well this aristocrat IS that farmer, and he owes you his entire estate! (But oh shit, its actually haunted, cursed, and infested with vampires!)".
Let me know what you think, how you might tweak the idea for your own games, and what other fun/interesting rewards you're giving to your players to mix things up!
- Last night I finished my eight month journey through the witcher franchise!
- Witcher 4 and Law of Surprise
- How to go about the Witcher Universe and the sequence to read or play for people with different mindset.
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