[RPG] How does Lost Mines of Phandelver expect PCs to take on side quests without demanding pay


Note: my question is specific to the LMoP adventure. I am not asking for general advice on motivating players.

I've recently begun a new campaign in 5e with my group of players. We are all new to 5e and so far it's a great system and a welcome change from PFRPG. When we played Pathfinder, we ran a published adventure path (Rise of the Runelords if you're interested) and the adventure was very much so "on the rails."

Now that we've switched to 5e I decided to homebrew the setting and adventures, but having never written my own campaign, adventures, or setting, I've been looking to The Lost Mines of Phandelver for idea generation and using it as a general template.

One of the problems I'm dealing with is chapter 3, in which LMoP has a somewhat freeform section where the PCs go about doing various quests for people around town for no apparent pay and then only after they do the job are they discretely rewarded with faction ranks. Well, my players will probably never take on a job like that if they don't get paid — they might turn it down simply because they don't know what it pays up front. When I tried to use some of the jobs from LMoP they simply turned down the jobs offered and said they had better things to do. I ended up having the NPC pay them for the job in the end.

The benefit of doing these jobs in the starter set adventure is that the PCs gain renown and faction ranks. I want to give my players' PCs faction standing but it's difficult to get them to take the bait without laying out the benefits of why they should do so before hand and without pay — and pay is not mentioned for these jobs in the LMoP adventure.

How can I get my players to stop being so greedy? How can I get them to bite the hook for these jobs without hard cash up front? I'm especially interested in answers from DMs who have run LMoP and know which section I'm talking about — Chapter 3, The Spider's Web.

What part of the LMoP adventure am I missing that would motivate the PCs in that adventure to do the jobs in chapter 3 for free?

Best Answer

Use your character's backgrounds to build intrinsic motivation for your players' characters.

If you're looking at the LMoP adventure, you hopefully have the pre-built characters handy. If you look at their backgrounds, you can see that for every character, there is some kind of intrinsic motivation built into their backgrounds for at least one of the elements of the adventure.

This provides the characters with clear motivation for why they should care about both the mission and the results of the mission.

You can do this in a custom setting in a couple of different ways. First, you could assign different background elements to your players, this may be a bit of a deal breaker for some players, but I've had good luck with it using a pre-built adventure and giving my players the option of which of 10 or so to select (Horde of the Dragon Queen provides 10 different optional background elements).

However, the best thing you can do is to pick up plot elements from your characters' backgrounds. Have them write a short paragraph or even just be super detailed when they are building their BIFT part of their background so that you can mine that for details and NPCs and other motivations.

If you're looking to provide intrinsic motivation, having it worked into your characters' backgrounds is the best and easiest way to do it.