Thursday, 30 April 2015

Worldbuilding your Magic

Magic In Relation to World Building

One thing I think we all forget when worldbuilding, is how things started, how things exist, how they work with each other. Magic is a fairly big upset to anything and everything. If magic existed from the start, can anyone, in all logical conclusion, say that their world would look anything like Medieval Europe?

Now sure, There were charlatans that claimed that magic existed, and used it to profit, or make a living. Soothsayers, Fortune Tellers, Witch Doctors. For the most part, they used perception tricks, fakery and general human power of belief to cause things to happen.

In that, we had witch burnings, and the inquisition. So imagine if those things were actually real?

A lot of recent discussion n the topic caused me to create this thread and jot down notes in it..

yeah, looks like a random search on google images
Here's what I came up with.

The Early Caveman had Shamans. [Why isn't it Shamen?]Usually a herbalist, soothsayer, most likely predicting events based on his age, experience with things.. The Cave Shaman was the Ancient version of Google. Now imagine if said Shaman had actual powers, not just perceived powers based on wisdom.

Soothsayers predicting weather more accurately with fish bones, means decreased deaths in storms, possibly more predictable travel across oceans.. smaller boats with a weather shamans are now hundreds of years in advance of our history. The Vikings would have become more efficient raiders 200+ years earlier.

Tribes were ruled by Brawn (assumed), would now magic become a more dominant trait? just that one path alone.. ignore all else, and nerds become rulers of society pre-iron-age, God-Kings are not just called God-kings, they are most likely bred together with witches to ensure magic in the royal blood.

Though Magic + Brains becomes the eventual power, the Brawn still has the upper hand in the first few years, would bullies become victims in the later years? would the alpha males be eradicated in favour of the Beta-mages. There was an article recently about a group of monkeys who lost their alpha males to poisoning, and within a generation, the tribe was peaceful, had little to no abuse, females were treated as equals. Would society mature and become utopia without the brutal power hungry alpha?

Assume that Brawn remains equally Dominant, or that Alpha Mages (Brawn + Magic) become leaders,. would now early society break far more into the Elite and the Slaves? The Elite breed with Mages Only to maintain the power, quashing all independent magical bloodlines.

The concept of the Advisor in many societies now becomes the mage, far more real than fictional variants, his/her spells are used to determine visitors/diplomats are being truthful, whole militant situations fall apart when the mage can force the diplomat to reveal all secrets.

On the subject of Wars, would you really arm hundreds of men to fight battles when you can send out a couple of sorcerers and their private guards? Imagine a Game of Civ without armies, because your opponent could just cast flame strike, now instead you need to just hire your own mage, and maybe an assassin+mage to take out his mage.

A lot of writers would probably want to 'balance' the magic, costs to cast, to ensure that the 'world' remains closer to their medieval history + magic vision. Things like, magic costs the user, the ability to procreate, or magic users are one in a million..They have their own work-arounds..

So, given that your brother is a mage, you're likely to be a mage, the council, asks you to not be a mage.. but instead marry a woman who is also asked not to be a mage. because genetically, you're both likely to have double-mage children.

If Magic Users are one in a million, then being the king who has a mage, now becomes supremely important, but careful that the mage doesn't want to be king himself.

When I talk of Wars and Advisors and Diplomats and such, I'm thinking Medieval in my head, but I really should be thinking ancient Greek or earlier.. because of my first few posts about magic coming in much earlier with cavemen, wouldn't it be safe to assume that this culture of magical Advisor to the King, or God-King exists far earlier than Knights on Horseback..moreso because there are more than a few thousand articles on the ideas that Technological advances in warfare came about because of warfare. They invented ways to get around what the enemy had invented, and in turn the enemy invented ways to thwart the new inventions.

Speculation that a "spell slinger" would make Armoured Knight obsolete as what Guns did in our History, should be taken back quite a few steps, where spell slinger comes in pre-Mesopotamia. Would anyone bother to make leather armour if a fireball is going to annihilate you anyway?

In my own world, I saw gunpowder being a very big danger to mages, an invention that gives non-mages the ability to take down a mage, as fast, if not faster than the mage can cast a protective spell, and being mages, they decided that it should not be invented. They dedicated a cult of magic users who learn several specific spells, such as Dimension Door, Scry, Mind-wipe and the like, so if (and when) Gunpowder is invented, they turn up, and erase the idea from the inventor, and destroy the laboratory. Of course a secret cult has developed it in secret, and have begun their development of the Gun, which makes a great back-drop for a campaign that I run.

There are so many possible ways that magic would interrupt, cause, hinder, help, change history, it makes little sense to try and make a medieval+magic fantasy trope.. and yet, if you go too far off from the trope, a lot of readers will not grasp what you're doing and you limit your audience..

I'm looking to put together a massive multi-player game of Civilization, which will explore this concept further, I'm not 100% sure of my approach, and how it will come about.. but stay tuned.  

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Encounter lists, why are they so drab?

For quite some time, I've been using a computer database for my encounter lists, but recently I ran a few sessions in a different system, and found the encounter charts to be abysmal, so I quickly threw in some ideas that I thought I'd share with the community [note, by this I mean, unedited ramblings]

Why do I need to fudge encounter chart lists?

Back in the day, when I was a green GM, a DM if you will, players would enter a room in the dungeon and I would roll up the next encounter from a chart and they would fight it. I was 13, I had no other idea about anything other than the expensive (read: I couldn't afford so I made my own) pre-written adventures, which in hindsight, seemed to be a writer doing the very same thing, then giving some actual explanation why a beholder is in the room next to 20 orcs, in a Crypt that has been sealed for 50 years.

As I progressed, they of course became the 'random encounters' that characters would 'cut their teeth' on before the adventure, so they could test their 'leadership' and 'tactics' with the opportunity to heal up and even return to town, before they would repeat this process 3-10 times in a sealed environment.

Years Passed, and I found myself rolling, 2-3 times, and picking what seemed far more logical, rather than what the dice said.. but it felt wrong to fudge the dice.. going against fate, as it were..
Which Encounter to Choose.. Hmm, Maybe All? Seems logical!

So what was wrong?

Looking back at those charts, I see monsters too high a level, assigned only 1 value on the d100, while common creatures assigned several values.. but just like the casino, the house always wins. If you have a dragon on your chart, eventually the players will encounter it.

recently, a 12 day trek through semi-dangerous forest resulted in this:
Day 4, Dire tiger, day 5, Treant, day 8, 4 Bugbears, Day 9, 11 goblins & a Barghast, Day 12, 2 assassin Vines. All for a group of 4th levels.

Ahh TPK, how Schadenfreude
The Dire tiger mauled our tank, who couldn't participate in the fight with the Treant, so the whole group got wrecked, we had to camp to rest, but that made us vulnerable to the Bugbears, So while the goblins should have been a walk in the park, they almost slaughtered us and the Vines TPK'd the group.

Now, ignore the group.. lets look at the creatures.. We have a Dire Tiger and a Treant, within a days walk of each other.. The Scent of the Tiger, should have caused the Treant to be wary, which admittedly could have alerted him to come investigate, but in turn the Treant should cause the Dire Tiger to be wary or moving on from this neck of the woods..

Databased System

As I said, I use a Database system, which wouldn't allow such things to occur. creatures have a threat radius, a scent radius, a territorial radius and a position, some creatures ignore these things, others stay well back from such things, so certain creatures wouldn't be found dead, (literally) within the radii of other creatures, and others would (be found dead).

Another feature of databasing is that when players kill the Dire tiger, its gone from that neck of the woods, and the creatures react to the power/territory vacuum, some creatures increase their territory & breed more, others randomly move into worse neighbourhoods, perceiving the threat to be gone, to find a worse threat which annihilates them.

No DataBase.. how can I make a better list?

So after starting this game, in an area with no database, no system, I had to revert to my old knowledge of encounter lists, and thought.. surely there has to be a better way to do this.. hence this blog.. and I came up with a solution.. I'll be sure to put this into my own system for publishing later, but I think its cool enough to share with any reader:

First we start by ordering the danger rating of the encounter list, At the top, 01 - ? is the 1st level creature, keep the '% values, but scale it up to 300%.. i.e. if goblins was 3 numbers before (41-43), its 9 numbers now (41-50), if unicorns were 1 number, they're 3 numbers (actually for unicorns, I'd scale them back to 1 number and bump something else up by 2). Shift these around as you see fit.. creatures who would likely not care about other creatures, scents, territorial etc, give them higher %, while other more territorial, a lower %.

Next, Add in these two charts:

Encounter Modifier & Encounter Style.

Encounter Modifiers I leave 01-75 as "no modifier" and for each 25% I add in an increasing addition, such as " & pets (add d4 dogs of appropriate type)", or "increase numbers (increase the dice of creatures from d4 to d6+1, or d6 to d8+1)" or "aggressive, (+1 to hit, +1 to damage)". These also go up to 300.

Encounter Style I have things like, 01-25: Not here today, 26-50: tracks of _(roll on chart again).. nearby, 51-75: dead body of  _(roll on chart again).. 76-100: Ambush, 101-125: -Bandits, 126-150: Roll again & have fight each other, 151-175:  Boss monster of encounter roll. etc etc up to 300.

So here's where it gets interesting..

When you roll on the "do I get an encounter today %" initial listing, and get "nothing" you roll d3 and add 10% or 20% (normal vs dangerous terrain) to one of my charts (bit of paper behind the screen, add a notch, marker, etc) so I know that todays encounter could be nothing, or this could be the beginning of something worse, maybe the characters have entered the territory of some hideous beast. each day of "no encounter" is just increasing the likely hood that the next encounter is going to be bigger than before. The first 3 styles listed, are of ways that the group will not encounter this larger than normal beast, and if that happens, I'll have the next few days also be no encounter (this land is so dangerous, nothing wants to go here, but luckily the characters managed to 'bypass' its horrible lair) but the players won't know that they bypassed, instead they're thinking they are getting closer and closer to something even worse!!

Encounter a Lair, ensure no encounter rolls for trip home
My own lists include in the styles (at 01-25): Within the Lair: Ignore the modifier, and roll again at -25%, keep the modifier for future rolls, So while travelling trough the hills of the hill giants the players encounter some kobold travellers, easily defeated, but the danger of Hill giants is still close.

With a few test rolls, (and a spreadsheet for extensive testing) I had around 80% success rate, that the larger, deadlier creatures turned up far less often, in close proximity to anything else.. ensuring that if you do encounter something rather large, you'll have enough time to rest up, cause nothing with any brains, is going to be coming to the lair of this (now dead) beasty anytime soon.

and the GM doesn't have to feel like he's cheating, fudging the dice, anymore.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Thought of the day, There are no Magicians in Harry Potter

A common question from my play testers and groups is : Can I do X in your game? how would that work?

I've said it a few times, I developed the system to be compatible with all known books on the subject, and am constantly updating, tweaking the parts that I know I haven't spent a lot of time on.

Train hormonal teenagers with nuclear level powers? I don't think so
I have also vocalised my dislike for the Harry Potter system/world, reducing magic to a school subject that children learn is probably the reason why the world is in such peril to begin with, As I belong more to the group that prefer Gandalf and Merlin style worlds, the rare few that can truly understand magic, while a handful of hedge wizards scramble around with a few rabbits & hats.

But all that changed when someone asked, If all systems can fit in your system..

How does Harry Potter match your system...?

The discussion started with how mages cast spells.

Firstly there is conjuration, the usage of 'mage power' or 'mana', difficult to master, rare to be a master in. We don't see magic glowing from their fingers.. so thats not it.

Then there are incantations, The words of magic learnt by the mage, cause the spells to activate the inner magic or mana.. usually this is a string of variables infused into the magic, causing an algorhythm of magic to create the desired effects.. at first this looks like HP magic.. but it isn't, since the kids rarely create the spells, they merely say a final word.. 

But wait, isn't that (not actually vancian) D&D style 'activation' word? do the kids pre-cast their spells and then activate them? no..

 Ok, so Material spell components? I remember some classes being about potions and plants, but the bulk of wizards just wave a wand.. so surely then it must be..

Magical Items! Of course.. the Wands, magical items that store magic, and are used to focus spells or cast spells for the user.. quite often a wand has pre-built spells into them allowing lower level magic users access to a wider range of spells, rather than having them learn said spells over years and year.. Oh wait.. whats going on here... The wands.. they are 'chosen' to ensure the least dangerous effects to the child.. the wands cast spells that the kids say the 'activation word' for, the child never actually casts a spell, its always the wands.

Not only do the children use wands, adults do too, and have done for years.. the school has been around for centuries, they all have wands, it seems that only the goblins & house elves have anything to do with any real magic, and that appears to be limited (though wandless)

In Conclusion

I can only surmise that the Harry Potter world and its magics were somehow accessed by someone years ago, who had actual magic (Merlin?) and wanted to train the gifted into spell casters, but finding that humans for the most part divided into muggles, who were unable to use even wands, and mages who could, but couldn't be trusted to learn real magic, because its far too powerful, decided to ensure the survival of the species, by creating a society in which mages are 'shunted' off into the HP world, where the residual magics allow the fantastic creatures to exist, all spells have been 'pre-scribed' into wands, made by the goblins, allowing these mages 'magic' but in a controlled fashion.. and its been going on so long, no-one knows anymore that real magic can do so much more..

Maybe This guy is the "one"
Except maybe the guy stirring his coffee with his finger.. reading a book on time by stephen hawking

Friday, 17 April 2015

Simple Systems equals Simple Games?

Remember when Diablo Introduced Prefix & Suffix Magical Effects to us?, changing the ceoncept of a "+1 Magic Weapon" to 30 different kinds of +1? Giants sword of slaying? Spiders Hammer of Light? This is my TL:DR, The More complex your game system is, the more players can do with it, when they understand it, But understanding it should not be the pre-requisite to playing, just to GMing.


 Simple Systems equals Simple Games

I want to preface this, this is more like a warm up topic for the different styles of GMing, Designing and Playing, so I'd appreciate comments to hone the concept further for the next blog.

Remember HeroQuest? 4 stats. Attack Die, defend Die , Mind & Body. Now in my early days of gamesmastering, I could not fathom how to use those other than the 2 types of hero.. the Fighter or the Wizard. Sure the weapons listed range & damage, and there was a movement score in there somewhere because it was a board game.. but that was all.. Fighter or Wizard (The Elf was a fighter with range).


Now.. years later, I'm sure I could run entire adventures with just those Attributes, because I've matured & experiences alot of life.. does your character want to steal something? hmm, lets see, natural attack die (not weapon) vs defend die (exclude armour), pass his 'mind' score to see if the shopkeeper noticed.. why? because a strong minded, alert, wise, character would know to be watching, while a weak minded fool would be lazy & bored..

 
So its very possible to play any system, with a good imagination. yet it leaves you with problems:


What if you don't have a good imagination? I think we've all read about the 2nd level hero who was free-falling with a dragon and used the fall momentum to puncture the dragons skull, insta-killing him, so he levelled up to 7th giving him enough HP to survive the fall, or the 20th level Paladin who fell from a 100m cliff and not only survived, but brushed off the 100 points of damage and waded into battle. GMs who don't have the confidence to say whether its right or wrong, because it might spoil the 'flow' of a game, or lack of knowledge to make a good call on the situation.. 

What if your understanding of reality isn't as good as your players, and their 'proof' spoils your plot and ruins the game session? This one was closer to home for me for many years, I wasn't well read on biology or physics or maths as a child, trying to GM my group resulted in many of my 'traps' failing, or me having to use (cringe) "because its magic!". This is most likely the whole reason DungeonWorld is so in depth, based so much on reality first, before magic has its effects, and why it has so many Attributes & Statistics.  
Hero Quest + house Rules.. 

What about duplicatable? Try to reproduce it? So a different GM might come up with a different approach for dealing with the Shop theft, maybe a house rule would be added for a 'stealth' score. This doesn't matter if you only play your game at your house, and recognise that different GMs will produce different results.

But, Ignoring Rules Lawyers, Most people want coherency and 
duplicatable results. If I play at your house with the 'pass the natural attack' rule, I'll want to put all level up bonuses into my natural attack.. but at someone elses' house, I'd need to use their 'stealth' score. not only are my characters able to port over from game to game, but I have to learn a whole different set of thinking to play.. the same game. 

I've had it myself, I'm playing at a friends house, and they allow some rule that flanking allows the attack of opportunity, so now I can make more than a few attacks in the same round.. with the right conditions, I could make 16 attacks against 4 opponents, in the same round.. impossibrew!


Knowing the rules match the game, you can 'join' any game, with a fair understanding of what you have as choices, to what to do, what can you do, what is impossible and what the GM will allow

If every house has a completely different set of rules, you'd soon discover you can only play with one set of friends.. and Convention gaming? right out!

"right everyone joining table #17, you need to include rules addendum 12, 13, 18, 21, half of 27b but nothing from 5th edition, we'll run an errata session in an hour, and see you back here in 3 hours to play!"

McDonalds Burgers are created with some pretty complex set of rules, every single burger has to follow the same rules, country to country, to ensure that the consumer gets the exact same burger in any and every store. yet the customer, has no clue about those rules, its just the same burger.

So For me, Complex might be Complex for the GM, but simple for the player. 
A Complex way to represent a set of bonuses a Skill could have...But Simple in its final result


I think the Gamer Industry goes through a pendulum swing, too complex, not complex enough.. D&D has hit the extremes a bit from time to time, taking note from the market, Rolemaster, Tunnels and Trolls, Talisman, there are many variants. Right now the market seems to be in "simplification" mode. Numinera, Fate, Apocolypse World, for a Mature market, with decent, imaginative GMs, who can 'fudge' the system to get what they want, in a way that players respect and trust.. it works.. no denying it.

Yet I worry about the GMs without the back support, brand new to the world of roleplay, making decisions which put off their players, or get put off by the system for its lack of ability. Because at the end of the day, If I can only be a Fighter or a Wizard, I'm going to leave the system soon enough, because I don't know any better.

But.. as my Next Blog is more about.. How many variants are there truly? is it fair to say that no system can be a catch-all system? How many kinds of systems should their be? Real vs Unreal, Simple vs Complex? are there any more parameters? Would it be easier for a DM/GM to begin his session invites with "Hey guys, running a Sandbox Multi-Plot Fantasy of D&D, who wants in?" or would it be better if the games defined themselves as "Sandbox Multi-Plot Fantasy" so the market knows what they're getting into before buying the game?

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Topics to Discuss - Pandoras Box

I thought I might get down some Ideas that I'm keen to discuss, both in gaming general and in relation to DungeonWorld(tm). Having worked on a Dungeonworlds game engine for 20+ years, through iterations of complexity, then simplifying, then complexifying again, There are many small nuances to game development that I've studied, read about or even just played with the basic mechanics.

If anyone has some key point they'd like me to address over the next few months, feel free to add it to the List. I know many of these topics are things other gamesmasters and designers have discussed, so sometimes they'll be my own 2 cents, I like to think that pretty much every GM/Designer that decides to blog has to cover these topics to establish themselves first.. but maybe a few will be unique

In No Particular Order, I would like to discuss:


  • Encumbrance, backpacks and Lists vs Encumbrance Points.
  • Electronic Character Sheets, good or evil?
  • What to do in downtime? Why Healing Spells suck!
  • NPCs and Levelling the non-Hero
  • Hit Points, health and Falling off Cliffs
  • City Campaigns, Do Politics?
  • Weapons Hit Points.. Will your Sword break
  • Ammunition boxes or chips?
  • Time Tracking between 7 Gamesmasters & 50+ characters
  • Perception, Lighting, Smells and Intuition
  • Player Morales & Roleplay Decisions
  • Killing Everything, just in case, doesn't make me evil.. Right?
  • Mega Games & Rumours
  • Should GMs ever let players see the Monsters Manual?
  • Is an Orc Always Evil, Should a Paladin Always kill him?
  • As the world shuns violence, will roleplay games cease to exist?
  • Toilet Time, should GMs inform players, mid dungeon, that its time for no.2?
  • Initiative vs Peasant Rail Gun
  • Non Magic effect Tower Shields of Invisibility
  • Minecraft tree to Stick rules of D&D Crafting
  • Rule Zero vs Physics
I May add more to the List, I encourage others to add to the list, things that you've seen or read in other GM blogs. (or just stuff that would be fun to read about)



Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Why Using XP and Levelling is a Waste of Time

Last Fortnight I wrote about how roleplaying requires Experience Points to be allocated for understanding Levelling, as an absolute Must! While researching the blog, I came across compelling points about why Experience points systems are old hat, old school, outdated and dust.

Experience Points and Levels are Bad Design and Bad Karma.

The Number one complain against XP is the time taken to add up the numbers, since they don't mean anything anyway, why use them.

<rant On>
I'm sorry, but I'm not going to go back on my last post, if this is why you don't want to use XP, then you are a Lazy Lazy GM and you should not be in the industry, normally I would say, get out, stop GMing, and make room for more level headed GMs who know what they are doing. Unfortunately, there is a lack of decent GMs and sometimes if as a player you are stuck in a rut, and just want to get your game on, you will deal with any hack who can mash out a harry potter plot on crack, allow the crazy fumbles and criticals of a broken system to be the entertainment of the day, while munching on chips and guzzling coke.
<rant over>

There are legitimate reasons for going non XP, being lazy is not one of them.

Instance worlds and Instance Games

An instance world, is a slice of a potential reality, usually published games are instances, because someone else, somewhere else is playing a different set of heroes through the same dungeon, and we can't all be doing the same dungeon.

In an Instance game, the parameters are set, the DM & Players have come together and agreed that they are going to be the dwarves and the hobbit from Middle-Earth, or Luke, Ben, Solo and Chewie, and save the Princess. They have a pre-agreed understanding that for the next 1-3 months of their lives, they are going to replay a classic or printed adventure (or something made up for laughs) and enjoy it.

As often as not, when playing a board game or card game, we don't want to deal with all the extra stuff that takes place in reality, we just want to play and have fun. As a GM, maybe I don't want to flesh out the world, or the places that players might go. Maybe the backstory for the barwench in the tavern is not going to be relevant, If players ask, just tell them, its just a game, its not relevant.

As a result, there is no problem with levels. Just like Heroquest, Descent or Talisman, Levels are really some arbitrary number that means nothing. So why use it?

In an Instance Game, its far simpler, and makes more sense, to decide to 'get better' every 3-4 sessions, to represent the growth of the character.

Casual Sessions

Much Like the instance world, you might find yourself in a One-off game, character progression is not part of the game, you're not playing these characters again, there is no need to understand what is going on behind the scenes. 

These kinds of games can be great fun to play, and sometimes very useful to run for the advancement of your main plot. 

Maybe an old man by the fire begins to tell the story of a group of adventurers, entering the dungeons of death.. the GM passes pre-made Heroes over to the players, and they play out these characters when 'years ago' they tried to best the dungeon, and failed.

Rather than the GM Telling the story, which may not be 100% interesting to the players, the players play as the 'heroes of the story' which informs the group to some nuances of the quest their about to undertake. 

First time Trial run

As often as not, the first time players ever roleplay, the GM would create and run some kind of simplified, easy to follow structure, with as much intrigue as possible, but not so much chance of death. This ensures the players feel like they are getting the hang of things without drowning them in rules and errata, and in case some players decide that while it was fun, its not 100% for them, or that they are not so interested in devoting a few hours every week for.

The first thing you could do at the next session is to introduce them to the concept of XP vs non XP, but frankly until these players are really going to be devoted to the craft, they are not going to be interested to learn the nuance, so stick to XP-less.

So Why even have Levels?

The Logical conclusion to running an XP-less system is to get rid of the levels too. They only exist to give the players a straight forward way to assigning bonuses from character progression based on XP gained from adventures. But if you run a game where you level up every 3 sessions.. wouldn't it just be more interesting (and make far more sense) to gain 1 of the bonuses for your class, each session? plus a bonus at the end of certain quests? why 'group' them at all? (like Skyrim)

Why not assign them determined by what your character actually did?

Lets look at D&D Warrior (http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/UA:Warrior)

between 1st and 2nd level, you gain d10 HP, +1 to Hit, +1 to Good Save & 1 Feat.

If you run your system, as 1 level up per 3 game sessions, wouldn't it be more fun/interesting to gain one of those bonuses per session, and get all remaining on the 3rd week? based on what you did in the last session?

E.g. Last Week, Symon the Warrior, took a heavy blow, was knocked unconscious and took a few blows, so the GM & Symon agree that his weekly bonus will be his d10 Health. This week Symon had to make a reflexes save a few times, so GM & Symon agree that he gains his Good Save [Ref] Next week, Symon gains both the Hit and Feat. 

Conclusion

At the end of the day, The players need to understand that the world is cohesive, that actions have consequences and that their characters are progressing in a fair manner. If you have player trust, you can do all the calculations behind the scenes and tell players when they get their next bonuses.

But honestly, do you really want to do all that yourself? its not a paid job, so why not ask the players to help with the bean counting and share the work load, so you can spend more time making a great adventure.