Everyone who has played Dungeons & Dragons has been subjected to a game that was being run as a “Monty Haul” adventure. If not, they have likely heard horror stories of these atrocities. Those who are too young to remember Monty Hall will miss the pun entirely, so let me fill you in on this bit of wordplay before we dive into this particular essay.
Monty Hall was the gloriously watchable host of a game show called “Let’s Make a Deal.” In addition to winning ludicrously worthless prizes, contestants on this show would frequently be given money or gifts for doing little or nothing at all. In D&D terms, “Monty Haul” campaigns revolve around the Game Master giving away absurd amounts of loot, magical and otherwise, for little or no effort on the part of the players. For instance they might kill a single, crippled orc and find he had a wheelbarrow filled with diamonds and platinum coins. None of that makes a damn bit of sense, and yet the GM had it happen because, well, that’s the thing. Sometimes a GM will do this to try and bribe the players into liking them or to continue coming to the game, giving their fragile egos a boost in the process. My first GM was like that. Gave away tons of great loot for no discernible reason. There might be other reasons for a GM to play the Monty Haul card, but mostly it is because of naivete or poor planning.
Another reason to allow a limited Monty Haul game is revenge. Perhaps the GM is frustrated with players that flake out frequently and wants to reward the loyal participants who make the effort to bring their characters to life and make the story really take flight. So it might happen that one week there are certain absences. At that opportunity the GM decides to let loose the cash flow. Maybe it is a surge of coins that the players happen upon. Perhaps a magical item that has great power if used for a specific purpose that only these players can appreciate for one game. Or maybe they gain influence and power that raises their social standing among their peers, a rare chance to stand in the spotlight and be recognized for their heroism. It might even be all of these things.
I mention this because we haven’t had a good game lately and I think it is time to shake things up a little. Let’s make a deal.