So, not only am I sick, my computer is currently offline, so this is not going to be a real writing day. Hopefully both of these issues will sort themselves out, but until then, here’s a question which, while very simple, is the basis for a lot of very serious play: what do you need that neither power nor money can get you?
In some games this is easy, but it can be a bit tricky with high magic games like D&D, where very little is outside of the reach of a high level character. But it’s worth it for one simple reason – it’s the only way to bring your past along with you.
That may sound a little enigmatic, but consider the usual arc of a D&D campaign. How many NPCs that were important and relevant to your character at low levels can _possibly_ be relevant to them in the epic tier unless you find things that power and money can’t address? Yes, a player can keep those elements in by brute force, choosing to make them stay relevant (with the fear that they may detonate the next time a godling sneezes) but that’s unreliable unless there’s something a character really needs.
Put another way, no matter how rich or powerful you get, there’s always someone who can hurt you. Yes, I know, lone wolf orphans and all that, but that’s the way people work. If you can get characters to work that way too, doors will open up, doors that probably merit their own non-sick post.
(One image that has stuck with me throughout this is the 27th level character coming back home for the holidays, and how that gets received. Every family is different, but I can’t imagine a scenario where that’s _not_ interesting.).
I guess you could make a case for love or purpose in life or things like that, but I’ve always had a hard time getting players to embrace those as character necessities (mainly, I assume, because of the disconnect that players have because they’re having fun).
The only thing I can think of that players will hold on to and pursue is “loyalty”. While power and money can inspire greed, and that can work as a mask for loyalty if you don’t push it too hard, it’s not the same thing.
If you’re a prick, eventually someone’s going to turn on you. They’ll see how much money and/or power you have and think you don’t deserve it. So they conspire to take it.
If this is someone close to you, they potentially have knowledge of your weakness. They also potentially have your trust (who would DARE betray ME?)
So to me, it makes sense to keep those little people around. Because not only might they turn on you if you don’t treat them well, but maybe they’re actually looking out for you. If they find the guy who’s looking to do you in, all of a sudden they’re not so irrelevant.
That said, “time” also springs to mind. Once you get to epic tiers, there’s the potential that too much is going on for you to take care of by yourself. So it may make sense to cultivate others to help out. Thise leads more into a Birthright kind of game, where you lead a nation, but it’s another thing you rarely get enough of.
Romantic love and the love of your family are obvious answers. Most D&D type games ignore these, of course.