Mode: Monty Haul. Any campaign where the gamemaster doles out huge amounts of experience/treasure/power/other rewards. Usually becomes stupefyingly pointless after the player characters become the most wealthy/powerful beings in the universe.
—Jason Sartin, RPG Cliches
The greatest danger Gabriel's characters are likely to face is literally drowning in their platinum wealth.Monty Hall (note the lack of a "U") was the host on the game show Let's Make a Deal, which was cancelled before some of you were born. The show could give away massive amounts of prizes to the lucky winner (or cunning or destined-to-win or however they pick winners on game shows). A Monty Haul campaign (with a "U") was the generic label for a Game Master (and his/her campaign) who would run adventures that were like game show giveaways, except the questions weren't as hard. Players would end up staggering under the loads of gold and gems (except the encumbrance rules often were ignored as well) and cherry-picking which magic items they wanted to keep because they had so many to choose from. Think of Conan the Barbarian with a Star Destroyer. Also, in the first and second editions of Dungeons & Dragons, Player Characters got Experience Points based on how much money they looted, one to one. So the Monty Haul characters would also end up at stratospheric Character Levels, which would lead to situations in which they were assassinating gods to gain their nifty weapons. This is a situation most gamers greatly deplore and is sternly discouraged in the Game Master's section of all later games, but it is assumed that everyone went through this stage at some early point in their gaming "careers." In some other cases though, the Monty Haul game master may be a case of Suspicious Game Master Generosity since sometimes they may take it to bring upon an already dangerous foe and give him a slew of new tricks or has their stats tweaked for whatever to get ready for a tougher battle. Many video games seem to either encourage or require the sort of player (or the sort of game play) who would take a broom to a dungeon, to make sure he swept up all the coins. In video games, Monty Haul levels are sometimes confined to DLC, overlapping with Bribing Your Way to Victory. The opposite of this is the Killer Game Master, who delivers death and horror to the PCs in place of treasure and godlike power. This doesn't have much to do with the Monty Hall Problem, a probability puzzle whose name also comes from the game show host.
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- In Knights of the Dinner Table, the seasoned, regular GMs generally either run balanced campaigns or go the opposite direction of this trope. However, when Bob or Dave step behind the screen to run a game, it goes this route.
- This trope plays an unusually huge role in the book, Slathbog's Gold.
- The biggest perpetrator of this has been Dungeons & Dragons, mostly because it's the only game that new players have heard of and because most new Game Masters have no idea what it takes to run a fun and balanced game. That being said, this trope is frequently and incorrectly invoked when a player of an older edition encounters a newer edition (the complaint running along the lines that the new edition is all Monty Haul compared to the good old days). This fails to take into account several things:
- Each edition is its own game, balanced around its own set of expectations.
- This trope cannot be described in absolute terms, but is entirely relative to the expectations of the game.
- While each advancing edition has objectively made magical items more and more common, they have also become increasingly required in order to function at the expected level. Any magical items at all were only a bonus in early (A)D&D, while third edition at the latest made a steady treadmill of ever-more-powerful weapons, armors, and other gear a mandatory part of not dying horribly (especially for non-spellcasters trying to keep up). Trying to apply e.g. a fourth edition approach to AD&D would likely indeed result in Monty Haul gameplay, but someone taking the AD&D approach to fourth edition would instead be a Killer GM.
- The major dividing line was between Second Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and Third Edition. In second edition, they actually had a section in the Dungeon Master Guide discussing the "Monty Haul campaign," likely being the Trope Codifier for the name. In third edition, magic items were wholly necessary for non-casters to be even remotely useful due to the way scaling worked, and everyone was expected to have a certain amount of magic items at a given level. Fourth edition then further regularized it, ensuring that characters of a given level had an appropriate magic weapon, armor, and neck slot item at least, which were necessary for to-hit and damage scaling, as well as for defensive scaling.
- It should be noted that 5th Edition, the most recent, has made strides towards reducing or even eliminating this dependency. Ability scores for ordinary mortals (such as player races) are capped at 20, and the overall hard cap (which not even a god can exceed) is 30, compared to strong monsters and deities having scores in excess of 50 in previous editions (particularly 3.5). Similarly, the maximum base attack bonus (i.e without ability score, magical, or item bonuses) used to go up to 20 for some 3.5 classes (and beyond with epic level bonuses), and is now the character's proficiency modifier, a maximum of 6. As such, almost all numbers used are far lower at relative levels than in previous editions, and the character's natural scaling is enough to keep them within these boundaries without requiring magical weapons and armour to ramp up their armour class and attack bonus. As such, magical items are no longer necessarily a requirement, but an excellent (and useful) bonus.
- The Legend System's magic item rules are specifically designed to prevent this - the progression is the same regardless of the DM's inclinations.
- Referenced briefly but incorrectly in Goblins. Forgoth mentions that Minmax cannot simply walk into a blacksmith shop and buy a magic sword, as that would be too Monty Haul, but that's exactly what PCs are expected to do with their treasure. (If you look in the DM's guide, it clearly says a PC can generally buy any magic item on the list, though they need to look for a seller.) Monty Haul only comes in when PCs have too much money for their level.
- However, at the same time, the campaign itself definitely is Monty Haul. All the heroes are low-level, but have improbably powerful magic items that even the playing field. The paladin has an axe that acts as the can for a world-destroying demon, the cleric has a spear that multiplies when thrown and then returns to his hand, and the minmaxer recently got a sword made out of oblivion. Which is perhaps fair enough, considering everything else.
- It's also made clear that the combat is not based on baseline mechanics, but by a heavily house ruled set that flattens the gap between character levels substantially. Even without the equipment everyone punches well above their weight.
- Jerry Holkins (Tycho) accuses Mike Krahulik (Gabe) of this in Penny Arcade, then decides to balance it — Tycho being a Killer GM.
- Arguably averted by Matthew Mercer, the DM for Critical Role. He is very generous with his items - by level 10, almost everybody has a magic weapons or weapons with magical effects, and the party has a magic carpet, a bag of holding, an immovable rod, and numerous other fun things as well as a lot of platinum and gold - but it's balanced out by the fact that his fights are hard.
- Dee Dee from Dexter's Laboratory, after taking over DM-ship of Dexter's game. Considering that Dexter is a Killer GM, the players are much happier with the change. Even funnier is the treasures she hands out: the Archer gets a stronghold (basically the most awesome tree fort ever), the Knight gets a "noble steed", and the Magician gets a Lovely Assistant and a lifetime of sold-out shows in Las Vegas. Dexter's character asks for the chalice they were questing to obtain, and is upset that all it does is "you can drink from it and it'll never spill."
- The Diablo series and the majority of its clones tend to be like this in the end game. Bosses and major loot caches will often release a screen-filling fountain of gold and enchanted gear- from which players will pick the one or two very best pieces and leave the rest lying on the floor. At early levels, however, the player will want to keep anything that's better than the standard vendor gear. For a game where the whole point is to constantly upgrade your equipment, the progression is fairly even.
- High Rate Private Servers of any given MMORPG are more often than not Monty Hauls meant to fuel a player's armory with the weapon needed to fight big bosses and most of all each other.
- A lot of user-created modules or modifications for The Elder Scrolls and Neverwinter Nights are simple dispensers of XP and loot. Many of them who have actual plot can also fall into this due to being made by non-professionals.
- Particularly during the Oblivion era, it was common for story/quest mods to bombard you with unasked for artifacts, powers, companions, player houses or even titles of nobility (sometimes complete with one's own fiefdom). If you downloaded and played several big quest mods in succession, you would quickly notice how ridiculous this got.
- Many badly made designs for Unlimited Adventures shower the characters with money. One design in particular (From Beggars to Heroes) was content to throw thousands of money at you for the meekest reason. (For example, as poor beggars in the starting town, you can walk around and meet an unlimited number of rich people every few steps who will shower you with riches every time.) Oh, and you get experience for these, too.
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R. also had its share of mods which purported to 'improve' the gameplay but in the process dumped some of the game's best weapons and gear into the player's arms near the very beginning. Kind of ruins the 'scavenge and survive' experience when your stuff is already better than everyone else's...
- Dungeon Siege encouraged this by adding pack mules and Traggs, creatures with above normal carrying capacity, but minimal fighting capability. Naturally it's a tradeoff between combat power and hauling size.
- Fable, while in itself the game isn't a Monty Haul, if you spend an hour or two doing a job to afford some real estate, the returns on the investment are used to buy more real estate (which pays you every five minutes) eventually become so huge that you have so much money you have no idea what to do with it all.
- Fallout 3's Operation Anchorage DLC takes the player through a short, relentlessly linear, and relatively easy (depending on character build) campaign, at the end of which you're awarded with a treasure trove of goodies not available anywhere in the core game.
- Ditto Mothership Zeta (powerful alien weapons, weapon repair epoxy, and crystals that can be sold for a motherload of caps), and the steel ingot fetch quest in The Pitt.
- Fallout: New Vegas' DLCs each have this, in the form of a boatload of loot, skills and weapons you can acquire.
- Dead Money can be a trying DLC, but the rewards are enormous. If you take the time to win as much money as possible from the Sierra Madre Casino, you'll get an automatic 1100 Sierra Madre chips every three in-game days, which you trade for stacks of stimpacks, chems and weapon repair kits. In addition to that, there's also the gold bars you can haul out of the Madre's vault and powerful weapons like the Automatic Rifle and Holorifle (the latter of which doesn't degrade when used with regular ammo).
- Upon finishing Honest Hearts, you'll obtain a chest full of powerful loot, including a very-overpowered unique Power Fist for Veronica. There's also a set of Desert Ranger Armor set and a Survivalist's Rifle, which can be found in a sidequest and aren't normally found in the main game except on high-level NCR rangers.
- Just by finishing Old World Blues and obtaining all the upgrades for the sink, you can several immensely useful benefits: passive bonuses whenever you rest, your own seed farm (where you can grow and create virtually anything in the game), several implants that provide a host of ancillary benefits and all the spare skill magazines you could want. The DLC also gives several perks that seem specifically designed for dealing with Cazadores, a set of powerful stealth armor and the best silenced sniper rifle in the game, and several Jury-Rigged Energy Rifles that can chainsaw through enemies like butter.
- Lonesome Road is the biggest haul of them all. Aside from the fact that it straddles the line between a Disc-One Nuke and a Game-Breaker (you can come and go from the Divide at any time in the game), you can obtain many powerful sets of armor (including Elite Desert Ranger and military armor variants), upgrades for ED-E (which make it a Game-Breaker in the base game), an insanely-powerful Deathclaw Gauntlet if you can beat the Bonus Boss, and if you make a certain decision during the ending, you get access to two other areas that offer unlimited high-level weapons, tons of rare ammunitions and two incredibly-powerful sets of faction armor (NCR Scorched Sierra Power Armor and Legion Armor of the 12th Tribe), not to mention a chest full of unique and customized weapon pieces.
- The Black Jack tables in New Vegas (and more so the slot machines if you have high luck and too much time on your hands) are ridiculously easy ways to clean out every casino that has these minigames and earn up to 100,000 caps.
- Borderlands is this, but it's an odd example since Vendor Trash, Randomly Drops and (at the end of the game) Money for Nothing/Money Sink are all in play.
- In the Dragon Age series:
- Dragon Age: Origins has the "Soldier's Peak DLC". Accept a quest, spend 10 minutes mowing down underpowered Mooks, and proceed to a vendor offering the best weapons and armor in the game. Granted, you might have to spend another 10 minutes mowing down money spiders and selling off their Vendor Trash... Still, the DLC takes about an hour to get through and is fairly difficult. And by the time you'll be able to afford and use that vendor's high-level equipment, you'll damn well need it.
- Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening also throws more money at the player then they may know what to do with. This is in stark contrast to the original campaign, where money is quite tight (barring DLCs and a single developer oversight that requires a lot of loading screens). Players new to the expansion may be shocked to find quest related NPCs requesting of them things on the order of dozens of gold pieces to commission some sort of order—a small fortune in the original campaign, pocket change in Awakening. With so much money available, you wonder why the Warden doesn't just hire a couple hundred mercenary soldiers to build up Amaranthine's otherwise vastly outnumbered forces.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition is pretty good at keeping a tight budget, but The Descent DLC takes the cake for more or less showering you with expensive Vendor Trash that adds up to six-digit numbers on your Inquisitorial bank account if you just keep hauling it back to the surface. Potentially justified, as you essentially plunder a abandoned ancient dwarven city that hasn't seen a looter in a thousand years.
- The Architect Entertainment buildings in City of Heroes were created to allow players to write their own story arcs for other players to enjoy. Among most of the community, however, it's better known for its "farm" missions, as they're called. It reached to the point where some farms had earned "Hall of Fame" status for having so many favorable ratings among players. The earliest farms would take advantage of exploits to allow characters to go from creation to level cap in a single day of beating up defenseless enemies for disproportionately high XP. Naturally, the devs did not take kindly to this, and closed such loopholes whenever they find them, even banning the most egregious exploiters of them. Newer farms aren't quite as efficient, and are not cracked down upon as forcefully, however.
- Another side-effect is that the XP for player-created enemies ended up up being slashed due to farmers making silly, weak enemies, and this resulted in a lot of otherwise creative story arcs with custom enemy groups going largely unplayed because of the "custom characters" stigma that resulted.
- In the MMO Star Trek Online, it is ridiculously easy to gain the best gear and equipment for little risk via earning special ingame currency, and via crafting said gear using easily farmed resources called "data samples". Also any dropped gear that's rare but you don't need can be sold on the player exchange for insane amounts of ingame currency. Many players become multi-millionaires this way, making said currency practically worthless - save for some special items like rare bridge officers that boost your in-space abilities (only one type which is so rare that it sells for millions on its own).
- Subverted now for crafting when the game went free to play, as crafting high level items now requires Dilithium. Which can only be produced in quantities of 8,000 a day, and most items require around 12,000 Dilithium to craft. Only players willing to spend real money on the game to trade it to others for Dilithium can really craft the high level items.
- In Baldur's Gate 2, you couldn't throw a rock into a dungeon without it bouncing off at least a half-dozen magical goodies. You don't even need to go that far from the start of the game to get Lilarcor, an Infinity Minus One Two-Handed Sword that'll easily last you most of the game at the least. Then again, you'll need as much help as you can get.
- Firkraag's Dungeon (Chapter 2) in particular had a metric ton of unique loot, including a +3 bow, a Dragon helm/shield/sword/scales (all with bonus resistances), Full Plate Mail +1, the best two-handed sword in the game (Carsomyr), a shield cloak, not to mention a ton of ammunition and various minor weapons. Any party that ventures in will find enough gear to make a killing on the resale market.
- To be fair, Carsomyr is only available if you decide to fight the Bonus Boss inside. And unless you cheat, defeating him in chapter 2 is a tenuous suggestion at best.
- For a savvy party, going into Watcher's Keep in Amn and stealthing your way past most of the enemies on the first two floors will net you tons of +3 and +4 weapons and ammo to sell, long before you'd get anything else in the main plotline that compares.
- The Pokémon games, starting from Black and White and progressing as it goes on. In the first pair of Kalos titles, as a mandatory part of the story, you can choose to take on a Pokémon that will completely wreck the rest of the game singlehandedly, about a quarter of the way in. This is not getting into the numerous useful, initially rare items random NPCs will throw at you for no effort on your part other than talking to them.
- Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire allow players to create their own secret base battle team and share it with other players. Instead of creating custom Gyms as was intended, most players fill their base teams with Lv 100 Blisseys knowing only suicide moves and holding Toxic Orbs, to act as easy Exp farms for other players.
- Deus Ex:
- This is invoked in-game with the MJ12 Underground Base level. Having been caught and imprisoned underneath UNATCO, your main objective is to escape. Most friendly characters encountered in the base will either give you codes to important places or sell you needed items. There's an armory you can sneak into that has all your gear, along with a ton of ammunition, additional weapons and a rare Plasma Rifle, long before you start finding them on enemies. And then, when you get up to UNATCO itself, Sam Carter orders you to take as much gear as you can carry, while Shannon (one of the employees) offers to sell you expensive and rare scramble grenades. The only question is not how much you take, but how much you can store in your inventory (barring a glitch that allows you to stack items on top of each other in the menu screen).
- In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the Palisade Bank is made of this. You can access it anytime after leaving Adam's apartment at the beginning of the game. Though it's tough to sneak around effectively, digging enough reveals a boatload of secrets, including additional Praxis Kits, credits and various items — and that's before you get the keycards to the bank vaults, which have even more gear like a unique Combat Rifle, more Praxis Kits and a literal stack of hacking software. Overencumbered doesn't even begin to describe it.
- Truth in Television for most professional GMs who are promoting a game system for a company. Their real job (other than to run a great session) is to get people to want to buy the source books themselves. Naturally, it’s a good idea to end the session with the player characters fabulously wealthy and successful, because they leave the table feeling good about themselves (this is also why the company usually supplies their GMs with Feelies to pass out as prizes or participation gifts).
- A notable non-Tabletop Games example comes from a review of DayZ, whose creator allowed a couple of gaming journalists to spawn the basic pistol and some ammunition by server command where normally they'd be completely unarmed at first. This was the exact same weapon that used to be part of everyone's Starter Equipment until it was removed, somewhat controversially, and the player base did not find this at all amusing.