More recently the gold-for-XP rules have led to an assassin PC founding a ASPCA-style animal shelter, and to another magic-user having to taste the giant eagle dung he was passing off as giant roc guano. Good times!
As the player of said Magic-User, I want to clarify: my character, Arnold Littleworth, didn’t eat eagle poop just for the sake of carousing. That is not his deal. Rather, he tasted eagle poop to save his friend’s life.
My character does not carouse because, to the best of my knowledge, he has never made any money in his adventures. But other characters have, and occasionally they get into trouble.
Due to a mishap on Tavis’s Carousing Table (which I am sure he will post in more detail), Sir Argus the Rat Knight bibulously offended a powerful Wizard. Said Wizard placed him under a curse to grow an inch shorter every week, and he would only remove the curse if Sir Argus retrieved the excrement of a Roc.
Now, even on his best days Sir Argus cuts a pitiful figure. But it would be an ever-smaller pitiful figure. Yet he’s been a staunch ally, and I didn’t want him to shrink into nothingness. Others in the party voiced differing opinions. Nevertheless a few of us decided to undo the curse on Sir Argus.
Removing the curse through magic wasn’t an option, because we are lowly adventurers who had caroused all our gold away. Even if we could kill the Wizard–a very dubious assumption–we weren’t sure if that would undo the curse. Retrieving a Roc’s guano was rejected immediately: they are among the most ferocious monsters in the game and we are the types of characters who get turned into midgets after drinking too much. We know this NPC who has four trained Giant Eagles, however, and I briefly proposed using them to fight the Roc (“C’mon, nobody ever uses the rules for aerial combat!”) but Tavis shut that idea down (“I think it’s because no one has ever bothered reading them”).
After a bit of brainstorming, we decided to use my Magic-User to pass off four Eagles’ dung as Roc dung. My character is a former charlatan and hedge-alchemist, so it seemed plausible. And, in fact, it worked. My 3rd-level Conjurer, Arnold Littleworth, managed to hoodwink Fingle-Ungle-Narn, an 11th-level Wizard, who was so impressed with the quality of the goods that he would consider me for membership in his Wizard Syndicate, or such is my recollection. All it required was a taste test.
Sir Argus, you owe me.
More seriously: this is the kind of hijinks that a player can get up to using Rients’s carousal system. Under Tavis’s variant, you’re spending this money not simply to hang out with random harlots but to achieve some larger, personal quest. (Exception: your personal quest might be to hang out with random harlots.) I can’t remember exactly what Sir Argus was trying to do – but it ended up getting him into a lot of trouble, and leading to a moment of great daring and courage on behalf of the party members who endeavored to rescue him.
Because the system ties into players’ individual goals, and has these sorts of zany effects, I think it’s a pretty good candidate for the kind of personal investment in the setting that I was talking about. If anything, I think the system is a little too “one roll and you’re done.” Some of these entanglements could be springboards to actual adventures in which gold and experience are gained, rather than mere comical interludes. In our latest session, for example, a player bought a house from the local Thieves Guild–I knew real estate was a racket!–leading to the unanticipated discovery of a dungeon and various magical malfeasance.