Players do not like it when you take away their stuff. They earned that stuff. It’s theirs, dammit! And if you so much as threaten said stuff you’re going to get smote. I learned this the hard way. Story time, kids!

My players found themselves on a mysterious tropical island, having taken a magical portal from the dungeon to the far side of the world. They spent weeks fighting intelligent apes, cthuloid horrors, and the mandatory crew of rum-besotted pirates. It goes without saying that they managed to accumulate mass quantities of booty in the process. There were ingots and rolled tapestries; bejeweled flagons and feathered masks; solid gold idols and silver ewers and way, way too much stuff to schlep around on a dangerous island. So they buried it.

Flash forward to the end of the adventure. They’re sailing around the headlands towards the beach, eager to collect their stuff and head home, when they notice a golden glittering upon the sand. Their cache has been pillaged! The party’s precious treasure is lying exposed all along the shore. And clinging to a nearby cliff, bedraggled and miserable, is the sorry remainder of the pirate crew. A T-rex and her offspring had treed the pirates mid-pillage, and are now waiting down below for pirates to drop into their mouths.

You have never seen Good characters turn Neutral so fast. Half of them begin casting spells and knocking down pirates while the other half ferry the treasure to the raft. Pirates are eaten by the score, the baby dino chases the poor sorcerer around like a cat with a laser pointer, and a small armada of summoned spirits teleport gold like some kind of celestial moving company.

At last they’ve got the boat loaded up and ready to go. And so, disturbed by their bloodthirstiness but impressed with their ingenuity, I make the mistake of allowing them to narrate the exciting conclusion of the encounter.

“Alright,” say I. “You manage to load the last chest onto your raft. But just as you push off, Chester the Tyrannosaur bites down on the gunwale of your boat. So I want you to tell me how you manage to–”

“What do you mean it bites the boat?” explodes the bard.

“It’s not even its turn!” says the sorcerer.

“So what, we just get skipped while you steal our stuff?” demands the oracle.

“Well no,” I stammer. “I mean yes, it bit the boat, but….” I could feel mutiny brimming beneath the surface. The light of righteous indignation burned within my players’ eyes. And if Chester hadn’t released the boat tout de suite, I believe my bones would still lie buried upon that island.

So here’s my advice to all you GMs out there. If you’re going to throw thieves, rust monsters, or a rival adventuring party at your players, you can rest assured that they will be properly motivated. Just make sure that, in the event that they do lose their stuff, you’ve got a flash grenade or an ejector seat or some kind of handy distraction. Because players love their stuff, and no one is getting in their way.