Simply put, Achievements means keeping track of things the characters accomplish. Its a way to see how well you and the group has done. It allows for bragging rights and gives a sense of accomplishment. It might be several game sessions before a character can gain a level, but a new achievement can be gained each game night. It is also great from the DM's point of view as he doesn't have to hand out magic items or extra xp to make a player feel as if they are doing well. It is another form of reward.
I have been using achievements for the last two weeks and it has gone extremely well. I have a player who likes to control things. He likes to keep the money and items looted and then hand them out to the party as needed. He also tends to get distracted by texting if the fight doesn't involve him. He willingly took the task of keeping track of the achievements and is paying more attention while doing so. The other players take some enjoyment out of making sure their accomplishments are noted.
One nice thing about achievements is that many of them can be structured to be continually updated. One category is 'Most damage dealt to a single target'. As the characters grow in level this will increase, so each week a category will need to be updated. This makes for continued interest on the player's part.
Before presenting the players with the concept of Achievements I printed up a sheet with all the categories on it, making it easier for them to transition into the concept. Below is a list of the achievements I have included (* are achievements tracked for each individual character).
- Highest damage dealt to a single target.
- Highest damage dealt in a round.
- Most damage taken in one round.
- Most damage taken in an encounter.
- Killing Blows.*
- Number of critical hits.*
- Most failed saving throws.*
- Highest attack roll that missed.
- Lowest hp below 0.
- Number of times brought below 0.*
- Most number of hp healed in an encounter.
- Most friendly fire done in an encounter.
- Creatures killed (type and number).