Monday, March 6, 2017

Assigning Treasure

Awesome game night. We played orc war lords attacking another orc clan. It was a blast. We died in the end. Met a beholder who made short work of us.

Then +Rob Conley and I talked afterwards. He's working on his own system/setting project. It's coming along nicely. He's developing a toolbox for creating level appropriate treasure. This goes for monsters and NPCs. Since it is a low level magic setting the magic items are sparse, but not unknown. He's a lot more generous with magic items than I am. 

Determining Treasure in Civilized Areas 
What follows is specifically for GM generating treasure on a large scale, such as populating a city of folks with different possessions. Rob came up with a interesting set of tables, that he computerized, it generates what a 3rd level mage might have or a master merchant. He's assigned a gold piece value to the loot category, a tried and true tradition from Gygax times. 

The point I brought up, a simple tweak to his system, is location and activity. If a mage who lives in the City-State of the Invincible Overlord he or she will have access to more magic items than a mage working in the Village of Hommlet. I suggested using a simple modifier, increase the table by 1 if the mage lives in a larger area and -1 if he lives in the boonies. 

The other consideration that I would factor in is the activity of the mage or warrior. If the mage is a researcher, stationary, travels little, the warrior is a hired guard who stands in front of a ship or shop most of the day, walks home, does the daily grind, then I would reduce the table by 1. And add 1 if the person was a traveler, explorer or god forbid a full ass adventurer.

Majority of the people will still have a baseline of their level, but I thought those two considerations were important. Easy, quick calculations to move up or down a table. 

Determining Treasure for an Adventure
Rob's tables got me to thinking about how I develop treasure for my adventures. I rarely use tables or generators, they are helpful and churn ideas, but most of the time I take into consideration a few things.
  • Creature type
  • Creature power
  • Location
  • Situation 
It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. I give a few examples.

Skeleton is roaming in the forest killing bunnies, squirrels and chased woodsmen out. It is going to have very little treasure except maybe a weapon its carrying. Skeletons don't collect treasure, if it kills a wealthy merchant its not going to take the treasure. At most, the skeleton might have a trinket or two that it wore when it was originally buried. 

A group of bandits are holed up in an abandon mine a few miles off a often traveled road. They just scored a minor success by getting the entire inventory from a merchant who got greedy and did not pay for enough guards to protect himself and his loot. Inside the mine is 500gp worth of stolen goods and whatever the bandits use as armor and weaponry.

Vinny the Bromancer has took over ancient elven ruins he discovered in his years of adventuring. He discovered several undisturbed crypts and robbed them. He also has been gathering followers to do his bidding. He's been active for three decades gather power and building his army. Vinny could have a good many things, some of these precious items were probably given to those he trusts the most to protect him.

Gwyn, a housewife in a farming village, who has a knack for creating healing poultices. Locals come to her often and barter for her services. She has a few dozen chickens, a couple of piglets and 30sp she keeps in a clay pot she made when she was a child. Take Gwyn and put her in a city where she may have a stall offering the same services and she may have a lot more in way of 'treasure'.

There are countless ways of calculating treasure. None of them are wrong, unless you want to take issue with one of my first dungeons I have a +5 Holy Advenger sword protected by three blink dogs two rooms into the adventure. I might not have understood the value of restraint and pace.

So go forth creators of adventures. Sprinkle your trinkets as you see fit.