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Farcaster
09-20-2006, 03:14 PM
Balancing treasure in my game has always been a challenge. When I was a young DM, I was always trying to one-up the last horde with something better, something that would make my players just stop and say, "Wow!" Over the years, experience showed me that was a recipe for disaster as the player's power spiraled out of control.

Now, 15 years later, I think I over-compensate in the other direction, and tend to be too cautious with what I give out. I hate the idea of charting out every coin and comparing it against the "standardized charts" of expected wealth gain. I like a little more adhoc freedom and a little less formulaic.

To my fellow DMs out there, I'm curious... What's your strategy? How do you make sure you are giving the right amount -- not too much, not too little?

Inviktus
09-20-2006, 05:28 PM
When in doubt, give less. If it dosen't add to the story drop it. In fact remove pretty much any obvious loot unless removing it invalidates the story somehow. Intelligent foes can use banks just as well as players can.

I'm not saying be mean about it. Just avoid giving easily saleable rewards or piles of cash in every situation.

Speaking of selling loot. Never give full price if they sell to a shop, fence or broker. In my current world jewelry pawned at a fence nets you 15-30% of its retail value.

Make any loot they do find something worth mentioning, literally. Give it a story. Any item with a good story and some connection to the world is a lot more fun than a list of statistics.

Farcaster
09-20-2006, 07:17 PM
I tended more towards the approach you mention when I ran my game in Second Edition. The problem is that 3rd edition balances all encounters with a certain assumption of what the characters should have in accumulated wealth and resources. So, if the party hasn't picked up "trash loot" along the way and has only gotten one or two really good items, then they end up having problems with the encounters. I do like the challenge rating system and I want to continue to use it, thus my dilemma.

As to resale values, I generally allow magic items to be resold at 1/2 value, which assumes that the characters are trying to sell off the item quickly. But, if they actually role-play a transaction here and there, they end up getting closer to 3/4s or more, depending on how effective they were.

Although, I always let jewelry and gems to be sold at full market value, with the assumption that most of the gp value assigned is intrinsic.

Grimwell
09-28-2006, 10:27 AM
The problem is that 3rd edition balances all encounters with a certain assumption of what the characters should have in accumulated wealth and resources. So, if the party hasn't picked up "trash loot" along the way and has only gotten one or two really good items, then they end up having problems with the encounters. I do like the challenge rating system and I want to continue to use it, thus my dilemma.

Don't sweat the details too much.

I ran 3.0 for three years before work took gaming away from me, and never paid attention to the treasure tables. While the design of the game implies that there needs to be a specific stream of trash loot to keep things going smoothly, I think it discounts player intelligence far too much. Players are creative and resourceful. I never give away easy money -- but do let people earn money by being smart. Plus, if I ever find that they just have too much wealth to manage, I come up with campaign based reasons to take it away. Give them things to spend on, etc.

Now that I'm going into the Blackmoor MMRPG I don't have to worry about it much, but am interested in seeing what the designers behind the modules think is fair loot. I'll leave it as it is supposed to be and consider it an eductional opportunity. ;)

Pyscho
10-08-2006, 01:09 AM
In my experience less is more when it comes to loot to give to players. I don't mess with the whole ratio scheme. If someone in the game wants something specific then let them role-play for it overtime. If you want a different approach then have them explain why they "need" the item and make sure they have good reasons to backup their request. As for the money aspect it is very simple in my mind. Be reasonable when NPCs drop loot. Remember not everything the players kill will have money on them.

spotlight
10-08-2006, 02:25 PM
This is one reson I think I like the PDQ system that Ron runs at some of the Saturday meetups. No worry's about the treasure, since it does not count toward the experience level. In fact, one of the characters that I have played with in his stories tries to collect illogical 'loot'. One item is an iron spear head, taken, not for its value, but as a reminder of the adventure itself.
So, Give All The Loot You Wish. I Have More Important Things To Kill.

H4w00dJ48l0m3
10-14-2006, 04:23 PM
I use the DM tables unmodified. That allows for some nice loot, the occasional nothing, and some varied magics. Most 'minor wondrous' don't amount to much real power and quite a few weapons have been unusable in the party. Potions and scrolls, done with complete randomness, are usually stupid or useless leading to selling. I rarely allow full value resale(except gems and jewelry, unless recognizable and therefore hard to fence). I want them to have the necessary wealth to aquire and staff strongholds/warships/hideouts. Besides, they're just numbers written down on paper and even banks get robbed now and then...

P.S. If anyone has ideas on the security measures of Faerun banks, I'd love to hear 'em. My evil party wants to knock one over and score mad loot.

tsmith96
10-15-2006, 03:25 PM
i'm a DM in training does anyone have any tips for me for when i start running my own campaigns.

i appreciate any tips u give,so thanks in advance

jwbucs99
10-25-2006, 10:46 PM
Most, if not all of the replies have been about spreading the wealth or loot. Although, that can be one of the DMís biggest headaches my advice would be to keep the party balanced, not just with the loot.

Donít let a player dominate the action on a regular basis. Also, never let a player feel that he or she is not as important to the group as the others. When everyone in your group feels that they have and equal part in the game it will be fun for all including you. Keeping the game fun for everyone is the most important thing regardless of the amount of loot that you give out.:D

RAMBOWOLF
10-29-2006, 01:53 PM
I tend to stick to the treasure tables. give or take some here or there. I also find things the players want and let them run across them in the game. For reselling items, I tend to give the about 75% of cost depending on where they are and how big the town is. My PCs love to stop all the gear off anything they kill (lol) man they even take non ms clubs off lowly orcs and resell them. I think they might want to start the waterdeep junk yard if I would let em.

Skunkape
10-30-2006, 10:44 AM
You know, I've never had a problem with giving a lot of treasure to my players. Usually, I base the type of coins they find on their level, meaning that until they reach say 4th level, they'll be finding mostly copper and bronze, then give them lots of coins. Then I laugh when they try to figure out a way to take all of those coins with them. I mean after all, do you know how bulky and heavy 1000 coins is?

My coin system and economics is based differently than the DnD system.

With a little common sense and getting an idea of where you want your players to be as far as character growth is concerned, making a few careful decisions, you can give them the right amount of treasure. Always research what you're doing before you start a game, because the books give you lots of information as to what level of coin/magic the party should have.

The DMG has quite a few examples in it for you to know at what level a +3 sword should be in a player's hands. You can also get an idea of how much coin a player should have at that level as well. Then just keep track of what level they are and you can get a breakdown of how much you should be giving your party.

NewGrace
10-31-2006, 09:50 AM
I find I am most succesfull when I figure out what value of treasure I want to give over a period of time. And in my adventures I break it up into sections of multiple encounters. I then pick treasures that match the encounters and spread it throughtout, with hidden pockets of extra treasure. The key to this comes down to having charts of extra treasure that I can include. So if the party misses the "stash hidden under the floor" I can add extra treasure to what the badguys are sorting thru. It also lets me be sure they are getting good treasure throughtout and rewarding them for exploring the environment rather than just hack and slash.

On my charts of extra treasure, I randomly roll it up, to add that extra "randomness" that most players enjoy.

RAMBOWOLF
11-02-2006, 05:11 AM
Has anyone generated there treasure completely by use the random roll tables? I have never tried that and I wonder how it would work out.

Farcaster
11-02-2006, 09:49 AM
Has anyone generated there treasure completely by use the random roll tables? I have never tried that and I wonder how it would work out.

For the majority of my encounters, I use the random treasure generator. For boss-level encounters, I most often hand pick the treasure, and sometimes create unique magic items for those encounters too. For the most part, I think the random sytem works out fine -- as long as you balance it out with some intelligently placed items. Certainly, not every chance encounter needs to have hand-picked loot, although I know my players would love it if I did that, since my hand placed loot is usually quite nice.

RAMBOWOLF
11-02-2006, 04:34 PM
Thank you. I may give the random table a run through on my next few games and see how it plays out.

CAD
12-06-2006, 11:00 AM
I think as DM’s to many of us get hung up on this issue. Treasure tables and wealth by character levels are meant to establish guidelines, but we shouldn’t limit our imaginations by seeing the game through someone else’s spectacles. I for one feel the treasure guidelines in third edition are out of balance. Now that the addition of experience is no longer tied to the accumulation of wealth (monetary or magical) that shouldn’t remove the incentive to bestow treasure; if anything that should untie the DM’s hands. There is no reason we can’t contend with ever having given too much away; we should remember the mantras: “easy come, easy go” and “a fool and his money are soon parted”.

There are and always have been many ways to accomplish this end. Regardless of how you felt about the Spell Jamming game accessories, the original Spell Jamming Helm was such a vehicle for alleviating the party of those numerous magical items. The best way to attract and retain henchmen is through the wealth the PC’s bestow upon them, and not the reliance upon making another diplomacy check. I always preferred role-playing as opposed to roll-playing that is where loyalty truly develops!

In the scheme of things, the creation of magic items in third edition is out of balance. Why does the Handy Haversack cost less than a Bag of Holding? Aside from the volume, the haversack’s contents are immediately accessible, and that should be reflected in the cost to manufacture or purchase; accessibility during the adventure can prove crucial and more VALUABLE in a pinch. Finally, items shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to create, but instead that difference should be offset with the chance of failure and the loss of funds invested. Promoting innovation and role-playing to augment the roll-playing and chance of success is a better approach than the prospect of bankruptcy.

Lastly and most importantly I would like to touch upon storylines. As PC’s improve in levels and status it is natural that they would wish to make an impact upon the world where they live; wealth shouldn’t be defined by the size of their bank-account, but by how they employ it. That was the purpose of name-levels in the previous editions of the game, and the acceptability of building a castle, temple, monastery, etc. Unless the DM plans on running one hack-n-slash dungeon crawl after another, there is more to the game than meets the eye. Finally, I once took part in a campaign where one of the PC’s undertook a character path that would now be referred to as a prestige class, and during the course of adventuring he acquired a bow called Seeker. This was the catalyst for a series of quests wherein he later came into possession of an intelligent arrow of returning (as long as he didn’t miss) known as Andor, and lastly he took hold of the renowned sword Destroyer (Seek and/or Destroy). These namesakes were originally wielded by the founder of his order, and that was worth more to his character than any dragon hoard!

Ed Zachary
12-09-2006, 05:06 PM
One thing you can do... is that all the really good magic you give the party, make them take it from an opponent who is using them.

Farcaster
12-11-2006, 09:13 AM
In the scheme of things, the creation of magic items in third edition is out of balance. Why does the Handy Haversack cost less than a Bag of Holding? Aside from the volume, the haversackís contents are immediately accessible, and that should be reflected in the cost to manufacture or purchase; accessibility during the adventure can prove crucial and more VALUABLE in a pinch. Finally, items shouldnít cost an arm and a leg to create, but instead that difference should be offset with the chance of failure and the loss of funds invested. Promoting innovation and role-playing to augment the roll-playing and chance of success is a better approach than the prospect of bankruptcy.

I tend to agree that creation of magic items is a little out of whack in 3.x edition. Although, I will say that having a system to create magic items with pretty good guidelines for assigning values is far-and-away better than what we had in 2e. Something that I have tried in the past that has helped with magic item creation is making acquiring the reagents to create a magic item part of an adventure that the characters can take that offsets the GP cost indicated in the book. For instance, to create a Belt of Giant Strength, I remember having the party collect a lock from the beard of a Frost Giant Hero, which had to be interwoven with fur from a legendary grizzly bear. Acquiring these components was an adventure in itself instead of an exercise in pure accounting

Ed Zachary
12-11-2006, 02:59 PM
I tend to agree that creation of magic items is a little out of whack in 3.x edition. Although, I will say that having a system to create magic items with pretty good guidelines for assigning values is far-and-away better than what we had in 2e.

I don't care for the 3.5 system at all, in specific that the creation of items costs experince points. In the games I've played in, no player character was willing to spend EXP on making items. So the effect of these new rules was to eliminate it for player charecters.

Grimwell
12-11-2006, 03:30 PM
I think that's a heavy YMMV (er, Your Milegae May Vary) response to the exp cost. The people I've gamed with never gave it a second thought. Very stable item creation rules and simple processes.

A perk is that I think you could easily make changes to get rid of the EXP costs and replace it with other drawbacks to change its nature. Maybe it takes longer? Need more rare components? That kind of stuff.

Ed Zachary
12-11-2006, 08:13 PM
A perk is that I think you could easily make changes to get rid of the EXP costs and replace it with other drawbacks to change its nature. Maybe it takes longer? Need more rare components? That kind of stuff.

Increasing the creation time was my suggestion... but the DM did not want to be so bold.

Grimwell
12-12-2006, 12:35 PM
I'll admit that adding time only matteres in a game that tracks it well.

Ed Zachary
12-12-2006, 01:39 PM
I'll admit that adding time only matteres in a game that tracks it well.

True... and most of the games I had been in included characters influencing the world around them, not just killing machines that went into hibernation when they weren't busy scoffing up treasure and experience points. If you spent three months in a lab making a widget, you missed out on alot.

CAD
12-15-2006, 01:41 AM
I tend to agree that creation of magic items is a little out of whack in 3.x edition. Although, I will say that having a system to create magic items with pretty good guidelines for assigning values is far-and-away better than what we had in 2e.

In Dungeons & Dragons (Basic, Expert, etc.) there was a magic item creation mechanism that was spelled out (no pun intended) in Gazetteer 3, The Principalities of Glantri. This mechanism was revamped when 3.x was created, in fact it is the very same mechanism but with prohibative constants! The differance with 3.x and D&D Mystara is that the cost is a secondary concern in Mystara, and the collection of components (eye of beholder, foot fall of a cat, etc.) is the primary concern. The degree of difficulty in creation was balanced with the chances of success/failure, and at the end of the process the spell caster recieved experience (instead of loosing it) relative to the cost of creation, but always with the factor of role playing being taken into consideration! This mechanism was also used for the creation of new magic user spells too! In the boxed set: The Campions of Mystara, they even increased the scope of magic item creation to encompass the creation of flying ships, castles, etc. for what would now be referred to as epic level characters.

I don't believe a +5 ring of protection should cost 50,000 gp, and that's just +5 to AC without the +5 to saving throws as in earlier editions. The pricing scale of 3.x is insane, their costs exceed what kingdoms recieve in annual revenues, and that's wacked!

Farcaster
12-15-2006, 11:00 AM
I'd have to agree that the economic scale of D&D is far out of whack. However, if you use the default treasure rewards, I'd tend to disagree with you about the cost of certain items such as the Ring of Protection +5. If anything, magic items may be just a tad too easy to acquire (and upgrade) now than in previous editions. If you brought down the cost of magic items, you would have to also lower the amount of treasure (gp value wise) going into your groups hands. Otherwise, you'd have a very unbalanced game, very quickly, and you would need to do a lot more adhoc judgement calls with encounters instead of using the current challenge rating system.

If it is the pure ridiculous idea that bothers you of someone trading 1000 pounds of gold (50,000gp) for a single, somewhat unspectacular Ring of Protection +5, then I'd suggest moving the scale down from a gold piece standard to a silver piece instead. That same ring would now cost 5,000gp (50,000sp). But, you would need to adjust almost all other prices down as well for any equipment or commodities the party might want to buy.

Grimwell
12-16-2006, 08:43 AM
If you want to capture the feel of the old creation system, you can reward players who gather rare ingredients with a lowered cost to create. I've taken the assumption that the cost is there to imply not just the raw materials needed for the item, but also to broker for things like the 'eye of a beholder' and whatnot. If a player manages to get one of those on their own, they can have a lower cost in my game because they don't need a broker service.

CAD
12-21-2006, 12:24 AM
If you want to capture the feel of the old creation system, you can reward players who gather rare ingredients with a lowered cost to create. I've taken the assumption that the cost is there to imply not just the raw materials needed for the item, but also to broker for things like the 'eye of a beholder' and whatnot. If a player manages to get one of those on their own, they can have a lower cost in my game because they don't need a broker service.

That's just the point though Grimwell, the player should have to go out and locate these things themselves! Tracking a beholder down, or acting as their own broker; let's not forget the foot fall of a cat component, spell components are only limited buy our imagination, and how you acquire them is the fun of ROLE-PLAYING!

Farcaster if your PC's have lot's of magical goodies, see my previous post on balance, any DM worth their salt knows what their party is capable of. Whether they are laden with magical loot or on the light side. If you're DM'n a character for the first time I would suggest looking their character over: Abilities (modifiers), AC, BAB Saving Throws and all their trinkets. Any time the party is waltzing through your adventure, then beef it up; you do have a DM screen don't you? Really resourceful players can use one simple spell to put the kabash on your entire encounter. What happens when a diving dragon runs into that wall of force?

Before I hear back about the games innate balance, blah, blah; I guess I'll say this, trust your instincts! The tight wad spoils the game as much as any monty-haul. You know more about your party and their capabilities than any book telling you how it's done. Lastly, some people aren't cut out to be DM's; many variables during the game must be assessed on the fly, and if you always have your nose in a book, roll up a character!

Grimwell
12-21-2006, 08:24 AM
That's just the point though Grimwell, the player should have to go out and locate these things themselves! Tracking a beholder down, or acting as their own broker; let's not forget the foot fall of a cat component, spell components are only limited buy our imagination, and how you acquire them is the fun of ROLE-PLAYING!I fully agree, granted that you concede that this is just your version of fun and not the One True Way To Play The Game!

I fully believe in DM fiat. Whatever the person running the game says is needed, is needed. If it's a rules centric game I'll expect to spend EXP. If I'm told that I need to capture a Fire Giant's inner child... I'll come packing Reduce spells! ;)

CAD
12-24-2006, 01:25 AM
I fully agree, granted that you concede that this is just your version of fun and not the One True Way To Play The Game!

I fully believe in DM fiat. Whatever the person running the game says is needed, is needed. If it's a rules centric game I'll expect to spend EXP. If I'm told that I need to capture a Fire Giant's inner child... I'll come packing Reduce spells! ;)

Maybe that is my version; I don't enjoy a game that is reduced to mechanics. If that is the game that others like fine, but I'd hardly call it ROLE-playing. If the DM isn't going to challenge the players to be creative, there will be little for him to do but watch the players roll their dice. If that's the case you may as well play a board game!:eek:

There are DM's that enjoy outwitting the party (not hard to do when you're privy to the secrets:confused: ), killing the party (not hard to do when you have all the guns at your disposal:mad: ), but my favorite is watching the players solve the conundrum!:) I'm not talking about puzzles; puzzles are often taken from the real world and inserted within a module, with an answer already known by the players and not their characters. I like to place an obstacle in their path without a predetermined solution, to see what they come up with and then react to their ingenuity.

It's to bad that you'll be moving to San Diego, we could have played in each other's game and lived one another's vision of the game!:cool:

Grimwell
12-26-2006, 10:55 AM
Oh don't you think I'm a rules lawyer! I do what I please as DM when it comes to treasure and magic item creation. The only time I ever stuck to the absolute core of the 3.0 rules for magic item creation was when it first came out and we deliberately ran a 'rules tight' game to learn the system as it was designed. Then we deviated from the core based on the knowledge of what worked, what didn't, and what just wasn't fun at all.

I'm a firm believer in doing what works best to make the experience at my table a good one. Sometimes it's going with the rules as designed because they work nicely and players expect it, and other times you break those rules deliberately to celebrate what the players actually want to do!

CAD
12-28-2006, 07:18 AM
I hope you don't believe I implied you're a rules lawyer. When I spoke of mechanics I wasn't implying rules lawyering; mechanics are functions, tables, dice/variables, etc. and that is different from prompting them to look for a solution. You may remember the example of the INK RECIPE for a specific spell to be penned as a scroll, in the AD&D DM's guide (pumpkin seeds, light of the full moon, etc.) This is the personalization of the game I'm looking for.

I don't know what you're like as a DM; I haven't gamed with you and will with hold judgement, but I have met with you and was personally impressed with your knowledge and demeanor Craig.

Zijaerdran
01-22-2007, 08:10 PM
Like so many here, I tend to err on the side of "less-is-more". In my experience, players will tend to be more clever and creative when faced with challenges if they have less powerful items to rely on. This in turn, has had the secondary effect of requiring players to be more attentive during game play so that they can better assess a situation rather than, "oh, we're faced with 10 fire giants. I don't need the details, I'll just pull out my +5 icy burst greataxe of giant's bane with the ability to cast Heal 5 times per day as a free action and contingent teleport back to my inner sanctum should I go below 1/4 my hitpoints. Just tell me when to roll initiative and i'll stop: watching TV, playing with my miniatures, talking about something other than D&D, etc."

That's a bit of an over-the-top explanation but you get the idea.

Cheers,