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Thread: Balancing Treasure

  1. #1
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    Balancing Treasure

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    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?

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    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.

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    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.
    --
    Grimwell

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    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.

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    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.
    Sure, Life IS like a bowl of cherries, but how SWEET they are depends on how much crap your willing to take to fertalize your DREAMS. Michael L. Cross

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    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.
    This one goes to eleven.

    FSM for Supreme Ruler.

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    Exclamation

    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

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    Running Your Own Game

    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.
    Ride it like you stole it!

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    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.

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    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.
    Skunk
    a.k.a. Johnprime



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    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.

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RAMBOWOLF View Post
    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.

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    Thank you. I may give the random table a run through on my next few games and see how it plays out.

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