The treasure table.

The treasure table.

The treasure table. For those of you who give out coins as treasure or monster loot, do you rely on the TT only or do you make up values on the spot? Does anybody assign a loot value to a monster before it appears in play (e.g. Goblin is worth 10 coins or 2d6 coins)?

After much thought I feel removing coins from my game or replacing them with useful items will rob my player of an incentive and fun. So now I am trying to tackle how I will handle treasure.

I’ve been studying the topic a lot lately and there seem to be four primary schools of thought on how to handle treasure in a fantasy game. I’m having a tough choice trying to figure out which approach I wish to pursue.

1. Keep Treasure Sparse, Make Every Coin Count!

Money is a focal point of the game, not because buying stuff is cool, but because the gritty nature of getting by on low amounts of cash is a fun addition to the game. Encumbrance from coins or treasure is never a worry because treasure is simply too sparse. Spending a week in town trying to earn some extra coins through odd jobs just so you can leave for that next adventure prepared is part of the game experience.

 – Loot is a big incentive

 – It is exciting to find

 – Players depend upon it to survive

2. Loot Is Loot, No Biggie

Money is handled pretty hand-wavium. Yes you will find loot or treasure on adventures but whether you do or not really isn’t the point. You won’t have to check your wallet if you want to a night at the Inn or a round of drinks for your friends. Basic equipment needs are assumed to be met. Uncommon, Rare, and Magical items are more desirable and almost always found through old fashioned detective work and questing.

 – Loot is an after thought

 – Usually serves a functional purpose in game

 – Often used to spark adventure vs as a reward

 – Players usually don’t think about it

3. Loot Is Everywhere, The More The Better

Money is a focal point of the game, because buying stuff is cool. Markets and merchants are a big part of the game. Just about anything can be purchased for a price and equipment lists are usually long and thorough, much like a Sears, Roebuck and Co catalog. Real Estate is often a focal point of loot heavy campaigns. Adventures often revolve around these various possessions or adventuring to finance them or more.

 – Loot is a primary focus

 – It shapes the world, its people, & opportunities

 – Players greatly desire it


4. Treasure Is Replaced, Player Desire Shifted

Traditional coins and gems either don’t exist or are rarely addressed. Instead of using money as an incentive to adventure, another type of object is used in its place. Numenera focuses on one-use magic items, artifacts, and cyphers to entice players to adventure. They add to the game fiction, are something the players often go through quickly, and are the new shiny things players will dream of obtaining.

 – Loot is a big incentive, though not required

 – Usually serves a specific purpose in game

 – Often iconic of or important to the setting

 – Players may depend on or desire it

3 thoughts on “The treasure table.”

  1. My personal belief is to make treasure worthwhile, and I’ll provide it when it will makes a nice impact. So, for example, I may let a player loot a sword from a difficult fallen creature and apply attributes to it that will either specifically take his character, or the story, into account. Sometimes I even throw a treasure item out without a direct purpose that I bring into play later on.

    I might throw a few coins in here and there for them to play with in towns.

  2. I dont care for treasure-hunting games, but its not just my game so it didnt matter what I wanted. So I just used the treasure table, and let the players find their own motivation. I’ve got looters and I’ve got heroes, and all is well.

Comments are closed.