Chapter 19: Treasure

Old School Revival at its best?

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Chapter 19: Treasure

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:06 pm

After three days solid doing monster stats, I needed a break.

So I've started the Treasure chapter.

There's nothing controversial yet, although there are lots of tables of course. I've gone through Treasure Types, Gems, Jewellery and Special Treasures; and I've started on magic item descriptions.

Going through the magic items (I've described all the potions and scrolls so far, and I'm currently doing wands, staves and rods) I'm impressed by how much freedom there is in them.

After playing lots of 3e and 4e recently, I'd got into their mindset where magic items are bought and sold and their price is an inherent part of what they are. That (and I'm not trying to edition-bash here; I like the newer editions and play them) tends to turn every magic item into something that is weighed in terms of bang-for-your-buck efficiency.

Whereas in Classic D&D, magic items don't have a price. And that gives them the freedom to be less cookie-cutter. A Wand of Metal Detection doesn't have to "compete" against a Wand of Fireballs and come out on top so that players will spend their money on it (or conversely not trade it in). The two can happily exist side by side in complete isolation with each other; and be useful (or not) in different situations.

I did consider taking the "cost to make" rules from the RC and pre-determining the cost of each magic item in the lists, but I'm glad that I decided not to. By keeping monetary values away from the magic item list it lets each item stand or fall on its own "is this useful?" merits - but for less useful stuff the choice isn't "keep" vs "sell". The choice is "stick it in a bag of holding; it might come in handy one day" vs "throw it away".

There is a choice coming up: Magic weapons

The old Basic and Expert books of the BECMI series had tables for weapons just like other magic items. You rolled and might get a "Sword +2" or a "Bow +1" or a "Sword +1, +3 vs Dragons" or something.

But the Companion book replaced that with a set of tables where you make magic weapons piecemeal - first rolling for the "plus", then to see if it is intelligent, then to see if it has other abilities, and so on.

The RC simply presents those systems side by side and leaves it up to the DM which to choose. I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do about that.

I'm leaning towards going for the Basic/Expert way of doing things, but extending the tables slightly to include some Companion-level stuff. But I'm not certain about that - I may go for the piecemeal approach still...
Last edited by Blacky the Blackball on Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] - Chapter 19: Treasure

Postby Ashtagon » Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:43 pm

I found the magic weapon design version from the Companion set much more satisfying.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] - Chapter 19: Treasure

Postby APN » Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:44 pm

How about a system tailored to the characters? Take average level of the party and apply it to a table. It will be a weapon bonus appropriate to level, slightly higher, or slightly lower determined by a die roll. I remember the companion level rolling and my players at the time bundling up "crap" such as +1 and +2 items simply to haul off and sell down the market, or rolling again as a +1 sword wasn't really much of a reward for taking out a large or huge dragon, so what's the point of including them other than for cash in value? You could just add more money to the pot, they get their main items as rolled above and say "There is some other minor stuff, but it's of not much use".

Saying that, player had several extra sheets where he'd have 37 swords +1, 19 Swords +1, +3 vs undead, 24 swords +1 flame on command etc for his player to hand out as gifts to underlings and so on, so there was use for them in his eyes.

Basic and Expert treasures 'felt' more special. It was a defined item in a list, and at the time your player would be excited to get this or that. By companion level, excitement was hardly the word when your 20th+ level character found a sword +1, +3 vs undead. More, chuck it back on the pile and take other stuff you could carry. Just as weak monsters wouldn't be able to hold onto a powerful well known item (other monsters would nab it or some adventurer would kill and loot it) you'd have powerful monsters checking out what stuff they had in their hoard and trading or throwing away the weaker stuff that was taking up space. Or they'd put it on ebay. You get some silly bids for stuff these days... (e.g. Rules Cyclopedia, right now, 8 days +hours and up to £16.50 + postage. Hence my interest in your project...:) )
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] - Chapter 19: Treasure

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:21 am

APN wrote:How about a system tailored to the characters? Take average level of the party and apply it to a table. It will be a weapon bonus appropriate to level, slightly higher, or slightly lower determined by a die roll. I remember the companion level rolling and my players at the time bundling up "crap" such as +1 and +2 items simply to haul off and sell down the market, or rolling again as a +1 sword wasn't really much of a reward for taking out a large or huge dragon, so what's the point of including them other than for cash in value? You could just add more money to the pot, they get their main items as rolled above and say "There is some other minor stuff, but it's of not much use".


There's a little bit of that in terms of a small modifier that ensures that low level parties don't find a jewel-encrusted crown worth 50,000gp on the first goblin they kill.

I'm somewhat reluctant to do it to magic weapons, though. It smacks too much of 4e's "thou shalt have a +X weapon at level Y".

Saying that, player had several extra sheets where he'd have 37 swords +1, 19 Swords +1, +3 vs undead, 24 swords +1 flame on command etc for his player to hand out as gifts to underlings and so on, so there was use for them in his eyes.

Basic and Expert treasures 'felt' more special. It was a defined item in a list, and at the time your player would be excited to get this or that. By companion level, excitement was hardly the word when your 20th+ level character found a sword +1, +3 vs undead. More, chuck it back on the pile and take other stuff you could carry. Just as weak monsters wouldn't be able to hold onto a powerful well known item (other monsters would nab it or some adventurer would kill and loot it) you'd have powerful monsters checking out what stuff they had in their hoard and trading or throwing away the weaker stuff that was taking up space. Or they'd put it on ebay. You get some silly bids for stuff these days... (e.g. Rules Cyclopedia, right now, 8 days +hours and up to £16.50 + postage. Hence my interest in your project...:) )


That's what I'm kind of thinking. The mix-and-match approach tends to make all magical weapons very samey, whereas having a list of unique weapon types makes them feel more original.

Like the difference between classic D&D's unique potions, scrolls and wands, and 3e's "Potion of Spell X", Scroll of spell Y" and "Wand of spell Z" stuff.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] - Chapter 19: Treasure

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:30 am

Well, I've now finished potions, scrolls, wands, staves and rods, rings, and wondrous items...

...so it's crunch time for armour and weapons.

I'm going to try doing simple lists and see how that goes. With luck and a following wind I might even finish the chapter today!
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] - Chapter 19: Treasure

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:58 pm

And it's done!

I've put the new chapter in the usual place along with a half-finished Monsters chapter and a new Work-In-Progress that contains both of them.

In the end, I went with straightforward tables for the armour and weapons - and I think it turned out great.

To get the percentages for each item, I took the basic formula from a main table:

01-60 = +1
61-81 = +2
82-92 = +3
93-98 = +4
99-00 = +5

I then applied the "percentage chance of a talent" directly to those. For example a +1 item has a 10% chance of a talent, so I split the 01-60 range into a 01-54 range (90% of it) and a 55-60 range (the other 10% of it). The 01-54 range became the chance of a simple +1 item, and the 55-60 range was the chance of a +1 item with a talent, which I then further broke down into a number of "+1 of X", "+1 of Y", "+1 of Z" entries for different talents suitable for a +1 item.

I did that for armour and shields, and for ammunition for missile weapons.

Melee weapons (and thrown weapons and missile launchers) needed something slightly different for the "+1, +3 vs A" types, so I just split down the simple ranges a bit further to add some of those.

So now I have (most of) the original talents incorporated, but as distinct weapons rather than in a put-it-together-from-a-kit format.

And it has the extra advantage that I was able to simply copy over the "If the monster that this is the treasure for is 9 hit dice or less, subtract 10 from the roll" instruction from the gems and jewellery tables, and that nicely rules out anything 91+ and means that the best that low level parties will find is a plain +3 weapon.

Oh -and I unashamedly dropped the whole "Intelligent Swords" thing because I hate it.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] - Chapter 19: Treasure

Postby Ashtagon » Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:52 pm

I seem to recall having a houserule of "add the average party level to the d100 roll" for magic weapons. That would seem to make magic weapons slightly more relevant for higher level parties, without imposing a 4e style character level x has magic item y limit.
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