Wondering Monster

A Per-Session Treasure Calculator

When I was recently organising a mega-dungeon adventure for BECMI D&D, I was trying to come up with a simple way to think of the contentious subject of treasure.

My issue with treasure is mostly that in XP-for-coin systems like BECMI, B/X and their clones, it’s hard to reconcile a ‘simulationist’ perspective (as espoused by Gary Gygax and the wonderful Treasure by Courtney Campbell, which a lot of the generated items below are derived from) with a balanced perspective which makes players feel like they’re moving forward at an even keel in their adventures - the perspective closer to the XP-for-monsters setup of later D&D.

I do feel like the balanced perspecitve is not really the old-school RPG way, and I absolutely get the madcap swings and roundabouts of accidentally killing an ogre at 1st level and walking away with literal bags of coin, followed by the drudgery of clearing out kobold burrows for handfuls of silver pieces. Continually finding even spreads of treasure simply doesn’t make for memorable stories.

This aside, I do sometimes want to know roughly how much treasure my players should be finding if I want them to be levelling up at an approximate rate of once every four sessions, once every ten sessions, and so on. It means that when they go and kill the dragon, I can happily award them mounds and mounds of loot, knowing that they haven’t been getting overpaid in the previous few sessions.

As mentioned, the randomly generated treasure items below are adapted from Courtney Campbell’s Treasure, with some more generic bits and pieces thrown in. The coin values of the jewels and coins are derived from the total per-session value; the number of examples in each type is derived from the number of hoards.

My party consists of players.

They currently have XP, and need to have XP each to reach their next level.

I want them to take sessions to level up (and each session should have hoards of treasure).

Every session, your players should loot, steal, or heroically liberate coin worth of treasure (whether copper, silver, gold, salt, or dragonscales - whatever your main currency is). That's coin per person, if they're 'share equally' sort of people.

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