Treasure Division Policy - Feedback Requested
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  1. #1

    Treasure Division Policy - Feedback Requested

    I am a player in a group, and I've noticed that our last few sessions have ended with bitter disputes over the division of spoils. In order to mitigate this problem in the future, I want to propose some sort of formal treasure division policy. I realize that a formal policy is not a replacement for good, open-minded communication, but I think that it may help in our case. Here is what I have come up with so far. Any and all feedback is welcome!

    Group Treasure Division Policy:


    1. Formal treasure division only takes place during downtime at a safe harbor with a market for converting coins and other treasures. Items may be temporarily parceled out to specific characters during an adventure, but they do not actually belong to these characters until formal treasure division has taken place. If a character draws from the common pool of coins or consumables during an adventure, this should be tracked and deducted from the character’s share during formal treasure division.
    2. All currency is converted into gold and split evenly among members of the party.
    3. Gems, art objects, and mundane items are converted into gold and added to the total amount of gold to be split. If someone expresses a desire to keep one of these items, the value of that item gets deducted from that character’s share of the gold. If the value of the item is greater than what the character’s share of the gold would have been, then the character can only claim the item if the rest of the party agrees. If they do so, the character in question will receive no gold, and the remaining balance will be deducted from the character’s share of the treasure for subsequent adventures until the item is fully paid off.
    4. Individual magic items are given to the characters who can make the best use of them. If multiple characters have an equally valid claim to the same magic item, it goes to the person with the least number of magic items, factoring in the item category:


    • Common items count as 1 item
    • Uncommon items count as 2 items
    • Rare items count as 4 items
    • Very rare items count as 8 items
    • Legendary items count as 16 items
    • Artifacts count as 32 items
    • Consumables have a multiplier of 0.5

    If this still doesn’t resolve the matter, have each player roll a d20. Whoever rolls the highest gets the item. If there are ties, you keep rolling until they are resolved. If no one wants a particular magic item, it will be sold on the open market as described in XGTE p. 133, and the proceeds will be added to the total amount of gold to be split.

    1. The party as a whole may decide to place specific items and funds into a common group “slush fund”. Non-consumable items placed in this fund belong to the party as a whole, but may be parceled out to different characters as the group dictates. Consumables and funds may only be withdrawn from the fund with the approval of the entire group. If the party plans to create a slush fund, they should decide on what percentage of their proceeds will be put into the fund after each adventure (10% is a good base value). This percentage gets deducted from the total amount of gold to be split after every adventure.
    Last edited by vostygg; Sunday, 9th June, 2019 at 12:37 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Unfortunately, rarity isn’t always a great proxy for the desirability of a magic item, so breaking disputes useing an item count won’t always be satisfactory. An auction system would probably be fairer, if a formal mechanism is truly needed.
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    There is no great way of doing this, the best way I've found is to roll for items. Long ago in a campaign and edition far, far away, we tried to use a "logical" scheme. Problem everyone was always "you get the magic weapon because you're a fighter but Bob the wizard so he gets the ring of protection". I could have started a magic weapons shop because who really needs a +1 trident to add to the collection of magic items that are completely worthless?

    Eventually everyone that could make a reasonable case for needing an item just rolled a D20, highest number wins. Wasn't great, but it was more fair. In other cases we've done a round robin variation of this. Count the number of items per tier you have and the person with the lowest count gets dibs. Multiple? Roll for it. Again, not great but better than nothing.

    My recommendation would be to try to keep it simple and don't over-complicate things. Also allow people to trade after the treasure is divided if they want and decide what to do with items nobody really wants; maybe they could become party treasure useful for gifts or bribes to NPCs down the line.
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    The best way to do this is in character. Generally, the PCs do not know item rarity and may not be able to appraise the value of everything. That means it can get tricky to be fair.

    In the past, when PCs ran into trouble with treasure division, the best method I've encountered was to divide a small amount of the coin evenly during the adventure (for expenses), but to hold the items, jewelry, gems, art and coins to divide after an adventure. Someone might test out an item during the adventure, but it goes back in the pool at the end when it is time to divide up the treasure.

    Then, at the end, all of this treasure is identified (if they can), appraised (as best they can) and laid out. The coins are divided into 10 equal amounts. The small gems, jewelry and art are divided into groupings about the same value as the coin stacks where possible, but if the individual items are worth more than the coins, they go into a separate one item group. All magic items are a separate group. Obviously, they have to guess value if they can't appraise, so there can be some discussion there - but later steps make it fairly irrelevant if they get this correct or not.

    Then, the PCs take turn adding to stacks. They take either one of the items, a group of coins, a group of gems, etc... and add to an existing stack, or they start a new stack with it. This means that you'll have at least 10 groupings to add to the stacks from the coins, but you usully have more than 20. However, you may just have a handful of stacks if they make them big, or a lot if they keep them thin. If there are powerful items, the stacks tend to concentrate to equal out the values. If not, they can spread out or stack up... it all tends to even out pretty well.

    *After everything is in stacks* the characters determine a random 'draft order' and then proceed to draft stacks in a snack draft (1,2,3,4,5,5,4,3,2,1,1,2,3,4,5...) until it is all gone. Before they draft, they occasionally 'trade draft picks'. (Bob, if you give me your first pick, you can take all the rest of my picks after the first round).

    If a PC wants a particular magic item, they'll put it in a separate stack (generally) and hope it is there for them to draft. Sometimes someone will set up a stack that they think nobody else will want, but find another PC drafts it to sell (either to the PC that wants it or to an NPC).

    All of this can be done in character. It uses the information the PCs have rather than book information. It is also (usually) fun.

    As this is done in character, there may be cheating. The rogue might attempt some slight of hand to manipulate the random choice of draft order or move something from one stack to another. The wizard may lie about what an item is after identification. The appraiser in the group might fudge the value of a gem.

    However, it is all in character.

    There are modifictions that can be agreed upon. Sometimes the PCs agree that an item is best for the group when in one PC's hands and give it to them outside this process. Sometimes they all agree a PC can 'buy' an item from the pool before this process begins at an agreed upon price. Spell scrolls are often lent to the wizard to copy into a spellbook before thy are divided up. If there are a lot of coins they might divide them into more than 10 groupings. Sometimes a PC was off the charts awesome in an adventure and the group lets that PC get an extra pick or get to choose their place in the draft order.

    This system has been used a lot over the decades, but it is not the most common system I see. Most often, we just divide the coins/jewels equally and talk trough who should get items. It is not perfectly equitable, but it is what is best for the team.
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    In the various campaigns that I DM, the players as their PCs usually just split most of the coin and keep some extra as a “party fund” for big expenditures. Paladin needs plate or Cleric needs to buy diamonds for Raise Dead? They just discuss and agree if that meets the needs of the group as a whole and party funds get allocated for said purchase. Magic Items are typically claimed by one character if there are no objections or the party just agrees that one character would most benefit from an item and give it to that PC accordingly. Occasionally there is a short discussion, but Ive not seen that take much time and everyone moves on. Attunement is a nice thing in these situations as PCs will tend to share more items with others if their attunement slots are otherwise occupied. Even a selfish character can understand that giving a certain item to another PC in the group might be even more beneficial to them than keeping it for themself.

    IMO, the need for more detailed formalized rules around loot sharing may indicate that there is a player issue at the table.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by vostygg View Post
    I am a player in a group, and I've noticed that our last few sessions have ended with bitter disputes over the division of spoils. In order to mitigate this problem in the future, I want to propose some sort of formal treasure division policy. I realize that a formal policy is not a replacement for good, open-minded communication, but I think that it may help in our case. Here is what I have come up with so far. Any and all feedback is welcome!

    Group Treasure Division Policy:


    1. Formal treasure division only takes place during downtime at a safe harbor with a market for converting coins and other treasures. Items may be temporarily parceled out to specific characters during an adventure, but they do not actually belong to these characters until formal treasure division has taken place. If a character draws from the common pool of coins or consumables during an adventure, this should be tracked and deducted from the character’s share during formal treasure division.
    2. All currency is converted into gold and split evenly among members of the party.
    3. Gems, art objects, and mundane items are converted into gold and added to the total amount of gold to be split. If someone expresses a desire to keep one of these items, the value of that item gets deducted from that character’s share of the gold. If the value of the item is greater than what the character’s share of the gold would have been, then the character can only claim the item if the rest of the party agrees. If they do so, the character in question will receive no gold, and the remaining balance will be deducted from the character’s share of the treasure for subsequent adventures until the item is fully paid off.
    4. Individual magic items are given to the characters who can make the best use of them. If multiple characters have an equally valid claim to the same magic item, it goes to the person with the least number of magic items, factoring in the item category:


    • Common items count as 1 item
    • Uncommon items count as 2 items
    • Rare items count as 4 items
    • Very rare items count as 8 items
    • Legendary items count as 16 items
    • Artifacts count as 32 items
    • Consumables have a multiplier of 0.5

    If this still doesn’t resolve the matter, have each player roll a d20. Whoever rolls the highest gets the item. If there are ties, you keep rolling until they are resolved. If no one wants a particular magic item, it will be sold on the open market as described in XGTE p. 133, and the proceeds will be added to the total amount of gold to be split.

    1. The party as a whole may decide to place specific items and funds into a common group “slush fund”. Non-consumable items placed in this fund belong to the party as a whole, but may be parceled out to different characters as the group dictates. Consumables and funds may only be withdrawn from the fund with the approval of the entire group. If the party plans to create a slush fund, they should decide on what percentage of their proceeds will be put into the fund after each adventure (10% is a good base value). This percentage gets deducted from the total amount of gold to be split after every adventure.
    First, obviously it doesnt matter whst we think. It matters how it sells to your group and the specifics of any recent disputes likrly colors that greatly. So, what it looks like in a vacuum, doesnt really matter.

    Second, on a practical side, you seem to be ignoring expenses. If a cleric casts revivify or a sorc spends on expendable components during a run we have tended to take those replacement costs out before splits in some groups.

    Third, one group I was in factored items into gold... basically everything was counted as shares and a round Robin selection.

    So for instance.

    Consumable magic 1 share
    Non-consumable 2 shares
    Uncommon +1
    Rare+2
    Very rare+3
    Legendary +5

    So if you choose a very rare sword that's 5 shares, 5 picks - so you sit out four more rounds.

    Picks keep going until everybody takes another share of gold (obviously nobody wants the remaining items.

    So you might end up with

    Able took the very rare sword and 1 gold share (6 lots)
    Baker took a rare potion and 3 gold shares (6 lots)
    Charlie took the uncommon wand and 3 gold shares (6 lot)
    Delta took a common scroll and 5 gold shares (6 lots)
    Echo rook just six gold shares.


    So if you had 1800 gold to divide after expenses zbel gets 100, Baker and Charlie get 300 each, delta pockets 500 and echo 600.

    This way you kinda offset the "not an item I like" with choices of extra gold shares.
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  7. #7
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    That said, D&D is not WoW. I caveat most of my opinions here with "...but this is just the way I play; you do you." However, if you are having "bitter loot disputes" I would posit that you are, in fact, doing D&D wrong.
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    You might want to tackle the problem from the other side first.

    1. This is an out of game issue. Everyone at the table should be trying to make everyone else have a good time. If this isn't the case then there is a problem.

    2. This sort of thing usually happens when the game isn't challenging enough. Instead of finding challenge in the game the players find challenge through each other. In a challenging game the players would want the treasure to go to who needs it regardless of how it is split up because a dead party has no treasure.

  9. #9
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    IMO it's best to have a formal agreement that everyone agrees to before a campaign begins. For example, I my group is very communal, with an even cash split (players can buy art objects before they're sold) and magic items are given out by need/usefulness. I'm not a huge fan of this, because it does create a huge disparity in magic items (one player might have 3-4 magic items, while another has none), but that's their preference and I deal with it when I'm a player.

    I think your system is pretty fair, but offer a few suggestions:

    Allow a party pool of funds for communal expenses. This can be used for rations, inn stays, as well as spell components that are useful for the group. Augury is a good example of this, but my group also includes Revivify (your group might have the cost deducted from the player who died, however).

    Figure out how your group handled missing players. Some groups don't want players to get any loot for sessions a player misses. If so, you have to track that separately, which can be a bit of a pain in the ass.

    Magic items are tricky, and I'll offer two suggestions. Your option is fine, but you might require someone who is getting a new magic item to give up an existing magic item to someone else to balance the overall number of magic items (I'd ignore rarity, because it's not a really good measurement of power in 5E). Alternately, you can create a number of shares of treasures equal to twice the party, where a consumable magic item is worth 1 share of treasure and a permanent one is worth 2 (thus you get less/no money for getting magic items), and choice is made by rolling lots at the end of the adventure.
    Last edited by Shiroiken; Sunday, 9th June, 2019 at 06:12 PM. Reason: stupid grammar
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
    First, obviously it doesnt matter whst we think. It matters how it sells to your group and the specifics of any recent disputes likrly colors that greatly. So, what it looks like in a vacuum, doesnt really matter.

    Second, on a practical side, you seem to be ignoring expenses. If a cleric casts revivify or a sorc spends on expendable components during a run we have tended to take those replacement costs out before splits in some groups.

    Third, one group I was in factored items into gold... basically everything was counted as shares and a round Robin selection.

    So for instance.

    Consumable magic 1 share
    Non-consumable 2 shares
    Uncommon +1
    Rare+2
    Very rare+3
    Legendary +5

    So if you choose a very rare sword that's 5 shares, 5 picks - so you sit out four more rounds.

    Picks keep going until everybody takes another share of gold (obviously nobody wants the remaining items.

    So you might end up with

    Able took the very rare sword and 1 gold share (6 lots)
    Baker took a rare potion and 3 gold shares (6 lots)
    Charlie took the uncommon wand and 3 gold shares (6 lot)
    Delta took a common scroll and 5 gold shares (6 lots)
    Echo rook just six gold shares.


    So if you had 1800 gold to divide after expenses zbel gets 100, Baker and Charlie get 300 each, delta pockets 500 and echo 600.

    This way you kinda offset the "not an item I like" with choices of extra gold shares.
    This is excellent, and exactly the type of feedback I was looking for. I tried researching this topic on the web, but couldn't find any useful discussions. I seem to remember reading a Dragon Magazine article with good advice on this topic back in the early to mid 80's, but I have no idea where to look for it.

    Group expenses is sort of what I imagined the group fund might be used for. Perhaps I need to be clearer on that.

    Just to ensure that I am understanding you correctly, are you saying that your group would determine the total gold piece value of everything that isn't magical, split this total by the number of people in the group, and treat that number as a single share? Your description describes what to do with magic items, but not what to do with everything else. I'd love a clarification.
    Last edited by vostygg; Sunday, 9th June, 2019 at 10:07 PM.

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