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D&D General Treasure - how much, how often, and how does your group divide it

S'mon

Legend
Thankfully I've not seen any attempt by a player with multiple PCs to trade items freely among them. Gifting items to NPC henchmen is fine of course.
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
No, not time. You're going to get this much reward after this much success. You will get rewards for your successes, just like you do in murderhobo play. It is exactly the same thing as "you will get this much reward after killing this many monsters", except that it also rewards other methods of success.
Except that's not how it works either: killing "this many monsters" doesn't at all guarantee getting "this much reward", when talking about treasure. Xp, sure, but not treasure.
Well, playing the same character for years is a common in my groups. Not sure where you think it's a single story, it's a whole campaign. Every character has at least one arc, some more than one, that I'm weaving alongside everything else that's happening. There are multiple stories being told outside of that. I throw far more hooks at the players then the characters could ever resolve and character interest guides where the focus goes next. I pay attention to what the players are interested in and craft that into stories. Plots they ignore can unfold into something greater - or be solved by others if they players find other things more interesting. I can go on, but I can't even envision myself running a campaign that's only a single story, it's why I homebrew everything. It's also why I average five years a campaign, with every one since 3.0 came out coming to successful conclusions.
Cool. I must have read your initial mention of the Masks concept as being much more minimalist than it really is.
And also (a) the magic item grows with them, so it's like many magic items just in one slot, and (b) I don't know where you got the idea there isn't other magic. Just that the party was the least interesting in going after loot for loots sake. Items are rare, and are determined to make sense which usually means being useful to whomever has it as opposed to being tailored for particular party members, but that doesn't mean there's no magic. Or no loot - they have some, and have found it useful when they can't get something from the government, or can't reveal they are Mask Bearers.
Again, I read it as minimalist; and thus took "each character has one magic item" to mean that was all they'd ever get.
 

S'mon

Legend
If by "free purchase" you mean a la 3e where the item and price lists were player-side and they could freely choose whatever they could afford, I'm right there with ya.

Yes, 3e or 4e style, treating items as a build element. Terrible in 3e. It actually worked fine in pre-Essentials 4e, as the magic items were deliberately made weak enough they could never break the game. Lots of clever maths in the 4e system. Didn't necessarily make the best gaming experience, but definitely clever.
 

Even though I tend to dislike artificiality, I long ago artificially fixed magic item prices in that no matter where you go or what you do item x will always both buy and sell for price y.

I did this specifically to stop some players playing buy low, sell high with magic items and so far it's worked like a hot damn.
Yeah makes sense, you'd have to.
It doesn't. What ends up happening instead is that if there's someting the party just can't live without but no single character can afford it, either the party keeps it with everyone owning equal shares (characters leaving the party are bought out), or a group or consortium of characters buy equal shares in it. In either case, eventually and inevitably as more loot comes in one character will slowly buy up all the shares from other characters.

That said, I like it when the party have to make choices like this: can we afford to keep it or do we have to sell it.
This is fascinating. I think it plus the above are arguably very artificial/anti-immersive but at the same time they create a really interesting situation which you're describing, which over time would become part of the fabric of the game.
There is that. I'm no expert designer but I have gone through and re-priced absolutely everything (using the 1e DMG as a baseline), while also increasing the size of the magic items table - particularly weapons and armour - by a huge amount. There's still a few prices that aren't right but they're locked in now by precedent until-unless I ever start another campaign/setting.
Yeah you'd need to and I suspect the prices you have given are probably a lot better than the random values from Xanathars or whatever. Even "non-expert" you seem to have been running this system for a long time and probably have a good feel for prices that make sense.
Oh, it'll cause acrimony once the players realize that character A has accumulated 45000 worth of magic and character B has 12000 simply due to "that's what each can use best".
You'd think this would be an issue right?

Except clearly it doesn't happen in practice. I'm mean I've seen 30+ years of this across multiple groups. I suspect part of it is that people don't sit around comparing "magic item value totals" much in the groups I've seen, but even when they have, so long as the right people have the right items, I haven't seen complaining, in part because people are always expecting their ship to come in magic-item-wise. Note that in 3E/4E though you are basically under instructions to hand out items in such a way that it's likely they're distributed fairly (not quite literally but that's the de facto effect) so you're unlikely to see a different as large as 45k to 12k (more likely 30k to 25k or something) and in 5E they explicitly/intentionally don't even have fixed prices (or prices at all w/o Xanathars) so the point could never be made unless someone did something like you did and homebrewed prices for them.

I am pretty sure, however, that if you introduced the "military" approach to a group which was doing what maybe we can call the "mercantile" approach you guys are taking, it would absolutely cause acrimony though! This is one of those little D&D traditions that people probably assume everyone does "their way" until they find out they don't!
It actually worked fine in pre-Essentials 4e, as the magic items were deliberately made weak enough they could never break the game. Lots of clever maths in the 4e system. Didn't necessarily make the best gaming experience, but definitely clever.
Yeah it was kind of fascinating how well it worked. I had people write up magic item wishlists if they wanted. Not everyone did, but a couple of people were very keen, and it's interesting, they are the sort of people who get excited when they get specific items, whereas the others have more of a "Oooooh a present!" approach and get excited by the surprise and so on. I kept actual magic item sales/buying rare, but dropped the right items into adventures and I don't think the PCs missed any major ones, and certainly it worked with the math.

I kind of prefer 5E's "items are a bonus" approach overall but it has some drawbacks, and some of the fun-but-not-huge items of 4E are sadly still not present. In fact one of 5E's biggest disappointments for me is that there's been no "magic item book".
 

Yeah makes sense, you'd have to.

This is fascinating. I think it plus the above are arguably very artificial/anti-immersive but at the same time they create a really interesting situation which you're describing, which over time would become part of the fabric of the game.

Yeah you'd need to and I suspect the prices you have given are probably a lot better than the random values from Xanathars or whatever. Even "non-expert" you seem to have been running this system for a long time and probably have a good feel for prices that make sense.

You'd think this would be an issue right?

Except clearly it doesn't happen in practice. I'm mean I've seen 30+ years of this across multiple groups. I suspect part of it is that people don't sit around comparing "magic item value totals" much in the groups I've seen, but even when they have, so long as the right people have the right items, I haven't seen complaining, in part because people are always expecting their ship to come in magic-item-wise. Note that in 3E/4E though you are basically under instructions to hand out items in such a way that it's likely they're distributed fairly (not quite literally but that's the de facto effect) so you're unlikely to see a different as large as 45k to 12k (more likely 30k to 25k or something) and in 5E they explicitly/intentionally don't even have fixed prices (or prices at all w/o Xanathars) so the point could never be made unless someone did something like you did and homebrewed prices for them.

I am pretty sure, however, that if you introduced the "military" approach to a group which was doing what maybe we can call the "mercantile" approach you guys are taking, it would absolutely cause acrimony though! This is one of those little D&D traditions that people probably assume everyone does "their way" until they find out they don't!

Yeah it was kind of fascinating how well it worked. I had people write up magic item wishlists if they wanted. Not everyone did, but a couple of people were very keen, and it's interesting, they are the sort of people who get excited when they get specific items, whereas the others have more of a "Oooooh a present!" approach and get excited by the surprise and so on. I kept actual magic item sales/buying rare, but dropped the right items into adventures and I don't think the PCs missed any major ones, and certainly it worked with the math.

I kind of prefer 5E's "items are a bonus" approach overall but it has some drawbacks, and some of the fun-but-not-huge items of 4E are sadly still not present. In fact one of 5E's biggest disappointments for me is that there's been no "magic item book".
that's pretty much my experience as well even I. Groups that
Split stuff by gp shares in past editions like I described earlier. Everyone knows it's rarely going to be perfectly even split and nobody wants to imagine a time where their awesome "precious" magic item gets sold to force an even split so that doesn't really get forced on others. As long as the gm is following the advice you note to give treasuries likely to feel about even players dont mind if it doesn't quite work out that way.

Thst not minding can eventually reach a point of wtf like the legendary gear plus shield of expression thing mentioned earlier, but even that tends to get handled by the group. Everyone in that situation recognizes that the monk got shafted hard and fixing that might take some shopping if the treasure found doesn't clear things up within a reasonable few sessions before/after that one with the shield of expression.


The problems show when the gm ignores that advice and doesn't provide solutions that fix the imbalance or allow the group to fix it. A player who got shafted was often either cradling their recent precious thing, eagerly looking forward for finding the thing thst makes it work out, or perhaps trying to explain/understand why there seems to be a percieved imbalance in value somewhere
 

From another thread:

Everything has an owner. Either a PC owns it, or several PCs share ownership of it, or the party as a whole owns it.

Any item found while adventuring but in an as-yet-undivided treasury belongs to the whole party that found it. Doesn't matter who happens to be carrying it around; and if someone walks off with it that's flat-out theft from the party.

After division, items claimed by a PC as part of a share then belong to that PC. Unclaimed items are sold, with rare exceptions: sometimes nobody can afford to claim something really useful and really expensive, so it gets carried forward into the next treasury as a party-owned item.
I like that idea. Cool items should not be everyday occurrences and what a shame to get rid of them due to lack of coin.
 


In case you, or others, missed it:

Nice! I'll definitely keep an eye on that.

I guess I'm just disappointed we haven't seen a corebook for it, but it is a space 3PPs can work pretty well in (same for monsters and adventures). I really hope Beyond gets some 3PP integration one day, or if WotC do a Beyond of their own in 6E they do it. I can see why it'd be a pain to work in backwards, but if you designed for that from day one it should be trivial (and anything on DMsguild could come via it, the authors would just have to code stuff themselves, like we do if we put in a custom item).
 

Everything has an owner. Either a PC owns it, or several PCs share ownership of it, or the party as a whole owns it.

Any item found while adventuring but in an as-yet-undivided treasury belongs to the whole party that found it. Doesn't matter who happens to be carrying it around; and if someone walks off with it that's flat-out theft from the party.

After division, items claimed by a PC as part of a share then belong to that PC. Unclaimed items are sold, with rare exceptions: sometimes nobody can afford to claim something really useful and really expensive, so it gets carried forward into the next treasury as a party-owned item.
I dunno if "everything has an owner" is actually true, conceptually. An owner implies total power over a thing and complete rights over a thing, but I think a lot of items in parties exist in a more complex liminal space between fully owned and party owned and sometimes even "used for the good of the world". Almost a "quantum superposition" of ownership, that would only be collapsed if the person with the item wanted to leave the party or sell it.

The "mercantile" system you outlined in the other thread is interesting because it eliminates the liminal space and creates a precisely delineated system of strict ownership or shareholding. This eliminates questions relating to ownership, but doesn't reflect the way these things tend to play out in fantasy fiction, mythology, or from what I've seen, actual party dynamics in a lot of TT RPG groups (obviously it does in yours and some others). You're describing your system, your approach in your quote there, but it's not a universal view.

Arthur never really "owned" Excalibur, he merely possessed it, and the same could be said of an absolutely vast number of mythological magical items. Not every culture has really been big on permanent ownership either. If you look at Native American cultures for example, there's a real breadth of concepts relating to both the "ownership" or rights relating to both land/territory and objects. The Salish for example tended towards a fairly straightforward/familiar direct perpetual ownership model not much different from that of most Western Europeans, but many cultures had different views, for example that once an tool or a land was no longer in regular use, it was up for grabs. And even in places like Western Europe, ownership could be complex (c.f. "the tragedy of the commons" but also a lot of other situations where strict ownership was not well-defined).
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Except that's not how it works either: killing "this many monsters" doesn't at all guarantee getting "this much reward", when talking about treasure. Xp, sure, but not treasure.
Not every challenge will have loot as a reward, just like not every combat. It really is exactly the same.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
At my table, when items are first acquired the party collectively decides who can put the item to best immediate use. If/when there is a chance to sell the item, and the party wants to sell, any PC can opt to pay that price to buy the item from the party. If multiple PCs want it, it goes to the highest bidder. A PC who wants a particular item before the party tries to sell it can always make an offer sooner--it's up to the party if they want to accept.

Whether or not there is an opportunity to sell the item varies a lot from campaign to campaign. There is a major metropolis that has a Great Market where just about anything can be bought or sold, but it can take weeks and there are multiple levels of middlemen and agents involved (all of whom want a percentage or an upfront fee). Still, the very existence of that market helps set prices for unique goods throughout the continent, as skilled appraisers with good connections will likely be able to give reliable ballpark estimates from what any given item would sell for at the Great Market. But some of my campaigns have been set far from enough from civilization that opportunities to sell are fewer.
 

jgsugden

Legend
My PCs find the amount of items and coin recommended by the DMG, but generally have ways to buy items with coin as well. There are usually some people that can be found that will make magic items if you prepay for them, although it does take time. PCs generally get to 3 attuned items (and a few unattuned items) at around 6th level. That is when the income spikes according to the DMG recommendations, and if you have places where magic can be purchased, they can afford multiple uncommon items.

When they find items, about half come from WotC sources and the other half are homebrew. This applies to spells and potions as well - about half come from WotC sources, the other half are homebrew (or 3rd party).

As for how treasure is divided - it is done in character. It is usually a split of the coin and then dividing up items to put them in the hands where they make the most sense - but sometimes they do things differently. In one recent party, we divided the monetary treasure equally and then put every item we found up for 'auction'... whatever someone paid was split amongst the other PCs. In another group, they kept what they found - which resulted in PCs forgoing attacks during combat so that they could loot a fallen enemy. The scout in the party developed the ability to detect magic quietly so that he could identify the good loot before a battle.
 

cbwjm

Hero
Friday night, my players reached the city of Trademoot, a central location in the realm that is, not too surprisingly, a centre of trade. I gave them the option of buying any scroll of 1st or 2nd level, beyond that would require a CHA (Investigation) check to hunt down. They were also able to buy potions. A halfling caravan, the same that one of the players is from, offered magical tattoos (I require an actual tattoo artist rather than just applying a needle and getting the tattoo). Not all of them were available, but I gave them a list and a couple gained a tattoo.

While I know that many people hate magical item shops, I can't help but think that there exists at least a limited trade. All items that were bought were paid out of each PC's own store of cash. The more interesting items, however, are likely to be the ones found/given while adventuring and anything more than an uncommon item is probably going to be difficult to sell.
 

akr71

Hero
Instead of adding that extra step, isn't is easier to just polymorph the monsters into fish or something else that can't breathe air, and kill 'em that way? :)

So, no cash or other equalization of values?
They have never thought of that. It certainly would be easier (the fish option that is).

Nope, not yet anyway. I suppose that type of negotiation might come up eventually. Since most of them can't be bothered to keep track of loot, they've just accepted it as fact that whoever is keeping track is right and its all communal. There was a point where they assumed that I was keeping track of their treasure and would divvy it up for them (for some of them, its their first time playing). I laughed and said "if you didn't write it down, you didn't take it with you."
 

Hussar

Legend
We have a much more socialist approach to divvying treasure than what @Lanefan has suggested. But, on the point about disparity, about the only time I see complaints is when someone has items and another character has nothing. So long as everyone has something it seems to be okay. I was just mentioning in another thread that I went three straight campaigns without a single magic weapon - in the first campaign, my fighter only got a magic weapon because another PC died and I inherited the weapon. In the next two campaigns, nada.

So, yeah, there was some grumbling going on from my corner, but, nothing too nasty. More, "Oh, gee, you guys have found another magic sword that my cleric, without martial weapon proficiency, again can't use. " Mostly a bit of passive/agressive kvetching from me.
 

Rabulias

Hero
They have never thought of that. It certainly would be easier (the fish option that is).
Being polymorphed into a literal fish out of water would not kill the creature. When the creature reaches 0 hit points from suffocation, it reverts back to its normal form and the hit points that it had when it was polymorphed.

Putting it in the bag of holding works because it would revert to its normal form, then suffocate again (I note that this seems a very cruel form of execution... :-/ ). The polymorph just makes it easy to get it in the bag.

So does its normal form's size fit within the bag of holding? Remember it is only 64 cubic feet in size inside. To give you an idea what that is, it is a cube 4 feet to a side (though I rule the exact shape of the interior is amorphous within that volume limit). What would happen if you polymorphed the tarrasque into a mouse and placed it into the bag? When it reverts to its normal size, would the tarrasque be sent to the Astral Plane? Would the bag be rent asunder and destroyed? Or would the tarrasque be violently expelled out of the bag?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
At my table, when items are first acquired the party collectively decides who can put the item to best immediate use. If/when there is a chance to sell the item, and the party wants to sell, any PC can opt to pay that price to buy the item from the party.
That's about the same as how it goes here.
If multiple PCs want it, it goes to the highest bidder. A PC who wants a particular item before the party tries to sell it can always make an offer sooner--it's up to the party if they want to accept.
This is something else I specifically try to avoid: bidding wars. Why? Because it breaks the single-value mold, and if nothing else makes treasury division an absolute beast in that every time the bid goes up, everyone's share value changes.
Whether or not there is an opportunity to sell the item varies a lot from campaign to campaign. There is a major metropolis that has a Great Market where just about anything can be bought or sold, but it can take weeks and there are multiple levels of middlemen and agents involved (all of whom want a percentage or an upfront fee). Still, the very existence of that market helps set prices for unique goods throughout the continent, as skilled appraisers with good connections will likely be able to give reliable ballpark estimates from what any given item would sell for at the Great Market. But some of my campaigns have been set far from enough from civilization that opportunities to sell are fewer.
I've always kind of seen it that the greatest demand for most magic items is likely to come from adventurers, be they PC or NPC, or nobility; meaning most transactions are likely either going to be a) private deals with contacts you've made during training or through guilds or wherever or b) direct sales to the crown or a temple or some other high mucky-muck. Some class-based guilds (e.g. a mercenaries' guild, or a wizards' guild) might act as clearinghouses and-or contact points, and occasionally buy or sell things as a guild, but that's it.

There's no "magic shop" as such.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
They have never thought of that. It certainly would be easier (the fish option that is).

Nope, not yet anyway. I suppose that type of negotiation might come up eventually. Since most of them can't be bothered to keep track of loot, they've just accepted it as fact that whoever is keeping track is right and its all communal. There was a point where they assumed that I was keeping track of their treasure and would divvy it up for them (for some of them, its their first time playing). I laughed and said "if you didn't write it down, you didn't take it with you."
In fairness, for new players I'd explain that this is something that kinda has to be done and step them through it - maybe even make each of them the party treasurer for an adventure to get a sense of how it works.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Being polymorphed into a literal fish out of water would not kill the creature. When the creature reaches 0 hit points from suffocation, it reverts back to its normal form and the hit points that it had when it was polymorphed.
Stupid 5e poly-nerfing rules! Grrrrr......

I have it that a polymorphed creature only returns to its normal form on death. Which means you have a dead whatever-it-was instead of a dead fish.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Treasury recording.

Something that hasn't come up yet is methods of treasury recording, both in-session and afterwards.

What I've used forever (kudos to my original DM for coming up with this) is an item numbering system. Everything found that's either magical or might need later evaluation gets a unique-to-campaign item number, both in my notes and on the player-side treasury record*.

What this looks like in practice:

Player record sample, with current carrier in brackets:

243 6 gems, small (bag)
244 longsword, magic?, glows red when held (Perseus)
245 fine crystal jug (wrapped, in bag)
246 6 pcs assorted jewelry (bag)
247 staff, wooden, carved with runes (Amphion)

DM record for the same series:

243 6 gems, 38 g.p. total
244 Longsword +0 "Artinbras" glows red when held; except +2 and glows green if held by a Ranger
245 Jug of Seeing, (can scry as crystal ball by looking at base through top opening)
246 5 pcs jewelry, 265 g.p. total
246a Ring of Featherfall
247 rune-covered staff, 5 g.p. (not magic)

The key element here is the item number, such that five years later when someone pulls out a note saying they own a magic ring but haven't noted what it is or does I can ask for the item number (246a in this case), look it up, and remind both myself and the player what it is.

Sometimes I'll start a new series of numbers with a letter in front e.g. A-1, A-2 etc., for a different party, this to (in theory) make it easier to tell which party originally found something and thus make the looking-up process easier.

If one wanted to get fancy with this and had more tech know-how than I do, all this info for a campaign could end up in a database of some sort.

I leave it up to the players to record found coin and rarely if ever record it DM-side, unless there's something specific or unusual about some coins (e.g. very foreign, very old, etc.) in which case they get an item number.

* - "player-side treasury record" is fancy words for a blank sheet of paper with treasure notes on it. :)

Edit to add: each adventure usually gets its own treasury record, with that treasure divided after the adventure. The item numbers continue, though, so if adventure X ended on item 346 then adventure Y will start with 347.
 

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