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D&D 3E
Way heck of long whiny gaming essay 
5th-Jan-2006 02:07 pm
I'm about to end my current campaign of two years, which started at 4th level and they're now at 14th. The last module will be Bastion of Broken Souls. I've had some issues with 3rd edition and I'm looking for advice and suggestions on how to address said issues. So, I'm going to be sending these missives out to my players rather than bringing them up in-game because boy howdy would it chew up game time to discuss this in-game... So here goes...

3rd Edition essay #1:

The Treasure Model

One of the things which have made running a 3.0 campaign difficult is figuring out how to hand out treasure. I've been falling back on the easy answer, which is, it's printed right there in the module, so I just give out what the module designers came up with and trust them to understand how the balance is supposed to work. However, this doesn't help with random encounters, or if I translate 1st or 2nd edition modules to 3rd edition. So, in an attempt to explain one of the problems I've been having with the game system, here's the evolution of the treasure model in my campaign history, which goes back 20 years:

1st edition: Cartloads of magic items are handed out. If a magic item is found that somebody needs, they get to use it until loot split is done, at which time they toss all the magic items not yet divvied up via loot split into a big pile, roll percentile dice, and go through the list, high roll gets first pick. They usually wait until there are enough magic items for everybody to get two or three, and, coincidentally, for there to be two or three items that each character would really like to have, so everybody usually ended up with something cool. Problems: Occasionally people ended up losing magic items they had gotten fond of. People would also end up feeling they couldn't ask for the cool magic items, but instead should pick the lesser ones they had been using all along (i.e., not take the +2 sword for their first pick, just because there's a +1 sword in the pile that he had been using up until that time). Some people felt that their characters did, in fact, own magic items they had been carrying for a while and resented tossing them onto the pile. Some people would take magic items they didn't need because there was nothing else left that they wanted or could use just so they could sell it and buy something they could use, which bruised some feelings.

2nd edition: Also cartloads of magic items are handed out. In this era, if somebody had an obvious need for a magic item, that character was just given the magic item. The ungiven magic items went into a pool. When the number of magic items was enough for loot split (as above), it was done (as above) without including the allocated magic items. Problems: Some people didn't get magic items. Some people didn't get +2 items because they already had +1 items, and somebody who hadn't gotten a +1 magic item yet would get the +2 item when they first began showing up.

3rd edition: Not so many magic items are handed out. More and more in 3rd edition I see the idea that every single aspect of your PC's makeup is deliberately chosen by the player; the random chance of whether or not you'll find a really cool sword is gone, because once you've got enough money, you just go to a big city and buy a really cool sword. Magic items are being allocated on a semi-permanent basis, rendered fully permanent if the PC happens to be in town where the item can be sold and the PC feels a sudden need for more cash. Problems: The party has been doing loot split long before there are enough magic items for everybody to get several. The campaign has had inconsistent attendance, so people who were around when certain cool items were acquired aren't necessarily around when they are allocated, and vice verse. Sometimes there's a single magic item in the pile that's worth more than the rest of the loot combined (a 50kgp dagger in a pile with about 10kgp worth of other stuff, for example). Some people didn't get much in the way of magic items. Some characters who got magic items would then get a full share of the monetary loot, and end up with much more treasure than other characters.

Unworkable solution #1:
No more magic items. Just give out monetary treasure and let people buy whatever they want. Problems: Weight may be a factor (imagine getting that life-sized gold statue of Lolth pre-teleport...). People might not know what they want. People might not have access to a town where they can buy what they want. The game loses something if I don't give out magic items.

Unworkable solution #2:
In any treasure hoard, no one item is to be worth more than an equal share of the hoard. So, if there are 7 PCs in the party at the time you do loot split, and you found a treasure hoard three weeks earlier that was worth 28kgp, there should be no item in the hoard worth more than 4kgp. This way, everybody gets a fair share, and there should be lots of magic items at higher levels. Problems: You will not find many magic items at lower levels, and by the time you start finding magic items, they'll be vastly underpowered for your current level (however, that will solve the weight issue--four +1 daggers in your backpack will weigh less than 8kgp). Both solutions #1 and #2 require a town where you can sell junk and buy stuff you want. I need to know how many PCs will be in on loot split when you decide to do loot split before I can figure out what a share of the loot will be before any given fight so I know how many, and how powerful, magic items to give the bad guys to use in the fight.

Unworkable solution #3:
Don't change anything. If you want to do loot split when there are fewer magic items (that people want) in the pile than there are PCs present, it's not my problem. If you want to give somebody a magic item without knowing how much it's really worth, it's not my problem. Problems: As stated above in the description of the 3rd edition treasure model. Also, this solution works best if you have access to a place to buy and sell magic items.

So, any ideas? Suggestions? Solutions? Just want to point your finger and laugh?
5th-Jan-2006 08:37 pm (UTC)
My suggestions:

Magic items are important for players to pick and choose and buy as they want. Don't think of them as magic items. Theyre a points-based customization system so that characters can add the stat boosts they need (+2 sword, +4 amulet of health, +2 cloak of protection, etc) to kit their character out and allow them to survive. A magic weapon is just a bonus to an attack roll. A scroll is just a one-use spell slot. They spend points (which are counted out in gold) and get the stat bonuses.

If you look in the DMG at table 5-1, it's kinda eye opening what that table implies. Yes, I definitely think that players should be able to liquidate treasure at will, and re-spend the points to get what they want.
5th-Jan-2006 08:47 pm (UTC)
While I LOVE the simplicity of this (it would make my life as the GM a lot easier), I feel it really loses something in teh feel of the game. PC's will tend to buy the same loot (everyone buys ring of protection before amulet of NA, etc) and they'll likely rarely buy some of the more strange and off beat items.

My solution to the general problem is to have the PCs tell me what their current loot totals are once in a while, and then shift the treasure to help fill in people who are low. The mage hurting for items? The next couple of games have caster heavy opponents with lots of wands and rods. I'll also tend to add loot to the bad guys with a righ idea of what the party will do with it. Who's likely to claim what, and what is going to obviously end up in the 'sell' pile.
5th-Jan-2006 08:44 pm (UTC)
Restrict selling magic items in towns... BIG TIME no-no if you want Magical items to have some sort of value to the PC's. Also, let them understand how important it is and how much it will cost them when they are restricted to finding only +1 in items and have to make +2 and over... Over time, they will value things as they come across it.
5th-Jan-2006 09:15 pm (UTC)
Characters who trade in magic items may end up with exactly the magic items they want, but they will have half as many as if they had not sold them (or will lose XP and feats if they plow the money into Item Creation).

My character has always kept any vaguely useful items he has ended up with: Slippers of Spider Climb and an Amulet of Constitution would have been far from my first choice of items, but paying double for the benefit of ending up with similar powered items two adventures later doesn't appeal so much.

I'm hoping to DM for the first time soon: the first thing out of the window is the concept of expected wealth per level. It makes a mockery of character's endeavours having an effect on what they achieve: would any DM allow a party to fail to Spot a secret door to a treasure room if the EL balance of their next prepared adventure depended on it? It will be more work making balanced adventures but at least the phrase "anaemic paper shuffling" won't come so readily to mind.
5th-Jan-2006 09:29 pm (UTC)
The "expected wealth per level" thing gets completely broken if the party has a decent weaponsmith. My current campaign has a character who could make, just as a wild guess, hundreds of thousands of gold pieces a year worth of weapons in Waterdeep (which has the resources to absorb that many magic weapons).
5th-Jan-2006 10:13 pm (UTC)
Assuming a 3.0 or 3.5 DnD game, how can someone turn out that many gold pieces of items and still have the eps to stand up in the morning?
5th-Jan-2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
He's got to take some breaks for adventuring, but the EP cost didn't look that arduous. Also, he's got one of the forges from Races of Stone that allows him to work around the clock.
5th-Jan-2006 10:36 pm (UTC)
I don't recall what it is for 3.0, but for 3.5 you effectively turn 1 exp into 12.5gp when making items. So for an income of 100k a year, you're dropping 8k exp. A lot of money, but if you do it for very long you drop behind in level.
6th-Jan-2006 02:35 am (UTC)
I'm the player who ran that weaponsmith. Yes, it cost a bit of experience. But remember, characters who fall beind a level in experience earn more experience for the encounters, allowing us to catch up.

The weaponsmith character was about a half-level behind where he would have been, had he not started making magic weapons. A half-level, versus weilding two +3-flaming-berserking-vicious weapons? Seemed like a fair deal to the barbarian....
5th-Jan-2006 09:28 pm (UTC) - Auction
At loot split the money should be split first, then the magic items should be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Proceeds of the auction are split amongst the players present for the auction.
5th-Jan-2006 09:32 pm (UTC) - Re: Auction

So, in the example lootsplit, there's 10kgp worth of monetary loot and a +3 Ghost Bane dagger, worth 50kgp. The 10kgp gets split 7 ways, so everybody's got about 1,400 gp. The dagger sells for about 3kgp, then gets sold in the next big town for 25 kgp?
5th-Jan-2006 09:47 pm (UTC) - Re: Auction
So who said they were limited to the money from the loot, don't any of these characters save money/gems. If you have high value items the best idea may be to wait until town to divy, so you have access to funds for the auction or simply consign magic items to an auction house for sale and divide the auction proceeds. If you can purchase items magic items you want it should be worth the trade. Besides if that really nifty +3 Ghost Bane dagger is necessary to the story line then the proper NPC may purchase it for an upcoming assignment for mercenaries he is looking for.
5th-Jan-2006 10:40 pm (UTC) - Re: Auction
The on location auction works on unidentified items. If no one knows exactly what its worth every one has an equal chance at a windfall. This has the "look at the Rembrandt I bought at the flee market" feel.

Or given your example; Snuffy the Rogue appraises the dagger as being worth 50Kgp. The characters split the 10kgp 7 ways, so each has 1,428.57 gp in their pocket. None of them can afford the appraised price of the dagger, so they take it to Christies of Waterdeep to auction off. Competition should be steep in Waterdeep and there is a chance (you decide how much) that the dagger may even go above the appraised value. Say this time it does and goes for 56kgp. The characters each walk out of the auction with the 1,428.57gp they walked in with plus an additional 8,000gp.
5th-Jan-2006 11:27 pm (UTC)
It seems to me that you're saying that your problems are

A) That you do not know how to split the treasure evenly among the player characters - uneven attendance has led to some characters getting more than others.

B) The availability of items in major cities devalues the "Oh wow!" factor of finding, say, a Scarab of Golembane in the horde of a great red dragon. Or, to put it more bluntly, the reaction of a fighter specialized in bastard sword when he finds a frost longsword +1.

C) Dealing with player created wealth (From your comments below).


D) The more obvious issue of how to judge the amount of treasure that PC's should accumulate as they level.

To A, I would only say that the unevenness of treasure should, at some point, be presented to the party to honestly discuss. Pull out the DMG and tell everyone what the average gold value for their character should be. Generally, characters should be within 10% to 20% of the wealth for their level by the time they attain that level; they should achieve parity with their level within the first 5th or 6th of the level - this statement comes from anectdotal evidence and from looking at the average creatures fought over the course of a level and their treasure tables.

While you shouldn't directly compensate the characters unless you feel you as a DM have done something wrong, you should allow the party to frankly discuss the wealth disparity either in character or out. An in-character discussion would not be unlike coworkers gathered around a lunchtable complaining about their wages and how they could easily earn more with their skills elsewhere - the difference here is that those characters with wealth vastly over their level (By vastly, I mean that they are 30% to 50% over the wealth for their level) should feel some desire to even the disparity (or at least justify their vast wealth in the face of their fellow adventurers). I sincerely doubt that many adventurers would continue on in a party containing people who show no concern for the merest appearances of equity.

Generally, loot in every group that I have been in has been handled on a "split it evenly" methodology. Items acquired, used, and kept by characters during the course of adventuring are counted as part of their share when time comes to divy up the goods. So, for example, if a party of 4 characters (W, X, Y, and Z) found a chest containing a longbow +1 and 6000 gp and W took the longbow +1 to keep forever and always, then the other three party members would split the remaining 6000 gp, each taking 2000 gp - since the longbow +1 is worth 2000 gp.

To B, this is the price of specialization of characters. I see nothing wrong with this. Would you expect a right-handed person to keep and use a set of left-handed golf clubs or trade them in and get a set of right-handed golf clubs? Would you expect someone who needs cure scrolls to keep that scroll of Summon Nature's Ally VII or trade it in and buy the scrolls of cure spells? The only reason people were thankful for magic items Back In The Day(tm) was that the system really didn't allow for beneficial character speciation.

You shouldn't discourage players from making their characters specialized, but rather encourage them as it makes the game much more interesting - for example, when playing fighters, I love to specialize in bastard swords and will go to great lengths to make sure that no other weapon sullies my hand.
5th-Jan-2006 11:27 pm (UTC)
To C, if a player makes x item and then immediately sells it back to the market, he will only make 1/2 the base cost of the item back. As every known way of creating items in D&D requires materials worth at least 1/2 the base cost, this isn't a problem as it all evens out. If, on the other hand, the character wants to sell the items for full cost, then he needs to open a storefront, become a shopkeeper, and stop adventuring.

To D, just as you should evaluate the amount of xp a given party will earn over the course of an adventure, you should always evaluate the amount of gp a given party will earn. If an adventure is meant to get 7 characters from level 1 to level 2 then the adventure should contain the rough wealth able to get the characters' wealth from level 1 to level 2. You can generate the items either randomly using the tables - a personal favorite for dragon hordes or hordes belonging to random beasts, or by tailoring the items for your major NPCs - why would a cleric have a kama +1 on him, or, if you want to be more direct, by tailoring the items for your PCs. As part of assigning treasure, you should assume that any items unuseable to the party - tiny suits of plate mail or gigantic great axes - will be sold for half price on the market and so should only be worth about half their value in your calculations. Items that the party can or will use should be evaluated at their full price. Keeping a reservoir of extra loot - no more than 50% of the desired total character wealth - to toss around if the characters violate your expectations is a good idea.

Do some note taking and keep track of what items end up in which character's possession. This will help you as you attempt to refine the process of awarding and placing treasure.
5th-Jan-2006 11:29 pm (UTC)
Okay, I didn't really make myself clear in the OP, so I'll try again: I'm not looking for specific solutions for individual circumstances gone wrong; I'm looking for advice on how to judge what level of treasure the party should find over the long haul of the campaign. The incident with the dagger just brought all the issues to the fore (it's in Heart of Nightfang Spire, for those who were wondering; there's a floor where most rooms have 100-500 gp worth of treasure, and one has this dagger in it).

My experiences with windfall value have not been good. Again with the bruised feelings...

Seidl, 8k xp for a year's worth of profit is chump change. If he goes on a two-week adventure twice a year, he can make that much xp in no time, so he's not going to lose any levels. Even with the Forge allowing him to make magic items in a third the time, 24k xp still isn't a deal-breaker, particularly considering he'll be making 300,000 gold pieces that year...

... but I said I didn't want to get down to that level of detail.

I figured out on the drive home that there's a whole side to this that I've been ignoring. It's not just how much treasure do the PC's find, or what do they do with it: there's also the question of how much treasure there is out there in the world. If every man jack fighter 4th level and above has a magic sword, dagger, armor, shield, a couple rings, a cloak, a girdle, gloves, and boots... that's a lot of magic items out there in the world. I'm not used to the idea of tougher bad guys equating to higher-level pc's; in 1st or 2nd edition, if you wanted a tougher orc, you used hobgoblins. If you wanted tougher hobgoblins, you used ogres, then giants... they didn't necessarily come with that much treasure. Now, if you want a tougher orc, you give him six levels of Barbarian, and now he has all the magic items of a 6th level barbarian...
5th-Jan-2006 11:59 pm (UTC)
I'm looking for advice on how to judge what level of treasure the party should find over the long haul of the campaign.

Levels 1 to 5'ish: Nothing more than low level potions, scrolls, and other short use items (for example, wands with 3 or 4 charges left) - the most long term items being scrolls that contain spells the wizard doesn't have. These are the levels where a wand of cure light is a gift from the gods. Around levels 3 to 5, you should finally get your first +1 items: +1 weapon, armor, shield for the meat shields and maybe +1 ring of protection or natural armor for the casters. Cloak of Resistance becomes the single most common item in the game at level 5.

Levels 6 to 10'ish: More potions, more scrolls, and more short use items - just higher level spells in them. +1 rings of protection and amulets of natural armor should become fairly common. Around 7th to 10th level you should start to get +2 items and, if you've been a good boy this year, a stat item. Obviously, some players will start to trade in some items for things that they desire from a specialist's point of view or for those things that make them special as a character.

Levels 11 to 15: Potions, scrolls, etc. You should start fanning out into the weirder wondrous items here - boots and cloaks and brooches and decks and stuff. Somewhere between 12th and 15th level you should start to get +3 and +4 items - depending on the game's difficulty. If the spellcaster's been particularly good, a staff is a nice toy somewhere in here.

Levels 16 to 20: Things get weird. About level 16 or 17, the amount of money in the game becomes an insignificant factor - what becomes important is getting your hands on those really powerful items: +5 and higher weapons and armor, major stat items, powerful scrolls, and access to the higher end NPC's. In my experience, about level 18, the game starts to break down and becomes pretty degenerate - the group's powerlevel allows them to go places and do things in the blink of an eye and coming up with entertaining challenges and storylines becomes more difficult. It's usually about level 16 where the stories become pretty contrived or so disgustingly epic that they're unplayable - casting fireball on an army isn't fun, nor is sitting through the psuedo-political Arthurian epic and making DC 40 diplomacy checks over and over again.


As to your more direct situation, the particular chain of adventures - the Ashadarlon series - is pretty nutso as you get past Nightfang Spire. The next two books in the series take characters that are post level 10 to places that still make my head swim. And the conclusion of the series is truly crazy. The amount of money you have by the time you get the Bastion is pretty meaningless compared to how lucky/smart you are.

Anyway, looking at the table, a 10th level character should have roughly 49,000 gp while a 13th level should have 110,000 gp. As Nightfang was, generally, designed to take 4 characters from 10th to 13th, that's a difference of nearly 70,000 gp per character. Assuming four characters, you're looking at a total of 280,000 gp for that adventure - at least.

If you wanted tougher hobgoblins, you used ogres, then giants... they didn't necessarily come with that much treasure. Now, if you want a tougher orc, you give him six levels of Barbarian, and now he has all the magic items of a 6th level barbarian...

Of an NPC 6th level barbarian. The two tables are significantly different.
6th-Jan-2006 12:45 am (UTC)
Thanks for your replies, downtym! This was very helpful.
6th-Jan-2006 06:48 pm (UTC)
Most of my statements above come from looking at the monsters for a given level and then figuring out the assumptions taken by the designers. For example, an average, humanoid monster with a CR of 10, an AC of 31, and an attack of +20 shows that the designers assumed the 10th level fighter would have a +20 attack bonus - +10 base attack, +1 weapon focus, +1 greater weapon focus, +2 weapon, +6 stat modifier - and an AC of around 31. Why? Because the fighter would have a roughly 50% chance to hit the monster and the monster would have a roughly 50% chance to hit the fighter - equal PC level and CR level means that there will be a, generally, 50/50 chance as to who wins the fight if the two just stood there bashing at each other.

For something like, say, a fire giant (CR 10), the AC is decreased, but the hit points are greatly increased, as is the damage able to be done by the monster. This represents a mechanical tradeoff - bigger size means longer reach and larger damage dice, higher constitution means more HP, but lower AC counters and thus balances these factors.

There are some creatures in the Monsters Manual which I affectionately call fighter mobs. Essentially these are creatures which if faced with a fighter of equal level, they would have a 50/50 chance of survival. Because of these creatures, I've been able to figure out some of the assumptions which the designers of D&D put into their monsters to "balance" the game. For the most part, I would argue they did an exceptionally good job - there is the occasional overcon or undercon. (An undercon would be a creature whose CR is lower than the actual threat presented by the creature, a 3E ogre at CR 2 for example. An overcon would be a creature whose CR is higher than the actual threat presented by the creature, 3.5 hill giants at CR 7 are a pretty good example)

Obviously, the assumptions made for wizard mob or cleric mob type creatures are fairly different, but one can still piece together from their stats what would produce a 50/50 chance.
6th-Jan-2006 05:13 am (UTC)
Wait, why are you splitting up the parties treasure? Either your party is conditioned to think this way or something is a little out of wack. Splitting up treasure is an opportunity for role playing. Also, what's fair? Should the party wizard wind up with a +2 sword just because that's all that's left? Say a party of 4 players, a fighter, a rogue a cleric and a wizard find a treasure hoard that includes a +1 dagger, a scroll of cure serious wounds, a chainshirt +1 and a ring of protection +1. There is also some gold and gems which they can divide up at any time. The ring of protection is useable by anyone, as is the +1 dagger(except maybe to the cleric). The scroll can only be used by the cleric, or maybe the rogue. The armor is only really useful to the fighter or the cleric (depending on feat choices) and the ring of protection is useable by anyone. Now the cleric may want the scroll, but it may be better off with the rogue(if the cleric falls off of a cliff, they still have healing). Whoever needs the armor, will probably request the other players give it to them. The wizard could take the dagger if he wants to fight more, or the ring if he's getting hurt a lot. If the fighter wanted the chainshirt and was in more of the fighting, the cleric might want the scroll, which would leave the rogue with the dagger and the wizard with the ring, perhaps. But let the players decide. They're quite capable. They can even do it right away, so that you avoid the "attatchment" you spoke of. It doesn't REALLY matter what the items are worth, gp wise, unless your players are heavily into meta-gaming. The important thing is their value to the characters.

As far as buying magical things in town, I just don't do that. In my games if you know who to contact, you can buy a minor magical item from someone for approximately the prices in the DMG, but those are generally bread and butter items. Would you want to part with a +2 sword? Then why should a shopkeeper.

Now all of this depends on campaign style. If you run a campaign where magical items come pouring out of the skin cells of every goblin they encounter, then perhaps there are enough magical items in a town that they can sell them. But if magical items are rare and special, then you won't find them at the corner market. Magical items should be special, even the small ones. Restrict what can be bought, and you convince your players to rely on what they find/steal/aquire/win. Sure, you could probably find a +1 sword, a cure light wounds potion, and perhaps even a ring of feather fall or a ring of protection +1. But how many things like these can you have before you start wanting a fiery goblinoid-bane greatsword. You're probably going to have to adventure to get that. If you can buy that in town, it completely loses it's value as treasure. The things you find in ancient dungeons should be unique and special, not the normal.

Now as far as selling them goes, sure, the PC's can probably sell things. but..
a. If people find out you have a magic sword, everyone will want it, including those willing to steal it/kill you for it/use political power to obtain it etcetera.
b. Most people can't pay 1015 gp for a +1 magical sword. They could buy a small house for that, or 5 good plow horses. It may be hard to find a buyer who can buy it and wants it.

So, in summation, let the players divide the loot, divide it immediately, and don't sell magical items in towns. If you notice one player is getting to many magical items, do what you have to, and make sure there are enough items that appeal to the other party members in the future. My group has never had a problem splitting up magical items because of these things, and I don't anticipate future problems.
6th-Jan-2006 10:57 am (UTC)
For the most part, each of the 'eras' mentioned seems to have a tremendously complicated method of allocating treasure. As the prime GM in my groups D&D games, we simply throw all the monetary/art/gems etc treasure in the bag of holding and split it evenly at a convenient point.
Magical treasure wise - that gets given to the character who needs it the most/can use it to best effect. So, while it may seem that individual characters may get left out, the group as a whole benefits as much as possible.

Of course, this method falls apart in the 'evil' campaign that my wife runs.... In that it's more a case of 'What I say goes' as Ive managed to fight my way to the top dog in the group. But then, this particular campaign isn't a 'usual' heroic type campaign.
6th-Jan-2006 02:09 pm (UTC)
In our campaign, we've always tried to divide treasure & magic in as close to a real-world way as possible. (The players came up with this idea) Let's say Uncle Fred dies, and leaves a house, a car, some other items of lesser value, and some cash to his family members to be divided equally. Usually you determine the cash value of the non-cash assests and divide them appropriately. The problem comes in when the cash left behind isn't equal to the value of the non-cash assets. Let's say Fred left $5K in cash and a $15K car, to be divided among 5 people. 4 people get $1250 each, then the fifth person gets the car and has to pay the difference to the other four. Same deal with magic items, more or less. We also divide according to need, as long as there's a consensus.

I really take issue with the ability to waltz down to Magic-Mart and sell your unwanted magic items with impunity. I always use that as a roleplaying opportunity, and use Diplomacy rolls to determine how much the players actually get for their magic items. I guess that's the Traveller player side of me.
6th-Jan-2006 04:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the next campaign probably won't be in the Forgotten Realms. I have a hard time justifying not being able to buy pretty much anything you want in Waterdeep. Or it'll be much lower-level and far, far away... my players will probably hate me for it but I'm thinking of starting at 1st level to put off the escalating goofiness as long as possible.
6th-Jan-2006 08:09 pm (UTC)
As interesting as this is, I find I'm not currently able to digest argument and counterargument, so instead of doing the responsible thing and reading all the various comments I'll just discuss my own group and hope it helps.

Personally, I prefer to determine treasure myself (though I can count the number of times I've used a premade module on one hand, so that makes it simpler to do). I give out what I think is reasonable for the PCs to have, and I try to provide a somewhat balanced amount of goodies- though admittedly in fairly small quantities.
As far as division of treasure goes, I sort of feel that that's up to the party- if they want to play nice and share, that's great, but if they don't it's not my concern. Generally things work on the "dibs" system: if there's a good reason why one character would have a better shot at a piece of treasure (e.g. they're searching under a bed and happen across an enchanted greataxe... for some reason), they can take it, but otherwise it's a matter of who expresses interest the most quickly. Luckily for everyone concerned my players have generally felt that a balanced party is safer than one in which the quickest to shout has all the loot.
If players want to use their hard-earned gold (including that obtained for selling acquired items) to buy new custom-ordered gear, I'm usually fine with that... though in the last year or two I've sort of gotten to dislike the level of flexibility that gives them, and have toyed with the idea of limiting their access to items for sale. (Occasionally I've also just plain said "no" on an item a player wanted to buy- ring of blinking, anyone?)

It's not a perfect method, but it's worked pretty well for my group. If you're willing to put in the effort to provide a fairly balanced selection of items, and if your players are willing to be mature about dividing it up as they come across it, there's really no problem.
6th-Jan-2006 09:47 pm (UTC)
I've been in campaigns with calling "dibs" on magic items, and that rarely ends well. The rest of your system is pretty much what they're currently using--things get divided up according to who can use them, then they sell the rest.

I'm just going to have to be firmer about what level of stuff is available in future campaigns.
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