FrankenFourth: Treasure & Magic Items

While flipping through the treasure section in the Dungeons & Dragons Game (1991 black box) rulebook, I noticed two differences from the most recent editions that I really dig.

The first is that there weren't wealth-by-level guidelines, something that was started in 3rd Edition. Yeah, the game cautioned against awarding too much or too little treasure, but basically the placement of treasure could be best summed up as "just make sure the players work for it".

Side note, since the majority of XP in older editions was gained via snagging loot (which makes no goddamned sense), it actually suggested figuring out how much XP you wanted to dole out in an adventure, and use that to determine out how much treasure needed to get placed.

The second was that when it came to figuring out random treasure hoards, monsters seemed to award by their type, not by their level or Hit Dice or Challenge Rating or whatever (another thing started by 3rd Edition).

For example, if you looted a dragon's lair you got treasure type H, regardless as to whether it was a lowly white dragon (6 HD), or a considerably more powerful red or gold dragon (11 HD). Other examples include most bears and great cats, which coughed up type U, and all giants netted you type E+5,000 gp.

These are both things I want to lift for FrankenFourth, but treasure will also deviate from the more recent editions (3rd through 5th) in several other ways.

First, the game uses a silver standard, something I was really hoping 5th Edition would adopt back when I still thought there was a chance that it might have become anything other than a rehash of 3rd Edition. Given that most people would use copper and silver pieces, this makes more sense, and in playtests the players are more excited when they find gold and platinum pieces, in part because...

...based on 3rd, 4th, and 5th Edition's guidelines, wealth acquisition is slower all around. In our Age of Worms playtest everyone's 5th-level, but the wealthiest character "only" has about 3,700 sp in assorted coins and gems. This is far less than what even a 2nd-level character in 3rd Edition should have (the equivalent of 6,000 sp), though it's actually pretty close for a 2nd-level character in 4th Edition (which should have around 3,520 sp).

It just felt absurd to me that, even at the start of the game, within a day or two of adventuring the party could be rolling around in hundreds, possibly thousands of gold pieces (not counting the plethora of magic items they'd also find).

Monsters currently have a treasure entry that specifies what it can have, so you don't have to refer to another page or even another book trying to figure out what a treasure code means (or figure out the encounter's difficulty and then reference other tables). There are also two treasure categories, personal and lair: personal treasure is what the monster carries around with them, while lair is what you'd find in its, well, lair.

Finally, and I'm sure I've said this somewhere else, magic items aren't necessary or assumed. No, not even healing potions (though there are alchemical variants that impose complications). Melissa and I have a lot of experience writing weird and awesome magic items: we're going to port pretty much everything over from our 10+ Treasures line, meaning the initial game will have well over 150 magic items to choose from.

If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Throughout the month of May, everything in our DriveThruRPG store is 13% off. If you want something and don't use DriveThru, hit us up and we can work something out. We've also added most of our stuff to Tabletop Library and Payhip.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Beastmaster is also out, and we're working on a cleric and paladin class next. If there's anything you want/don't want to see in those classes, let us know!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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