On Saturday, I introduced the element of using cards to represent pieces of equipment into my D&D campaign.
This has involved, so far, having the party write out legibly their equipment, so that I can replace their lists with cards, each marked with encumbrance values. I plan to have these cards ready for the players at the beginning of our next running.
It also involved the first time that treasure obtained was given to the party in the form of cards. I had made them up ahead of time, and once the baddies were all nicely butchered, the cards were made available to the party.
Now, a little background, if you will. Up until this last running, the party has been neatly dividing up treasure, highest roll claiming the choicest pieces and so on. I was not certain how the cards would change this arrangement…but I can describe the result.
Or rather, I can give you a sense of the result.
It was necessary for me to make the rule that if the card was damaged or bent, the item would be considered broken or destroyed.
This immediately calmed the free-for-all.
It is profound how quickly the prospect of a physical card made getting a hold of the +2 hammer a much more immediate thing. People talk of somehow adding emotionalism to the general role-play…you should watch five people dive for a stack of cards once given.
I realize now, of course, that the actual physical distribution of the treasure is going to be an issue. Rather than presuming that bodies are searched, and coins are gathered from sacks or from piles on the floor, then added together and tallied, I really will have to distribute my treasure according to the physical placement of characters in the room.
I admit, I’ve gotten lazy about that. After so long of dealing with people wanting to search bodies and open chests, I’ve lost all interest in detailed descriptions of what is in the small belt pouch as opposed to the backpack…and now I have been duly corrected in that. Because if I don’t carefully manage how the various loot is found, there are going to be fist fights during my campaigns.
What I did like was the after trading that went on once the cards were gracelessly distributed. Although there were more than sixty different items of treasure, the actual distribution was accomplished in very little time. The trades were made quickly and quietly, with everyone keeping silent about what they had actually found in their hands. It was impossible for anyone to tell if they had the better or the worse of the deal…since they couldn’t see what others had.
Since I’ve adopted the rule proposed by Jim of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, that wealth receives no initial X.P., getting it only when it is spent on character-building purposes such as establishing homes or getting drunk, I did not need to distribute experience after the fact that would allow players to compare how well they did. And since my world does not have a “one-item one-price” methodology on account of my trade tables, the items DO NOT include a g.p. value, either.
So if someone has a card that says, “silver snuffbox with six amber carbuncles,” how valuable is that, really? Of course they can’t know unless they hie thee to a jewelers, or they have some legitimate experience themselves. At which point I can give them the local value…secretly.
Thus, this has been a rocking success. The party has discovered how desperately greedy they are, the new concept is quick and workable, and there are unexpected variants to how players will react and inter-play.
What more could a campaign ask for?