Monday, July 15, 2013

The Road To A Treasure Table

Pardon me while I lose myself in some odd mathematical backflips.

I had decided that I should base an attempt at new treasure tables on the number of hit dice a party should be expected to kill prior to moving from first to second level. I decided that "hit dice" would be the equivalent to an average of 4.5 hit points ... necessary, since several monsters of my world have different dice to determine hit points than a d8. In my world, a heavy creature weighing 300 lbs. has 1d10 for each hit point. A 1 HD creature with 1d10 for hit points would be measured as 1.22 HD for the purpose of my treasure tables.

To kill 4.5 hit points, according to my experience system, awards the character causing damage 45 x.p. One can also reason that the monster will cause 4.5 h.p. of damage to the party in general for every hit dice the monster has - this would be the equivalent of 40 x.p. per point of damage, or 180 x.p.; thus, added together, for combat, a given 1 hit die monster would give the party 225 x.p. from combat and ultimately being killed.

If we consider a party made up of a cleric, fighter, mage, thief and ranger (a reasonable collection), that party would require a total of 9,500 experience to advance to second level. 9500 divided by 225 x.p. per hit dice would mean the party would have to kill (and be struck by) 42.22 hit dice. Of course, if the party had it easy, and killed all those hit dice without ever taking a hit, that would only amount to 1,900 x.p. ... far short of what they needed. However, if they were hit a lot, taking more than an average of 4.5 damage per monster hit die they killed, it could require less monsters to be killed.

Then, of course, there is treasure.

I liked the idea of a 1st level character having to kill 5 hit dice to become an 'ace' ... as they used to call pilots in world war I who successfully shot down 5 planes. The gentle reader take note, that would be 5 hit dice per character, or 25 hit dice for five characters. Supposedly, then, the balance of the 42.22 needed could be offered in treasure. As a baseline, then, I reasoned that 25 hit dice of monsters would carry the equivalent treasure of 17.22 hit dice ... or 3,874.5 g.p. That is, 155 g.p. per hit dice.

Now, a great many people are going to consider that a great deal of treasure. I would have thought so myself once, except that of late - the last couple years or so - I find myself thinking about how much coin a typical 1st level party member possesses. That is, along with weapons, armor, general equipment, etc. I usually start a 1st level character with anywhere from 10 to 200 gold, depending on how the character generator turns out ... and it isn't long before they glean a few hundred coins from the general adventure - even if I choke off to a fair degree the treasure they find. There's really no reason to think that an orc who has lived a long life hasn't also accumulated weapons, armor, a nice trinket or two, some gold and silver, etc, amounting to 150 g.p. When one considers how much it costs to feed oneself in my world, and that gold is by no means 'rare' - in that a gold coin only weighs 7 grams, and isn't actually more than about 56% gold anyway - then this isn't a bad guideline.

Too, there are always going to be a number of monsters and dangerous animals that have no gold at all. You have to kill something intelligent to get treasure, and I tend to run my intelligent creatures as dangerously as possible.

Okay, so, lets start with 150 g.p. (rounded off, just for simplicity's sake - the final number is a guesstimate based on an assumption anyway). Let's lop off 60 g.p. from that for weapons; and let's say only 1/5th of it is actual coin. O Reader, compare your own present 'coin' with your approximate worth. That leaves about 90 g.p., which can be divided - for the present - into gems, jewelry and magic. At some later date, I'd like to get down into greater nitty gritty like tools, clothes, land and a host of other assets, but for now I'll keep it simple.

(But just as an aside, how much experience does a party get if it wipes out a manor house and most of the wealth is in the actual house and the land? None, I presume ... but consider that's where most of the actual wealth would be. Very little would be in actual hard currency; medieval manors did not generally keep most of its assets in coins, since there is always so much maintenance to do on a manor. Finding 10 g.p. in an entire estate is a reasonable possibility - many lords were 'house poor')

I think jewelry is the biggest x.p. factor in those three, so I would divide the total in 30 g.p. per hit die in gems, 45 g.p. per hit die into jewelry and 15 g.p. per hit die into magic. IF a particular killed creature wasn't of enough hit dice to enable a piece jewelry or a magic item, that sum would be translated into gold and added to that pile.

The lowest of magic items (in terms of experience listed in the Dungeon Master's Guide) is a healing potion, worth 200 g.p. If we considered that a minimum, the party would have to kill a group of at least 14 HD (in one encounter) for a healing potion to be possible (15*14 = 210). To have a chance at something like a cloak of elvenkind (assuming you didn't get some other lesser magic item), the party would have to slaughter 67 hit dice of creatures - and then the cloak would be the only item.

For example, a party kills 20 orcs, who mysteriously do not have any leaders (who would be worth more than 1 HD, so let's just go with this because it makes things easier). We set up a random die roll so that the average treasure conforms to what's above. Putting aside the weapons and armor (I'm writing another post about that), we roll up an average of 38 g.p., 16 s.p. and 10 c.p. per orc (I rolled high), for a total of 760 g.p., 320 s.p. and 200 c.p. The orcs are entitled to approximately 200 g.p. in gems (also rolled randomly, this time low), but the first gem that's rolled up randomly is 250 g.p. ... too much! So the 200 g.p. in gems is converted to gold and added to the 760. The orcs are entitled to 500 g.p. in jewelry, and we find they have two pieces among them - a sword hilt worth 120 g.p., and a silver-with-turquoise stones goblet one of them has in a bag worth 180 g.p. The next piece of jewelry rolled was worth 210 (10 g.p. too many), so the remaining 200 is also converted to coin.

Those are base prices for jewelry, however. Checking for workmanship or fine gems is an extra bonus that isn't counted towards the average ... however, we check for both pieces and find the values are unchanged.

Now, this is what I was able to manage for the weekend - it's going to take me some time to work on magic tables. Also, I haven't quite worked out a random table for what KIND of gem is found, or what KIND of jewelry is (I made up the sword hilt and goblet on the fly). Apart from that, and apart from a few other things (like a single page that brings all the information together without the calculation), I have got a random table that generates all this that can be found on my wiki, right here.

You'll also find a nice page on weapons, armor and mounts, based on the cultural intelligence post I wrote last week. I will write regarding that table later.

Five years I've been writing this blog. Some days, I feel like I'm just getting started.


  1. Tablet, meet glorious spreadsheet.

    Only thing I cant figure out is how to have it calculate more than one monster. (Excel status: nooblet) Or do I just multiply the result manually?

    And to clarify, would this or would this not replace randomly gen'ed dungeon treasure?

    Give yourself a spine-snapping pat on the back for this one, Alexis.

  2. Quincy,

    On the top of the Coins tab, you'll see a box in orange that says, "Input #HD" ... there is a number in an orange box beside it. You can put any number of HD in that box.

    So if you want to add monsters together, just insert the total amount of HD and all three tables - coins, gems and jewelry will be adjusted.

    Word of warning, however - change the calculation options on your excel from automatic to manual, else excel will recalculate every time you hit return or insert information.

  3. This is a nice anchor point for the whole experience issue. I think this moves the whole discussion forward; maybe we can leave my whining about exp for treasure being illogical behind once and for all. (As if! This the internet...)
    Two thoughts, in no particular order:
    Why should the progression of treasure for hit-dice be linear?

    How does the total possessed gems relate to the total production of gems?

    Finally, I'm trying to understand the math of this, and to follow your spreadsheet, but I'm tired to day and can't seem to get my head around it.

  4. Why shouldn't it be linear?

    It's a game, Maximillian. Six of one, half a dozen of the other ... the arguments for either come down to "what do I believe," and that in turn is just forcing a belief system as though it has some merit beyond just being a belief system.

    A linear system was practical and programmable. Ipso facto.


If you wish to leave a comment on this blog, contact with a direct message. Comments, agreed upon by reader and author, are published every Saturday.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.