I have always felt that ine of the hardest things for a DM about a dungeon crawl is coming up with loot that is not overpowered but still helpful to the players. This problem isn't really a huge one because I've always managed to come up with something but I figured that I'm unlikely the only one who has this so I figured I'd see how other people went about it and so forth. I'm especially interested in low level loot thoughts. Also, what are thoughts on straight gold vs. gems ect. That can be sold for gold but have little other use?
Personally, I don't worry about whether or not loot will be useful to the party anymore. One of my favorite aspects about d&d is when players use their abilities or loot in surprising ways. If I'm constantly vetting items for usefulness before they get placed in the dungeon, then I'm potentially denying myself—and the players—of that joy. Another potential issue with this mindset, when you cherry pick loot with the PCs in mind rather than the NPCs or Monsters who possess(ed) the loot, then it might feel a little false and convenient.
To answer your question, this is what I do: I look at the roll tables for whatever level encounter the dungeon happens to be, and find loot that feels thematically appropriate to the dungeon, or reskin something until it does.
Regarding gold vs. gold & random valuables, I personally prefer the latter. In my opinion, only gold feels a little false and convenient. Gems give you opportunities for RP with gem dealers, and I believe there's at least one spell that specifically requires gems as a component. Art objects gives you opportunities to worldbuild by creating famous artists and bizarre or enlightening pieces that reveal something about your world. That said, if your players absolutely loath bookkeeping, maybe just use gold, make it easier on them.
As a player, I've never enjoyed searching a dungeon and finding endless bags of hundreds of coins, as it becomes a bit meaningless, especially at later levels. However, I do enjoy finding all kinds of wierd things that are really mundane and just there for flavour. Maybe I can convince a merchant that this weird dragon statue is worth a load more than it is? Or maybe I just have it as a good luck charm. Of course, the odd +1 sword or magic item is fun, but they can become too common as well.
As a DM, I try and homebrew a lot of items, and throw in lots of trinkets and the like. And anything regular that they find, will almost always be reskinned or reworked, unless it's just rubbish rusty shortswords that bandits use. I (hope) it stops them glazing over items until its powerful/magic. Even if its just "Hey, I'm going to swap my regular dagger with this sick curved blade from the Ashur with a deer horn handle." There's no difference, except now they can't throw their dagger, but it looks cool.
I also find lack of caring about gold/jewels is linked into boring stores too. If the Party know that a dungeon will provide them with a +1 sword and millions in copper, and then they go to the General Store and it's just like reading the Item list of the PHB, then there is no reason for them to care about either the copper or the items. Whereas, if they find a retired sailor who sells harpoons and books of ill written sea shanties, maybe they'll want to get some gold to go shopping.
One of the best stores I ever used was in a smugglers cove, where this mad old merchant set up a jumbled trade post. No gold could be used, everything had to be traded. But values also became meaningless, it was purely upto the old merchant and what the Players had to trade. So cue them digging through their bags to find the odd bits they'd picked up on their travels, and trading axes for taxidermied animals, and statues for diamonds.
Post by dmslythytoves on May 18, 2021 19:56:04 GMT
I love giving players magical items, but yeah, they can definitely cause trouble.
So part of my current campaign, my players are collecting dragon scales, which they can utilize to increase their own power. There is a traveling merchant who collects scale for trade, so the party is now hoarding everything they can get their hands on and constantly looking for the merchant.
And they usually experiment with all of the items! Some they thought about trading but decided to keep, others I thought they'd never get rid of, but traded away at the first opportunity! But it scratches MY treasure itch!
Love the idea of having something that gives progression towards the end goal of a magic item rather than the sliding scale of more and more small magic items that stack up in a weird way.
The more magic you add the harder it is to calculate what can and can't happen with the party.
I am very prone to doing this because I like giving them out. I have taken to using the band aid of having a truly random set of rolls to determine what they have found. Then again that bites me back by them invariably rolling insane numbers.