... now with 35% more arrogance!

Friday, July 23, 2021

Simpler Treasure Codes

So, I did all that stuff about mnemonic treasure codes, and then I decided there was a way to make the mnemonics much easier to read and more compact: (1) Fewer primary treasure prefixes, and (2) Ditching table lookups for base values.

Explaining the New Codes

First, the prefixes. We only need three:

  • A = Arcane Artifact or Magic Item
  • B = Bulk Treasure (coins of various types)
  • E = Extra (or Expensive) Treasure, for gems and jewelry

The suffixes remain the same, but come immediately after this prefix, and only when necessary: Bc specifies copper as the default instead of silver. Eg specifies gems only, if jewelry is absent or less/more abundant.

Artifacts (A) only need a numerical prefix and optionally a suffix: 3 A means 30% chance for three items and 4 A+s means 40% chance for any four items + one scroll. For Bulk treasure and Extra treasure, though, use a roman numeral, which is easier to use than the vowel system I came up with earlier.

  • V = 5 coins value
  • X = 10 coins value
  • L = 50 coins value
  • C = 100 coins value
  • D = 500 coins value
  • M = 1000 coins value

To shorten things a bit, though, we can mix in arabic numerals instead of using more than one roman numeral (so, B3X instead of BXXX.)

Most of the time, coins will be in small bags (BL,) large sacks (B3C,) or chests (BM.) 5 BgM means 50% chance of 5d6 chests with 1,000 gold coins each. For gems and jewelry, that roman numeral refers to the base value of each gem or piece of jewelry, not the quantity. The most common value will be EC (base value of 100 coins.) In general, all gems and jewelry can fit into a single container.

How to Check for Treasure

For arcane artifacts, only one roll is necessary: a Chance Roll to see if there are any magic items at all. There may be additional rolls to decide which items are present, but this is optional; you could just pick whatever you want, any way you want.

For coins, you can handle all treasure checks with three rolls.

  1. Chance Roll (d10 roll under prefixed number, or whatever you prefer) to see if any coins are present at all.
  2. Default Coin Amount Roll (prefixed number = number of d6s to roll.) Total this, then set aside highest d6 rolled; call this the secondary coin amount.
  3. Secondary Coin Amount Roll (secondary coin amount = number of d6s to roll as a dice pool.) Every 1 rolled is an extra container of lower-value treasure and every 6 rolled is an extra container of higher-value treasure.

So, if the code is 5 BsM:

  1. Roll d10. If result <= 5 (50% chance,) there are coins in the treasure trove.
  2. Roll 5d6, get {1, 3, 3, 4, 4}. Total is 16 chests of silver, 1,000 coins each.
  3. Since highest d6 in Step 2 was “4”, roll 4d6 and get {1, 1, 2, 6}. Result is two chests of copper and one chest of gold, 1,000 coins in each chest.

If a prefix has two suffixes (Bsg,) roll Step 2 twice, but only set aside one d6 as the secondary coin amount for Step 3. The lower-value treasure is below the lowest value listed as a suffix, while the higher-value treasure is above the highest value listed. In the case of Bsg, this means there would be copper and platinum.

For gems and jewelry, either roll the same as you would for coins, using the third roll for gems or jewelry of higher and lower value mixed in with the rest, or just roll for chance and quantity, then follow the procedure in Monsters & Treasure, p. 40.

Using Treasure Codes for New Monsters

When designing new monsters, you would want to follow a more rational pattern than the original treasure types:

  • Don’t worry about minimum quantities, only max quantities.
  • Don’t use the plus or minus modifiers.
  • Don’t split probability and quantity. Just use one number. If you want the treasure amount to be higher or lower than the probability would indicate, adjust the roman numeral instead (poor monsters might have small bags instead of chests, for example.)
  • Only record the most common type of coin, letting the rules above handle other types.
  • To make treasures fit better with each monster, focus on exclusions and bonuses. 4 A+2s no w as a magic-using monster’s artifact treasure is a much better customization than randomly raising and lowering coin amounts. 3 BgM no s might make sense for custom lycanthrope treasure.

Instead of assigning numbers to treasure probability and amount at random, work out a formula tying this to monster level. I think this is a good start:

Hit Dice Quantity X Base Value G/J Magic
up to 1+2 max hp/2 X BL x1 1 A
2 to 10+ HD/2 X BM x1 X/2 A
11+ HD/4+1 X B2M x10 X+1 A

Replace the X in columns 3 and 5 with the value from column 2 (round up) to get the coin and magic treasure codes for a monster. For gems and jewelry, use X EC, replacing X with the value from column 2, then add the multiplier from column 4 as necessary. So, for example:

  • For a 1+1 HD hobgoblin lair: 4 BL 4 EC 1 A.
  • For a 6 HD troll lair: 3 BM 3 EC 2 A
  • For a 10 HD hydra: 5 BM 5 EC 3 A.
  • For a 12 HD dragon: 3 B2M 3 ECx10 4 A.

This starter code could then be customized, shifting some low-HD monsters to copper instead of silver, for example, or adding a x10 multiplier to gems for a gnome lair, or adding bonus magic items to mid-level monsters that have more powers than usual.

Creative Commons license

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0

(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license.

No comments:

Post a Comment