Monday, November 25, 2013

Putting a Serial Number on Loot - Tackling Tracking of Treasure

I admit to being a lazy DM at times, especially when it comes to loot. Not that I don't like and enjoy unique loot - remember that "thing" with the 2,000 coppers? It's just that tracking it and it's value is often a PITA. Especially when the gems, jewelry, silverware, small bronze statue of the now forgotten halfling god of exceptional height and the like need to be tracked and sold at a later point.

Throwing myself at the mercy of the Court of My Peers, I'm guilty of converting such for the players at the end of a session without bothering to barter / bargain / trade or use a moneychanger. Bad, I know, it's just that it's such a pain to remember the values of items the party found 2 dungeons and 5 sessions in the past.

I'm thinking of giving gems / jewelry / other unique treasures a serial number. That way, when the player wants to see sell the gold doohickey, instead of me scouring notes or past pages from an old adventure, I just look up the corresponding number in my treasure chart:

"I wanna sell that bejeweled toilet plunger from that sewer adventure we waded through."

"Sure, no problem - what's the number on that?"


"K, you'll get 125 GP - maybe more if you clean it first."

Actually, same method would work well with unidentified potions and the like.

The more I think about it, the more I like it.


  1. Replies
    1. perhaps, but I find "cashing out the loot at the end of a session because I cant track it's value" to be less than satisfying

  2. So you don't do the 5 gems worth 25gp each? I know its meta.. but it's just easier to give that out and not have to worry about it again..

    1. i do that at the end of each session, and it feels - wrongish

      and that silver serving platter etched with gold - how the f' are they going to price that?

      sure, I over think at times - but it's far better than under thinking ;)

    2. Provide the rough weights of items. A 44 ounce silver platter etched in gold is going to clearly be worth more then a 24 ounce brass platter. Of course that requires a semi-consistant evaluation for the price of metals (it can vary, the varyijg from place to plce could even be a reason to travel). Many fancy items in modules are insanely expensize compared to coins for no good reason. If coins are 10 to the pound a ring isn't going to be worth much more than a single coin.

  3. I usually use a bit of ledger paper for my goods that I hand out. It's a pretty easy way for me to keep track of things as they sell them about the same size as a check book. So I just throw everything in there and as they get rid of it I mark a line through it.

  4. Yeah, I forget a lot the loot. I write it down to keep track, but I often forget where I put the paper. I'm experimenting with little charts, when I write a dungeon or use a canned adventure I list the loot on paper and just check it off when they get it. But keep it on the computer so I don't lose it....unless I forget what folder I saved it in.

  5. you could skip assigning values to treasure until the PCs are back in town and ready to appraise or sell it. "The pawnbroker eyes your bejeweled toilet plunger and declares ..." (DM rolls dice) "... I might give you 50 gold for this, IF you can remove the smell of night soil."

  6. Work up a secret serial code built into descriptions. First letter or two of each first 2 to 4 words is the "serial number". Brown Sparkling Brew is a different mix from Brown Minty Honey. (Works best for postions).
    You can also use descriptive words and no hard fixed value. A tiny rose-diamond is a tiny rose_diamond of not explicit value until it's sold.
    Hand out cards for unidentfied/unappraised items. It doesn't become a line item on a sheet until the player takes appropriate actions (put the serial no on the back of the card the player and you should never directly. Reference the item by the no but you have it on hand).

    1. The trouble here is that players are notoriously bad at writing down the exact name or description.

      "Statuette? What statuette? Where'd you get it from?"

      "I dunno. I just wrote down 'statuette'. So how much is it worth?"

  7. We used to have a piece of paper where someone would write it down as it was taken (along with monsters defeated). And I would ask them to make a note of where the item in question was from... so "6 gems from owlbear nest" etc. But I usually allowed players to 'cash out' treasure when they got back to civilization --- they would present me with a list of what they were selling and I would present them with a grand total of what they got, handwaving all the selling and negotiations. Usually I just gave them 50% value for art/gems/jewels unless they sold a specific item to a specific person who would want it (i.e.: if an NPC told them that he was interested in any luxurious bathroom accessories they might come across, that jeweled plunger might go for more if they sold it to him).
    Potions were a bit more trouble because sometimes a player would just write down 'potion' on their plunder sheet and they might have obtained multiple potions... in that case I would either guess based on where they were or roll again. I also added NPC alchemists to my campaign who could ID potions for a fee (but they were not always correct and potion testing cost 01-100 GPS each time).
    Personally, I don't mind the '2000 CPS' thing at all simply because it makes XP calculation easier. I thought most players just left copper peices behind, anyway... although as a player I always carry a handful in my character's pocket to use to test for illusions, use as breadcrumbs, etc.

  8. For a while I used a similar system, which really helped out when running tournaments.

  9. Man people don't do this? Been using treasure indexes for years. Players get the description and a number/ID. Tracking that is their job. GM has enough to do without having to memorize / note what was looted.

  10. I don't usually roll the value until they try to sell it. I just tell them "a ruby", "a gold necklace", or "a lapis lazuli idol". When they actually try to sell it, THEN I roll the value. That way, I don't have to keep track of any numbers. As far as roleplaying the transaction - no way. I have better things to do with my DM time.


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