One aspect of the fourth edition (4e) of the Dungeons & Dragons game that separates it from it predecessors is the formulaic nature of treasure placement. Determining if this aspect is good or bad is a task best left to blogs that debate such things. It is beyond debate, however, to say that the 4e game doesn’t include tables for random determination of specific pieces of treasure, art objects, or gems, favoring instead static lists of generic “treasure parcels” for parties of every experience level.
After having used the 4e treasure placement system in play for a few months now, it seems safe to say that the system works as advertised: by following it, the heroes will have sufficient purchasing power to obtain potions, learn rituals and create magical items without unbalancing the game. What is lost, though, is the variety of monetary treasure seen in prior editions, and the realism added to the game by well-described treasures.
This writer’s experience has shown that, for every player who doesn’t care what a 50 gp gem looks like, there is another who does. For the former, the 4e treasure placement system works perfectly well; for the latter, with deference to the hosts of Pimp My Ride, the RPG Athenaeum presents its premiere episode of Pimp My Treasure Parcel, where a few customized treasure parcels are presented for the dungeon master’s use. This week’s episode, Levels 1 to 3, provides new monetary treasure parcels for parties of experience of the first three experience levels. Each list presented below begins with parcel No. 5, as the first four parcels listed for every experience level are occupied by magical items in the 4e Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG). As there is virtually no difference in value between any parcel listed below and its corresponding parcel in the DMG - parcel No. 7 in the level 3 list below carries the same value as parcel No. 7 for level 3 in the 4e DMG, for example – any parcel listed below may be freely interchanged with the official rules.
No. 5. 841 cp, 346 sp, 107 gp, and a bluish-colored moonstone gem (50 gp)
No. 6. 769 cp, 283 sp, 44 gp, and a golden ring, carved to look like intertwining leaves that hold the setting for a piece of green jade, carved in the shape of a blossoming flower (100 gp)
No. 7. 260 cp, 174 sp, and a black tourmaline gem (100 gp)
No. 8. 309 cp, 229 sp, 74 gp, a plain gold earring (5 gp), a pewter drinking flask (5 gp), and an engraved silver comb (10 gp)
No. 9. 110 cp, 29 sp, and 6 gp. Heroes who take the time to examine the coppers will notice that one coin is larger than the others. This larger copper coin was minted by a defunct civilization and is in especially good condition for its age, making it worth 50 gp to a collector. Heroes who just stuff their backpacks will probably spend it as a normal copper, and end up 50 gp poorer for not paying attention to detail.
No. 10. 15 gp, and a white jade pendant, carved in the shape of an intertwined sun and moon
No. 5. 70 cp, 63 sp, 53 gp, a rock crystal (5 gp), a blue quartz (10 gp), an onyx (25 gp) and a dagger scabbard inlaid with a checker pattern of turquoise and white jade squares (200 gp)
No. 6. 60 gp, and three matching items of jewelry: a gold-inlaid chain belt (100 gp) and two identical bracelets (25 gp each). If sold as a set, the three items have a combined value of 200 gp.
No. 7. 80 cp, 62 sp, 48 gp, an obsidian gem (5 gp), a tiger eye agate (10 gp), and a pewter vase inlaid with ivory, depicting a woodland scene (100 gp)
No. 8. 111 cp, 69 sp, 12 gp, and a finely-crafted hardwood box inlaid with mother-of-pearl and lined with ermine fur (50 gp), which contains a palm-sized statuette of a seahorse, carved from pink coral (100 gp)
No.9. A small carving of a campaign deity’s symbol, fashioned from a single piece of clear amber (90 gp)
No. 10. 29 cp, 47 sp, 5 gp, and a gold ring set with a mottled blue azurite gemstone (50 gp)
No. 5. 370 cp, 363 sp, 105 gp, a golden stickpin (10 gp), a crystal vial filled with fine perfume (25 gp), and a silvered longsword etched with flame patterns, bearing a deep red garnet gemstone in the pommel (200 gp)
No. 6. 280 cp, 352 cp, 162 gp, a gray-black hematite gem (5 gp), a smoky quartz gem (10 gp), a blue zircon gem set into a silver ring (25 gp), and a pearl (100 gp)
No. 7.190 cp, 181 sp, 145 gp, 10 matching silver buttons, cast to resemble oak leaves (10 gp for the set), a rock crystal gem (25 gp), and a rosewood mask inlaid with gold and carved amber (25 gp)
No. 8. 250 sp, 145 gp, a blue quartz gem (5 gp), and a gold cloak clasp, carved in the shape of a deaths-head with garnets set into the eyes (50 gp)
No. 9. 380 cp, 262 sp, and 80 gp.
No. 10. 15 gp and a pair of fine boots, lined with black fox fur (10 gp). Heroes who examine the boots closely will detect that one of the heels is hollow, and swivels outward to reveal a small compartment containing a bloodstone gem (50 gp).
Next Thursday, the RPG Athenaeum will present Episode 2, “pimping” treasures for heroes of levels 4 to 6.