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WarKitty
2014-05-15, 06:12 PM
I'm curious - do you tailor your treasure to the players, or do you just provide random loot? I realize the viability of either strategy varies by game, so I'm also wondering what game you play (and if it varies by game).

Anxe
2014-05-15, 06:19 PM
I do a bit of both in my D&D 3.5 campaign. I'd say about a third of the items I place are perfect matches for what a PC needs while the other two thirds are random stuff that they might use or they might not.

Dagoth Gares
2014-05-15, 06:22 PM
I run d&d 3.5. I do sometimes make treasure tailored to the PCs, but I try to make sure it fits with the setting it is found in. I also include stuff that may not benefit them much at all though, because the world they live in does not revolve around them.

Amidus Drexel
2014-05-15, 06:23 PM
I'm curious - do you tailor your treasure to the players, or do you just provide random loot? I realize the viability of either strategy varies by game, so I'm also wondering what game you play (and if it varies by game).

Tailored? Yes and no.

Random? Rarely.

I like to give my players treasure that they can use - if someone in the party specializes in using a sword, then they'll probably find a magic sword as part of their treasure once or twice; if the party consists entirely of wizards, the treasure probably isn't going to include a lot of armor, etc. That said, I don't always pick things they can immediately - and what treasure I do pick is frequently more related to where the treasure comes from rather than the PCs themselves. An evil temple will have an unholy sacrificial dagger, a dragon's hoard will have piles of coins, a wizard will have magic robes and possibly a spellbook, a gladiator will have really good weapons and armor, etc.

I don't normally pick treasure randomly, though. Random treasure is only for when I don't know what the treasure should or could be - like, if I want to add a random couple of items to a dragon's hoard, or if the players loot an antique shop, or something like that. Otherwise, I try to pick things that make sense for the previous owners.

TheCountAlucard
2014-05-15, 07:15 PM
+1 for "previous owner" tailoring. In games where magic items are rare, that's entirely how I do it.

In games like D&D 3.5, where magic items are coming out the wazoos of the various things of the setting, I'll absolutely roll randomly. Then I'll look at those random rolls and say, "Does it make sense for [antagonist] to have [item]?" If not, I'll change it or work to justify it ("The dragon has these items he can't use because he's a hoarder. The blackguard has the holy longsword because he's recently looted a good-aligned church, and has a ritual to corrupt it to unholy that he hasn't gotten around to yet; in the meantime he's using a different weapon.)

Mark Hall
2014-05-15, 09:16 PM
I tend to go random, with some pieces getting custom selected for a purpose; for example, I had an NPC who worked a lot better with a Horn of Fear. Ergo, Horn of Fear.

Rhynn
2014-05-16, 12:22 AM
I mostly randomize treasure (when tables exist), but weed out excessive items (no +5 swords on the 1st dungeon level) and put in some necessary ones (e.g. the basic D&D toolset of wand of paralyzation, ring of invisibility / cloak & boots of elvenkind, and magic weapons).

HammeredWharf
2014-05-16, 01:27 AM
In 3.5e, I tailor loot from significant NPCs a bit, but don't optimize it. The idea behind it is that the PCs can use the item they looted, with its slightly exotic and less useful enchantments, or they can sell it for half price and go to the magic mart to buy something more optimized, but less valuable. The loot players get fom some random zombies in a dungeon is random.

Fiery Diamond
2014-05-16, 01:52 AM
I'm surprised to see all the people who randomize. I run 3.5. I've never used random treasure. But if I did, it would only be in certain specific circumstances. Basically, my views are exactly the same as Amidus Drexel's views. I'm actually kind of amazed that anyone would do things differently.

Yora
2014-05-16, 02:03 AM
There generally isn't much treasure in my games, and I never roll it randomly. It's almost always something the PCs could use, though it isn't neccessarily what they would prefer to find. But usually, there isn't anything they will just outright sell because it has no other value for them.

Comet
2014-05-16, 02:20 AM
Either randomly or by previous owner. We play in a sandbox setting, so I think it's important that the players get to make decisions based on resources that are not inherently biased in their favour.

Aberrant Knight
2014-05-16, 04:03 AM
I've always preferred to tailor treasure for the party on a mechanical level and adjust it suitably through fluff. I mean there is no difference between a magically enchanted sword from an prized from the tomb of some long forgotten king and a sword made out of such fine steel and sharpened to such a degree it becomes notable. (think the Hanzo sword the bride is given in Kill Bill)

In the end they are both a +2 sword, but the fluff means that it can fit into any situation the PC's find themselves in.
(they do have a habit of walking in the opposite direction to the one the DM plans for them :smallmad: )

arcane_asp
2014-05-16, 04:33 AM
I always taylor treasure for players because of 3 reasons:

1. It needs to be appropriate for the area in which it is found, if it isnt then the PC's may spend many hours debating how it possibly got there and the significance of that (unless of course that is what I WANT them to think

2. Items they literally cannot or will not use are just seen in terms of monetary value, or sometimes even just put to the bottom of the inventory sheet and forgotten about

3. Giving the PC's treasure they will really value seems a much better reward, in terms of items and monies. Often they have to work hard to get it, so I try to make it worth it!

BWR
2014-05-16, 04:36 AM
Yes and no. If I make an encounter and the opponents user gear that is appropriate to them. If the treasure is lots of mundane but expensive items, I try to tailor it. Just saying "assorted jewelry worth 100 000 gp' is boring; 'an orb made of platinum, criss-crossed with fine gold filigree and encrusted with sapphires and emeralds to form the coat of arms of the kingdom' is interesting.
If you make it interesting rather than just money-not-in-coin-shape, chances are people want to hang on to it rather than just exchange it for coin.
If I just need some stuff to put in a hoard by creatures that don't particularly use or care about stuff, I'll roll random.

Fortunately, I'm mostly running published adventures these days so all the treasure stuff is taken care of.

nedz
2014-05-16, 06:23 AM
About 50% is equipment tailored to the needs of the NPC who's using it and about 50% is random stuff: though NPCs may pick from that first—assuming that it's their treasure.

I occasionally drop interesting stuff which the players may or may not find a use for — artefacts for instance, or some McGuffin which might have additional uses.

I don't usually drop stuff with certain PCs in mind. When I have tried this in the past it usually ended up being given to a different PC anyway.

lytokk
2014-05-16, 07:17 AM
I tailor the random treasure. If I roll an adamantine greataxe but theres not a single 2 handed weapon user in the party, I change it to the most common weapon used by the party. Stuff like that. Sometimes though, it'll be tailored. If I went and made the enemies, obviously I picked the treasure and thats what the party gets. If I notice there hasn't been a random item that a certain player can use for a while, I tailor them up something nice, but not level breaking. When it comes to Woundrous items, I usually let the chips fall where they may, unless I've rolled a third gauntlet of str in a group of dex based characters.

prufock
2014-05-16, 07:40 AM
Mostly tailored, and tailored with purpose, at that. I'll explain via example.

In my current game, I have a knight, cleric, warlock, rogue, and druid. They are involved in a 21-level-spanning quest to close down planar rifts and stop the BBEG from bringing ruin to all the planes as a means of weakening the other gods. This type of quest means they have a lot of interaction with extraplanar beings and locales.

As rewards, I give them sort of "blessings" that take the form of items or other things that improve their characters in lieu of random wealth. The abilities of these blessings scale as they increase in level, with no need for messing around buying things in town (simultaneously lessening the "magic mart" and "christmas tree effect" problems). For example:
Knight gets the Armor of God, a suit of full plate crafted in the realms of Hieronious, which has abilities that protect him from energy drain and ability damage/drain/penalties, among other things.
Cleric gets the Shield of Faith, created years ago for a paladin of Cuthbert, which has various dispelling and spell storing qualities, in addition to generic protection.
Warlock gets the Scepter of Fell Power, a rod topped with the skull of an ancient warlock relative, which increases her blasting and invocations. The warlock also recently had her raven familiar blessed with the Anarchic template.
And so on.

Adjudicating the equivalent value of these things is sometimes difficult, but I try to balance what they gain with WBL rules, which I stick to for the most part. If they gain a large stack of real wealth, the abilities granted by their blessed items are delayed in progression.

Unseenmal
2014-05-16, 07:51 AM
I do a bit of both...Before the campaign starts, I ask the players to each give me a list of items they are interested in having for their PC. They can put little * next to the ones they really want.

I have them choose a bunch of items of various levels so when they find a bit of treasure, I choose 1 item from a random-rolled PC's list and add it to the pile. Once I choose something from a PC's list, that PC list is removed from the choices until everyone has gotten 1 item from their list, then I start over with all 4 lists back in action. Rinse and repeat. Until they either outgrow the lists or you used them up. In either case, new lists are provided.

Now for the * items on their lists, I usually make that into a sidequest. As a quick and dirty example....Say PC1 *REALLY* wants a +1 Flaming Sword. Well, then he will have to find and mine/buy/steal a "special" ore. They'll need to head to a place with a better than average blacksmith to make the sword. I don't usually make it that hard to find unless they want a specific metal too (cold iron, mithril, etc.). Then to get the flaming property on it, PC1 will have to dip the sword into the lava from the Dark Volcano of Darkness or strike the killing blow on a fire elemental or something.

I think magic items are cooler when there is a story behind them. AND the PCs earned it. Who cares about the +1 sword they bought from Magicmart? No one because they can buy them anywhere. But the item you built over time with your blood, sweat and tears will hold more "value" to the PCs.

The players love it because I don't normally have many Magic shops in my game. Few and far between. So stuff they find/make are that much more valuable to them.

They treasure the treasure.

ElenionAncalima
2014-05-16, 08:07 AM
As others have said, I do a mix.

I use a lot of pregens, so I tend to stick with what they already have, but I make modifications where I can to give the players something good. However, I won't give the wizard a +2 greatsword just because a player needs one.

I also do fudging to try and keeps things balanced. Its easy to throw wands and scrolls towards the spellcaster, but sometimes it takes a little more effort to find stuff the others can use.

Airk
2014-05-16, 08:35 AM
Assuming we're talking about D&D, I believe in tailoring treasure, simply because doing otherwise is basically imposing a tax on the party as they will often have to sell/disenchant/whatever to get any value out of a +2 Bec De Corbin, or an item for a class that's not even in the party.

This doesn't mean I'll give everyone their wishlist, but I'll try to provide stuff that is useful.

In terms of "providing what's appropriate to the opponents" honestly, that's such a low bar that it's not really useful. Does the bandit king favor battleaxes or longswords? Who knows or cares? Do the enemies have a wizard or a sorceror? MIGHT depend on the race of the enemies, but still. And anything that 'hoards' treasure, this becomes more or less completely irrelevant. ("Is it more likely that this thing ate a fighter or a rogue?"?) There are some circumstances where this is useful, and using it is great when it does, but it's not much of a guide by itself.

Jay R
2014-05-16, 08:56 AM
I've tailored it to a PC, but only rarely, when that PC wasn't having much fun. Most recently, I arranged for a 2E 1st level wizard to find a Pearl of Power which allowed an extra 1st level spell per day.

Beyond that, I tailor it to a previous owner, or a current owner. I try to give the attackers items that will be useful against the party, but not overbalancing, either in the current owner's hands or in the party's hands. I recently had a 5th level wizard (who had neither fireballs nor lightning) using a Wand of Conjuration against the party - but it had only 14 charges. By the time the party got it, it had two charges left.

They should never find an item with a Wish in the hands of somebody actively fighting them. If they are found at all, they will be in a long-lost treasure with no current owner, or in the treasure of a mindless enemy - Gelatinous Cube, or zombies, or some such.

John Longarrow
2014-05-16, 09:42 AM
Regardless of game I do a mix.
If the foe is not very important I'll roll (oh, look. Thug 7 has a colt defender with 6 rounds!)
For important treasures / NPCs I assign them what is appropriate for THEM (Evil wizard has magic ring, wand, and spell book)

Some times random items become major plot twists though, so I like adding them in game. I also make a lot of custom items, so I can be really inventive at times.

some guy
2014-05-16, 10:33 AM
I tailor treasure to important npc's/places and rarely tailor for pc's. Most of the times I roll randomly.

Jay R
2014-05-16, 12:57 PM
When tailoring the treasure to the NPC, don't forget that she might have something that was tailored to the monsters she slew yesterday.

nedz
2014-05-16, 05:51 PM
When tailoring the treasure to the NPC, don't forget that she might have something that was tailored to the monsters she slew yesterday.

Hence the random half.

icefractal
2014-05-16, 05:57 PM
I don't always tailor it to the PCs, but I always keep in mind whether they can/would use it, and factor that into what I put.

For example, if the party is a couple of Rogues and a Wizard, then I know that heavy armor is just going to get sold. So if they defeat some foes who have a bunch of full plate and tower shields, I'll just put: "Misc. Armor worth 12,000 gp" as the treasure item - no point writing down a detailed list that will never matter. And conversely, if there's some armor that I want them to use (the foes' allies or enemies recognizing it would be interesting, for example) then I'll make it something that they would actually want.

That said, I put things the PCs can use more often than not, because it's just more interesting. An item they use can have history, it can have side-effects but enough power they want it anyway, it can remind them of the foe when they pull it out later. An item they sell at the first opportunity has a lot less potential.

Thrudd
2014-05-16, 06:10 PM
In a game that is about hunting for treasure in dungeons, most of it is random. I will modify the contents of the random rolls sometimes, depending on the context of where it's found. The majority of the treasure rolls are done during the creation of the dungeon, and their results partly inform what the inhabitants are like. If I have a gang of orcs led by an ogre, and their treasure includes a wand of magic missile and a scroll of purify food and water, I would say that they must have killed a party including a magic user and a cleric. I can then dress their section of the dungeon with a couple skeletons dressed in adventurer's garb, pierced by arrows and skulls bashed in. For random encounters, treasure rolls are done on the spot (when appropriate), and are rarely modified.
To tailor everything found to be something the party needs or is able to use begs believability. I will give players opportunity to find items they can use by creating adventures around them. There will be rumors of treasures they would be interested in. If they go in search of a rumored magic sword, they will have the opportunity to find a magic sword (it might not be exactly what they expect, rumors being what they are).

Averis Vol
2014-05-17, 04:04 AM
I absolutely randomize my party's loot. I take a cache of loot for each group of enemies, and if after I've built the foes, if there's something in the horde they could use, I replace their equipment with it. As both DM and player, the fun I find in the game is that things will be somewhat random, and the chance to find something unique, that may have no relevant use currently, but that might possible perhaps help later is what keeps me interested in loot. If every new item I find is another warhammer, I just lose interest.

To me its exactly the same as when a DM always fudges rolls so that the PC's always win forever 'cus they're suuuuuper badasses. If there's nothing to overcome, whether it be gear or monsters, the game isn't worth playing.

Jay R
2014-05-17, 05:27 PM
When tailoring the treasure to the NPC, don't forget that she might have something that was tailored to the monsters she slew yesterday.
Hence the random half.

That's not what I meant. An evil priest that sacked a temple of Venus should have some Venus-related treasure. A thief near a monastery should have some monk-stuff. A Gelatinous Cube should have things that dungeon crawlers carry. The orcs in Moria should have some dwarf-made treasure.

The non-random part of the treasure should be partly tailored to the NPC, and partly tailored to the people the NPC has conquered - and that might be the real goal.

Thorin wants the Arkenstone back.

nedz
2014-05-18, 12:28 PM
That's not what I meant. An evil priest that sacked a temple of Venus should have some Venus-related treasure. A thief near a monastery should have some monk-stuff. A Gelatinous Cube should have things that dungeon crawlers carry. The orcs in Moria should have some dwarf-made treasure.

The non-random part of the treasure should be partly tailored to the NPC, and partly tailored to the people the NPC has conquered - and that might be the real goal.

Thorin wants the Arkenstone back.

Ah, thematically appropriate stuff — that's not what you said.
Actually I do this too sometimes — though it's not what I said either.

Jay R
2014-05-18, 11:41 PM
Ah, thematically appropriate stuff — that's not what you said.
Actually I do this too sometimes — though it's not what I said either.

"that's not what you said."
"though it's not what I said either."
That's pretty much the theme of any net discussion.

HighWater
2014-05-19, 03:14 AM
"that's not what you said."
"though it's not what I said either."
That's pretty much the theme of any net discussion.

Except the "admitting it"-part. That part is new.


@OP:
I customise the loot players find, always looking to preserve suspension of disbelief. I start out with determining the total value of treasure found (over a session generally). Then I ask myself the question "what are these enemies definitely carrying with them?" I give them that, which may include some potions or scrolls, and deduct it from the total treasure pile. Then I might throw in an item or two that I read about and think could make a fun find. Then I might roll on a table or two for something random... Rolled a MW Handcrossbow once. Changed one of the opponents to be a rogue dual-wielding those babies, deducted the items from the total pile. Then I hide some treasure along the way for the players to discover, this may be neat items from the MIC/DMG, custom items I thought up myself for use by a PC (and praying they are the one to get it), or randomly rolled trash... Making the treasure make sense can be a bit of work! Personally, I think it's fun though. :smallwink:

DigoDragon
2014-05-19, 08:15 AM
I tailor most of it as my players were picky and will usually hock anything they can't find an immediate use for. Thus tailoring the treasure means less time spent at shops and more time spent chasing down adventure.

Defiled Cross
2014-05-19, 09:13 AM
Of course.

Especially weapons/magical items..

:smallbiggrin:

Knaight
2014-05-19, 05:33 PM
I generally avoid games which are treasure heavy - the whole "loot" aspect of RPGs just doesn't appeal to me much. That said, I do assign equipment deliberately to NPCs, for a few reasons. One of them is that I just don't like random tables. Another is that I find that what I assign will make sense, whereas random junk won't. For minor NPCs (e.g. generic bandits) there will probably be a weapon, maybe some armor, food, a mark or two of their job (bandits are likely to have obviously stolen goods), etc. For more major NPCs, there's more likely to be stuff indicative of their character in particular.

Jay R
2014-05-19, 05:51 PM
Note that we are discussing two very different situations.

If the game has significant numbers of magic items for sale or trade, then it doesn't matter too much what they find, except if they need to use it between there and town.

But in games in which items are rare and not for sale, what they find is what they can use, so the decision turns out to be much more important.

Spore
2014-05-20, 03:34 PM
Loot? No.
Quest rewards? Depends.
Buyable stuff? Definetely.

We play in a large city and the people will have on them what they carry. PCs have to get creative to usw the loot. Quests are more difficult - not in danger but in simple party coordination. And a DM that wants his NPC to live shouldn't give the Wizard an expensive firearm, the Barbarian a magical instrument and the Fighter an expensive vial of poison.

Jay R
2014-05-20, 05:28 PM
The good treasures can be random. They are good, after all.

But any cursed object should be carefully tailored to the recipient, to be something that adds to the fun, the challenge, and the drama, rather than just being an annoyance.