Handing out treasure in D&D

I’m a patreon and avid listener of Sly Flourish’s podcast and in his latest episode he talks about ‘awarding treasure in 5e’ so I thought I’d talk a little about how I do it.

The first thing to understand from my point of view is how experienced are your players?

Inexperienced Players

With inexperienced players I pretty much always decide what treasure to give them. I use what I learn from their characters in either session 0’s or the game and then for any treasure they gain, probably up to level or 5 or so I tailor to their characters.

Depending on the tone of your game … I often give the party as a whole some ‘game breaking’ or ‘super fun’/’mega powerful’ artefact at VERY low levels. My favourites are artefacts that give out stuff at random or things like the ‘marvellous pigments’. If it isn’t clear from my other articles on D&D … I enjoy chaos and the fall out of chaos.

The goal being … to make them ‘experienced’ players of course :)

Experienced Players

I always let them decide. Always a discussion. I am usually prepping them throughout the campaign, often over whatsapp asking them what kind of stuff their character would like, then doing a little bit of customisation myself. This allows me to design with the players the items they want as well as understand what story beats where important to them.

That means a little to and fro collabratively with the players … they might say, “oh I want a +3 weapon” and I might say “well you are level 5 so no…” … in the end they start saying things like “I want something that makes me feel more powerful, I feel like I don’t do enough in situation X” or “It was rubbish when I was charmed by creature Y, I think my character would not want that to happen again”

On top of this in game Ill ask ‘is character X looking for something in particular?’.

Usually for the horde itself Ill just give out a bucket load of cash/gem based equivalent rather than have items in the horde and then do a shopping episode pretty soon after.

The exception to this will be items the BBEG or their minions have dropped. I quite enjoy making magic items myself and so I do that through giving them cool gear. I usually bake in the selling price of these items into the value of the horde.

As for prices for said magic items…


Wrap up

I’d encourage you to go watch the sly flourish video, he goes into more detail, but in the end I broadly agree with him. I can see the value of dropping the items in the hoard, except that some folks might feel like they haven’t had an item in a while, or that something is unfair. By giving out cash and then designing things with players that they would want to purchase.