CCT Journal 5: Loot

One thing I don’t like about D&D is loot. I know plenty of players just really love loot. They feel rewarded by it. They are motivated to seek it, and they feel their characters are defined by it. Personally I just think it is a big pain in the ass.

When I run a homebrew D&D game I put in a bunch of house rules putting the balance of power in character development on attributes and skills and such so that equipment is less necessary to advancement. Money and gear is then somewhat rarer than normal, and I don’t usually let my players spend time in magic item shops (which I find obnoxious and dull).

Running a module, I obviously don’t have that option (or not as easily). Furthermore, the designers couldn’t have known what types of characters would be playing this module so the loot tends to lean more toward money and less toward unique items and gear. The players are expected to go buy the gear they want and will need to survive challenges later on.

So I’ve “solved” this situation by introducing the characters to NPC artisans. The Grindleknaut Brothers are new owners of a boutique custom magic item factory in Korvosa. The players have become members of their exclusive clientele and are able to order a wide variety of items made custom, or have items modified as they go along. The do all of this entirely out of game so that we’re not wasting fun time looking over charts of crafting costs, but this allows players to “shop” in a way which is more original and fulfilling to me. They can keep that beloved mace or longbow and just “upgrade” it as they get the funds, rather than replacing it with the next +1 higher from a shop window. Plus these Grindleknaut Brothers have a personality and their magic items have little “surprises” built into them that give me great plot hooks and entertainment.

We’re only just getting started, but so far I’m satisfied that this will be a good compromise with the format of the modules where almost all the rewards come in monetary form and I have very little interest in coming up with an endless list of vendors offering +2 Plate Mail and Cloaks of Resistance.

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