# Should a DM tell the players how valuable non-magical treasure is?

In D&D 4th edition most official adventures have encounters that come with lists of treasure items and their values.

Example (not a great one but you get the idea):

Polished Ruby with gold leafing worth 250gp

My thinking is: How do the players know how much something is worth? Are they just generally familiar with treasure?

If you deny players the right to auto-value each piece of treasure then you have to track each individual piece of treasure until the players decide to liquidate their hoards.

Which is the intended practice in 4th edition?

Should the DM auto-value non-magical treasure for the players or force the players to get non-cash treasure appraised through some formal process?

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My group has just simply (for the sake of simplicity) just reduced whatever objects we find that have value to their gold value. This reduces book keeping and simplifies wealth in 4e.

However, if you want to pedantic, or show that an item is far more significant than a run of the mill gem stone there are skills in 4e that can be used for appraisal. In the Trade Goods entry in the compendium there is a section called "Buying and Selling:"

To perform either of these transactions, establish the total value of the trade goods in question. Use the major purchase column on the table in the Pocket Change entry to figure out the level of this transaction. For example, unloading a rare book worth 10,000 gp—or a forged copy of the same—would be a 15th-level transaction. Use this information with the Difficulty Class by Level table (Rules Compendium, page 126) to determine the DC to sell or buy a trade good, or to recognize or pass off a fake item.

Then make a check (usually Streetwise) to find either a buyer or a seller. Use the moderate DC for the level of the transaction in a location with a good-sized marketplace or population. Use the easy DC in major trading hubs such as the City of Brass, and the hard DC if the value of the items far exceeds the locals’ wealth. A successful check indicates that the transaction has been completed.

This is followed by a table with the prices of common items. Again, I would only use these rules occasionally, adventurers should have an idea of what the loot they find is worth, and its probably worth letting them just convert it to gold (As that is the point anyways).

So in short: Yes. Unless you want to show significance to a specific item.

Note: The RAW approach here would involve granting the players a Pouch of Platinum or similar which would allow them to automatically change gems into coins.

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+1 for demonstrating the rule to "appraise" in addition to your own method. – user2102 Apr 9 '12 at 14:17
Your "Pouch of Platinum" link runs into a registration wall. – Mason Wheeler Apr 10 '12 at 20:26
@MasonWheeler that's intentional. D&D insider is a paid service, but is the best resource for 4e information. – wax eagle Apr 16 '12 at 11:48

I can't speak for the 'intended practice in 4e', but my opinion is that it depends on the focus of your campaign/group. If you want to focus on the storyline, combat, adventure, and other similar things, I would just do something along these lines:

DM: You find a Polished Ruby lying by itself in the chest. It about a 1.5 in inches long and throws brilliant red light across the walls when you hold it up to your torch. Would you like to take the 250 gold its worth or keep it?

This way the players still feel like they're getting cool stuff and not just money all the time, even though that's what it ends up being. They still have the option of taking the ruby itself in case they feel like they might need to bargain with goblins that have no love for gold but are quite interested in anything shiny.

On the other hand, if you're group focuses on commerce and item-dealing, you might want to make them actually find a place to sell it. In this case, you can give them a range of what it 'looks like' it might be worth and have them go somewhere to find how much they can actually get for it:

DM: You find a Polished Ruby that looks like it could be worth anywhere from 175 to 500 gold pieces.

Player: Interesting, that's probably worth holding on to to get appraised somewhere.

(they bring it to their favorite shopkeeper to see how much he'll actually pay for it)

Shopkeeper: Hmmm, looks interesting, but I actually have a few like it already. I'll give you 200gp for it.

This is probably the most 'realistic', since they players can probably come up with an approximate value for it if they examine it, but they might not be close. Supply and demand can also fluctuate, so if you like that sort of thing and it plays a significant role in your campaign you could probably take advantage of the differences between apparent value, true value, and offered price to make for some more interesting situations. :D

On a related note, I personally am a fan of decreasing the value on objects whose primary purpose is to be sold, but then letting the players sell it for that entire value instead of at a cheaper price. This prevents situations like this:

DM: You can sell it for 200gp.

Player: How much is it worth?

DM: 250gp.

Player: darn, even though those merchants have to make money somehow I feel like I'm getting ripped off. Maybe I'll keep it and keep asking you until I find somewhere where I can sell it for 250gp.

DM: (thinking): [oh great, should I just give him the stupid 50gp extra so we don't have to spend any more time on this? ]

Hopefully, you get something more like this:

DM: You can sell it for 200gp.

Player: How much is it worth?

DM: 200gp.

Player: Cool, full value! I'll sell.

This way the player is happy they got their money's worth since they weren't going to get much more than 200gp for it anyway, and the DM and rest of the group are happy because you all can move on with the campaign. :D

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There no Appraise skill in 4e. Just tell them.

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no, but it could easily be mapped to dungeoneering or perception or some other skill. – wax eagle Apr 9 '12 at 2:28
the Exchequer's Ledger seems to indicate that the ability to appraise is present in 4e, even if there is no explicit skill definition. – wax eagle Apr 9 '12 at 2:49
I can't see the compendium. They made the conscience decision to remove Appraise in 4e, and given how gold/equipment-focused 4e, I can see why. – okeefe Apr 9 '12 at 13:04
I agree on that, mostly. I think Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium certainly has to change that just a touch though. – wax eagle Apr 9 '12 at 13:06

I think that the rules are not 100% crystal clear and that you (as usual) should go for the option that keeps the entertainment higher without making the game too cumbersone. This means that it depends a lot on playability issues and the level / experience of the players.

I'll try to clarify: if you have a very inexperienced group of novice players, appraisal, bargaining and sharing of a 250 gp Ruby can be fun, while when you have players with millions of experience points, thousands of gems in their castles, etc. having to keep track of each piece of treasure (that may be worth 200 or 250 gp, depending on how you roleplay and bargain on each of them...) is just a useless and painful complication. Much better saying the value straight away. After all, in the game mechanisc, gems are just an easier to carry tresure (i.e. more value per unit of weight compared to standard gold pieces).

You may use the house rule (quite common, I have to say, as I encountered it in several unrelated groups from several different countries) that humans only require gold pieces to acquire experience points, while demi-humans can use also gems and jewels to level up... this will just make the players trade the gems between them when it's time to share the treasure, or go to merchants as soon as they go back to a civilized place. This will be made more straightforward if the value of gems and jewellery is "open" - it just saves time when you have hundreds of gems to handle.

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4e doesn't have any kind of mechanic where gold/gems/money of any kind, can be used to level up. – wax eagle Apr 9 '12 at 17:24