As an old-school AD&D 2nd Edition player, I like most of the changes in 4e. One thing I can't come to grips with is the loot system.

I hate hate hate that the treasure drops are tailored to such a high degree. It pushes the game into such a linear progression for equipping your characters.

I'm thinking about sitting down and discussing the 50% Loot System with our DM. I really miss finding random loots in treasure caches, and this system seems like it would bring some of that mystery back. The system in a nutshell:

  1. The DM randomizes (most) loot.
  2. Items are sold at half price, instead of at 20% of list price.
  3. All treasure parcels containing magic items are raised by one level.

If you're into mechanics, please read the thread for some nitty gritty details. Apparently the system works quite well.

Has anyone tried alternate loot systems? What are your experiences with them?


4 Answers 4


If you read the 4e DMG 1 the Parcel system in D&D 4 is a recommendation. I.E. "If you want to fight X Monster of Y Difficulty then you will need Z gear." The modules Wizard wrote were designed with the recommended progression of monster power, character power, and attendant treasure. Somehow it this got transformed from a recommendation to "This is how it done." To change the feel of the treasure system then you need to change this assumption.

If you want break away from the predictable 4e treasure system then I recommend your or your referee play the setting more realistically. Note this is not the same as realism in mechanics. The mechanics of 4e can stay the same. By realism in the setting you have a more natural distribution of treasure and monsters. Which is roughly like a pyramid.

The implication of this is that once you move beyond low heroic you will be fighting a low of creatures on the low end of the scale while traveling through wilderness or town. The treasure will likewise be low end stuff. To find the better treasure you have to seek adventure and go to places that are more challenging. You find those places by roleplaying and tracking down rumors and legends.

I realize that this doesn't sound too much different. However unless you go seek those place, put yourself in harm's way,you will never gain better treasure. You may continue to level because you overcome various roleplaying challenges. This system divorces the gaining of treasure from the gaining of level.

Doing this will go a long way to restoring the mystery of finding treasure.


Take a look at the D&D essentials changes to magic items and loot. It takes a lot of steps in the right direction.

Before these changes my group had a similar problem but went it a different direction then what you suggest. We:

  • removed the ability for a player to start with anything other than magic weapons, armors and neck and then only with a basic +, no extra effects.

  • free up feats like expertise to be more flexable so that players aren't "tied down" to a particular weapon.

Once we started doing these things, we found that we became excited about anything magical that we found. Sure a fire resist cloak wasn't as good of an item for the fighter as a cloak of the walking wounded would have been, but its a heck of a lot more exciting than the +1 cloak he was wearing.


We've abandoned D&D4 now, but when we were playing it, we didn't use the loot parcels concept. We either had random treasure rolled from, I think, AD&D1 or we just got what was specified in the scenario; we were running through a third edition campaign, so the loot wasn't optimised for D&D4.

We had no problems. Although D&D4 is quite a closed system, the loot and treasure stuff seems the easiest component to omit or amend without breaking the game.


In my original Caldera setting, I'm basically getting rid of magic item "drops" and just letting characters purchase magic items.

It's a saberpunk (high fantasy inspired by cyberpunk tropes) campaign, so magic replaces technology in this world. A PC can go buy just about any magic item he or she wants off the black market. Finding the magic items they want can be a source of adventure (and skill challenges). I can even let them buy certain items as magical tattoos! "This guy says he can give you a shoulder tattoo that will make you fight at a +1 with a sword it's attuned to."

Yes, this is a lot like tailoring magic items to the party, but it doesn't strain credulity the same way. If you're just going to pick items off the party's wish list anyway, why not let them buy what they want? Then you (the DM) give out more coin treasure (or goods that can be sold) and let them buy off their own wish list.


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