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My party and I had just finished part of a Pathfinder campaign and are converting over to D&D 5e. Previously we mostly just distributed all the loot between ourselves with the paladin carrying the majority of the heavy items (as he was the strongest). We mostly ignore armour and currency for encumbrance, and are very lenient with inventory. If any individual item would be extremely awkward to carry in real life we may consider ourselves encumbered.

We often forget about magical items we've picked up in the Pathfinder campaign, like rings of protection or cloaks of resistance. Sometimes we've forgotten they exist when a character dies and we bury them (despite our characters likely seeing it on the fallen character). We try to split useful items around, and sell everything else, but we've also lost track of notable items for the story-line when people are either missing from the session or are skimmed over from another person's character sheet. We'd try to have a few of each consumable we'd carry on each person in case we get caught in a pinch, but then we don't know exactly how many we have due to the lack of communication. But communication could be a whole nother issue.

This led to some issues with regards to knowing

  1. How much money we actually had, and
  2. Knowing what loot we had and how it could've been useful

The result was that at the end of this campaign we hadn't sold much, and our DM did a bunch of extra work to figure out everything we should've had, and currently do have, and we had a little scene with a merchant we had a... poor history with. We went from having about 10k gold pieces between the four of us to about 115k gold.

We decided to create the meta-role of treasurer (which I'll be primarily filling), but I'm looking for a good system to keep track of all the items. Here's what I've thought of so far, but I was wondering what other people do or what I'm missing.

I've created a Google Sheets page that has the following columns:

ID; Date Recieved; Item Name; Quantity; Brief description; Cost

Then one field for “Current Wealth (GP)” and one for “Current Wealth (Total)” which will be the estimated value if we sold all our loot at 50% value at a merchant.

What I'd like to ask is...

  1. What items should I be logging? Everything? Only loot/sellable items? Consumables?
  2. Would I log everything, including what other people have?
  3. If I was to keep the majority of the money for the group, should we try to keep a consistent nK gold on each character? Say 2000 for random purchases if we get split up?

As it's been discussed in the comments, I'm not looking for why to log items, but rather how people have done it previously. I'm relatively new to D&D, but I enjoy looking after data and making sure we're all ready to go before our next part of the journey. I just don't know how to make my spreadsheet effective, prior from testing it out. As you add things to a sheet, you loose data you would've otherwise had if it was built properly in the first place.

I don't believe this question should be put on hold because I believe that this sort of meta-role should have some best practices/methods and have objective pros/cons in every campaign.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Currently we don't include currency at all, and only include items if it's ridiculous. Typically equipped armour isn't counted and are very lenient with what you're carrying. I do plan on getting a bag of holding, however. \$\endgroup\$ – KGlasier Nov 4 at 16:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is definitely NOT Primarily Opinion Based. Those answering should be folks who have used systems like this (or seen them used) and methods for doing this and can speak from experience \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 4 at 16:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you elaborate on how your group intends to use the loot in an upcoming game, and towards what end you would be pooling party resources? There are a lot of reasons people might, and the specific role and duties of a treasurer may depend on the specific answers your table has to those questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Nov 4 at 18:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ (I'll reflect this in the question) @Upper_Case For the most part we try to use what we can. Give a ring of protection to someone we got as a drop, etc. Previously we just kept a few 'consumables' on each person (everyone takes 3+ healing potions incase we're in a pinch), but sometimes we get items involved with the storyline like a journal or a beacon of some sort someone has to carry. We primarily just wanted a way to keep track of our current wealth, log any story-related items, and not loose items from when/if people die. \$\endgroup\$ – KGlasier Nov 4 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, one of the specific issues I've run into relating to this in my games is when items or money changes hands, it's hard to ensure that it is simultaneously removed from one player's inventory and added to another's. So you run into issues like "Wait, did you add that 50 gp I gave you last week? Because I already subtracted it from my gold." I don't have a good solution for it, I just wanted to point out that specific aspect of the problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Nov 4 at 21:06
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Here's how I handled this role

In an older D&D 3.5 edition game I played, we had some similar growing pains. The problem became obvious when we discovered that the random decorations we had taken when we'd nicked everything not bolted down from a mansion were worth a lot of coin. Now this was before the glory of Google Sheets and readily accessible laptops so we opted for a nice graphing paper table. I was not decided for treasurer but I was decided for quarter master. So my advice is as such.

Split the Job

A treasurer is nice and all till you find out they've had the healing potions all along and the Fire resistance potions right after your red dragon fight. So split the load. Either physically have two people or have two separate lists. Equipment and Consumables vs. Loot. I can't accurately recall the exact terms of the table but it was something like...

Item|Date Received|Quantity|Description|Value

Split between two lists, we were able to keep a fairly accurate record of our findings. But it's not useful unless everyone buys in. Which leads me to a second point.

Log Everything and Who Has it

It is inevitable that someone will want something from the loot list or the gear list. They might be decorating their newly bought cottage that totally won't be destroyed next week (probably by them) or they might actually need to have a Potion of Giant Strength to match that inordinately strong arm wrestler. So the job of the treasurer is about logging as much as it is about tracking. It's important to keep track of who owns what item because it could be very important for burial purposes (whether you loot them or not is a matter of contention) or for situations where the party is split. This leads right into the last point.

Log the Total Amount of Money but Each Player Keeps the Coin

No one likes handing their gold over. Even when they understand the reason it is an unfun thing to do. So don't do it. Sure there should be a party fund, a tax on all proceeds for party-centric purchases like a permanent teleportation circle, a castle, etc. It puts a target on the treasurer's back both from bad guys and bad acting players to have the whole coin purse. To me, it's just not worth it. So log incomes and expenses as if all the gold were concentrated but leave each player to their own devices with their money.

Caveats

As with all things, caveats exist. Things that are unlikely to ever be useful again like that dungeon key from 5 months ago can just go under a misc. tab where it is never to be seen again. Same goes for non-value items like letters, body parts, or other accouterments. This is clutter and makes for more work than is necessary.

One thing that really can get you all messed up if you use tables like this: Do Not Erase Anything. Once something's used, either strike through the list, or put an x next to the item. For consumables, just mark an x for every one used.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This looks almost identical to how we did 'stuff' tracking' in a long 1e AD&D campaign, using a grid/table; particularly spreading the coin out. (The DM was kind big on encumbrance and speed penalties in that campaign ...) you've saved me trying to come up with an answer - thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 4 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I remember older editions of games would have you consolidate money into gems. My game had the first 5k free and we didn't ever get past that. Also not exactly a system I would recommend to people without an accounting degree. I enjoy the minutiae but I doubt others would be of a similar opinion. \$\endgroup\$ – GuidingOlive Nov 4 at 22:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does the fourth point mean "you have to tell the treasurer every time you spend a coin?" If not, the sheet will soon be out of date. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Lymington supports Monica Nov 5 at 11:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think we only tracked gold expenditures. So the copper and silver amounts would be off to a degree but gold was mostly accurate. Because I'm extremely attentive I could often catch when gold was expended and notify the treasurer myself. As long as you are attentive you can catch most gold expenditures. Any pre/post session gold expenses could be solved as simply as the GM telling the treasurer what was bought for how much. So players don't necessarily have to tell every coin but the tracking needs to come from somewhere. \$\endgroup\$ – GuidingOlive Nov 5 at 16:22
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Accounting

The most important part of being a treasurer is the bookkeeping. Make sure that every copper piece that goes in or out of the group is documented, preferably with some sort of double entry accounting system. There should be surprise random audits as well.

Safekeeping

Aristocrats are not stupid, and neither are adventurers. Direct currency is presumably not something carried in bulk on a routine basis unless the one carrying it is looking to get robbed by a bandit.

Presumably the city the party is based in will have an exchequer or other banking facility, which should be used to deposit coinage so that it doesn't get stolen.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ an exchequer or other banking facility, which should be used to deposit coinage so that it doesn't get stolen Unless Jesse James time travels back to a quasi medieval era, or to be more genre appropriate, unless there's a thieves guild in that city ... 8^D \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 4 at 22:18
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Use Tabs

When I did bookkeeping for a group of 12 in a West Marches campaign, the first thing I did was to create a "front page" or front tab to sum up all the info we'd end up putting on the other tabs.
We created tabs for holdings, dues and a treasury tab.

Treasury Tab

The most important part of this tab is to log where everything is. whether it be in the bag of holding or on Character X, this is your secret weapon.
What goes in this tab:

  • Consumables
  • Uncommon and above magic items(page ref is a good idea here)
  • objects clearly meant to be sold(that aren't yet)
  • and any and all group funds

What does not go in the treasury: Random weapons and armour, ammunition and so forth.

Holdings

If your party ever ends up owning stuff, then you note it here, along with any potential upkeep, and earnings this holding grants. You might want to add in lists of people there or other stuff, just remember that you are treasurer, so the first things you want are upkeep and earnings.

Dues

If your party establishes debt to anyone for any reason, that can be paid off in coin, note this here. The same goes if someone owes you. note things you owe as a negative number, things you are owed as a positive number.

"Front Page"

Here you create a summation of Dues, Treasure, Upkeep and Incomes. You make all your information digestible here so that the other members of your group can clearly see your financial situation.

A thing to note is that 5e and pf have two potentially very different opinions on how money and magic items mix. Being able to buy magic items is an optional rule in 5e.
From the DMG, page 135:

Unless you decide your campaign works otherwise, most magic items are so rare that they aren't available for purchase.

The cost of many services in 5e are fairly cheap so something like 50 gold is normally enough for a week of living if not more.

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