Looting and selling valuable equipment is a key revenue generator for PCs in many RPGs, but how did this work historically? I have a vague idea from fiction that when armies brought home large amounts of looted equipment to eg. Rome, the supply officers may have auctioned it off in lots. If so, then what? Barbarian weapons wouldn't be used by the legions, but did some supplies filter back to the military apparatus? Outside of simple trophies, what objects had a useful life beyond their initial owner?

On a smaller scale, the peasants in The Seven Samurai murdered and looted wandering swordsmen, but what would they have done with the equipment after storing it? I'd assume they would launder the goods through shady merchants, but the peasants don't seem sophisticated enough to get away with that for long without getting caught and hanged, or cheated and extorted. Maybe that part's fiction. How did it work in reality for bandits, scavengers, etc. trying to sell dozens of military weapons and suits of armor?

Are there any historical references on the subject of the economics of battlefield loot, from any culture before the 1600s or so?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I’m voting to close this question because campaign research questions are off-topic. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Aug 9, 2021 at 21:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am also voting to close this question, but of note, I have also upvoted it—it’s a great question. Just not one we can help with, sadly. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 9, 2021 at 21:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Worldbuilding or history stack exchange might be more appropriate. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 9, 2021 at 21:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I suggest worldbuilding.stackexchange.com because, historically, "adventurers" were hardly a thing, and worldbuilding guys are great at extrapolating from reality. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Aug 9, 2021 at 21:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ You'll want to check the respective sites on-topic guidance and possibly metas before asking. And which site you ask will probably depend on what kind of answer you're looking for. Since you've asked here to begin with, is there a particular RPG use you were intending to apply this to? I ask, because there may be a very good question in that, but it'll at least require some more info. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Aug 9, 2021 at 21:27


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