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I have a predicament I've come across in a campaign I'm running. Here it is.

In a past session my DM (a friend of mine) challenged me to complete the entire trial with strict restrictions.

The equivalent of blind-folding, gagging and deafening someone. You get the gist.

The outcome of this was an allotment of certain magic items as the trial was done through a magic warehouse of sorts.

Following this the DM proceeded to constantly bring up my character sharing all these items, despite my character having been abandoned in the previous session by this group.

This goes on for around 3 IRL weeks where its brought up, I shoot it down, he understands and we laugh but he still comments that it would be the right thing if my character didn't have the reason they had for not sharing (the abandonment).

This brings us to the present.

The party recently went through a monster hunt as part of a request, with another opportunity for the party to gain some useful items for themselves. All characters got items that they themselves could use. Except mine. I didn't roll the highest on perception or insight that's fair but I did still roll a Nat 20 for a 24. Despite this 2 of the 3 items I was not able to use. Due to class attunement necessity or martial requirement. In mentioning this all the DM said was that's what happens with random rolls for items, not everything goes your way.
But would it not make sense that my character would look for shit that would suit him??
Why did I get a staff of healing (cleric/Druid attunment) while I'm a Kensei monk?
Also note I have an item that allows me to use the identify spell so this is made doubly questionable.

So main thing is, is this right, is the forcing of Players to share loot despite previous events not frowned upon?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hello, and welcome to the site! While this site is intended to answer questions about role-playing games, the current question being asked seems to me that it can only lead to too specific and "opinion based" of an answer. This site certainly can handle the kinds of questions you're asking, but you might need to "clean the question up," as folks around here say. Perhaps trying framing the question so it asks about the rules that govern loot distribution for your specific game, or ask a question regarding the typical kind of social contract for your specific tabletop game. \$\endgroup\$
    – NFeutz
    Aug 10, 2023 at 22:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ You need to tell what game you are playing. If it's DD5, put DD5 as a tag. Also you are using a "homebrew" tag but is isn't clear what that refers to. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 10, 2023 at 22:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand anything that's going on here, how is the first half of the question related to the last paragraph? Also you first say you're running the campaign, then talk about your character, which one is it then, are you the DM or the player? This all reads like a rant to me rather than a question. \$\endgroup\$
    – AnnaAG
    Aug 11, 2023 at 8:37

3 Answers 3

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It varies by the table you are at, but this distribution of loot is fairly common in many tables.

As an initial matter, I assume this is D&D and probably 5e. This isn't stated directly, but use of terms such as DM and Kensai Monk suggest that its probably D&D or closely related and most likely 5e with Xanathar's Guide to Everything in use.

Distribution of loot varies from one table to another. Ideally, broad discussion of how loot is distributed would be at least mentioned during Session 0 if it is going to be a major issue.

That said, a situation where the DM rolls for loot randomly on tables and then leaves it entirely to the players to figure out how to distribute it is not at all uncommon. I have played in groups like that and while not everyone likes it (its not my favorite and I don't use it as a DM) it is valid and viable.

It sounds like your DM is using this system. Since this is relatively common and generally viable, my recommendation is to accept this and either start trading with the players or use downtime to find a merchant to work out a trade with NPCs assuming your DM supports doing that. (Depending on how you read it, 5e arguably discourages that, but personally I ignore that and am fairly liberal about allowing trading magic items through merchants as long as it makes sense in the story).

Of course, if this truly bothers you, you can always ask the DM as part of a group conversation to use a different system to distribute loot. You could for instance ask the DM to hand pick magic items for the individual members of the party instead of rolling. This is also fairly common. Its what I do. Using that system, situations like the one you are describing are much less likely to come up. This is arguably somewhat meta-gamey or putting the game a bit more on rails, but personally I think it makes things go more smoothly and avoids problems of someone being left out or someone else getting too much.

As a side note, but one that might be highly relevant, 5e is less dependent on magic items than earlier editions. In 3.5, if a martial class could not get magic items, they would have a very hard time keeping up with spellcasters and at higher levels could reach a point of being useless. In 5e, this is less of a concern. Of course, if the others are getting useful items and you don't get something to compensate, then you will fall behind the others at the table and that is a bad thing, arguably for everyone. But it is not necessarily as devastating as it is in 3.5.

In short, what your DM is doing is not generally frowned upon and is fairly common. But it is also not the only way and if it bothers you, then you may wish to discuss it with your DM and ask for a different system to be used.

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Roleplaying games are games of teamwork. There is no set goal, rules or board based on which you could "win" against the other players. Not even the GM.

All of you "win", when you have fun, none of you "win", if you don't.

Assuming that all the ingame achievements are reached by team work, there is no point in personalizing the rewards. There is no "magic item for player X". There only is "we found a magic item, what should we do with it?".

Now, obviously, you can roleplay a group of power hungry selfish egoists that only want more for themselves, the team be damned. That can be fun, if all agree that it's fun that way. You can also play a group of evil characters, if all agree that is their way of having fun. Just remember that roleplaying was conceived with the idea that all players are good hearted people acting as a team, in the interest of the team.

Now, your description strikes me as a group of players that doesn't let their characters work as a team. Challenges are not faced together ("my character having been abandoned") and rewards aren't shared for the best of the team, whether that is the rewards you got and didn't share, or the rewards they got and did not share when you got a less useful draw of luck yourself.

It seems to me that you are not really happy with that. There is no hard and fast ingame rule to solve that for you. Loot distribution and how characters stick together or abandon each other is not a rule on a page of the book. It's roleplaying.

If you don't like how your roleplay works out, then you need to speak up, out of character, preferably in an extra session that does not focus on a specific issue ("but I want you to give that dagger to my character!") but on a broader, more abstract issue with less emotions attached ("I would prefer us to work more as a team, to provide each other with opportunities instead of problems. Take loot distribution as an example, next time, why don't we...").

Depending on how that works out, you need to make a decision for yourself, if this group and this style of roleplaying is enough fun for you personally, to take part. There are enough groups out there, that have different styles.

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Answering for

The DM provides items, players decide what to do with them

The distribution of loot has a long tradition, going back to the very roots of our hobby in OD&D (where it was even more important, because it also generated XP).

Generally, how a group distributes magic items is up to the group. How the player characters act is their decision, not the DMs. There are many different ways to do this, and it can easily lead to disagreements and hurt feelings if there are no rules agreed upon as to how it is done, including what happens if a character leaves the group. That's why many groups have agreed-upon rules for this.

For example, in our group we use a rule that everyone gets the same value of loot, no matter who found it or was present at the time. Magic items are not automatically owned by anyone, they are given to be used to party members from the group, based on who can use them best for the group's benefit, and on how many other items everyone already has, by majority consensus. Sometimes items are not given to own, for example if they are so valuable that a fair allocation would be difficult at the time, but only lend to the character by the group. If the character leaves, or the relative power and value is not extraordinary later on in the campaign, they have the option to pay off the rest of the group for owning these. But that is just one of many possible schemes.

As to the question if your DM is unfair in how they hand out magic items: no. First, random selection of items is common for generative play where the items are not predefined by published modules to begin with, and the DMG even has rules on this with the treasure generation tables (p. 133ff). Second, some DMs prefer the interesting decisions, creativity and side adventuring e.g. to trade or sell them caused by items not tailor made to the characters, and that is as legitimate as tailoring items to the characters. Lastly: you are getting a lot of items.

Over the course of a campaign encompassing 20 levels, based on the core rules you should expect a total of 45 rolls for magic items on the hoard loot tables. That is 2-3 per entire level, and includes consumables. Xanathar's Guide to Everything recommends 100 items (including consumables and common, "mostly-flavor" minor items for fun), or about 5 per level. So what you describe, handing out multiple items in a single session to a single character seems pretty generous unless the DM is stingy otherwise.

You should talk to your DM outside the session if this bothers you, so they are aware, and also give them a chance to explain. For example, it is possible that they only gave multiple items to you during your "ordeal" as they assumed you would share these items across the group and you were the chosen champion for the group to win them. This would explain their later nudging, but you should not rely on someone from the internet musing about their motives, you should talk with them.

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