This may be a somewhat convoluted question, but I will try to be clear. My question is in regards to treasure placement. According to the CRB Pg 400:


To aid in placing treasure, the amount of treasure and magic items the PCs receive for their adventures is tied to the Challenge Rating of the encounters they face-the higher the encounters CR, the more treasure it can award.

Emphasis mine. This is self explanatory. A CR 10 fight, based on normal speed should reward in the ballpark of 5,450gp worth in items, no matter the number or type of enemies, so long as they total a CR 10 encounter, and none are slated to have double, triple, incidental, or none in the realm of said treasure. But then, the Bestiary states under the treasure definition for stat blocks:


"Standard" treasure indicates the total value of the creature's treasure is that of a CR equal to the average party level, as listed on the table 12-5...etc

Emphasis mine. This makes it sound like each creature in an encounter gets the total treasure value themselves, which could make an encounter have much more loot, since it's based on the CR=APL for each creature, not the creatures own CR or total encounter CR.

Here are some example scenarios to showcase my point.

1.) You're a party of 4 level 10 characters, therefore an APL of 10. You encounter a Young Adult Black Dragon which is CR 10. You win. In either ruling you get the same 5,450gp worth in loot, tripled to 16,350gp in loot because both the encounter CR and APL are 10, and dragon awards triple loot.

2.) You're a party of 4 level 10 characters, therefore an APL of 10. You encounter 4 creatures, each CR 6 and each stating standard treasure, making the total encounter CR 10 according to CRB tables 12-2 and 12-3. You win. In ruling 1, you get the standard of 5,450gp worth of loot, due to being a CR 10 encounter, standard loot. But in ruling 2 you'd get 21,800gp worth of loot, because you beat 4 creatures of standard loot, each ending up having a CR = APL.

So these 4 creatures have more loot than a CR 10 dragon. Doesn't seem to make a ton of sense to me. So I am curious which is the technically correct method, or am I missing something or overthinking it as I tend to do?

Personal Note: I know from my own research that the most common answers are "Ignore it/Rule 0/Do whatever you want/etc. That is not what I am looking for. I am aware of these options, it's how I've run things so far. But I am a technically minded guy, and I want to know what the technical RAW method is. How are you "Technically" supposed to allot treasure.

In addition, if the first ruling is correct, how do you handle mixed encounters with one creature with standard loot, one with incidental, and one with double for example? In the second ruling it's self explanatory since each creatures loot is individual.


1 Answer 1


You are proceeding from a fallacy that "Do what you want" is an exception to the way you are "supposed to" allot treasure. It's not. The CR/APL/treasure rules are all designed to be little more than a handwave; a "well so probably this might be about right." If you want something that is going to make sense in every edge case, you are misapprehending the intended rigor of the rules.

See also the expected treasure by encounter table in the SRD.

Table: Treasure Values per Encounter lists the amount of treasure each encounter should award based on the average level of the PCs and the speed of the campaign's XP progression (slow, medium, or fast). Easy encounters should award treasure one level lower than the PCs' average level. Challenging, hard, and epic encounters should award treasure one, two, or three levels higher than the PCs' average level, respectively. If you are running a low-fantasy game, cut these values in half. If you are running a high-fantasy game, double these values.

Encounters against NPCs typically award three times the treasure a monster-based encounter awards, due to NPC gear. To compensate, make sure the PCs face off against a pair of additional encounters that award little in the way of treasure. Animals, plants, constructs, mindless undead, oozes, and traps are great “low treasure” encounters. Alternatively, if the PCs face a number of creatures with little or no treasure, they should have the opportunity to acquire a number of significantly more valuable objects sometime in the near future to make up for the imbalance. As a general rule, PCs should not own any magic item worth more than half their total character wealth, so make sure to check before awarding expensive magic items.

Read those rules again. "general rule..." "To compensate..." Sorry man, Pathfinder is not expected to be a NP-complete set of computer game rules, and CR and treasure are one of those places where it is not optional to apply your GM wisdom as the primary determining factor.


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