After finishing the first part of an adventure and leveling up, the party continued to the next part but all of them died. Now, we are trying the adventure again but without redoing the first part which would be tedious and time consuming.

On their way to level 2, the player characters found multiple items (like potions, equipment, or even items that are just meant to be sold). These items, even though they may have little value at higher levels, at their current situation may provide some much needed help in their adventure. But because the whole party died, all the items are lost with the dead party and I can't just tell them "Your new characters have the same items as the old ones had when you died before" as that would take away from the "immersion".

I know that there is starting equipment depending on class and I did see the answer in What's the starting wealth for higher levels?, but that's exactly my problem. The DM Guide says that starting at levels 1–4 they still only get starting equipment, but in this particular situation, I feel that the characters should own something extra

So is there a guideline to award each character with any sort of items or is it completely up to the DM to decide? Is there a more helpful guideline than the one in the DMG?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Without knowing the modules you used, what would the appropriate reaction of the "bad guys" be? Was that first encounter with guards of an encampment? How much time has elapsed? Could the characters deal with a smaller body of "bad guys" and find the loot (and dead bodies) from the first group's first encounter? Please note, this isn't an attempt to answer, but an elicitation of more information from the OP in order to make an answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – CGCampbell
    Aug 3, 2017 at 14:52

4 Answers 4


No, you will not find a better guideline than the DMG.

That being said, if you feel the players need something it is within your power, as GM, to give that thing to them. It would probably not break the game if you allow your players to start with a few extra potions, or some slightly better-than-usual weapons/armor; just be sure you don't overdo it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 - the rules exist to give general guidance, you exist to tune it for your game, do as you think prudent. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Nov 19, 2016 at 14:58

The problem here seems to be the characters have completed an encounter or two and should have received some benefits from that.

So you should simulate having completed an encounter.

Take a look at DMG 133 to refresh yourself on the rules for treasure found on individuals vs. the accumulated wealth of a group. Then, roll on the Treasure Hoard: Challenge 0-4 table (page 137) once, and if appropriate the Individual Treasure: Challenge 0-4 (page 136) if you think they've dealt with some individual opponents as well. Give the results of this to the party to split or spend as necessary.

Note that by this method, there's a 1/3 chance they won't get any magic items (even potions or scrolls) at all. 5e is a pretty items-light system.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This is an excellent example of how to address this, and there are plenty of encounter and loot generators that you can use online which will help determine what, if anything, your players should have for their level. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 20, 2016 at 19:24

I have no rules citations for this, and won't attempt to present it as part of the handbooks, because it's not. It's the great part about being the DM: creative, realistic storytelling.

The Situation

I count a few dead bodies, the monsters that killed them, the monster's and character's loot, and some scary rumors of evil things lurking in the forest. Enter, the new PCs.

The Story

As DM, you want your world to be logically complete. That is, things that happened should make sense, past events should impact future ones, etc. When the new PCs arrive in town with their extra level, perhaps they hear about the "foolhardy, impetuous, and hubristic hooligans who got slaughtered by their lack of preparation." Maybe the guards are rebuilding the town's defenses to be ready for future harrassment.

Your players remember what they fought, but the characters don't (and shouldn't). If they want to get an idea of the beasts, they should have to ask around or track it, and we all know how good commoners are at exaggerating stories.

So, now what? The PCs might be able to prepare better for their encounter with bloodthirsty whatcha-ma-callits, but the monsters will also be ready for them. Change up their tactics to make the fight a little more difficult, but remember that it was a TPK the first time around. Perhaps the PCs can recruit a few guards to come with them.

Finally, as a reward (assuming they defeat the little beasties), they can scavenge the monster's hoard, finding the corpses' gear and whatever treasure the monster's had lying around.

Sounds like a nice, story-driven, non-immersion-breaking way to (a) have another stab at the same (but different) encounter, (b) retrieve old loot, and (c) keep the world consistent.

To Directly Address the Question

No, there aren't many guidelines other than "you're the DM; it's up to you." This is but one possibility out of many, and actually presumes that they start with normal starting equipment, with the chance to get more gear before and after the battle. Another alternative would be to steal the corpses' gear while the monsters are roaming about, avoiding the fight altogether. It's your group's story. Have fun with it.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Only problem with this is that they won't get the loot (that may help them in the TPK encounter) until after the encounter. But maybe, preparation and NPC reinforcements will help them win it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Adeptus
    Nov 22, 2016 at 1:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Adeptus agreed that is somewhat problematic. Hope the extra prep pays off \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2016 at 1:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Any reason for the downvote? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 24, 2017 at 1:13

The "Starting Equipment" table in the DMG is just meant to be a general guide. See the text just above it, which says, in part:

Such a character has more hit points, class features, and spells, and probably starts with better equipment. Starting equipment for characters above 1st level is entirely at your discretion, since you give out treasure at your own pace. That said, you can use the Starting Equipment table as a guide.

So, your instincts here seem correct — in this case, you don't really want to start from zero. Following the chart seems most appropriate if you're starting a whole new campaign at higher than 1st level, or maybe as quick guidance to adding a new player to an existing game, although in that case I'd be more inclined to go with "make it similar to what the other players have".

What you can do is use the chart to note that 2nd level players almost certainly haven't magic items (maybe one uncommon one in a "High Magic" setting) and less than 750gp or so — probably considerably less just at 2nd.


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