Castle Amber (1981) seems to offer an excessive amount of treasure for PCs of levels 3 to 6. For example:

Areas 1 through 10 includes about 28,000 gp; 3,000 pp (each worth 5 gp); gems and jewelry worth about 7,500; a potion of poison; a staff of healing; a +2 sword; a +2 sword that's intelligent and possesses special abilities; a +3 sword; +2 chain mail; and +2 plate mail. That's with about half of areas 1 through 10 containing no treasure. This is just the beginning: Castle Amber has nearly sixty keyed areas.

I totally get that Castle Amber makes keeping this treasure difficult:

The PCs are, essentially, trapped in Castle Amber then in the alternate Material Plane of Averoigne, making multiple forays into Castle Amber impossible. Hence, absent a bag of holding or similar for their loot, PCs will struggle to return to base camp with even that first ten rooms' nearly one-and-a-half tons of gold and 300 lbs. of platinum!

What interests me is this: I didn't play a lot of , instead playing mainly wherein both adventures seemed to realize that treasure equals experience points if a PC can get that treasure back to base camp, and adventures seemed to keep a tighter leash on treasure and magic items. (This might just be my experience; different perspectives welcome!)

Thus here are my questions, hopefully tightly packed enough not to warrant separation:

  • Does treasure in serve a similar purpose as treasure in ? That is, does the gold piece value of treasure equal the experience points earned for acquiring it?
  • Does own standards for treasure distribution agree with the amount of treasure present in Castle Amber or is the amount of treasure in the adventure as excessive as it seems?

I'm in the process of DMing a campaign that will see Castle Amber converted to that edition, and one of the campaign's goals is to hew closely to the original adventure so as to provide a similar narrative experience to the original while using mechanics with which my players and I are more comfortable. However, meeting with this goal and running Castle Amber seems impossible without first understanding more about 's treasure distribution methods.

Note: For those unaware, Wikipedia explains Monty Haul as part of its Munchkin entry, but TV Tropes has a specific Monty Haul entry that's significantly more entertaining.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @dcfyj You made me double-check, but, yes, according to the Dungeons and Dragons Fantasy Adventure Game Basic Rulebook (1981) on Coins (47) and in the glossary (63), a platinum piece is, indeed, worth 5 gp rather than 10 gp. I think it was D&D 3.5e that converted coins to decimal values (therefore also explaining the extermination of electrum pieces). \$\endgroup\$ May 22, 2017 at 19:18

2 Answers 2


Yes, treasure nets XP

In my 1983 copy of the Basic/Expert Rules, on p 11 of the Read This Book First! Dungeons and Dragons Players Manual it says (emphasis mine):

When you find treasure in an adventure, write it down on a separate piece of paper. At the end of the adventure, add the treasure to your list, and figure out your new total.

and on page 12:

For the treasure you found, you get 200 XP (one experience point per gold piece value)...You also get a [10%] bonus [for your class' prime requisite score being above average]

On page 40 of the Dungeon Masters Rulebook it states:

Magic items are not counted for XP awards, but they are useful in other ways...

So gold, gems, art, equipment and coins found, and subsequently retained, as treasure do indeed add to a character's XP total. The party split should be well established ahead of time, obviously (some methods are on Players Manual p55).

Amber's a Haul

Within the Dungeon Masters Rulebook there are guidelines and warnings regarding treasure placement on page 40:

You may choose treasures instead of rolling for them randomly. You may also choose a result if rolls give too much or too little treasure. These choices should be made carefully, since most of the experience the characters will get will be from treasure (usually ¾ or more).

After running a few games, it may be easier for you to first decide how many XP to give out (considering the size and levels of experience in the party), and place the treasures to give the desired results. However, be sure to make the monsters tough enough to force the characters to earn their treasure!

So, the Castle Amber haul described above does indeed seem excessive, though apparently mitigated, at least somewhat, by being difficult to retain at the end of the adventure.


Forewords: it's been quite a bit since my last DM'ing (20 years at least), and I don't have my boxed sets at hand reach right now, so I'm going a bit by memory.

First of all the answer to the explicit question: as already stated by Chemus each gp is an XP point too. But, do take notice: no more than one level advancement for each adventure! No matter how billion gold pieces equivalent you can bring home, after a bit is "just money".

And it's an X module. That is, the players have already got their fare share of loot in other adventures, they all probably already have a tons of magical items, +2 swords are a dime a dozen, and so on. It's listed as level 3 to 6, but X officially begin at level 4 and unless your party is composed of 8+ peoples this module will be played mostly with level 5 characters, that means that xp needed for advancement will begin to be quite high.

Second, a bit of unneeded and unrequested "bigger picture".

The most important fact about this module is its background. See, the Amber Castle is not exactly meant to be played as just a stand alone module...hell, ok, it is, but what I mean is that it's part of a huge, bigger background and it fits into that background: Glantri.

Ok, let's make things clear first: Glantri settings will not be finalized 'till a lot later, 6 years, when the GAZ3 will be published. Glantri as a setting already existed (it is mentioned into the module itself, too), but I was 4 year old when X2 was published and I wasn't much in D&D back then :-D so I have no idea of how much it was detailed. So what follows is, in a strange and interesting twist, "Why the X2 was designed that way, if time in the '80s would have flown in reverse". Or, to be more serious, how X2 retroactively fit into the Glantri settings and what could be the best way to play it.

Glantri is a nation inhabited by wizards, ruled by wizards, and with magic everywhere. It's a rich nation, full of really healthy wizard's families (basically whatever Rowlings wrote comes from here, if you delve deep), and one of the most powerful family of all -if not the most powerful- is the D'Amberville, with one of them (Etienne, a tall, thin, old powerful wizard with a long white beard and which is the headmaster of the wizarding school) being an immortal and at least two or three other family members on the path to become one, too.

Your players have spent their B levels (mostly) underground, reaching level 4 and witnessing endless marvels. They thought to be uberpowerful, to have seen everything, they feel ready to take over the world. That is the moment when the DM bring on the table the X rules set, its hexagons, an entire planet, and bring the players back to reality. And to amusement. If the DM follow the flow, so to say, their first new experience will probably be running away from a T-Rex and understanding that the B was just an appetizer (which, by chance, is the same thought the T-Rex had when seeing the characters...)

Your players wander around a bit, gain one or two levels, and somehow ends up heading for Glantri...

...which is basically wonderland, only scaled up quite a bit:

  • Magic at every corner? Check.
  • Electricity, washing machines, appliances, water boilers? Check.
  • Motor boats? Check.
  • Azkaban? Check.
  • Magic creatures serving at tables in pubs? Check.
  • Alleys full of magic shops? Check.
  • Children with magic power out of control, capable of transforming by mistake entire parties into flowers pot? Check.
  • Dark wizards? Hordes. Check.
  • Squibs, muggles, animagi...errr...I mean, secrets and drama about children born without magical powers, some occasional racism against not magical able beings, secret shape shifters, and so on? Check.
  • Chernobyl leftovers? Check :-D
  • Magic schools for wizard's children? Check

In short: every possible source of amusement and weirdness and you can think about? Check!

So in the end the players are moving to Glantri and along the way they end up into the ancestral home of the aforementioned D'Amberville, hugely powerful and rich. In this sense it fits perfectly that the module is full of wealth and magic objects (and weirdness, too), and given the fact that the players will be able to just scratch the surface of it is even more interesting as they will have to decide at every step what to leave and what to keep.

Even more, it makes much more sense (and fun) if you join all the dots together and use the X2 to tie the players to a bigger campaign in Glantri. Have them reach Glantri and spend a few weeks in the city trying to make sense of all the stuff, getting used to names and families and such. Have them leave the country for a stupid generic commission, and then stumble inside the Amber Castle. They now have some generic hook into the castle background, they wander into it trying to understand what's going on, and when back to Glantri they will have some reason to start investigate the D'Amberville family. And/or maybe the castle was supposed to be sealed in some way, and Etienne himself will begin to keep an eye on the party because the seal was opened in some strange way, maybe by some other member of the Circle of Rad...

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's really helpful for my conversion to know that the module is aimed at level 5 PCs—I'd been angling it toward the low end of what's printed — CA looks cra-azy for level 3 PCs!)—, but the adventure makes a lot more sense now. Thank you also for the background, and please tell me that's not a typo and that there really is a Circle of Rad. And, dude, please tell me that the Circle of Rad is at odds with the Circle of Awes and the Circle of Tubul! \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2017 at 8:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan: basically the city of Glantri has been unknowingly built over a nuclear reactor (I don't remember where it come from, really have been more than 20 years now. Something from Blackmoor, maybe); over time few mages (very few) discovered it and its power, called it, guess what? the power of Rad (iation, anyone? :-D), and built some kind of cult on it. It could have been a circle, an enclave, a club, a triangle...there was for real a Something of Rad and I'm pretty confident it was a "Circle of", but I can't be sure 100% And I'm in awes, but I know nothing about a Tubul circle. \$\endgroup\$
    – motoDrizzt
    May 16, 2017 at 8:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is it possible this has something to do with the Egg of Coot? (My knowledge of Mystara is really limited, but in hunting for CA resources, I did stumble upon that weird, satiric idea.) And I'll go ahead and admit that the Circle of Radiation (in a fantasy setting no less!) is probably a slightly better idea than my 1980s throwback slang imaginings of the Circle of Radical being comprised of skateboarding, surfing, and BMXing magicians (likewise the Radical's rivals the Circles of Awesome and Tubular), but in my head that's still possible. I'll just use it myself now. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2017 at 9:35

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