|Treasure cards from Dungeon!|
©️1980, TSR, Inc.
I recently treated myself to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide.and the AD&D 2nd Edition Monstrous Manual in an attempt to create an optimal Dungeons & Dragons experience for my play style and module writing. Assassins and Monks, weird Gygaxian prose, xp for gp, and more monsters than you can ever possibly use. This was an excellent plan with one major flaw:
In AD&D the Random Generation by Treasure Type tables were in the Monster Manual. In AD&D2e, the table was in the Dungeon Master's Guide. Ergo, I have no table except the one in my Rules Cyclopedia, which I know is mathematically not really lined up with AD&D.
So, I decided that I needed to take a deep dive into the first and second edition treasure types to understand how they worked and which I should be using for my game. I also immediately got an idea for a cool project.
The AD&D Treasure Types
I am going to preface this by saying that I did a lot of reading from some awesome people, such as a number of posters on Dragonsfoot.org. I have a bibliography at the end of this article. I also was fortunate enough to find the original AD&D tables on GM's Binder.
Low Reproduction of Tables
And this was fortuitous, as most retroclones do not reproduce the treasure type system. The first retroclones tried very hard not to exactly reproduce any tables, as they were worried that this would be a legitimate grounds for complaint and compromise the legal harbor they were attempting to establish. When it came to the random treasure table, this became a problem. OSRIC simply tossed the whole system. So did Swords & Wizardry, which offers an alternative system that gives approximately the right gold for Dungeon encounters.
This has become a sort of tradition: like descending AC, treasure types are one of the first things to be pitched or simplified.
Fungibility of the System
|ESP Medallion Card from Dungeon!|
©️1980, TSR, Inc.
Treasure Types as a system actually pretty easy to toss. Types A-I are the Treasure found in wilderness encounters only if a large number of the creatures are found (close to the maximum number), and then backtracked to their lair.
For some monsters, like orcs, you are going to find way smaller numbers of them in dungeons than the 3-300 you might find outdoors. If you find an in-dungeon lair with a dozen or so orcs, such as in Keep on the Borderland's Caves of Chaos, You don't use Treasure Types at in that case instead, you would roll for a treasure appropriate to the dungeon level.
It's only when you run into a monster lair for a monster primarily found in dungeons, like a mind flyer, that treasure type comes into play in AD&D, although a level-appropriate treasure can be substituted at the DM's option. It's no wonder OSRIC omits it.
Individual Treasures Used a Hoards
Ostensibly, Treasure Types J through Z are meant to be what is found on monsters' persons, rather than in their lair. Practically, though, certain treasure types like M, Q, S, T, and R are assigned as "in lair" nearly as often as carried. Some monsters are given a veritable alphabet of treasures to roll up a tiny hoard of few coins and scattered gems. The application of this system is just not very consistent.
This is a behavior that becomes much more frequent in AD&D2e. When you see J-N listed in particular, you are looking at small numbers of every coin type in a monster's lair (or guts), but not the hundreds or thousands that types A-I include.
I noticed that a good many analyses of how treasure works in AD&D ignores or doesn't go into detail about treasure types J+. I can hardly blame them.
OD&D's Thematic Structure
While it was never made overt, each treasure type in OD&D has a set of monsters attached to it that create a theme. The obvious examples are E, G, and H, which were respectively the Plunder of intelligent giants, Dwarven treasure vaults, and hoards for Dragon. W is gold and treasure maps from a Pirate crew.
The case was mostly true for most of the other types from A-I as well.
AD&D carried these themes over from OD&D, but they varied them in places. This is the original structure from OD&D as categorized by Valis:
A was the collected wealth of small human communities or centaur bands. If you raided the local castle, A was the treasure type you'd find in the treasury.
B was small Treasures found near Zombies, Skeletons, Wights, and Hydras. This suggests a mix of grave goods and the wealth of a handful of unfortunates who wandered across the monster's path. The outlier here is nixies, but it could be the pile of goods from creatures that have drowned in the nixies' water.
This impression is enhanced by the fact that weapons and armor are likely to be included in this treasure.
C has a split identity between two sorts of monsters. The first group Included Ogres, Minotaurs, Gargoyles, and Lycanthropes. The other is Gnomes and Pixies. The first group (let's call them C-nasty,) is a pile of goods possessed by creatures that do are about treasure, but likely have killed a few would-be heroes, and kept the shinier bits around in careless heaps, or to use as bait. The Gnomes and Pixies (C-nice) as a second group of creatures who have only a small amount of wealth in precious Things preferred for their beauty, which are likely hidden away.
D is somewhat more schizophrenic. There are hoards of loot from warlike humanoids (Orcs, Hobgoblins, and Gnolls), there is the grave goods of a Mummy, there is the secret stash of Dryads, and there is the treasure scattered about in the lairs of Griffins, Chimera, Manticora, and Purple worms. You can pull a couple of themes out of this, but on a whole, this treasure type is basically the default if there is no idea what to give them.
E is a treasure that is kept mostly by huge, brutal creatures. All the intelligent giants: Stone, Fire, Frost, Storm, and Cloud have type E loot as a baseline. It is also the treasure from a few of the toughest, most dangerous monsters in the upper-mid teir, like Wraiths, Gorgons, and Wyverns. This is going to be treasure that is cared for and, for the PCs, hard won. With the exception of Wyverns it is also going to be organized, displayed, and protected.
F is one that is very consistently thematic. All of the monsters that possess it: Vampires, Basilisks, Medusae, Shadows, Rakshasa, Rhemorhaz, Salamanders, Leprechauns and Chimera are not ad likely to care much about it, except possibly for the magic items within, and the aesthetics of beautiful things arranged about the lair. It might be on display to relieve the boredom and loneliness for Vampires Rakshasas, and Medusae. But in any case, it is likely to be the treasure that belonged to dead heroes and adventurers who found that they were out of their league with these monsters.
The outliers here are Leprechauns and Elves. Elves are given this type to make them richer than humans, but not as rich as dwarves. Leprechauns needed big piles of gold, natch
Valis also notes that this hoard has no chance of weapons in it. Which is why fiery creatures like Salamanders and Remhoraz lmake sense here.
G: G is the riches of dwarves specifically. It is a huge pile of gems, gold, and jewels that gives a good reason why Dwarves are constantly at war with Orcs, Giants, and Worse.
H: H is the hoards of dragons and other assorted greedy Kaiju. It is your quintessential pile of gold and jewels.
I: In OD&D this was treasure found only in Roc's nests.
Some other noteworthy ones:
W: Treasure Type W in AD&D was a pirate crew's loot: gold, gems, jewelry, and a high chance for a treasure map.
|Treasure cards from Dungeon!|
©️1980, TSR, Inc.
Z: Is a huge mass of treasure that represents the hoard of powerful beings like demigods and Demon Lords.
These shifted in AD&D. Elves, for example, received treasure type G along with Dwarves. Treasure Type I was given to more monsters and taken from Rocs and given to demonic and otherworldly creatures.
My Treasure Idea
A hoard include a randomized amount of coins and a number of rolls on the loot and valuables tables... along with a chance for a magic item, determined by the avverage HD of the monsters that guarded the hoard.
However, LFG does not use XP for gp. For that matter it doesn't use XP at all. Low Fantasy Gaming has several options for leveling up that are based on number of sessions the player character participated in.
Accordingly, the treasure isn't balanced for XP for GP.
This got me thinking...
What if I were to break each treasure type into one to four spreads with a set of tables that fit the theme. Treasure Type B could have half of its gold turned into a table including lost weapons and armor. Treasure Type E could include a number of things like oversized cups of rough hammered precious metal and bracelets the size of belts. Treasure Type G's jewelry would all be designed to fit the dwarven aesthetic. Treasure type C could include old maps of the local dungeon and the like possessed by previously fallen heroes.
It also occurs to me that most of the treasure rolling in AD&D has needless steps. Instead of having a 25% chance of 1d4 ×1,000 gp, why not have a table where you roll 1d12-8 ×1,000gp?
I could create a 50-page book that is numerically consistent with AD&D with easy, fast treasure tables that offer specific and detailed items that fit the theme.
The AD&D 2nd Edition Treasure Tables
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition is ignored by a lot of the OSR Movement. It is often characterized as being too much of the same, or a cynical cash grab.
Personally, I think AD&D2e has some very positive points:
- An individual initiative system that accounts for speed factor, terrain, and casting times.
- An XP system that can still include XP for gp, but also includes rewards appropriate to characters for using their class abilities. (Making traps worth something if you disarm them, and making fighting worthwhile for fighters.)
- A simple proficiency system that doesn't overwhelm play.
- A logical revision to the treasure system... Kind of.
The AD&D in general, and second edition in particular made a lot of changes to monsters that made sense to me:
|AD&D2e Treasure tables as reproduced|
in For Gold and Glory from God Emperor Games
Why do Centaurs need huge hoards? They have little interest in human civilization or it's trappings.
Elves were given an equivalent treasure to dwarves. Why would the long-lived and artistic elves have so much less?
Humans are given mixed individual treasure, with gentry having modest hoards. Centralizing a whole diverse community the size and variability of humanity made little sense except in the case of groups with collective wealth like a caravan of pilgrims.
Type W was repurposed to be extra magic items for extremely powerful beings.
Type A was repurposed to a largish hoard for a few monsters across the theme of gatherers of sunken treasure and ancient undead who have piled treasure for centuries.
Type I was repurposed as a modest and relatively portable treasure hoard.
Some lesser undead like skeletons simply weren't given treasure. Why would they have it.
A few weaker monsters were moved to smaller hoards, as they had stunningly large treasure heaps for their relative low challenge.
The Proliferation of Monsters
On the other hand, it meant that monsters scattered across modules, setting books, the Monster Manual 2 and Fiend Folio all were finally available in one place and included only what the chose, and organized how they chose
The Monstrous Manual ditched the filler and least used monsters to create a portable, high-quality book that offered most of what a well-stocked compendium did.
It also meant that in the core resources hundreds of monsters were added and needed to be assigned to the existing 26 treasure types Quickly the treasure types lost a great deal of their thematic consistency, although a few can still have two or three themes picked out of them.
Monsters by Treasure Type
Excluding Dragons, here are monsters from the Monstrous Manual by Treasure Type as I have noted them down (I'm sure there are a few errors). Asterisks represent places where the treasure is specified as being in lair . I am also giving a rough description of the treasure type here.
High chance of lots of gold, gems Jewelry, modest chance of other coins and magicLiches, Troglodytes, Giant Squid, Reef Giant, Pirates of Gith, Flind, Spriggan, Kirre, Locathah, greater Mummy (×2)*, Merrow, Selkie (magic only), Skeleton Warrior, Kraken*, zombie Lord
High chance of copper, low or modest chance of other coins. Modest chance of gems, low chance of jewelry, low chance of magic weapons or armor.
Zombies, Wights, Nixies, Bugbears, Bullywugs, Couatl, Dracolich, Dragon Turtles, Dragonne, Duregar, Ghouls, Lacedons, Ghasts, Desert Giant, Verbeeg, Grimlocks, Sea Hag, Halfling, Fire Lizard, Werebat, Wereboar, Werewolf , Mind Flayer, Spirit Naga, Ogre, Half-Ogre, Half Ogre*, Ogrillion, Peryton, Yellow Musk Creeper, Shambling Mound, greater Rakshasa, Sea Lion, Wemic, Wolfwere, Purple Worm
Modest chance of silver, low chance of other non-gold coins, modest chance of gems or jewelry,, low chance of two random magic items.
Ogres, Lycanthropes, Gargoyles, Minotaur, Sprites, and Gnomes, Ankheg, Dracolisk, Huge Bat, Giant Boring Beetle, Catoblepas, Cloaker, Crabman, Blink Dog, Margoyles, cyclops, ettins, Hill Giants, Goblins, Mites, Griffons Harpy, He'll Hpund, Heucuva, Jackalwere, Lamia, Lamia Noble, Minotaur Lizard (magic only), Lueker, Wererat, Merman, Mongrelman, Slithering Tracker, Orc, Orog, Owlbear, Strangle-weed, Giant Rat*, Roc, giant Spider, Gargantuan Spider, Nixie, Su-Monster, Marilith, Fire Toad, Ice Toad, Triton, Freshwater Troll, Desert Troll, Spectral Troll, Giant Troll, Vodyanoi, Yuan-Ti
Fair chance of 1,000-3,000 gold, low chance of other coins, modest chance of gems, jewelry, and a low chance of a potion plus two random magic items.
.Aaracockra, Orcs, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, Fomorian, Mummies, Banshees, Cockatrices, Manticores, Dryads, Centaurs, Pyrolisk, Displacer Beast, Stone Giant , Annis hag, Adult Intellect Devourer, Leucrotta, Lizard Man, Weretiger, Vampiric Mist, Water Naga, Kelpie, Osquip, Remorhaz, Large Scorpion, Huge Scorpion, Giant Scorpion, Sea Sprite, Stirge, Troll, Two-Headed Troll, Saltwater Troll, Ice Troll, Yeti
Tiny Chance of copper, modest chance of all other coins, low chance of gems or jewels, modest chance of a scroll plus three other magic items
Fire Giants, Frost Giants, Stone Giants Cloud Giants, Storm Giants, Mountain Giants, Wraiths, Spectres, Gorgons, Wyverns, Griffons, Undead Beholders, Doppelgangers, Ghost, Firbolg, Lizard King, Werefoc, Manticore, Korred, Hieracosphinx, Phase Spider, Titan
No copper, fair chance of 1,009-6,000gp, low chance of other coins, gems, or jewelry; modest chance of 5 non-weapon magic items
Vampires, Basiliks, Chimera, Leprechauns, Rakshasa, Aboleths, Gorgimera, Duregar, Salamanders , Green Hag, Kenku, Manscorpion, greater Rakshasa , Shadow, Criosphinx, Marilith
Fair chance of 2,000-20,000gp, fair chance of platinum, moderate chance of gems, jewelry, or 5 magic items
Dwarves, Elves, Shedus and Umber Hulks, Pitt Fiends, Trapper, Forest Trapper, Morkoth, Ogre Mage, Kraken*
Modest chance of copper, fair chance of large quantities of silver, gold, electrum, or platinum, fair chance of large numbers of gems and jewelry, low chance of 6 magic items.
Most adult dragons, Guardian Nagas, Greater basilisks, Dracolich, Githyanki* , Githzerai(×2)*, Grell Patriarch, Balor (×3)
Modest chance of 100-600 electrum or platinum, high chance of a few gems, fair chance at a 2d4 pieces of jewelry, low chance of one magic item.
Coutals, Ki-Rin, and Sahuagin, Winter Wolves, Dracolisk, Broken Ones, Centaurs*, Water Weird, Aquatic Elves*, Gith*, Synads*, Pilgrim, Satyr
A few copper pieces
Bugbears, Bullywugs, Forest Gnomes , Synads*, Gripplis (×4), Grippli, Hobgoblins, human Bandit/Brigand, human gentry, human middle class, Pirate/Buccaneer, human priest, human thief, Kobold, Urd, Minotaur Lizard, Muckdweller, Mantrap (×5), Strangle-weed, Large Spider, Huge Spider, male Tako, female Tako
A few silver pieces
Broken Ones, Bugbears, Bullywugs, Crabman (×5)*, Aquatic Elves, Deepspawn, Tempest, Verbeeg, Forest Gnomes, Svirfneblin (×2), Goblins*, Mite, Grimlocks, Halfling, Minotaur Lizard, Muckdweller, Mantrap (×5), Strangle-weed, Blue Salad, Red Salad, Large Spider, Huge Spider
A few electrum pieces
Bugbears, Crabman (×5)*, Deepspawn, Verbeeg, Gnoll, Grimlock, Barbarian/Nomad, human Gentry, Knight, Mercenary, Sailor, Wizard, Kuo-Toa, Minotaur Lizard, Muckdweller, Orc, Orog, Mantrap (×5), Strangle-weed, Sirine, Large Spider, Huge Spider
A few gold pieces
Broken Ones, Bugbears, Bullywugs, Centaurs, Tunnel Centipede*, Deepspawn, Dryad (×100), Duregar, Gargoyle (×10)*, Verbeeg (×5), Gith, Gnoll*, Grimlocks, Hobgoblin, Barbarian/Nomad, human Gentry, Knight, Mercenary, Sailor, Wizard, Kuo-Toa, Minotaur Lizard, Muckdweller, Ogre*, Merrow*, Half-Ogre, Ogrillion, Mantrap (×5), Strangle-weed, Sirine, Large Spider, Huge Spider, Atomie, Grig, Triton, Sea Zombie
1d6 platinum pieces
Tunnel Centipede*, Elves, Firbolgs, Pirates of Gith*, Bandit/Brigantine, human Gentry, human Middle Class, Pirate/Buccaneer, human Thief/Thug, Wizard, Fire Mephit (×2), Ice Mephit, Lava Mephit, Mist Mephit, Smoke Mephit, Steam Mephit, Kuo-Toa, Minotaur Lizard , Muckdweller, Mantrap (×5), Strangle-weed, Sahuagin, Sirine, Large Spider, Huge Spider
A mix of a handful each of copper and silver coins.
Brownies, Water Weird, Aquatic Elves*, Ettins, Imps, Kobold, Subterranean Lizard, Vegepygmy, Orc, Orog, Phoenix, Quaggoth*, Sahuagin*, Xorn, Xaren
A mix of a handful each of silver and electrum coins.
Brownies, Water Weird, Githzerai , Hook Horror, Ixitxachitl, Subterranean, Medusa, greater Medusa, Maedar, Vegepygmy, Mummy , Sahuagin*, Xorn, Xaren
1d4 random gemstones
Brownies, Bullywugs, Centaurs, Tunnel Centipede*, Pseudodragon (×10)*, Dryad (×10)*, Dwarves (×20)*, Duregar, Slyph (×10), Firesnake, Aquatic Elves , Galeb-Duhr (×3), Margoyles , ghasts*, Domitian. (×10), Firbolgs, Cloud Giants (×3), Jungle Giant, Storm Giant (×10), Gnoll (×5)*, Gnomes (×20)*,Tinker gnomes (×20)*, Forest Gnomes (×2), svirfneblin (×5)*, Svirfneblin (×2), Gremlin, Galltrit, Jermlaine (×3), Hippogriff(×5), Hobgoblin (×5)*, Bandit/Brigand, human Gentry, Pirate/Buccaneer, human Thief/Thug, Wizard, Quasimodo (×3), Intellect Devourer larva (×1d20),Kobold (×5)*, Urd (×5)*, Fire Lizard (×10), Minotaur Lizard, Werefox (×5), Wereraven (×10), Weretiger (×5), Manscorpion, Medusa (×10), greater Medusa (×10), Maedar (×10), Muckdweller, Neogi, Nymph, Nymph (×10)*, Ogre*, Half-Ogre*, Orc (×10)*, Orog (×10)*, Mantrap, Strangle-weed, Rust Monster, Sahuagin (×10)*, Sirine, Blue Salad, Red Salad, Spectre (×3), Huge Spider, Nixie, male Tako, female Tako, Tasloi (×5) Titan (×10), Ice Toad, Treant (×5), Triton, Troll*, Two-headed Troll, Freshwater Troll (×4), Ice Troll, Purple Worm (×5)*, Giant Bloodworm, Xorn (×5),
A handful of gold, a purseful of platinum, a few gems, and 1d3 pieces of art.
Dwarves*,, Pixies, Titans, Wearbears, Eye of the Deep, GiantBoring Beetles, Mermen, Giant Octopuses*, Dragon Turtles, ghasts*, Ixitxachitl, cloud giant, Arcane, Githyanki, Harpy (7HD), lesser Lammasu, Werebear, Merman, Ogre Mage, Quaggoth*, Selkie, Gynosphinx, Kraken*, Titan
Giant Boring Beetles, Griffons and Treants, Beholders, Dracolich*, Dragon Turtles, Dragonne, Elves*, Ghost*, ghast*, Storm Giant, Gnoll*, Jermlaine, Ixitxachitl, Ki-Rin, lesser Lammasu, Fire Lizard, Wereboar, Werefox, Mind Flayer, Myconid (×2), Dark Naga, Ogre*, Ogre Mage*, Half-Ogre*, Ogrillion*, Satyr, Pixie, Kraken*, Triton*, Wolfwere (½)
Giant Boring Beetles, Beholders, Centaurs*, Dracolich*, Dragon Turtles, Faerie Dragons, Dragonne, Elves*, ghouls, lacrdons, ghasts*, Jermlaine, Ki-Rin, lesser Lammasu, Fire Lizard, Werebear, Mind Flayer, Spirit Naga, Dark Naga, Shambling Mound, Pixie, Triton*, Wolfwere
Extremely high chance of gems, or art, and one random magic item.
Faerie Dragons , Argos, Grell Worker, Lesser Hatori, Greater Hatori (×2), Manscorpion (×10)*, Androsphinx , Tabaxi, Tabaxi Lord
This treasure type was originally assigned to demon and devil lords, and demigods. It is two magic items. and on AD&D2e is assigned only to Dragon Turtles, and Greater Mummies.
A little gold and platinum, high chance of gems, fair chance of art, and two magic items.
Pit Fiends, Grell Philosopher, Dark Naga
Originally a fair chance at a potion plus magic item, now 2 potions.
Gremlin, Fremlin, Green Hag*, Werebear, Medusa, greater Medusa, Maedar, Mind Flayer , Guardian Naga, Spirit Naga, Water Naga, Nymph, Shambling Mound, Sahuagin* , Satyr, Sirine*, Spectre, Pixie, Atomie*, Grig*, Treant, Unicorn,
Ettins, Lurker Above, Medusa, Sea Hags, and Xorn. Water Weird*, Aquatic Elves*, Firbolgs, Sea Hag, Lurker, Medusa, greater Medusa, Maedar, Sahuagin*, Spectre, Grig*, Su Monster, Xorn, Xaren
A few hundred of each coin type, fair chance at gems, art, or 3 magic items
Will o' wisp, greater Broken Ones, Crypt Thing, Reef Giant, Kuo-Toa*Demilich, Crimson Death Mist
Picking out a theme to treasure types has become difficult as monsters were shuffled around to make more individual sense. Treasure Types B-F basically became tiers of power, with monsters who didn't stay put due to tradition being assessed based on threat and positioned on the scale accordingly.
H stayed the place for big, scary, dragon-like creatures such as dracolisks, and dracoliches, as well as the githyanki (dragon-related) and githzerai (mirror of githyanki), with only Grell Philosophers as outliers. But C,D, E, F, and I in particular are completely scattered.
My treasure table booklet concept simply is not viable with the sheer volume of monsters in the Monstrous Manual as is, but might be worthwhile to scale back for use with the AD&D tables.
In my own campaigns, I will doubtless use the AD&D2e tables, as I find them more logical and are compatible with my Monstrous Manual: but most of the treasure types remain close enough (barring W) to be nearly interchangeable.
I do think, looking at how AD&D2e's treasure types lost ther focus, that the question needs to be asked: how did they expect DMs and developers to figure out which treasure type to use when they hadn't made the idea behind each Type transparent? It's no wonder that they became irretrievable muddled by 1996.
The AD&D2e Monstrous Manual
A trio of awesome articles on treasure types on blog of holding:
The AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide