Random treasure tables built from wish lists

Posted on January 31, 2010 by


I’ve never really liked the idea of wish lists, and much less the idea of treasure being included in the Player’s Handbook.  Unfortunately, that’s now the way it is, and as a DM you’ve got to adjust to the fact that your players have full access to a list of treasures that are available in the game, and more importantly you have to deal with the fact that they probably think that certain treasures simply suck.

There really isn’t much you can do, magic items have ceased being mysterious and truly “magical” and have instead just become another plus to the attack or defense modifier, and on top of that have become selectable by the players by their inclusion in the book.

So here’s a solution to avoid the mechanical & immersion breaking (in my opinion) aspects of wish lists:  create random loot tables based on pc’s wishes.  In essence you are having your players create your random tables while filtering away crappy items.  Perhaps by tier, or by every 5 levels, you can ask each party member to give you 10 items they’d wish to have.  You’ll quickly have at least 40 or 50 items from which to create the table, and have passed on the tediousness of picking magical items to them, while still maintaining the illusion of randomly getting a magical item that doesn’t suck.

So you have a percentage based chart that may look like this:

  • Weapons 1-7
  • Holy Symbols 8-15
  • Orbs Rods 16-23
  • Staff 24-31
  • Wands 32-39
  • Arms 40-47
  • Feet 48-55
  • Hand 56-63
  • Head 64-71
  • Neck 72-79
  • Rings 80-87
  • Waist 88-95
  • Wondrous 96-100

You then populate it with a wish list that is composed entirely of items they would eventually want or would consider using, effectively filtering the list of items they’d consider crappy.  Let me know what you think about this idea, I threw it out there so other people better than me at math could come up with their own version of it.

Off the top, I know that the percentage of getting a weapon, for example, is small. I’m just not a math person, this is just an example of what a chart may look like. So someone good with numbers please hurry and design a better one. 🙂

Posted in: 4e D&D, Advice/Tools