Thursday, January 3, 2013

In Search of Strongholds Part 3: Random Treasure Tables for 4e

Happy new year to all! I hope everyone had a good holiday. I continue today in my attempts to design a stronghold system for 4e (and my 4e Forever zine) that reflects classic editions of the game. In our last installment, I laid out a blueprint for what needed to be accomplished. It has taken some time and meditation, but I think I am ready to present a large piece of the puzzle: random treasure tables.

You might be wondering, "What the heck do random treasure tables have to do with strongholds?" Fair question. We previously established that in order to have a viable stronghold system, we need to ditch the ever-increasing "expected wealth by level" of 4e, and instead use the inherent bonus system. While that takes care of a part of the puzzle, we still need a way for players to amass wealth and power. As my favorite solutions are those that allow me to use classic edition mechanics, that brings us to the treasure tables. I pored over classic treasure systems, and I think I have something that works.

There are two basic categories of treasure: treasure carried by individuals, and treasure found in a lair. Much, much greater quantities of treasure are found in lairs rather than on individuals. This should make sense to everyone; we don't carry around all of our wealth and items on a day to day basis, it is back at our "lair" (our home). Now, just from that idea alone, I think many DMs will feel a shift in consciousness. After all, in 4e, PCs can be doing just about anything, anywhere, and if the parcel system is being used, they are guaranteed a certain amount of treasure and gold per level. Kiss that idea bye-bye. In order to accumulate wealth and power in this system, PCs have to go out, find it, and take it.

Conquering lairs should represent a huge challenge for PCs. An entire adventure could constitute a lair, or a literal army of monsters might lair in an immense cavern. Go big!

These tables are just guidelines; DMs should feel free to add and subtract items from lairs, give individuals specific items, etc. These guidelines simply ensure that, if followed, the PCs will be able to eventually afford strongholds (more on stronghold costs in a later blog), that the cost will never seem "cheap", and that PCs no longer feel pressured to blow money on magic items. They couldn't even if they wanted to.

The following tables will be included in an issue of my upcoming mag in PDF form, but for now I am just typing them out. Excuse the formatting; Blogger does weird things sometimes. I tried my best to keep it very simple. Instead of 20+ types, there are three for lairs, listed from largest to smallest (A,B,C), and three for individuals listed the same way (D,E,F). DMs should feel free to combine treasure types; maybe an individual has (2 x F, G) or whatever. DMs will still need to pick out the specific magic items that are found, but you will be prompted for the treasure type (for example, "Arms Slot" or "Foot Slot"). Finally, as mentioned above, DMs should feel free to add items as the see fit to individuals or lairs.

In some cases treasure is automatic, i.e. always occurs. In other cases you will need to roll percentage dice to see if it appears.

"Potions" can include any consumable, even if it isn't technically a potion. "Scroll" indicates a ritual scroll. You will also see "Maps" being given out with certain treasure types; these could lead to other lairs and/or serve as plot hooks. If you would rather handle this a different way, just drop the maps.

These tables require the use of the inherent bonus system.

4e Forever Treasure Tables

Lair Tables

       1,000s copper    1,000s silver    1,000s gold       gems and jewelry*    magic items**       map

A     50% / 1d12      50% / 1d12     50% / 1d6x10      50% / 2d12     3 +1 potion +1 scroll     yes

B     40% / 1d10       40% / 1d10     40% / 1d4x10     40% / 1d12      2 +1 potion +1 scroll    yes

     40% / 1d6        40% / 1d6       40% / 2d12         40% / 1d6                 1                       no

*if gems and jewelry are indicated, roll on the Gems and Jewelry Table below
**if magic items are indicated, roll on the Magic Item Table below

Individual Tables

       copper (pieces)    silver (pieces)    gold (pieces)    gems and jewelry*         map

D              -                         -                    6d6              10% / 1d4           5% chance

E              -                       6d6                    -                          -                        no

F             6d6                       -                     -                          -                        no

*if gems and jewelry are indicated, roll on the Gems and Jewelry Table below

Gems and Jewelry Table (roll percentage dice for each individual piece)

Value in gp / Dice roll 01-100
          50                 01-30
         100                31-60
         500                61-80
        1000               81-100

Magic Item Table (roll percentage dice for each unspecified magic item)

Dice Roll 01-100 /      Item type       
          01-15           Weapon/Implement
          16-23                  Foot Slot
          24-31                 Head Slot
          32-39                 Arms Slot
          40-55             Wondrous Item
          55-61          Potion or Consumable
          61-66                Ritual Scroll
          67-74                Hands Slot
          75-82                Waist Slot 
          83-94                   Armor
         95-100                    Ring

Next time we will dig into some ideas on how you can make stronghold creation a viable goal for 4e players, regardless of the campaign style or setting. In the meantime, I would love to hear any feedback on this article! Until next time!


  1. I think this is a decent idea and I'm thinking I may well use these tables to stock 'status quo' lairs in my 4e Loudwater campaign. Eg if the Paragon-level PCs go attacking the goblin fortress of Gorzzbad or the stronghold of the Severed Eye Orcs, the encounters will be "Gygaxian Naturalistic" - with several hundred low level critters and some high-Heroic leaders. It would make sense then to use these tables, with Heroic Tier magic items, rather than dole out Paragon treasure packets.