5E Treasure Generator + Commentary

Dec 24, 2014
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While I tend to not write generators for recent systems without publisher support, I decided to take a whirl at the 5E system. Mostly, I just wanted to see what the “modern” take on a classic system included or avoided.

My normal process was used for the Random 5E Treasure Generator. It’s simple, straight forward and does not yet contain anything beyond the simple charts.

5E vs 1E/2E Random Treasure

I’ve seen a few comments that suggest the fifth edition is low on magic. I disagree to a point. For individual treasure, there is no chance of finding a magical item. Absolutely zero. Why? I’d wager they intend for such treasure to be found via hoards rather than a wandering orc or two. You can always choose to use a hoard (aka lair treasure from elder editions) over the individual metric if monsters are migrating from one locale to another. For hoards (the 5E equivalent of lairs), you almost always get magic items.

The tables themselves are repetitious. Probably to the point of algorithmically generated. The same set of art/gems values repeat in patterns of 4 along with use of a particular magic table at a proscribed rate. Rinse, tweak occurrences, and toss it back out into a table. Very systematic. The variability works out but it sure looks dull in comparison to the 1E hand-crafted, best guess treasure charts of old.

Gone are the percent chances for a particular item type. The 5th edition tables give you magic as proscribed by a specific table at least 64% of the time when rolling a treasure hoard. For higher challenge ratings, the odds get better in increments (0-4:64%/5-10:72/11-16:84/17+:98). Automatic magic above a certain percentage certainly doesn’t appear to be magic sparse. Thousands of rolls later, I’d say its close to the originals with far fewer die rolls.

It is a far simpler system. No need to look up odd treasure types and roll die. It’s quite simply just a new, arbitrary choice based on Challenge. Same as the old arbitrary choice of treasure type, spun down to use less brain cells. Except the classic treasure types allowed a far better, albeit confusing, fidelity of treasure by creature.

Gems/Art confuse me in the 5E system. If someone wants to detail the exact nature of those items, would it not be likely they would also want to vary the value? When I didn’t have automated tools, I ignored both. Now that I have them, I’m more prone to use them for value variability over type variability. The specific values seem far more useful based on something special rather than generic labels. That’s a failure in 1E, 2E and 5E across the board. At least 1E has random variability. I may add that into the 5E Generator, just because I can.

5E doesn’t have a chance for special items — sentient or artifacts. Logically they claim those should always be planned. I understand that sentiment. On the flip side, sometimes I just roll dice against sentient/artifact tables to spur my imagination. Likewise, if I happen upon an artifact roll, I can just as easily replace that with a map / note / book on the artifact to key interest rather than the item itself.

Oh yeah, maps, totally eliminated. Apparently no one uses them anymore. (I jest). As treasure, they just don’t exist magical or not. They may have been phased out in earlier editions. I used them sparingly; far less than they occurred as random treasure. To see them gone entirely is odd.

What really annoys me is spell scrolls: 1 spell / scroll. Talk about dull. When I played mages in prior editions, I loved scrolls to up my spell knowledge. That and opponents spell books. Those were beyond gold. Perhaps now I just need to poke the elevator button of my level to obtain knowledge.

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