Monday, 25 May 2020

B/X Treasure Types

As I put the finishing touches on Johnstone's stats for the B/X Trilemma Bestiary, I've been asking myself, "Does this creature have too much treasure? Too little?" Follow me down this rabbit hole!

Basic D&D's treasure types are more than a little quirky. They're easy enough to reference in play, but choosing among them is tricky. Is there any rhyme or reason to them?

My starting reference is Necrotic Gnome's excellent Old School Essentials wiki, which lists all 22 treasure types from B/X. Types A through O are "hoards", types P-T are individual coin purses, and U and V are group treasure. The wiki also helpfully lists their average payout values.

Throw a coin to your.. oh nevermind
While poking away at the treasure types, I got interested in weight. Some of the treasure types are made up of large numbers of low-value coins, while others are heavy on the gems. Low-density treasure is a special challenge:  shovelling, bagging and hauling hundreds of pounds of coins is noisy, takes time, and weighs the adventurers down.

Treasure density seemed a really good way to look at treasure types. My average treasure values are slightly different from Gnome's because I put in placeholder values for magical items. Rightly or wrongly, I used these values:

  • Magical item, 50ct, 300gp
  • Magical item (weapons, shield, or armor), 100ct, 300gp
  • Magical item (not armaments), 20ct, 300gp
  • Scrolls 1ct, 100gp
  • Potions 10ct, 100gp
Here's what I found (click to expand):

B/X Treasure Type Avg. Value vs. Weight
Treasure type H, 'dragon hoard' is interesting because it's almost exactly the density of gold. There are gems and magical items, but there's also great mounds of low-value coins to balance it out. If you're choosy, you can probably take quite a lot of value of an H-type hoard without carrying much weight.

Among the hoards, treasure type I stands out for high-density, portable riches: just platinum, gems, and jewellery. Strangely, I can't find any monsters that have it as treasure!

Treasure type J, "kobold slag" so heavy for its value that it's barely worth taking.

Types L, N and O are outliers among the hoards because they're just a bunch of gems, potions and scrolls, respectively.

Individual treasures, P, Q, R, S, and T are just coins of varying value; they form an orderly line up toward type L (gems).

Group treasure type V (favored by bears, great cats and lizards for some reason) is the high-density good stuff. It's almost as valuable as hoard type C, but is nearly 100x more dense.

* * *

Okay, that's useful for comparing treasure types, but what's appropriate for a given monster? How hard does B/X make you work to get treasure from monsters? In the next post, I'll be looking at how much XP worth of monsters you have to defeat (in whatever way) to get that sweet, sweet loot.


  1. This makes a lot of sense if you remember to track weights on players during a session. It's something I am terrible at as a GM but very interested in making a videogame about...

    1. Most of the hoards aren't too bad. A through F could be carried by five half-laden adventurers. On the other hand, an average type H hoard is more than three tons!

    2. Why would it be the GM's responsibility?

    3. I assume Brent is referring to applying that rule in play, not tracking who is carrying what. (In OSE and B/X encumbrance is optional.)

  2. Regarding magic item, since they do not provide experience points their weight is likely unimportant. You must “recover” monetary treasure (which we always read as “get the treasure back to town”) for it to count as XP (p B22). Maybe treasure weight vs XP of the monsters defeated is part of it? I wonder how much of a relationship there is between XP value of individual monsters (or average horde), number of individuals in a lair, and potential GP value of hoard?

    1. I have crunched those exact numbers and will post it all tomorrow!

  3. "Group treasure type V (favored by bears, great cats and lizards for some reason) is the high-density good stuff."

    I'm not familiar with the details of V but when I read this my first thought was that dense treasure from large animals = scat after eating adventures.