I’ve lost count on what day of isolation this is, but now were finally getting to the good stuff. Loot! It doesn’t matter if you’re a Player or DM, everyone loves loot. As a DM I like coming up with Magic Items, crazy art pieces, etc and I love recovering loot even more as a player. We all no if it’s not nailed down it’s going in the bag.
But what I don’t like is the fourth time in a session when we get X gold and silver *yawn*. As a player I won’t lie, loot is one of the most exciting parts of playing d&d. Finding out what going in our swag bag, everyone loves it. So why not put as much effort into your loot as everything else?
The following are a few things I use to try and keep my loot different and use it to make my game better for my players.
You have to think who your bad guys are, where do they go to get their valuables, why do they have them? Bandits might have plundered jewellery as highwaymen, where as orc warriors will take trophies from there dead enemies.
You can use loot to help ground your world and make it ‘real’ for your players. Currency is one I use, not everyone deals in coins. Savage races like orcs might use teeth, subterranean races may deal in gems whereas devils deal in slaves and souls. Flesh out your world with little flavourings like that.
Loot can be a great way to advance your plot, players can find maps to hidden locations, jewellery of missing people, coins from a rival nation, note from an antagonist on their future plans… Loot doesn’t just have to have a monetary impact to have a value on your players, I’ve found plot drops as loot be more rewarding than Magic Items in certain circumstances.
You can use loot just like npc’s, monsters and encounters to set a theme for your players. In a horror campaign you could flavour your loot to fit the feel, coins and jewellery stained with blood or scattered among ancient bodies (undead reanimating while you steal the rings off their fingers).
An interesting tool I use occasionally is fake loot, DMing for me is about bringing out emotion in your players. But why does that just have to be joy and laughter, anger is just as important… Some of the best reactions have been from players realising an item is fake, one player carried a fake Scroll for sessions before they realised it was worthless. It’s not something to break out every session though, you don’t want it to become a regular annoyance for you players. Also think about context, I’ve had Fiends leave fake loot to taunt the players while they were trying to track them down.