on gold as experience

Old-school D&D rewards experience for treasure on a 1 GP = 1 XP basis. I stopped finding this horrible ages ago, and I think it makes plenty of sense, and don’t care whether any given DM wants to use or not use that rule.

I’ll be using it in my B/X game. The B/X rules say (page B22):

Experience points are given for non-magical treasure and defeating monsters. For every 1 gp value of non-magical treasure the characters recover, the DM should give 1 XP to the party.

This is expanded on in the AD&D DMG, p85:

Treasure must be physically taken out of the dungeon or lair and turned into a transportable medium or stored in the player’s stronghold to be counted for experience points.

All items (including magic) or creatures sold for gold pieces prior to the awarding of experience points for an adventure must be considered as treasure taken, and the gold pieces received for the sale add to the total treasure taken. (Those magic items not sold gain only a relatively small amount of experience points, for their value is in their usage.)

I think I am going to go one step further and say that the treasure must be turned into a transportable medium and stored in the player’s stronghold. In other words, just because you got that gem-encrusted coronet out of the dungeon, you aren’t getting 3,000 XP. You’ll need to convert it into coins or common units of exchange, and that is the value you get. Sure, you can sell it to the local jeweler for 750 gp, if you want, but wouldn’t you be better off tracing down the provenance of the coronet, finding out who might be most interested in it, and ransoming it to them for a much greater profit?

I’d even be willing to say that you can get full value for it by “simply” tracking down the heir to the throne of Cawdor and handing it over. That should be easy enough, right?

I might be willing to say that non-coin treasure has some fraction of immediate value as XP – something to make it at least as profitable to haul out of the dungeon, even if you never do anything else with it. So, a two pound crown may be worth much more than its weight weight in gold (a lousy 20 gp!) but it can continue to be worth much, much more in experience if the players pursue it.

In other words, many (though likely not all) non-coin treasures become hooks for both more story and more XP. More gold, though, isn’t necessarily promised.

Written on November 16, 2011
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