Jan 28, 2015

A Procedure for Fast Random Treasure Values

I use a variety of generators to create random treasure - amethyst plates with intaglio portraits, bronze idol-gears, hallucinogenic spices of incredible piquancy, etc. Often there is no straightforward comparison to items in the various treasure guides and referee manuals to elucidate what the value should be. As well, the actual guidelines in the various referee manuals out there is often fairly convoluted. I strongly dislike the method in Swords and Wizardry, for example, which involves generating a total value for the hoard then calculating random percentages of magical items, then swapping things in and out, and takes forever, and leaves you with a hoard that has a value far distant from the original value calculated.

I have developed a different method, which I will offer here for your use as you please. It relies on a simple die progression: d0/d4/d6/d8/d10/d12/d20/d100, which has eight values.

To generate the value of a hoard:

Roll a d6. This tells you the number of significant digits in the hoard's value. If you plan to feature hoards of 1 million gp or greater in value, you may adjust the die type upwards as you please.

To generate the value of specific items in the hoard:

Roll a d8 and a d4. The d4 tells you how many significant digits in the item's value, and the d8 tells you which die type from the above progression to roll for the leftmost significant digit (the "head"). If an exact value is required, based on a use of the Appraise skill or whatever other method you prefer, roll 1d10 for each remaining significant digit. "0" on the d10s is read as zero, not ten.

e.g. You roll a 6 on the d8 and a 4 on the d4. This means the item is worth roughly d12 x 1000 gp. The d12 comes up 10. The item is worth roughly 10,000gp. A PC uses the appraise skill, so 3d10 are rolled, generating 3, 0, and 5. The item is worth 10,305 gp.

One continues using this process until the total value of the individual items in the hoard has the same number, or greater, as the number of significant digits in the total hoard value.


I typically roll the head and the d10s simultaneously to speed this method up. After using this in my own games extensively, I find that I often simplify it mentally to a statement like "This item is worth d6+2d10" which means a value between 100 gp and 699.

I often use multiple similar or identical lower value items - so you might find 2d6 busts of similar value in a single hoard, which also helps speed things up.