Dividing and Storing Treasure

Once your group completes a successful adventure, it is almost certain to have collected some treasure. Therefore, it helps to have some prearranged agreement about how this treasure is to be divided among the different player characters and their henchmen. This is a true role-playing decision that must be reached among all the players at the table. There are no rules about how your characters should divide treasures.

However, there are some suggested methods and reasons to make or not make some agreements. If you bear these in mind, you will have fewer arguments and bad feelings between the different players and their characters in your group.

Cash treasure is the easiest. The most direct and simplest method is equal shares for all player characters and full or half shares for all henchmen. A player may argue that his character's contribution was greater than that of other characters, but these things average out in the long run. Besides, that player has no real idea of the contribution of others. A character who guarded the rear may have discouraged hidden opponents from springing an ambush on the group, something that only the DM knows.

Additional considerations include extraordinary costs. Some adventuring groups establish a special fund to pay the costs (if there are any) of healing, resurrecting, or restoring fellow player characters. Again this works on the principle that all faced the danger and therefore all should share equally in the expenses. Other groups make allowances for differing character levels (higher level characters assumedly shouldered more of the burden of the adventure, and so should be rewarded proportionately.) Some parties give special rewards to those who took greater chances or saved others. These encourage everyone in the group to take part.

Magical treasure is more difficult to divide up, since there is rarely enough to give a useful item to every character, nor are all items of equal value or power. Here you must rely more on your sense of fairness if you wish to maintain party harmony. Since magical items are worthwhile to a party only if they can be used, your first concern should normally be to get the right item into the right hands. A magical sword in the possession of a wizard is not nearly as useful as it would be in the hands of a fighter. Likewise, a wand does a fighter little good but could be a potent addition to a wizard. Therefore it is a good idea to match items to characters.

Alternatively, your party could determine the price an item would sell for, and then make it available to any PC who is willing to give the rest of the party that amount of money. If more than one player is willing to pay the price, the interested players could roll dice to see who gets the item. Or, for items that several characters could all use equally well (such as a potion of healing that is useful to all), the characters can bargain with each other and roll dice for choices. A player character may relinquish a claim on one magical item in exchange for another. A character who has already received a magical item may not be allowed another choice if there are not enough pieces to go around. If no other agreement can be reached, the players can roll dice and have their characters pick in descending order. It is a fair method (since people cannot rightfully complain about a random roll), but it can create imbalances. One or two characters could wind up with the bulk of the magical items over the course of several adventures. At this point, they would be wise to voluntarily withdraw from the selection process.

There are tactical issues to think about when distributing treasure. It is simply not wise for one or two characters to carry the bulk of the party's magical items. Successful adventurers spread their gear throughout their party. (This holds true even for explorers and special forces in the real world.) This way, if one character falls off the cliff and disappears forever or is spirited away by an invisible stalker, the party has not lost everything. To illustrate another consideration, you are better off to have the fighters, thieves, and mages carry the healing potions rather than let the cleric do it, since he has healing spells. If he has both the healing spells and the potions and should disappear into the mist, your party has lost all its healing ability. If it is spread around through the group, at worst you might lose the potions or the spells, but not both (unless disaster really strikes, in which case there is no way to prevent it anyway). In the end, you will find that it does not pay to be too greedy.

Once your characters have assembled a sizeable amount of treasure, they have to find some place to keep it. If your DM is running a fairly medieval campaign, one thing PCs are not going to find is a bank like today's. Instead, your characters must find other ways to keep their money secure. Chests with strong locks are a good start, but there are still better methods. One choice is to make the treasure small enough that you can carry it with you at all times. (Of course, one good mugging and you're broke.) There is also the difficulty of buying a drink with a 1,000-gp gem. A second choice is to place your money in the hands of someone you think you can trust. We all know what the risks are there. You could have your character give his fortune to a local lord or church and then hope to call in favors at a future date. This is not quite as foolish as it sounds. If the beneficiary of your largess refuses to honor your agreement, you'll never give him money again and neither will anyone else, most likely. If no one gives him any money, where will he find the funds to support his lifestyle? No, such a person must seriously try to honor his commitments. Of course, he may not do as much as you would like. The best solution is that used throughout history--buy goods and chattels. Land, livestock, and trade goods are harder to steal and harder to lose. If you must keep a large fortune, it is best to keep it in something that can be carried easily and is unlikely to be stolen.

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