Nearly every gamer has been there.
Valdak breathes a deep breath and screams, “Smell that! Fresh bread and cookfires! Red Roost! We found our way back to town!”
“I’d don’t know who needs the bath more Valdak,” Salia mumbled, “Me or you.”
“Guys… Doesn’t Red Roost actually have a good market?” Dom asked adjusting the straps of his haversack…
“I have a few things we need to sell.”
– Four Hours of Shopping Later –
“Hey Guys,” Valdak reminded, “What about the dragons we came to kill? Guys?”
Managing Your Loot
During their careers player characters in most ongoing campaign-style games accumulate riches their players only dream of. That said most of their players have online-banking tools, spreadsheets, cell phone lending tracking or at least a concerned parent looking out for their finances and resources. It is hardly any surprise that managing character resources can become a complex (and time consuming) part of the gaming experience. Here are some things to keep in mind for smoother loot management:
Consider Having a Lootmaster – Pick a party member that is generally trusted by everyone and have them run your loot. This is a timed tested gaming group favorite and Guilds in MMOs generally support the system as well. Drawing lots, rolling off, or loot turns are time consuming methods that consume a lot of table time. A central “accountant” can be in charge of managing loot and tracking distribution to monitor “fairness”.
Consider Having a “Buy List” – Look at the next few levels on the wealth by level table and estimate the increases in wealth your character is likely to encounter by taking your “current” wealth level from the next one or two ahead. This gives you a “budget” you can pre-shop for items. Knowing what you want is a huge time saver if a shopping trip comes up in game.
Consider the Verisimilitude of the Situation – Nothing quite offends a GM like ignoring the reality of the world they are trying to portray for you. Walking up to the supply clerk at the local mages school and trying to liquidate three spellbooks of dark magic and a dozen unholy athames IS a flagrant violation of verisimilitude. You are not playing a video game and it is not appropriate to burn game time with item-by-item reconciliation. Not every location has every item.
Consider Keeping It – No really, we all know you were looking for a falcata but maybe the tulwar of wounding you found it the demon-priest’s barrow will work. You will always remember where it came from and it strengthens your characters story if even if it wasn’t the exact mechanical fit you were looking for. GMs really appreciated a character that supports and “buys in” to their settings. And if something has a name, like a proper name, consider very carefully before just hawking it to the next wandering halfling tinker you meet.
Consider the Whole Table – Some people don’t have a lot of time to game. They don’t likely want to spend what little they do have hearing your character talk lacquer shades on the elven composite bows at the weapon merchant’s shop. Maybe your group IS that into detail, but I would be certain of that fact before I even slightly considered sinking serious game time into role-playing shopping. On the other hand, some GMs use these reprovisioning moments as opportunities for social skill use and gathering information. Learn to read the situation. If loot issues are a persistent pain consider asking the group for e-mail addresses and try to get major item issues hashed out off screen.
Loop in the GM – The wealth by level table is a reality of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game as it is designed at its base. Despite their best intentions, sometimes GMs lose track of how much loot they have dispensed. While “Monte Haul/Monty Hall” games are fairly likely, most fast XP track games I have played in have difficulties pacing this with enough wealth. If you are drastically out of balance with your wealth by level let the GM know. Ask the GM if they prefer to role-play the “shopping trip” or if you can just handle it off table.
Loot is awesome (and usually necessary) but don’t let it bog down or ruin a game night. Think ahead and use downtime productively and managing your vast shares of dragon hoard will be a lot easier.