Tag Archives: witches & warlords

Simple Treasure table for B/X

While I am generally a fan of having characters gain experience based not only on the amount of enemies they defeat in battle but also on how many treasures they retrieved during the adventure, dealing with individual gold pieces always seemed too fiddly to me.

My preffered way to handle treasure both in regard to wealth and encumbrance is to use a simple unit of “1 treasure”. As long as characters still have 1 treasure, they can buy any items and services of trivial costs, such as food, drink, a room in an inn, most weapons, and so on. Anything that is too expensive for most common people to affort cost 1 treasure, such as a horse, chainmal armor, or a boat. As a rule of thumb, every treasure is worth about 100 gold pieces and can consists either of a bag of coins, a large golden cup, a crown, or whatever else the GM wants to describe it like. It also counts as 1 item for calculating encumbrance. (A character carrying items numbering up to their Strength score are unencumbred and can carry twice as much being lightly encumbred and three times as much being heavily encumbred.)

The treasure tables in the Basic and Expert sets of Dungeons & Dragons give various chances and amounts for different types of coins and gems, so using this alternative treasure system while retaining the same rate of experience gain requires some conversion work.

Which I did. Here’s the result.

snapshot123Type J and type P to S are not on this table as their average results are way below 100 gp.

Encumbrance and Treasure

I am not usually someone who does any kind of accounting for fun, so dealing with treasure and equipment generally is done very quick and simple in my campaigns.

The encumbrance system is almost taken directly from the one created by LS at Papers and Pencils, which I really like. (Yes, when you post mechanics on your website, sometimes there will actually be people using it.) The treasure system is my own creation, as far as I can recall. It’s a slight variant of the one I came up with for tying character advancement to loot in Barbarians of Lemuria.


Encumbrance works very simple. All items have a weight of either 1, or 2, or none. Characters can carry a number of items equal to their Strength score with no penalty. They can carry a number of items equal to twice their Strength score while being lightly encumbred, and up to three times their Strength score while being heavily encumbred.

Characters who are lightly encumbred have their movement speed reduced by one category and have all the penalties for wearing medium armor. (Limits to using certain skills and spell point cost for casting spells.)

Characters who are heavily encumbred have their movement speed reduced by two categories and have all the penalties for wearing heavy armor.

If an object is so large and heavy that it would take both hands to hold and carry, it counts as two normal items and has a weight of 2. Objects lighter than a dagger are not counted towards encumbrance. It’s left to the GM to decide when a larger number of smaller objects counts as one item. A pound or half a kilo of stuff probably is a good limit.

As they are likely to come up often, a quiver with 12 arrows, food for one day, and water for one day should all be treated as having a weight of 1 each, regardless of how they are stored.

To track encumbrance, a good idea is to have an inventory list in which all the rows are numbered. You can then mark at which row the limits for light encumbrance, heavy encumbrance, and maximal load are reached, based on your character’s Strength. For items with weights greater than 1, simply cross out the line below it. When you get over any of those limits, you simply see it immediately as the list passes over the marked lines.


The standard unit of wealth is “1 treasure”. A treasure could be many things, but generaly has a weight and a value of 1. A small bag of silver coins being the standard example. But it could also be jewelry, gemstones, golden cups, or whatever. For special occasions you can also have special treasures which weigh nothing or have a value greater than 1. The huge diamond from the crown of the high priest may easily have a value of 5 or 10, while a gold ring with a saphire might have a weight of none. But these are not usually found lying around in ruins or in the pockets of bandits.

There are no price lists. As long as you have at least one treasure with you, you can get whatever weapons, shields, food, rooms, and other small expanses you want. If you have no treasure with you, you’re broke and have to either get some valuables somewhere or get creative in acquiring equipment and supplies. Greater expanses usually cost 1 treasure. It could be a mount, a lavish feast, a cart, or other mundane but expensive things. Armor is more expensive and costs 1 treasure per point of Armor Class bonus (an AC +4 armor would cost 4 treasures).

Magic potions also generally cost 1 treasure each and are probably one of the most common expenses. More powerful magic items don’t come with a fixed price. They are almost always given as rewards, taken from defeated enemies, or stolen from treasure vaults.

War Cry of the Flame Princess: Poison

I retroactively added this post to the WCotFP series.

I am really not a fan of poison that instantly kills a character dead on a single failed saving throw, but I neither can say that I am very fond of the various mechanics from d20 games to deal with poison.

snakeAnd completely out of the blue I suddenly had this idea for how one could possible handle poison in OSR games (and probably a wide range of others as well). It’s so simple that I am most likely not the first to come up with it, but that actually makes it a good argument for and not against it.

When a creature gets hit by a poisonous attack, it needs to make a saving throw against poison or take X amount of damage. At the begining of its turn, a poisoned creature has to make another saving throw or take another X points of damage. Once it successfully makes a saving throw against the poison, it takes no damag and the poison ends.

The strength of the poison is entirely defined by the amount of damage it deals. The difficulty of the saving throw is always the same (no penalty to the saving throw against very strong poisons) and the duration of the poison is always as long as it takes to make a successful safe. So you only need to remember the amount of damage done by the poison and nothing else. You don’t even have to take count of how long the poison has already been acting. Poisons that deal higher amount of damage are more difficult to survive simply by the fact that you might run out of hit points before you even get the opportunity to make a third or fourth attempt at shaking it off. Even if you survive, a high damage poison still leaves you a lot more crippled than one that deals little damage. And if you’re already injured and unable to take much more punishment, even a relatively weak poison might still kill you.

Since saving throws against poison in B/X are usually save or die, the chance to succeed are pretty good, even for 1st level wizards. The chance that you take damage three or four times before making the save are very low at any level and at high level getting damaged even twice won’t be very common. So because of that, the amount of damage dealt by the poison has to be pretty high. I think a good rule of thumb might be that the poison should deal at least as much damage as the primary bit or claw attacks of the creature. In case of a small creature that relies primarily on its poison, it should be even considerably higher than that. I wouldn’t even bother with anything under 1d6. The highest number I use with my monsters is 3d6 for wyverns, and that’s because I am always very generous towards players when it comes to poison. If you want really nasty ones, you could easily go up to 4d8 and beyond.