Thursday, August 9, 2012

Delving into AD&D:Treasure Types Part I

While the assignment of treasure types to individual monsters was obviously an judgment call by Gary Gygax is there meaning behind the types themselves? One of the things OSRIC, and Swords & Wizardry omitted was the lettered treasure type system (need to check Labyrinth Lord to see what they do). It was omitted because it was obviously a unique creative creation by Gygax.  However there is a chance that if one compared what monsters were assigned what treasure type, a pattern will emerge to let us know what Gygax considered each treasure type to represent. Then by restating in a different manner, without letter codes,  a functional equivalent can be developed for a retro-clone.

Note Kellri of Old School Reference fame is the one who thought of using descriptions instead of letter codes first.

To start this off we go back to ODnD and look at how treasure types were assigned to the monsters in the three original booklets.

Analysis of OD&D (original booklets only) treasure types.

Looking at the Original D&D treasure we see the following

B,C,D, E, & F are in order of increasing value. Although D&E are roughly equivalent, D has less potential value but greater odds, while E has greater potential odds but lesser odds.

A, G, H, I are all all special treasure basically assigned to only one monster each.

A: Men & Centaur and is divided into Land, Desert, Water subcategories.

B:Skeletons, Zombies, Wights, Hydras, Nixies

C: Ogres (+1,000 GP), Gargoyles, Lycantropes, Minotaurs, Pixies, Gnomes

D:Orcs, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, Mummies, Cockatrices, Manticoras, Purple Worms, Dryads

E:Giants (+5,000 GP), Wraiths, Spectres, Gorgons, Wyverns, Elves, Griffons

F:Vampires, Basiliks, Medusae, Chimera

G:Dwarves

H:Dragons

I:Rocs

WaysoftheEarth over on the ODnD discussion forum did a numerical analysis of the different ODnD treasure types. Like noted above the D & E treasure types are the oddity in the general progression from B to F.

It will take a few more days but the next post in this series will look at the ADnD treasure types.

4 comments:

Robert Morris said...

LL uses a system similar to B/X and AD&D, but uses Roman numerals instead of letters to denote the Hoard Class.

Joseph Bloch said...

I'd invite you to check out the new treasure system in Adventures Dark and Deep. It takes the treasure values from AD&D and breaks them out into very different sorts of specific items, based on theme as you state above.

Peter D said...

I'm curious to see what you turn up. I'll bet that it was just simply a done-in-order organically grown system, using the alphabet for ease of notation and use. "Let's see, treasure for Men - A. Next up is B, let's see who gets that. Oh, crap, I did all these hoards but I need code for individuals, I'll use the next letters . . . "

That's probably the real truth behind it, rather than some truly systematic or coded approach.

And the "Hoard Class" roman numerals in LL drive me nuts. It's like everything else is written in D&D and that's written in some other game system I haven't learned by heart. ;)

DHBoggs said...

Definetly an interesting project Rob. Looking forward to what you come up with.

Historically though, you shouldn't blame Gygax for the lettered treasure types.

Initially, Arneson created magic swords as the prime Prize for players, (along with gp of course). Each of these swords was given a letter code, A through R. You can see them in the FFC along with the placement of some of them in the keys given for levels 7-10 of Blackmoor dungeon. The next group of Magic Swords is instead given color codes (Svenny's famous "Maroon" is one example) When Arneson began to create tables for more elaborate treasures he simply continued his habit of assigning letters to the various types. Probably, that's why he just gave color codes to that second set of swords, but I don't know. Anyway, that is the origin of the letter type system.