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
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.