I want to expand on a thought from an earlier post.

I, personally, am not very comfortable with the idea of giving away treasure as part of encounters or adventures. It isn’t that I don’t think the player characters haven’t earned them, it’s just difficult to invest much time in stuff the players will glance over, forget to write down, sell as soon as they reach town, or never speak of again.

Some players (like me) don’t give a hoot about treasure or magic items. It makes it even more difficult that players who want cool treasure to be a part of their character don’t get what they want. More often than not, they’ll attribute awesome powers to something that grants them no numerical advantage whatsoever.

So, to expand on the concept of “experience and treasure are redundant considering the hit point economy,” I want to put forth this idea of equipment-based characters. This isn’t really a new idea, it’s just taking a concept that already exists (and it isn’t even original to me, at that) and putting it out for everyone to see.

Weapons of Legacy is a supplement for Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons that advances the concept of characters built around their magic items. A weapon of legacy need not be a weapon at all, they can be anything from a ring or a brooch, to a vest or suit of armor. More often than not however, they’re weapons of significance.

If your character obtains a weapon of legacy, they can choose to take the character class associated with it, which allows them a greater degree of control over what the magic item can do. The Eberron campaign setting includes the artificer, who wields infusions and item enhancements, and the Forgotten Realms setting introduces the “swordmage,” whose function should be pretty obvious.

Dungeons & Dragons isn’t the only game to dabble in item-based characters, either. Guild Wars 2 features the engineer profession, who carries weapon modifications, backpacks, and utility belts, enabling them to change-up their abilities to suit any of a variety of situations. A clear example of a character built around their equipment.

…So, the idea that granting a character experience and treasure might be over-complicating matters. When the player wants to invest in item-based abilities, they should be bound to them, not dependent on whether they’re lucky enough to pick up some random piece of loot the game master was kind enough to give them.

Additionally, shopping excursions are a huge waste of time at the gaming table, while players leaf through pages of character notes and/or gaming supplements, looking for random junk they want to add to their pages of character notes. Equipment that’s part of a character can be counted on during battle. there’s no worry about a player halting the game while searching for notes about the function of “random magic item Z.”

Also, no need to keep track of gold pieces, random gemstones or art pieces, valuable chunks harvested from monsters or rare spell ingredients, … unless they’re actually a part of the character. In fact, there are plenty of fantastic effects that would be made far more interesting as character abilities, rather than random magic item powers tucked away in dusty supplemental books.

Just sayin’.