I realized a couple things about the “character” of treasure.

First of all, you basically never want to award trade goods, vendor trash, and coinage at the same time. Each of these things is basically redundant.

I mean, they’re interchangeable. Well, they should be.

Really, all three of them are a kind of currency. Like, weird currency in some cases. I’m losing sight of my point. For now, let’s say that currency of any kind is a constant. Your group should always find a fairly fixed amount of currency.

I have the 5e treasure tables to thank for this idea.

Now, the other stuff is this — that a hoard is probably best distinguished by whatever the “crowning jewel” of the collection is. Or a simple majority of the stuff found. And further, that treasure determines the treasury type.

How disappointing is it to wander into a laboratory and find a standard monetary treasure instead of vials of acid or healing potions or elixirs? How disappointing is it to find just a chest of gold in an armory? It’s weird how this works in games.

By extension, the kind of room determines the kind of defenses.

Pop culture dictates that fancy gemstones are protected by alarms and laser traps. I mean duh, right? Just like how golden idols are totally guarded by pits, spear traps, poison darts, and giant boulders.

That’s just how it is, am I right?

It’s about those crazy expectations we have, which I will admit are different for different people and cultures and stuff, but are totally real regardless.

So I think I’ve figured this: six scores for four “classes” of hoard.
– Gems (including jewelry)
– Art
– Relics (including amulets)
– Potions
– Scrolls
– Arms (weapons & armor)

The four classes of hoards are — museums, labs, libraries, and armories.

Important to bear in mind is the fact that you can still have secret treasures hidden away in walls or locked away in a storeroom. In fact, this approach reinforces the idea of the “good stuff” being hidden.

If you see a bunch of stuff sitting on pillows or pedestals, or locked in ornamental chests or pretty glass cases, then clever players will immediately begin to wonder what’s behind “door number two.”

And this is a game about managing expectations, don’cha know.