How do you distribute loot and control character progression?


How many chests on average do you distribute per session? Does every player get loot? Do you place certain items yourself or let players to roll the tables? I looking for a sweat spot so that players could feel excited, but on the same time don’t get to overpowered fast.


I wing it. If a player searches a corpse or rummages around in a room, I’ll give them some loot. Sometimes they find the obvious: the weapons that were just used against them in a fight. Sometimes I roll on the shabby loot table. Sometimes I roll on a different loot table.

I do not distribute loot fairly amongst all players unless there’s a narrative explanation for doing so (the king is rewarding you; you’re outfitting for a specific quest; etc). If one person searches a room, they find the loot. If two or more people search a room, I make an on-the-spot judgement (or roll to decide) if there’s stuff for everyone or if there’s only one bit of loot here. Keep them guessing, so they don’t expect to get stuff every time; but also reward them for being curious and investigating.

I don’t worry about players having too much loot because they can only equip 10 and carry 10.

Interestingly, my players don’t trade loot much. They totally could shuffle items around between them, but they never do.

I don’t worry about overpowering them. Sure, sometimes they get some powerful loot. All the more fun to make them risk losing it later. Or now they’re going to face a higher threat because they’re more powerful.


Basically, it’s 100% what @skippy ad said. Developing a “feel” for loot in your game—one that works for your style as a GM, the kind of game you want to run, and your players as a collective table—is an important and individualized gaming skill. No matter how many games we run, we can always learn new things and get better at it. I often “let the dice speak” and roll for loot in encounters, but I don’t bind myself to a mandate that says I have to listen; sometimes I simply choose loot for the game that is useful or thematically appropriate and use the PCs’ search or the encounter of a treasure chest as a narratively convenient opportunity to introduce it within the story. Sometimes very shabby loot that the PCs decide to hang onto in the middle of an adventure can be extremely important in context, and I like to encourage players to think of the value of items in their inventory as relative rather than absolute. HTH…


Thank you for ideas :slight_smile:


I’ve found that what works for me is one chest per predicament (room, situation). Usually, the higher quality of loot a chest hold the harder it will be to open; but if a challenge is particularly tough, I make the chest easier to open to give my players a fairer chance of success.

I normally let my players roll for their prize but for one-shots I like to plant the loot. In those cases, loot can act as relief for afflicted heroes or foreshadow and act as a key to a future threat.

I do not give loot to every player but I think that is to the benefit of the game: it makes players actively search for THE piece of loot in the room even if it might not be immediately useful for them. They have to balance out seeking loot and surviving the encounter.

When I really want my party of adventurers to gain a significant boost, I present to them a TOY BOX which is a chest that requires the players to overcome two hearts to either ALL obtain the same piece of loot or each roll on the same loot table.

What do you think? :smile:


I usually include loot piles from which PCs can get a number of single use or utility items, and one loot roll about once per session. In more unusual situations there will be a set piece of loot in a set place. I don’t worry about PCs getting too strong too fast, but I’m also not shy with loot destroying foes.