In our game, we have a very simple and reliable treasure tracking system. When we obtain some loot, either somebody claims it immediately (usually if it is an item best suited for one person) or one guy writes it on a log. After each session, our treasure tracker fellow emails out the list so we can be apprised of it. At the end of an adventure and the party is back in town drinking most away most of the treasure, we trade in our good for gold, and divide the the total by the number of players.
This system has worked out pretty well so far with this group. There hasn’t been any contention for any one item and over the course of a few adventures, there’s been parity between the rewards. In this sense 4e has me a little concerned due the high price of rituals. In the past we’ve played that potions and scroll comes out of the party fund, but spell components come from the wizard’s stash. But now every spell has a cost to both buy the ritual and to cast it. And its like 100s of gp for a low level ritual, which makes it like burning up a magic item every time you want to cast something. It hasn’t scaled yet with the way treasure parcels work.
But enough of that diatribe. I’m here to share how we manage the loot list. We’ve gone through a number of iterations over the years. With this group we pretty much use a sheet of looseleaf. For awhile our quatermaster had made up a fancy-looking loot register, with lined brown paper and a nice cover. I guess it went away because it was overkill for something he just transfers to the computer each week.
The internets make it easy to share and collaborate with a document. We’ve used most of the following and there really isn’t one that stands out over another; each provides a different type of access and ease of use.
- Wiki. Our campaign is now on Obisidan Portal which has wikis for campaigns, but we haven’t used this yet for treasure. In the past, we’ve used wikis though for treasure tracking on PB Wiki and Google groups.
- Google Docs. The nice thing is that you can share a Word-like or Excel-like document with the whole group where they can see and edit it, but it is private from everyone else. The advantage of a spreadsheet is that you can do things like keep a running total or chart your treasure acquisitions over time. You can even try to do a polynomial (or other) fit to the treasure chart and model your GM’s treasure parcel system. Maybe I’ll write about how to do that on my MATLAB or programming blog.
- Google Wave. Not everybody’s on this yet, but the nice thing here is that you can keep your log as it progresses over time, and replay your gold pile slowly building up.
- Email. The simplest thing would be just email out an updated list after each session. You only have to go back to the email from the week before and add/remove items as necessary each session. We’ve done this method too, and it works all-right, especially since we flush the treasure buffer at the end of an adventure. Just using the plain text is good enough, but you can use an actual Word or Excel document an attachment as well.
- MySql database. I can say that we haven’t set this up yet, but our current DM is good making dynamic web pages and I bet I can convince her to set one up. The nice thing with this approach is it is easier to manage meta-data like where and when you found an item and which monster’s body you took it off of. And you can have it link to the appropriate entry in DDI to look up its powers and gp-value.
- A big sign. Another thing I haven’t gotten our DM to let us try yet, but I supposed you could set up a whiteboard in the gaming area and keep track of the treasure game-show style. Or set up a scrolling ticker like the stock market. PLDN +300 RNGR +250 CLRC -200… hehe :)
How else have people kept track of the party loot during and between sessions? I’m particularly interested in hearing how people manage party funds for rituals.