Trouble with Treasure

I'm new to the rules and just started a new campaign. I need help with treasure.  Most everything listed is for lair treasure only. I get that somewhere the PCs can conqueror and get the hoard.  What does not seem natural to me is that individual monsters (and men) carry no coins or treasure.  Low-level PCs would have a hard time ever getting real treasure XP until they were strong enough to take on a lair.  

I saw a post by Alex answering a similar question here, but that seems to take away from the horde in the lair.  If all monsters carry their portion of whats in the lair, then the lair should not be worth anything or the lair is worth roughly double what it should, for liar treasure + monster treasure.

In Sinister Stone, I see the following in wandering monsters carried treasure:

  SinStone XP TT TT Value
Brigand 1d10sp 10 H 2500
Orc 1d12sp 10 G 2000
Kobold 1d4cp 5 E 1250
Goblin 1d6sp 5 E 1250
Hobgoblin 1d6gp 15 E 1250
Gnolls 1d8gp 20 G 2000

I'm not sure this matches any of the rules above.  Surely I am missing something because I really don't know how to stock creatures or random locations with treasure using the rules.

What does everyone else do?




the lair treasure being the main source of money over individual treasure is to encourage non-combat solutions to problems.  not to say that combat won't be a well players go back to time and time again, but it isn't the key component.  if you can sneak in and steal some of the treasure or something like that, you still get most of the XP.

As for low level characters, it can potentially be a bit of a slog at first, but it isn't as bad as it might seem.  In a dungeon, a lair will usually only be about a half dozen gangs, and you're not necessarily going to fight them all at once, they may be spread out over several rooms allowing you to take them on a few at a time.

I will say this: wilderness exploration is definitely out of reach of low level characters. especially at the very first levels, you should expect to be feeding them mainly on a diet of 1st floor dungeons that they can reach without leaving borderlands/civilized society.

Yeah, dungeon lairs are much easier for players to fight their way through than wilderness lairs. In fact, the dungeon stocking rules specify that the GM can optionally decide that a dungeon lair has the minimum number of monster groups for the monster species whose lair it is, which means that many monster lairs only have as many monsters as a non-lair encounter.

My players' first big haul was from a kobold band who were mining a tin seam in the basement of an abandoned monastery; There were only fourteen kobolds in the group, including champions and such, and most of them were wiped out in one round by a lucky Burnng Hands spell.

I understand your points regarding dungeons vs wilderness. I'm good with those points.

I am just trying to reconcile the rules-as-written with the only adventures/dungeons written for the system as it pertains to treasure.  Both Sinister Stone and ACKS Dwimmermount have most monsters carrying loot.  Sinister Stone has coin carried for the wandering monsters, as well as keyed monsters in location.

Is there some rule of thumb for this loot or rule that I am not seeing?  

The recommendation for stocking dungeons in the Secrets chapter is that GP available in the dungeon be about 4 times the amount of XP of monsters in the dungeon, and that if your rolls for loot in lairs do not line up with this, that you can choose to adjust it in a variety of different ways.

Giving random non-lair encounters little bits of loot seems like a good way to balance it out.

It is worth nothing that the ACKS RAW for loot isn’t as vital to the system as, say, 3.X, because the fact that you get XP from GP and combat XP is so low means it is almost impossible to end up in a situation where your total loot is significantly below expected for your level. So if you want to alter the loot amounts and rate of gain, everything will generally fall into line based on the change instead of falling apart.

(Also worth noting that I am not an Autarch.)

Don't forget that based on old school dungeon stocking rules, there are rooms in every dungeon with treasure and no monsters.  These may be trapped rooms, rooms with tricks or special features that must be interacted with to obtain the loot, or just secret treasure rooms that the current dungeon inhabitants don't know about.  Put a couple of these on the first level and give your player in game clues (rumors, maps, overheard conversations, etc.) if they are struggling to get xp.

You can also get xp for selling recovered magic items if never used.  In my Dwimmermount game, as soon as the players realized they got xp for the sale value of magic items if they never used them, every magic item was immediately taken to the nearest big city to sell.  A single +1 sword from a gang leader is worth 5000 gp/xp.

The important part of this style of play is to explain it to the players upfront.  They have to observe the world and look for clues on where the treasure is and how to get it.  Once they have the right mind set, players are really good at devising plans (either a TPK or getting the gold/xp).

All that being said, if you have goblins that gamble on watch, give them a few sp in their pockets.  They wouldn't keep their life's savings with them, however, just as you don't.  You are never stuck with the tables.


Wandering monsters act as a time pressure both in the dungeon and in the wilderness. They shouldn't carry enough loot to make fighting them worth it as the players should be encouraged to explore their environment and avoid unnecessary encounters. I sometimes add a tiny bit of loot if it's needed to make sense, creatures who are participating in some kind of economy a few coins for daily spending, migrating monsters might have a cart of supplies, a predator or scavenger might be carrying a fresh kill which in turn has loot.

to answer your question specifically, I don't believe there's an actual rule of thumb for putting loot on the monsters themselves.  It seems in my estimation to be almost exclusively for flavor and to make something interesting happen when you loot the bodies.

Sinister stone is a very good adventure, and it's the ACKs equivalent of "Keep on the borderlands".  That means it gives a very archetypal experience and establishes some tropes about the game.  Still, you couldn't glean everything you needed to know about B/X from KotB, and the same is true of ACKs vis a vis SSoS.