Friday, June 24, 2016

Appraising Treasure in LotFP

Does it give any advice in the Rules & Magic book (or even the Referee Book) for Lamentations of the Flame Princess about how to handle whether or not the PCs can tell how much a gem or other non-coin piece of treasure is worth? And if the players don't know how much something is worth right off the bat, are there any rules for getting treasure appraised in town or otherwise learning that information? If it's in there, I swear I keep on missing it.

I know some people house-rule in an appraisal skill, but for whatever reason I'm just not fond of that idea. Maybe I just don't think that failure to appraise treasure correctly is interesting enough to require a skill check, or maybe I just feel like adventurers of all people should have an eye for valuables. I don't know.

In our Lamentations of the Fallen Lords campaign, I just tell the players how much any given piece of treasure is worth when they look at it, under the assumption that they know what to look for when assessing such things. This works extremely well for non-magical treasure. The problem arises whenever a magic item shows up.

You see, magic items generally don't come with a price tag in adventures written for LotFP. I think the assumption is that, since you can't buy magic items, and you can't sell magic items unless you either A) don't tell the buyer about the magic, or B) tell them and then haggle over a price because there's no standard price for a one-of-a-kind magical effect, there's no need for a standard price. Magic items are literally priceless. There is nothing to compare a magic item to in order to form a standard value.

The problem with this is that, because of my house rule mentioned above and my ignorance of any better way to handle appraisal in LotFP, my players almost always know right away if a given object is valuable.

"How much is the jewel-encrusted crown worth?"
"Ah ha! Magic!"

Sometimes the item description will note something like "magic aside, the item is worth x amount in precious metals alone," but not always. Items that appear to be worthless are probably safe from this problem as well. But for the most part, my players have been able to figure out which treasure is magic and which isn't by just asking how much it's worth when they get a good look at it. It's become a running joke at this point.

I mostly just wanted to share my amusing little problem and see if anyone has any advice or helpful information. I'd love to hear more about how other people handle appraisal in their games - in any RPG, not just LotFP.


  1. Honestly I would give it a value closest to a normal item that it represents. If it is given a value "in metal alone" try adding that onto the cost of a normal crown or whatever the item may be. This way the players are forced to actually check their items. It makes sense to me that if the player would sell the item and not know it is magic, that's what it would sell for. And if you want them to know it's magic, let them know they are getting a vibe from it or something. It's their choice if they want to check it for spell or not. It's makes a bit more work before the campaign but makes more work for them as well. Just an idea.

    1. I think you're right. The problem for me is that I hesitate, which clues you guys in. I'll have to make sure to write this stuff down when I'm prepping the adventure.

  2. It doesn't come up often, because I don't run the sort of games where treasure is important, but when I do, I just make something up when they ask how much something is worth. My "estimates" are so wild and erratic that the players know they are nowhere near accurate, and they'll have to take whatever the treasure is to the nearest merchant for a true appraisal.

    Well, I say "true" but the merchant isn't going to tell them the item's actual price. Either they take that, or they shop around for something better.