Having read various D&D forums, the general consensus regarding magic items is that it is not possible to play through a D&D campaign without magic items. It is often assumed that characters in D&D 3.5 will have a certain amount of treasure based on level, so if you err on the side of stingy as the DM, the players might find it difficult to survive in a game of D&D.
While I have yet to try D&D 4 due to my lack of interest, I read that the treasure system is hardwired into the level progression, so there is really no avoiding it.
When I played Baldur’s Gate I & II, Neverwinter Nights or just about any Bioware D&D game you can think of, the treasure would just continue to build up. Much of the loot would be sold for money that was never used – or wasn’t used enough. It was also quite unnecessary to buy magic items as what you found along the way was usually more than sufficient.
In Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, the developers supposedly tried to solve that problem by introducing Cespenar the Imp and the weapon crafting system. However, if you played the game from the start, you probably ended up being so rich that the cost of all the artifacts combined was peanuts due to the wealth you had.
With tabletop D&D, you could control the amount of loot given to players, not least because there’s only so much someone can carry without a bag of holding. Then again, unless the DM banned magic items completely, it could still build up over time. And by the time you hit level 10, you probably did have a bag of holding.
But ultimately, what really bothers me the most is not the amount of treasure received, but rather the capabilities of a character appeared to be dependent on the treasure and magic items they had. I think I would be interested in playing a game where emphasis is on the capabilities of a character rather than the loot.
What about you? What do you think about the concept of loot, treasure and how it’s all implemented in Dungeons and Dragons (any edition)? Do you feel that it breaks the suspension of disbelief when your characters wield and wear so many magic items that they start looking like a Christmas tree? Do you prefer keeping magic items to a minimum, or do you enjoy picking up ‘stuff’? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.