Best laid out non-dungeon module?


Should be playing D&D instead
You are saying use small, high-value objects to prevent the necessity for "Tenser's Floating Disk" or other coin-logistics conundrums for the party?
I don't sweat the disk, but I think it's easier if the value of the objects is up in the air, and the big hauls are logistical challenges. as two orcs mentions. I once placed a boulder with some fossils in it as a piece of treasure. If the PCs could get it out of the dungeon it would be worth "over ten thousand silver pieces", but no precise count of its value was given. Was it worth it? Did they even have the ability to get the boulder out? Could they chisel out the most prominent fossils and sell them for a portion of that value? These were all things they enjoyed debating that were way more interesting both them and me than simply finding a chest of 7,821 silver pieces (and thereby, 7,821 XP) and hauling it out in sacks.


Should be playing D&D instead
Not saying all treasure ought to be, but I always try to include a few treasures with logistical baggage in every dungeon I design - the classic "big heavy thing worth a lot of money" or "ultra-fragile thing that's worthless if broken" tropes with a sprinkling of a few major handling or selling drawbacks (an abstract cost to use it, radiates something dangerous, cursed to be literally worth no man's money, etc.), and you've got yourself some treasure that'll impact your party a bit more than the "pac-man pills" that are coins and gems. The drawback sort of makes them more invested in what they pick up; they get into "group huddle mode", which is always some nice immersion to see.


So ... slow work day? Every day?
This is true, but many DMs get lost in the balance of it all. The point of the coins is to make the objects d’art even cooler than they are. The contrast with the more mundane stuff is critical to the effect. It’s why even 14-course meals for aristocracy served a soup and salad; why the more attractive often hit the nightlife with a pack of plainer-looking friends; why the artifacts section of the DMG would not have worked nearly as brilliantly if the entire magic section was similarly crafted.

You have to have unsexy, absolutely utilitarian, functional rewards as the standard or the dopamine does not flow in the way it should. Juicing works for a little while; then it all starts to look the same. And the brain doesn't understand when to drip the next hit like you’d expect.

I’ve been in campaigns like this. “Oh, another find of six gems and no coin”, or, “the priceless statuette of Mahringa-Mua”. First time is great. Then it starts becoming a hassle when every trip to town has a mandatory liquidation session where conversion into coin is necessary anyway just to cover overhead expenses. And it’s the priceless statuette of Mahringa-Mua - the DM can’t just exchange that at the money changers because then half the effect is wasted. At that point everyone’s in for a penny, so we’re in for the pound and it becomes The Hunt For The Buyer of Mahringa-Mua

Meanwhile, we’re stuck with something we can’t use to pay the mercs, train, exchange 1:1 without a huge loss for the remove curse Joey Two-Toes needs after taking the statuette of Mahringa-Mua off its pedestal, or buy a beer.

This is why one persistent quibble I have with the new OSR is the disdain for “mundane magic and treasure”. You don’t get OMG magic and treasure unless it’s contrasted with utterly utilitarian, boring, vanilla magic and treasure.

Then the eyes light up

While your average Hollywood Star looks utterly bored with whatever 10s on their arm, today.

My rule of thumb is that if the party needs to sell the gems and statuette of Mahringa-Mua for expenses instead of keeping it as an awesome trophy in their stronghold, then I’m not giving out enough boring precious metals.

Don’t worry about the XP - that’s why level drainers are in the game. Chutes and ladders doesn’t hurt so bad if the game doesn’t make you move only 1 or 2 spaces on your turn so that it lasts longer


My my my, we just loooove to hear ourselves don't we?
This is why one persistent quibble I have with the new OSR is the disdain for “mundane magic and treasure”. You don’t get OMG magic and treasure unless it’s contrasted with utterly utilitarian, boring, vanilla magic and treasure.
^^^This hits the nail on the head for me. If everything's fancy, it becomes a paperwork nightmare for the players and the DM as well.
I've been going with "it is worth 1200 gp to the right buyer" leaving it up to the DM if he wants to be a dick about it during the PCs' downtime.