This weekend we went to the Field Museum of Chicago to see the Vodou and the Vikings exhibits (plus I managed to catch the Bunky Echo-Hawk exhibit as well). We really went for the Vodou exhibit (and it was amazing!) but the Viking had some nice pieces and had me thinking about jewelry and loot in my fantasy game.
And I realized that I had forgotten buttons, of all things, on my chart – one of the easiest and most ubiquitous ways to display wealth and ostentation! I use a system of my own design for this sort of thing – one that rates items by “coin equivalent” (based very, very roughly on metal mass) but then pegs the value of that coin to the social class the item comes from. So, for example, Commoner items are rated in Copper while Royal items are rated in Platinum. It also gives a rough idea of the metals that said items are made from – I do the same thing with clothing.
For what it is worth, I do a very similar thing for gems – and then rate them according to both quality and size. I also have a rating system for woods so that I can figure the value of wood carved objects.
This whole process, along with the valuation of raw/trade goods, lets me come up loot that is more than just a mound of coins. It can be kind of a pain for the players (all together now, “Awwwwww….”), but makes a ton more sense as far as I’m concerned.
It also represents a world where people tended to wear their wealth as much as (or more than) they would store it as coins or trade bars – and where clothing would often get reused, and handed down, eventually becoming rags to be worn by beggars. But adventurers, unless in full “loot the city” mode with the supply train to support it are going to simply miss out on a certain, perhaps majority, portion of the potential loot in a location.