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Why is stealing from the Dead so ubiquitous in DnD, Pathfinder, and other D20 games?


Gamer Talk

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Silver Crusade

thejeff wrote:
Thalandar wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Deyvantius wrote:
People really shouldn't try to apply real life morality issues into a fricking role-playing game.
Morality is part of the role we play.

Well said, that and the fact that morality is GREAT roleplay.

Case in point: orcs. Every views them as the bad guy. Adventurers kill orcs all the time, and generaly are seen as in the right.

Standard game: Evil orcs, raiding the country side and terrorizing local villages. Locals hire adventurers to take care of the problem. Most people don't have a problem with the adventurers hacking up the orcs, looting and taking what they want.

Put a twist on it: Locals encroach on orc tribal lands, desecrating sacred tribal burial grounds and over hunting and trapping the area, killing of the orcs food supply.

The orcs retaliate, because they feel their survival is at stake. The locals appeal to the Baron, who hires the adventurers to take care of the "orc problem".

Throw a paladin into THAT MIX and lets see what happens. That's roleplaying-I want to see that game!

As long as there's a way out. Guaranteed Paladin Fall scenarios are no fun. Scenarios that lead to the party slaughtering all the good little orc babies or turning and slaughtering the villagers who are just trying to eke out a subsistence living aren't really a great outcome either.

At the risk of de-railing into another paladin thread, why would this be guaranteed paladin fall scenario? How about the paladin who exposes the lawful evil merchants guild who is behind the whole evil plot? That's the great roleplay here. The orcs, while gennerally evil, aren't evil here. Neither are the villagers who inadvertly encroach of the burial sites and lands.

It is possible for there to be a situation where two groups are in conflict with neither side being "evil".

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Azaelas Fayth wrote:
@Thalander & TriOmegaZero: Have you guys been reading my campaign notes?

No, it's just that when my GM ran Carnival of Tears that was pretty much how our party reacted. :)


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Azaelas Fayth wrote:
@Thalander & TriOmegaZero: Have you guys been reading my campaign notes?
No, it's just that when my GM ran Carnival of Tears that was pretty much how our party reacted. :)

That cover scared me...


Thalandar wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Thalandar wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Deyvantius wrote:
People really shouldn't try to apply real life morality issues into a fricking role-playing game.
Morality is part of the role we play.

Well said, that and the fact that morality is GREAT roleplay.

Case in point: orcs. Every views them as the bad guy. Adventurers kill orcs all the time, and generaly are seen as in the right.

Standard game: Evil orcs, raiding the country side and terrorizing local villages. Locals hire adventurers to take care of the problem. Most people don't have a problem with the adventurers hacking up the orcs, looting and taking what they want.

Put a twist on it: Locals encroach on orc tribal lands, desecrating sacred tribal burial grounds and over hunting and trapping the area, killing of the orcs food supply.

The orcs retaliate, because they feel their survival is at stake. The locals appeal to the Baron, who hires the adventurers to take care of the "orc problem".

Throw a paladin into THAT MIX and lets see what happens. That's roleplaying-I want to see that game!

As long as there's a way out. Guaranteed Paladin Fall scenarios are no fun. Scenarios that lead to the party slaughtering all the good little orc babies or turning and slaughtering the villagers who are just trying to eke out a subsistence living aren't really a great outcome either.

At the risk of de-railing into another paladin thread, why would this be guaranteed paladin fall scenario? How about the paladin who exposes the lawful evil merchants guild who is behind the whole evil plot? That's the great roleplay here. The orcs, while gennerally evil, aren't evil here. Neither are the villagers who inadvertly encroach of the burial sites and lands.

It is possible for there to be a situation where two groups are in conflict with neither side being "evil".

As I said, as long as there's a way out.

An evil merchant guild manipulating everything would be a way out. Stop them and the problem stops.
Some decent chance of a diplomatic solution would be another.

Two irreconcilable warring non-evil groups is a tricky situation for the paladin. If he actually picks either side to support in the conflict he's in trouble: Innocents die because of him. If he walks away, innocents die that he could have protected.

As long as there are ways to resolve the situation without slaughtering one of the non-evil sides, it's a great set-up. Let them realize what's going on fairly early and search for the way out.

The true dick move would be letting the players assume/rely on the traditional Orcs=villains trope and only reveal after the slaughter that they're the victims here.

Not that I'm saying anyone here would be planning it that way, just things to watch out for.


2 Warring Non-Evil Groups? Paladin finds a peaceful solution.

Mine no one will see the ending coming.


Azaelas Fayth wrote:

2 Warring Non-Evil Groups? Paladin finds a peaceful solution.

Mine no one will see the ending coming.

As long as the GM allows a peaceful solution. It's quite possible to set a no-win situation. Even unintentionally, if the PC's actions close off certain paths before they realize what's going on. Especially if it's before they have the clues to know neither side is evil.


If I am a heroic adventurer and I am in the tomb of a good person who has for some stupid reason been buried with a load of treasure, I reckon they'd want me to have it so I can use it for my good deeds.
If I am a heroic adventurer and I am in the tomb of a bad person, why would I care how they'd feel about me taking it?
If I am a non-heroic adventurer, why would I care what anyone thinks?

Anyway, I'm off to rob a museum.


thejeff wrote:
Azaelas Fayth wrote:

2 Warring Non-Evil Groups? Paladin finds a peaceful solution.

Mine no one will see the ending coming.

As long as the GM allows a peaceful solution. It's quite possible to set a no-win situation. Even unintentionally, if the PC's actions close off certain paths before they realize what's going on. Especially if it's before they have the clues to know neither side is evil.

There is always another path to the same destination. The only difference is the distance one must walk to reach the destination.

Silver Crusade

The property angle is just one part of this.

What do you do with the bodies?

Its an easier angle when you're breaking into a tomb. The entities there are presumably already interred. But what about the orcs, and various other monsters? Are your guys leaving a bloody streak of naked corpses behind them like a bunch of barbarians?

Leaving someone's body around to rot, unburied, is something that isn't strictly moral, its also more cynically dangerous from a necromantic or undead perspective.

I admit, that I am the jerk DM who does spring the 'those amulets belonged to my mother' thing when the heroes clean out a bandit horde. Although generally people in my campaign world aren't buried with grave goods (since they are almost all buried at sea).


My PCs typically burn them on a Pyre.


Pendagast wrote:

The PCs dont owe restitution for any crimes, they did not commit the crimes. There is reward due to the person(s) who righted the wrong. Hence where bounties came in.

IT is not a reasonable bounty to say here is $1 for the $5 you risked your life to recover. Just keep the money buddy.

Thank you for saving our town from those bandits, HOW WILL WE EVER REPAY YOU?

The Townsfolk don't likely have money for reward, or they would have just hired or financed their own militia/posse.

The bandits take it all, and come back next harvest to take more. The repayment to the towns people is the bandits won't be back next harvest, their daughters can now grow up unspoiled and have no fear of being whisked away in the night, or the dragon will no longer eat their sheep and burn their stable.

It really depends on how you view your campaign world. If you view your world like World of Warcraft where adventurers and questgivers are common place throughout the world and the typical response to a threat is "hire a 3-5 man party of freelancers", then looting dead corpses would probably be legal. The legal system would adjust for them. However, if you are going for a more realistic style where adventuring parties are rare, then the legal system isn't going to be designed for this. The party is going to be viewed as a group of vigilantes, and governments tend to discourage vigalentes. This is certainly manageable(becoming government employees for instance), but most campaigns I have played in don't even stop to consider it.

For instance, in your example, the "townsfolk" likely aren't in a position to make this bargain. Unless they are the only people the bandits have hurt, there would be others who still deserve restitution. They could wave their portion ,but not all of it. Morally, you may be able to justify it(I would consider it neutral), but it would still be illegal.


Pendagast wrote:

Amoung your loot you find 3 suit of masterwork armor, 1 +1 long sword, a ring of spell storing, a wand of magic missile with 10 charges, 2,783 cp, 3100 sp and 989 gp.

so, how do you go about returning the loot? Excuse me sir, does this gold piece look familiar to you?

Morally speaking , depending on the alignment of your group, you might think, well we could disperse the loot necessary for our group to continue, sell what we don't need, pool the cash and cut the town in as a fair share, so the Town would get 1/5 (assuming a party of 4) of the coin.

Returning a suit of masterwork scale mail and a wand of magic missiles to the townsfolk is hardly going to cure their plight. The items also didn;t likely originate from that town.

Even back in the middle ages, people would have proof of ownership for expensive objects. They would be noted in Wills and listed in case of theft.

Even a minor ring of spell storing is worth 18000 gold. Thats several years wage for your average skilled worker. Its more expensive than a nice house. The original owner of that good would have a deed establishing his ownership of the ring(which was a big deal even back in the middle ages for high value items). Most likely, he has reported it stolen as well. I would expect something similar for the +1 longsword, as well.

Even if all this fails, the goods can be sold at auction and the proceeds used to pay back people who you know have been attacked(those who reported the bandit attacks in the first place).


Azaelas Fayth wrote:

@Thalander & TriOmegaZero: Have you guys been reading my campaign notes? I am planning a PbP that literally has that exact scenario... The humans encroaching one that is.

I was thinking that would have been the next PbP I run... Now I know it will be and hopefully will have a Paladin in the Party. I really want to see a Lawful Stupid Paladin in one of my settings.

Lawful stupid is easy to role-play. The Paladin is too dumb to figure out that the orcs have a legitimate grievance. As a result, he believes the humans regarding the orcs being evil and kills them.

Silver Crusade

Azaelas Fayth wrote:
@Thalander & TriOmegaZero: Have you guys been reading my campaign notes? I am planning a PbP that literally has that exact scenario... The humans encroaching one that is.

In my homebrew world, Orcs=native americans, with a Klingon like honor system. Still generally evil, but humans are pushing them further and further off there lands. A lot of druid and ranger types, protecting the lands by any means.

To throw even more of a twist in, the dwarven merchant clan (secretly lead by a LE aristocrat) is supply both sides with weapons.

The BBEG was just a 5th level aristocrat, who was very chrismatic and surrounds himself with powerful allies. The characters made it through til the end and, instead of the big climatic fight he ran away to live to fight another day.

If the characters don't think and ask questions, you might end up inadvertantly the pawn of a evil merchant guild leader.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Sounds like a fun place to adventure!


I ran one campaign in an ultra "gritty" sense. It's what the players said they wanted. It was only a few sessions and I think everyone enjoyed it, but we went back to a manageable level of grittiness. Why?

1. When the party was attacked and killed one attacker and drove off another, the one they drove off got to town first and had them arrested for murder.
2. After the (short and speedy) trial, the attacker was arrested and put in prison. The party still needed information from the attacker and so the rogue snuck into prison to "question" him.
3. The rogue was arrested for torturing the prisoner.
4. All of the items looted from the original fight were confiscated by the court and eventually returned to the dead attacker's parents.
5. The rogue was convicted of battery and had to pay a fine. The party did not want to have the fine come out of the party pool since they never authorized the rogue's interrogation techniques.
6. Upon paying the fine, the party was invited to leave town and told they weren't really welcome since vigilantes were frowned upon.

It was quite interesting watching the paladin deal with the local legal system...


Historically, it wasn't uncommon for payment to the army to be dependant on winning the battle and taking the enemy's stuff. This probably isn't what most RPG designers have in mind with the whole looting thing, but they aren't far off from reality when they include it.

Why do players do it?

1 - "Hey, that monster nearly kicked our butts with that weapon, magic item, and/or other thing. I want it."

2 - "I spent all my starting gold on goblin killing gear. When I level up I'm going to face worse than goblins and so far no NPC has stopped and offered to fund my weapons upgrades. I hope there's a good market for used goblin items."

Where it gets out of hand is when you stop to loot every guard in the palace when you're supposed to be on a mission. A good GM will slip in surprise attacks or other penalties if you're looting when you're supposed to be on schedule. On the other hand there are some GM's who once combat is over start with, "You find..." before any of the players even mention looting the bodies.


@johnlocke90: That is why I said I would love to actually see how a lawful stupid Paladin would survive in my campaigns.

& dagnabit Thalandar where are you!? That was going to be a minor villain in this campaign.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

ewhm has some very good and historically supportable points. Even today that's how many "advanced" nations deal with maritime rcovery from unknown shipwrecks or finding a chest full of coins.

And even when the wreck is known, such as the Titanic, salvage laws allow for significant profit for the salvagers.

And before we hold Tolkien's "heroes" up as paragons of virtue in this regard, Gandalf and Thorin had no issues taking Glamdring and Orcrist in spite of the fact that the near immortality of elves pretty much guaranteed that there were living heirs to the King of Gondolin and Orcrist's original owner. Yet not only did they make no effort to return them, Elrond essentially blessed their ownership through right of discovery or some similar concept.

All of the hobbits (including Frodo) took ancient daggers from the Barrow Downs, and of course Sting came from the same loot pile as Orcrist and Glamdring and nobody once suggested returning the One Ring to it's clearly known rightful owner...

Part of this is the whole concept of adventuring in mortally dangerous areas where you need all the help you can get. Nobody complains when the hero of an action movie jumps in the nearest car to rush to the location of the ticking nuclear bomb.

To me the real question isn't so much "should heroes loot their dead enemies" as it is "once the heroes get back to civilization, how do they deal with their loot then?"

I've already used the example of my druid handing over a literal room-sized treasure hoard to the Mayor of the local village. I've also had my characters search for any identifying marks on items they recover in the adventure and attempt, within reason, to return them to their owners. In many cases in our games adventurers are required to pay taxes, sometimes up to 1/4 of the value of the looted items.

There actually is some rich role playing fodder here for GMs who care to make use of it. In one campaign I had an amulet recovered in a loot pile belong to the captured, tortured and killed princess...

This made me think of something.

I never had a good reason of why magic items sell for half. Perhaps it is because the buyer has to pay any taxes and do the proper paperwork before they can resell it.

Silver Crusade

Its my attempt at a six guns and sorcery themed game. The characters actually started out as regulators of local business man's herd of cattle, but slowly got drawn into the orc/merchant guild war.

Interestingly enough, the characters were emensely respectfully of the orc dead, earning the respect of the tribes as honored adversaries.

Silver Crusade

Azaelas Fayth wrote:

@johnlocke90: That is why I said I would love to actually see how a lawful stupid Paladin would survive in my campaigns.

& dagnabit Thalandar where are you!? That was going to be a minor villain in this campaign.

I have many, many non-traditional game ideas. Basiclly I think, what is the stero-type, and reverse it.

What if orcs weren't really evil, but the kingdoms "manifest destiny" policy is what is causing the problem and a few unscruplous nobles, who take advange of the stero-types for personal gain.


I hate Stereotypes, Cliches, & Tropes. Srangely, I really love flipping them on their heads and seeing my groups stare wondering if I am playing the Trope Straight or Averting it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
qutoes wrote:
As someone in one of my play groups likes to say "I'm broke,lets go kill something"

Aaaaaand the personality of my next character congeals in one massive contraction that was so sudden it kind of hurt my brain.


Mystically Inclined wrote:
qutoes wrote:
As someone in one of my play groups likes to say "I'm broke,lets go kill something"
Aaaaaand the personality of my next character congeals in one massive contraction that was so sudden it kind of hurt my brain.

I really like that concept...


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Thalandar wrote:
Skeld wrote:

Looting dead enemy combatants is pretty common.

-Skeld

Ummm, as a member of the US military, I can tell you that it is not. It is, in fact, punishable by the Uniformed Code of Military Conduct and in addition, your fellow soldiers would label you as an undesirable person to be around.

I have serve over 10 years with the brave men and women of the US Military and NO ONE I have served with would loot a dead enemy.

You might want to read this article, before you talk about the purity of the US military.

Keeping war trophies is a slippery slope

Quote:
Service members must fill out Defense Department Form 603-1 and get approval from superiors before they can take home their war trophies, but that doesn’t mean souvenirs can’t include odd items. Retired Col. Gary Wilson had to get approval to bring home two fragments from a rocket that exploded in a 2005 roadside bomb, wounding him and others, and damaging his vehicle.

The US military now regulates it, and prosecutes offenders, better, but bringing home war booty is still going on.


So this thread has become quite interesting. Nice one folks.
Personally, as one who finds WBL, magic shoppes and required-Christmas trees of magick-stuff anathematic, the result becomes characters who are definitely on the "make".
The "relative" "wealth" of magic items is so stratospherically beyond the ken of the average peasant, let alone rare, that making real world comparisons to yearly salary to determine the luxury value of said item is pointless.
Some NPCs keep lists of wealth, and relics and treasures, magical or not appear therein.
Chasing down the murder hobos/special forces mercs/adventurers who now have an item of power looted from "bad guys" is possible, but unlikely. And the PCs will probably feel a proprietary sense of ownership.

Silver Crusade

Vod Canockers wrote:
Thalandar wrote:
Skeld wrote:

Looting dead enemy combatants is pretty common.

-Skeld

Ummm, as a member of the US military, I can tell you that it is not. It is, in fact, punishable by the Uniformed Code of Military Conduct and in addition, your fellow soldiers would label you as an undesirable person to be around.

I have serve over 10 years with the brave men and women of the US Military and NO ONE I have served with would loot a dead enemy.

You might want to read this article, before you talk about the purity of the US military.

Keeping war trophies is a slippery slope

Quote:
Service members must fill out Defense Department Form 603-1 and get approval from superiors before they can take home their war trophies, but that doesn’t mean souvenirs can’t include odd items. Retired Col. Gary Wilson had to get approval to bring home two fragments from a rocket that exploded in a 2005 roadside bomb, wounding him and others, and damaging his vehicle.
The US military now regulates it, and prosecutes offenders, better, but bringing home war booty is still going on.

Edit arguementive post by poster


You said no one loots dead enemies. But they do. Just because you and your group didn't does not mean it doesn't happen.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Yes.

To?


EWHM wrote:


Yes, Elrond waved his 20% cut---even helped identify some of the magic items. But then he and Gandalf were old friends and Rivendell only very very loosely exerted any control over the area where they got the swag.
My experience with players is once they get over the notion that taxes exist and they're expected to pay them, feeling like they're an organic part of the world and its society and economy tends to help them get more into character. A bit of verisimilitude helps to keep the powergaming impulses tamped down to acceptable levels.

Gate tax. Get them when they bring it into town. No need for records then. Just an assessor and gate guards. The PCs are usually wanting in bad too, helps eliminate the whining about taxation :) And somebodies got to pay for those massive walls / defences. Works for merchants, adventurers, etc. Ordinary people coming in with no significant goods pony up a copper. Gentlemen (on a horse, etc.) a silver. People with a lot of goodies pay a percentage. Amount depends on the town / city / ruler. That's how I do it. Opens the gates, no pun intended although it does work doesn't it, for bribery, corruption etc. too.

Silver Crusade

A gate tax makes sense to me, although I can see it leading to some interesting conversations. "How much should we tax them for this Dragon Orb?"


My groups tend to use the Life Style guidelines or whatever they are called.

The reason my Fighter always has at least 100GP on him in varying denominations of currency at any one time.

Though he might start to carry a bit more value using gems.

Liberty's Edge

Comrades, comrades,

You are being robbed ! You are being lied to !

Let us insurge against this revisionist speech by the OP ! "Stealing" from the dead is a derogatory term meant to defame the new and politically correct term of "Liberating treasure" approved by the revolutionary speech academy !

Down with autocrats ! Viva la revolucion !


Thalandar wrote:


A gate tax makes sense to me, although I can see it leading to some interesting conversations. "How much should we tax them for this Dragon Orb?"

That's when you call the Court Magician / whoever the Lord High Mayor has on call :) Diplomacy, bribery, personal relationships... all kinds of fun role playing goodness ensue.


I have my groups pay based on what they are riding in. So a Cart might cost a bit more than them walking into the village with backpacks but not as much as a Wagon.


R Chance wrote:
Thalandar wrote:
A gate tax makes sense to me, although I can see it leading to some interesting conversations. "How much should we tax them for this Dragon Orb?"
That's when you call the Court Magician / whoever the Lord High Mayor has on call :) Diplomacy, bribery, personal relationships... all kinds of fun role playing goodness ensue.

So every time the party enters a town, the conveniently available Court Magician comes down to play tax assessor? Examines all the party's loot. Will he identify stuff they don't know about yet? Wouldn't he always have to be there, to ensure no one sneaks in any magic items untaxed? Or at least an apprentice.

Will they be taxed on all their gear too? Or just the new stuff? How will the gate guards/Court Magician know? If we lose a fight and have to retreat with no new loot, will we have to trade our existing gear to the guards to pay the tax?

If we're traveling across country, do we lose x% of total wealth in every town? Damned if I'm going to stop and warn every town of the oncoming zombie horde then.


Azaelas Fayth wrote:
I have my groups pay based on what they are riding in. So a Cart might cost a bit more than them walking into the village with backpacks but not as much as a Wagon.

If it's the same rate they tax everyone, it becomes pocket change to adventures past level 3 or 4. If the peasant with a Wagon can pay more then an adventurer with a Haversack full of jewels and magic items, it's not really meaningful. Anything the peasant can afford, the adventurer won't notice.


The rate is scaled based on confirmed Magic Items.


Murder hobos Ftw!!


thejeff wrote:
R Chance wrote:
Thalandar wrote:
A gate tax makes sense to me, although I can see it leading to some interesting conversations. "How much should we tax them for this Dragon Orb?"
That's when you call the Court Magician / whoever the Lord High Mayor has on call :) Diplomacy, bribery, personal relationships... all kinds of fun role playing goodness ensue.

So every time the party enters a town, the conveniently available Court Magician comes down to play tax assessor? Examines all the party's loot. Will he identify stuff they don't know about yet? Wouldn't he always have to be there, to ensure no one sneaks in any magic items untaxed? Or at least an apprentice.

Will they be taxed on all their gear too? Or just the new stuff? How will the gate guards/Court Magician know? If we lose a fight and have to retreat with no new loot, will we have to trade our existing gear to the guards to pay the tax?

If we're traveling across country, do we lose x% of total wealth in every town? Damned if I'm going to stop and warn every town of the oncoming zombie horde then.

A lot of reason why it is smarter to just tax them when they sell the item. Hence, the idea that the adventurers only get 50%(at best) of a magic items value when they sell it. They have to register the item with the local authorities and cover the appropiate taxes and fees.


There's a reason that most modern governments have turned employers and businesses into their tax collectors.

No reason it wouldn't work in a Pathfinder game too.


Can you steal from the the dead? The dead have no rights, you can only, like, loot their bodies.

Serious answer: the whole "Getting treasure from each encounter = looting the bodies of the monsters you've slain" thing is a MMO concept, rather than a tabletop one, YMMV.


As a GM, everything I do is for the entertainment of the (real, human) players. The PCs are just part of the medium. If there's no story, we might as well be playing an arcade-style game (killing time, simply running up a score).

So in my world, _everything_ is part of the story, even if the players -- not to mention the PCs -- don't always notice. This has obvious implications (e.g., there are no "magic shops" to speak of, because the special stuff wouldn't be special if PCs could just order it from a catalog), but also less obvious implications (e.g., the reward structure for any given adventure is tailored to contribute to the mood of that adventure). As a GM it is incumbent on me to monitor the players' advancement (including gear acquisition), but the players don't have to see how the sausage is being made. Sometimes the reward is dictated to the PCs, sometimes it is negotiated, sometimes it is whatever they happen to find. Sometimes the salvage belongs to the PCs, and sometimes they are told ahead of them that it will _not_ belong to them (offered a bounty or a salary instead), and sometimes they are surprised when someone demands that they hand it over. Sometimes there appears to be no reward at all. Sometimes someone even demands that the PCs pay for damages that may have occurred.

[None of this causes game imbalance, as long as any deficit is made up in a timely fashion, or perhaps there only (for the moment) _seems_ to be a deficit. When there's no catalog of special items that can exist, even the players don't always know the value of what they have found.]

Anyway, it's a game, so no one leaves the table weeping in disappointment, but if there aren't highs and lows, then it's a boring story. And the "treasure" is definitely part of the story. There are all kinds of techniques for using rewards and penalties -- actual and threatened, delivered and withheld -- to deepen the story (not to mention indulging in some foreshadowing or irony).

Bringing this around to the topic, I have two answers to the original question:
1) seizing the assets of defeated adversaries and salvaging long-forgotten artifacts are frequently thematically appropriate story choices in a fantasy adventure setting, or
2) if all the game provides is "stealing from the Dead", then that bespeaks a certain lack of imagination on the part of the GM.


thejeff wrote:


R Chance wrote:


Thalandar wrote:

A gate tax makes sense to me, although I can see it leading to some interesting conversations. "How much should we tax them for this Dragon Orb?"

That's when you call the Court Magician / whoever the Lord High Mayor has on call :) Diplomacy, bribery, personal relationships... all kinds of fun role playing goodness ensue.

So every time the party enters a town, the conveniently available Court Magician comes down to play tax assessor? Examines all the party's loot. Will he identify stuff they don't know about yet? Wouldn't he always have to be there, to ensure no one sneaks in any magic items untaxed? Or at least an apprentice.

Will they be taxed on all their gear too? Or just the new stuff? How will the gate guards/Court Magician know? If we lose a fight and have to retreat with no new loot, will we have to trade our existing gear to the guards to pay the tax?

If we're traveling across country, do we lose x% of total wealth in every town? Damned if I'm going to stop and warn every town of the

The goodies are held for inspection of course. Money is easy, even jewelry (relatively) but the really different stuff takes time. Some gates in my game have a detect magic built in, others utilize some bored apprentice. Depends on how busy they are / how common this type of thing is. Generally speaking though walls, towers, gates etc. have a variety of permanent magics built in. They wouldn't be all that effective in a world with large amounts of magic in items / spellcasters otherwise, would they?

As for existing gear, if you went out with it, you can reenter with it. No charge. Just declare it on the way out (or, if you are a regular with your standard gear, get waved through). Crafted gear gets out this way too, just the new stuff coming in gets taxed. The assumption is that material crafted inside the walls has already paid it's due.

As for traveling, if you are wealthy enough to travel with a large amount of magic you can't afford relatively modest payments? Once you've been through those gates once, it's paid for. And if you have important news and render a service, you may very well get your money back. If you think about it the ruler / authorities probably want to have a good idea of what type of magic is floating around in their city - wouldn't you? And this opens it up for smuggling and so on.

It's pretty stright forward as taxes go and provides plenty of opportunities for role playing and social skills.


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R.J.

I don't know about you... but just last week my Tremere took a magical dagger from another Tremere I had killed.


R. J. Fire wrote:

One of the fundamental assumptions that has been with DnD since the beginning is that the heroes break in to these underground vaults, murder the occupants, and take their stuff. People break these assumptions all the time. But the whole practice of stealing from the dead is immensely common. It even spreads outside of DnD/Pathfinder when DnD/Pathfinder players play games that aren't set in a psuedo-medival fantasy world.

Try pointing this out at your pathfinder game and see all the groans when you insist the party not steal from the dead. You don't see it quite as much in other games, like the new and old world of darkness with the possible exception of DnD immigrants or if they are looking for something specific. My Vampire probably isn't going to rip up his enemies apartment looking to pawn his laptop and guns (which would probably be a terrible idea anyway.) Why is this idea so persistent in a game supposedly about heroes? You don't see the heroes, or even most anti-heroes in other media stripping their fallen foes of all of their possessions to sell.

I read one of the King Arthur books by Jack Whyte a while back. A hero was killed by barbed arrows. As he lay dying, the hero's friend said he'd break all those arrows (by finding the enemy archers and killing them). The hero said his friend was an idiot. The enemy arrows were better, so you use them on the enemy! I always hear people say they wish their players (or PCs) were smarter, and not just dumb murderhobos. But when their PCs do something reasonably intelligent, like looting, this is a bad thing.

D&D is a game of "kill things, take their stuff". In 3.x and Pathfinder (and 4e) this is explicit in how you balance things. You need a certain value of magic items for your level, and if you don't reach it, you're falling behind the playtested values. (Not that the playtesting was rigorous IMO, but why make things worse.) Looting is a way of reaching these numbers. In fact, I find these numbers a straightjacket, but when I was running 3.x I didn't dare deviate from them, because low magic/item games do not work in 3.x (or PF). Unless you use Vow of Poverty, but that's a cure worse than the disease!

Of course, the DM doesn't have to like looting as part of game balance, but D&D/PF is a game where the DM's tools are mostly persuasive. Short of mind control magic, the DM can't force PCs to stop looting. (They can never give NPCs cool gear, or do the drow thing and have the gear useless to the PCs, etc.)

In Oriental Adventures, based on a culture (however loosely or even inaccurately) where grave-robbing was considered horrifying, the PCs weren't supposed to loot. Instead of punishment ("his sword only works for spirit folk, ha ha!") the DM is supposed to use a reward. In effect, a bounty, provided by the PCs' lord, and said bounty just happens to match the expected treasure values of facing the kinds of encounters the PCs just faced. If you don't want PCs to loot, you need to replace the loot.

Incidentally I do not believe the "law" can "solve" this issue. If you've just rescued a town from bandits, they can't possibly make you give back all the loot. They might want back some or even most of it, but they won't be getting it all back. (Not unless the town is paying "fair price" for the WBL, see Oriental Adventures note above.) No one can identify that 18,000 gp ring you acquired if they don't let them see it or even examine it either.

This trope was played with a bit in Slayers. Lina killed the bandits and just took their gold, even knowing it had been stolen from the locals.


Hitdice wrote:

Can you steal from the the dead? The dead have no rights, you can only, like, loot their bodies.

Serious answer: the whole "Getting treasure from each encounter = looting the bodies of the monsters you've slain" thing is a MMO concept, rather than a tabletop one, YMMV.

While there's always been placed treasures as well, looting the corpses goes back to the early days of D&D, well before Computer RPGs, much less MMOs.

Humanoid enemies often had magic items, which it was assumed the PCs would take.
Looking at my old copy of Keep on the Borderlands from 1980, the Evil Priest has plate+1, shield+1, an amulet and a snake staff along with jewels and other stuff.
The humanoids in early part of the module are all listed as something like "Each carries 1d6 silver pieces."

For some monsters back in the day you literally had to get the treasure from the body. They had gems in their stomachs or other things.

You can't blame MMOs for this.


R_Chance wrote:


The goodies are held for inspection of course. Money is easy, even jewelry (relatively) but the really different stuff takes time. Some gates in my game have a detect magic built in, others utilize some bored apprentice. Depends on how busy they are / how common this type of thing is. Generally speaking though walls, towers, gates etc. have a variety of permanent magics built in. They wouldn't be all that effective in a world with large amounts of magic in items / spellcasters otherwise, would they?

As for existing gear, if you went out with it, you can reenter with it. No charge. Just declare it on the way out (or, if you are a regular with your standard gear, get waved through). Crafted gear gets out this way too, just the new stuff coming in gets taxed. The assumption is that material crafted inside the walls has already paid it's due.

s for traveling, if you are wealthy enough to travel with a large amount of magic you can't afford relatively modest payments? Once you've been through those gates once, it's paid for. And if you have important news and render a service, you may very well get your money back. If you think about it the ruler / authorities probably want to have a good idea of what type of magic is floating around in their city - wouldn't you? And this opens it up for smuggling and so on.

It's pretty stright forward as taxes go and provides plenty of opportunities for role playing and social skills.

So what kind of percentage are we talking here? If it's more than a couple, I'm not visiting a new town unless I absolutely have too. Maybe leave most of the gear and party in the woods and send one guy in for supplies and rumors. Even 5% of your total wealth at each new town adds up really quick.

Plus the overhead for the players and GM of keeping track of which items have already been taxed in which places.

It probably would work fairly well if you had a home base from which you went out on adventures and returned with your loot. My groups tend to be world travelers. Some places we'll visit more than once, some will just be stops on the way.


I would say it would only apply to Major Towns/Cities/etc

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