Looting bodies, for new players

How do you handle the looting of dead enemies?

Specifically for new players, who are used to seeing everything that was just used against them in the fight sitting there waiting to be picked up?

My players love looting bodies, going through pockets, etc

If my party kills half a dozen well armed shiny knights in fine raiment and plate armour, and afterwards think they’d like to switch their weapon to something a knight hit them with, or grab some plate armour to repair, or pick up the knights bulging coin purses, and (assuming I haven’t planned anything) I roll on the loot table and say “you find a piece of string and some leaves” my body might be found floating face down in the canal the next day.

I personally have no issue at all accepting the rules for a new system, I have faith they’re there for a good reason. But my players are not going to like a situation like that. It’s less about gaining loot, seeing as inventory is so limiting anyway, and more about suspension of disbelief. They’re going to tell me it’s just an implausible scenario.

How do you handle this for players new to torchbearer?

The system abstracts everything, so in the fiction a test or conflict is not neat and tidy like a dice roll; instead they emulate a cacophony of passions and hard realities, limbs and sweat, blood and howls, as long and sprawling as you like. You get to say what they find after such a messy clash. Anything else was broken, lost in the confusion, or worthless junk. Unsurprising really, if they still held decent gear, they wouldn’t have lost.

Think of it as part of the compromise: you won but you wrecked them and all their stuff. Surely they fought for their lives, right? They sacrificed everything and it still wasn’t enough.

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First solution: use more inhuman monsters.

But when I do use humanoids and I use the results to portray that some of their gear “survived the battle.” Things break in Torchbearer. If they wonder why they can’t use the knight’s armor, it’s because that knight is dead now and the armor didn’t save him.

If they ask to take his sword, don’t say “there is no sword now.”

Say: “His sword lies broken at his side, shattered from when he tried (and failed) to parry your blow.”

This trick should work just long enough for the party to realize torches and rations are actually a better payout than another sword to lug around.

And maybe don’t talk up the quality of enemy gear unless you actually do plan to give it to them. There’s nothing wrong with capturing a magic sword (or spellbook) once in a while.

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I guess you’re right Lord Mordeth, it isn’t very important and hopefully it won’t take players too long to realise that.

My players are a bit cautious and flighty about playing - I persuaded them to try it and I’m on edge about spooking them and sending them running back to DnD before they actually get a good proper taste of Torchbearer.

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On a somewhat related note, I was just reading this thread: Tips for Fresh DM's and new PCs

And a post there explained this rule
“For planned problems in which the players are victorious, choose loot found or roll 2d6 on Loot Table 1 a number of times equal to the level of might of the opposition.”

to mean that winning a planned fight with 4 goblins means 8 rolls on loot table 1.

That sounds great, but is it correct? (It wasn’t how I interpreted it myself)

EDIT: Also, who rolls loot rolls? Not that it truly matters, but in your experience is it more fun/does it work better when the players roll or the GM?

It is correct.

On Loot Table 1, four Might 2 goblins is 8 rolls.

On Loot Table 2, it would be 2 rolls. (“Roll once for every 2 creatures defeated.”)

Yes, it is a lot of loot. But most of it is light, rations, etc. It is impossible to overpay the players in Torchbearer because they are limited to what they can carry. They can have one or two very good town phases and then they’ll be back to baseline. That’s the game working as intended.

If you give less loot than this, the game will be frustrating. The players will barely have enough to recover, and they simply won’t engage with the more fun aspects of the town phase.

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Thanks!

I’m not worried that that’s too much, I think it sounds excellent - it was just surprising because I had read it as 2 rolls. I like 8 a lot more…

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I actually prefer to have players roll the loot rolls. It’s more fun that way.

I’ve never met a GM who agreed.

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I mostly place loot as the GM. When I do go to the tables, I roll myself.

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