The one thing I dislike about TSR-era Dungeons & Dragons is that the amount of treasure you’re supposed to give players is either very vague, or tailored to specific creatures that might not get used in your game, or even exist in the setting.
A lot of people say to just go with your gut when placing and distributing treasure, but I’m not comfortable with that; I need some sort of metric to go off of, even if that metric is totally arbitrary. So I decided to cobble one together really quick! I’ll be using the Lamentations of the Flame Princess XP tables, since it’s my retroclone of choice.
Moldvay said in his Basic Rulebook that characters should get three-quarters of their experience points from retrieving treasure. Extrapolating this, monsters should have treasure equal to three times their experience point value.
But they shouldn’t be carrying all their money around, of course! Creatures should only have 1d10% of their treasure on person, with the rest protected by some sort of security measure: guarded by lesser monsters, squirreled away behind a trap-laden safe door, or simply in a form that is nigh impossible to move efficiently. If the characters nab whatever the monster is carrying on its person, that amount should be deducted from their hoard.
If a monster or NPC is particularly moneybags, feel free to up the denomination to gold pieces. But ten times the value should make it ten times as hard! Shaking down a teenage noble (level 0 Fighter) is easy in principle, but has a much more severe set of considerations and consequences than stabbing a goblin or two.
Side note: this table – as well as converting it up to gold pieces when needed – is a great way to value things that don’t have prices in-game. Wealth is relative, after all!
EDIT: A friend told me that he wants to use this table for D&D 5e. If you also want to do that, I would bump up silver up to gold, and with moneybag moments bump gold up to platinum. It lines up better with prices in D&D 5e, and keeps the same loot ration present in LotFP.
Treasure Hoard (sp)
2 cp - 2 sp
3 cp - 3 sp
8 cp - 8 sp
Per +1 HD