On Set Collecting

So, you've decided set collecting is a good idea.

A number of people have questioned the purpose of pitting the players against each other.

The purpose of the competition is to make the choices meaningful. If you simply require the set collection for the bonus, that just makes treasure annoying. The players will trivially solve for the best outcomes. It's like "Here, you have some treasure, but you don't actually get it yet, heh, heh, heh" and then they have to both track and wait for the outcome.

This way, the players are incentivised to have their characters work against each other to complete sets, which means that the choices are no longer obvious or trival. Yes, everyone wants the wizard to have the treasure power, but do they want to suffer the experience hit? Instead I could take that item and sell it to him and offset that. Or I could work on completing my own set. . .

I play competitive games with my same group that I role-play with. We are still friends even after playing games where we compete! I can't relate to conversations about how players might be mad that other players are working for their own advantage. I acknowledge that might be a thing. But I've played plenty of Ticket to Ride, Small World, Dominion, and more besides and am still friends with everyone who's ever won.

Here are some examples of generic sets and rewards. the #x is the multiplier to the gold value of the items.

Generic Set Items

[5 different gems, worth over 100 gp each] 1.5x
[Any 5 gems of the same type and quality] 2x
[3 different gems, worth over 1,000 gp each] 1.8x and Jewelcutter contact.
[any 20 gems] 1.2x
[4 fabric art items, made from different kinds of fabric] 2.5x
[Any 3 items using the same type of gem as decoration] 2x
[Any 6 native/primitive art items] 1.5x
[Any 6 ancient empire items] 1.5x
[Any group of 3 utensils] 10x
[Any 3 art objects] 2x
[Any 3 pieces of clothing] 10x
[Any 5 pieces of armor or weapons] 5x

Following are some more specific (yet still somewhat generic) set items. A large part about how these are created has to do with the specific lore and "snowflakeness" of your setting. Each set should represent some entity, power, culture, faction, religion or race either living or dead within your world. Even the bonuses must remain somewhat generic considering the preponderance of systems and clonesfrom the examples you should be able to trivially convert to whatever system you are running.

Each specific set should be designed to be useful for more than one character type/archetype, in order to encourage competition over them. Effects listed below stack, for characters that meet multiple criteria. An elven ranger gets both the ranger and elf bonuses for vestment of the wild.

The experience point multipliers for the generic sets are usually higher than the multipliers for the specific sets with some outcome. This is to encourage conflict between saving up for a specific set, versus turning it into useable experience right now. That 180 gp cloak might be very useful to the druid once the vestment is completed, but it's worth 1,800 xp to anyone turning in an easier to get clothing set.

The items themselves radiate faint alteration/transmutation magic. This is a simple way of telling you that you simply tell the players out loud with your talking voice what set items are and what (public) sets they belong to before treasure selection begins. Players have to have that knowledge or they won't be making informed choices. That will make the choices random instead of interesting.

Also note that any type of benefit and bonus is possible! This could be anything from allies, to magical castle enchantments, to reaction rolls against certain creatures, to statistic boosts, to psionic powers, to anything you can conceive of. Drawbacks are also possible. Set bonuses and modifiers could come from sellers, a certain merchant could pay more for a certain type of treasure. Bonus areas or sub-levels could be opened up by the players who wish to collect the set items.

Specific Set items

[Troll doll trio]
A troll doll stitched from hydra skin, with round black opals for eyes, worth 120 gp.
A troll doll stitched from leather, with small pearl button eyes, and hair of yarn worth 80 gp.
A troll doll stitched from human skin, with bone nails, and small, hard coals for eyes worth 35 gp.
Effect: 1.1x, + use baleful eye 1/week.

[Yelturb Kernal Symphony]
Sonata of dirge of death part 1 (140 gp)
Adagio of sorrow of grief (5 gp)
Minuet of moment of rebirth (250 gp)
Allegro of continuation of sin (950 gp)
Effect: 1.1x, + gain a +2 versus death saves
Bards: Performing the symphony (or an arrangement of it) adds a +5 to performance checks when making money.
Spellcasters: Studying the symphony, allows you to gain an additional 4th level spell slot, useful for preparing/memorizing any Necromantic spell you know* (*Must be able to cast 4th level spells)
Necromancers: Your caster level is considered 5 higher for the purposes of animating undead.

[Coven coverings]
A black felt conical hat, with a thin green band. (2 gp)
A set of black diaphanous silk robes. (8 gp)
An oaken broom, scarred by a lightning strike, with tightly leather-bound broomcom bristles. (22 gp)
Effect: 5x, Fly on the broom 1/night for an hour.
Females: Gain 2 first level spell slots or if already a spellcaster, an additional slot of your highest level spell.
Halflings: Gain the ability to grow to ogre size or shrink to mouse size 1/day
Witches & Warlocks: One extra spell slot per level, plus an additional use of curse or potion making abilities per day/week.

[Gear of the wandering minstrel]
A bent and battered harmonica made from brass inscribed in common with the phrase "A rolling stone" (20 gp)
A pair of elven boots, made from supple deer leather (40 gp)
A weathered sash made from grey fine linen and olive green cotton (2 gp)
A beret with a griffon feather, made of fine green linen (60 gp)
Effect: 2x, Grants a bonus to performance checks.
Bards: grants a bonus to performance checks x2.
Elves: grants a bonus to reaction checks.

[Rainment of Tempus]
Dwarf-forged breastplate of glistening steel, with the symbol of tempus in a circle. (500 gp)
A set of heavy plate mail vambraces and boots, enameled with gold. (80 gp)
A maximillian helmet of shining steel. (25 gp)
A pair of hardwood bracers lined in dark steel with steel crossed spears across the wood (25 gp)
A black silken cloak, trimmed in cloth of gold (8 gp)
Effect: 1.1x, Armor as full plate, +1 to AC in the rain or bad weather
Fighters: gain a +2 divine bonus that can be applied to a saving throw after the roll.
Priests: gain +1 to hit while wearing this armor.
Priests of Tempus: double their level to turn undead and can call lightning 1x day. They also gain the priest bonus.

[Vestment of the Wild]
A darkwood breast plate, stained dark with the blood of dead goblins (600 gp)
A forest green ankle length woolen cloak with a hood, lined in wolf fur (180 gp)
Supple calf-high boots made from wyvern skin. (80 gp)
Effect: 1.1x, provides armor as breastplate
Druids: Gain an additional use of Wild shape and an additional spell slot of their second highest level.
Rangers: Gain the ability to pass without trace and a +2 to their ability to track.
Elves: Gain heightened senses in the wild. +5 to stealth and perception checks in wilderness (surprised on a 0 in 6)

These items, by definition of being interesting treasure, define your setting. Whatever items or sets you end up creating, they have to be specific to your world and setting.. The above serve as basic examples.


  1. I've meant to comment all day. First, thank you for making these sets.

    Second, Diablo II had almost the same system. I don't know about Diablo III. This is not a criticism.

    Third, I had hoped you'd be providing a system for generation and placement.

    Thank you again. I will use this system.

    1. I think they have to be system specific.They are literally setting, so they have to be for your campaign world.

      I could do a table for the forgotten realms or any other property, but then so could anyone. If you are running a home game, you'd need to do them yourself.

  2. "Is it nonsense when he says that the tassets and cuissards of the 'Prince Emblazoned' can be found among a mass of rusty theatrical properties, broken stoves, and rag-picker's refuse in a garret in Pell Street?"

  3. With the special sets I could imagine having it that the players don't know about them necessarily. When they find an item from one of the sets they may have to go and talk to appraisers or sages to find out about the set and what it can do for them. The experts, of course, may be in competition with the players.

    Cursed sets?


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