Does anyone else have a hard time giving their players loot? I always feel a little awkward about giving monsters a stack of coins or something like that, in fact I’d like to keep gold as a reward quite rare in my campaign.
Last session I did spontaneously decide on a longsword with a jeweled hilt from some skeletons ripped out of the shadowfell, and I’m aiming for this to be quite a valuable item so I don’t have to give out too much at other times if I don’t feel it’s appropriate. I guess that’s a cost for picking a bunch of wilderness encounters.
My main feeling is that I should give any reward at least a chance of being significant. The sword they picked up doesn’t have any magic, but I am prepared to give it some backstory and drive into the plot if the players choose to investigate.
I also want to keep magic items kind of tight in hand, and have opted for the inherent bonuses described in the Dungeon Master’s Guide 2. I like the idea of characters holding up against the monster curve regardless of equipment they have; This leaves me the power to introduce more strategic items like the bag of holding.
I also like the idea of boons and grandmaster training… perhaps I should even drop hooks for players take training and gain boons that are their speed. Magic items are supposed to give players customization, but it’s no stretch to imagine meaningful story customization if they seek the favour of a particular god, or weapon training, or poison endurance strategies. The party has set themselves up for a clerical blessing against undead, and I’ll include a couple other boon hooks next session. I can really see this as path to character development; many trainers ask taxing tasks of their trainees, and a hunt for rare reagents puts story investment in that bonus! If the characters really dig it, you could find enough material and hooks to constantly be questing for development!