For a lot of players, a big part of the fun of playing in the Dungeon Fantasy genre comes from the rewards their characters acquire in play. And these in turn fall into two main categories: treasure and experience.
In GURPS, “experience” means Character Points, which are usually obtained for successfully completing adventure goals and can be directly used to improve characters. “Treasure” in a Dungeon Fantasy context can be split into magic items and “monetary” treasure (i.e, coins and stuff you end up selling in town).
By default these two reward types are mostly unrelated. Going by the experience rewards scheme on p. 92 of DF: Exploits, a party could enter a dungeon, win lots of battles, find a secret area or three, and win plenty of experience even if they never find a single coin’s worth of treasure.
Depending on the exact nature of your campaign, you might want to mess with this reward scheme. Here are two possible ways to do that. In both, magic items remain pretty much as written, but a stronger relationship is established between experience and monetary treasure. They replace the standard system from DF: Exploits entirely.
Old School: Money Is Experience
When the party returns to town, add up the total value in $ of all the monetary treasure they acquired. As usual, coins contribute their full value. Other items contribute their sale value, but only if the PCs sell them. Those items they decide to keep should be excluded from this calculation.
This total should be divided among the PCs. If your party is an anarchist commune that keeps all money in a collective pile (like mine are!), then assume an equal split for experience purposes. Most other parties probably also split their take evenly, though if they’re really into that old-school vibe they might have a complicated scheme set up that includes henchmen with half-shares, seniority bonuses, and thieves who steal from the other PCs.
The PCs who survived the process of splitting the loot get to earn XP from it. Divide each PC’s share by $500: that’s how many points they get. This is the exact same exchange rate they’d get from converting character points to money during character creation. Depending on how much treasure your adventures feature, you might want to adjust the rate! For example, a PC in a campaign that follows Petter V. Del’Orto’s suggested house rule would earn one point for every $5000 they earned.
Example: Let’s say we have a party of 5 PCs that agree to split their loot evenly. They meet a dragon shortly after they enter a dungeon, and are forced to retreat having only found a small coin stash worth $1500. That comes out to $300 per PC, which is not enough for them to earn any points from this delve.
The PCs prepare themselves better and try again, and this time they’re able to kill the dragon and loot its hoard, which contains $25000 in monetary treasure and several magic items. The magic items don’t enter into this calculation, so each PC ends up with $5000 and earns 10 character points from it.
Dungeon Souls: Experience is Money
Some campaigns take place in settings where money is worthless. One example is the Havens and Hells setting presented in Pyramid #3/89. Another is the Dark Souls franchise. This alternate system is inspired by the latter, taking the usual “battle experience” mechanics and making them into an in-character concept.
The metaphysics of the world are such that when you defeat a monster in battle, you siphon off a little of its life force! Depending on the setting this might require killing the monster, but it could also involve simply defeating it in combat and performing a small ritual.
In either case, people in the setting can use this accumulated “soul energy” for all sorts of purposes, and it can be voluntarily transferred. So it becomes the de-facto currency in a setting that has no use for mundane money.
The simplest way to implement this is to say that victory in battle is worth 500 “soul points” for every character point it would have been worth according to p. 92 of DF: Exploits. This means a battle against a small amount of fodder is worth nothing, and a big boss fight with lots of extra henchthings thrown in might be worth 1500 SP. Again, this is the same exchange rate you use to convert points into money during character creation, and you can vary it to suit your preferred pace of advancement.
A more detailed way to model it is to use the optional rules on the It’s a Threat! article on Pyramid #3/77, and say that a slain monster is worth soul points equal to its Combat Effectiveness Rating. This method is a bit math-intensive: the article has a table with values for a few published monsters, but for anything outside of that you’ll have to calculate it.
No matter which method you’re using, an important decision you must make is whether the “soul points” from a battle must be split among the PCs or if each PC gets the full amount when the fight ends. The former setup results in much slower advancement than the system in Exploits, while the latter more or less keeps pace with it as far as combat experience is concerned. I do not recommend fully copying Dark Souls and giving soul points from a monster only to the PC who dealt the last blow: that works in a solo campaign, but nowhere else.
“Treasure” might still exist in this model in the form of dead adventurers with residual soul points still present in their remains. This could lead to entertaining scenes such as the party slaying a dragon and leaving its piles of gold behind in favor of searching for the corpses of the previous parties that failed to defeat it. And of course, if you’re using Havens and Hells then Souls-like corpse runs are totally a thing that happens in that setting.
Using soul points for advancement is a matter of converting them in town using the reverse exchange rate: 500 SP for 1 character point. They can also be used to buy stuff, in which case 1 SP is worth $1. So characters must choose between buying equipment or upgrading their abilities, which will end up slowing advancement overall and making looted gear that much more desirable. A suit of fine armor you find in the wild is one you don’t have to spend Soul Points on!