One of the most exciting parts of my just-released Dreams of the Yellow King is the treasure. More than half of the adventure takes place in the Dreamlands, where the PCs come and go psychically. Although the PCs can bring psychic echoes of their normal equipment with them, this transfer doesn’t work the other direction; more specifically, the equipment they gather in the Dreamlands doesn’t return with them to the waking world.

This allowed me to seed the Dreamlands with ridiculously powerful treasure, knowing that it wouldn’t throw off the entire campaign. I emphasized this in the first encounter the PCs might have in the dreamlands by having a discarded sword left to gather dust in a closet—and it’s a +1 vorpal scimitar, an item so powerful that many characters wouldn’t ever see one even in high-level play.

This powerful treasure makes the PCs over-equipped for Dreamlands encounters, but that was a contained environment where I could balance all the treasure out. For example, knowing that infiltrating a stone prison was a later plot point in the Dreamlands, I didn’t give out scrolls of passwall or similar items. Many of the fights are a little too hard for PCs at their level, but that’s okay because the PCs have better gear. That is, chaos diamonds and sun blades are neat to use, and make combats easier, but they don’t allow any end-runs around the main plot. If it turns out I was wrong about that—that is, if I did indeed give out treasure in the Dreamlands that breaks later Dreamlands encounters—I’d love to hear about it. On a related point, I’d intended to include a staff of power in the adventure (one of the most powerful staffs in the game), but I realized it can inadvertently permit planar travel, and I didn’t want to allow the PCs to leave the Dreamlands with their overpowered loot. So no staff of power.

Some people have been wondering whether the final boon in the adventure—an ability score bonus derived from a magical book—is intended to persist in the waking world or be limited to the Dreamlands. The answer is that it’s a reward intended to persist in the waking world. That’s the one piece of outlandish treasure that the PCs can keep, as it’s an improvement to their ability scores rather than a physical item.

Let me provide the other justification for the permanent ability score bonus. Because the waking world encounters are so few, I had to jam an entire adventure’s worth of legitimate treasure into a third of an adventure (which is why each waking world encounter provides better-than-usual treasure. Glower’s gear is quite nice). Part of that treasure is an ability score-improving book for each PC. So it’s part of the expected treasure-by-level in the adventure.