In Sins of a Dark Age, players collect loot after every Quick Play match (Custom matches against bots do not award loot). Loot can also be bought, sold, or traded on the Steam Marketplace. Loot is randomly distributed and comes in the form of a variety of items that exist across many rarity tiers—Artifacts being the most desired and Trash being the least, though even Trash will eventually come in handy. Gather the right loot and you can craft Hero Gear, Skins, and other items to customize your Sins of a Dark Age experience.
Materials are at the core of the Sins of a Dark Age loot and crafting systems. They are the raw, well...materials that players use to craft custom items in the form of Hero Gear and Skins. Materials are found among the lowest loot drop rarity tiers: Trash, Common, Uncommon, and Rare. The higher the rarity of the materials used to create an item, the higher the rarity of the item itself. As a result it will often take more time to gather the materials needed to craft a Mythical Skin than a Rare Skin, for example. If nothing else, players must wait to receive the item's recipe.
Recipes are the second half of the crafting equation. Players may have all of the materials needed to craft a new item, but without the recipe they probably wouldn't even realize it. Simply put, recipes lay out the specific materials and quanitites required to craft Hero Gear and Skins. Players combine the recipe with the required materials to craft these new items, consuming both in the process. Recipes are often rarer than the materials they're paired with with. Skin recipes are found on a spectrum of Rare to Legendary, and Hero Gear recipes are Uncommon to Mythical. Receiving a recipe as a loot drop (or in trade with another player on Steam) is often a cause for celebration.
Skins are a unique visual theme for one of the game's various Heroes. From the details of the Hero's in-game model, to custom color schemes, particle effects, and even VO, they combine to create a new "flavor" of the Hero, mixing things up to appeal to a variety of fans. For example, if you've always wondered what Grugg would be like if he hadn't escaped the Alchimians, you could roam the jungle using his Abomination skin. Or perhaps you prefer your undead lords to be incorporeal; in that case, try Dekain's Spectral skin. Skins are a way to show off to other players, and to get to know your favorite Heroes even better. Though in most instances Skins will need to be crafted by players, there is a also a chance that they will drop directly as loot.
Bundles are an excellent way to get a head start on crafting many of the Skins that do not drop as loot. Typically found only in chests, Bundles are "multipacks" of some of the most needed materials, recipes, and Hero Gear in the game. Loosely themed based on the items they contain (for example, the "Ghastly" Bundle contains Fungal Spores and a Rotten Corpse), Bundles may also be distributed as awards to the community in the future—their placement within chests is just the beginning.
Receiving a Treasure Chest is like winning the lottery—or perhaps it's like being handed a lottery ticket. When you open a chest, there is a chance that you will receive one of many different rewards, from crafting materials to recipes to Bundles and even Skins! Players can receive up to one chest a day, and a maximum of two chests per week. Many chests have different variants, alternate versions with their own tables of possible rewards.
To open a chest you need a key. Keys can be purchased from the in-game store and sometimes from the Steam Community marketplace. Each chest variant (e.g., Vanguard Chest, Welcome Chest) has its own custom key, though sub-variants (e.g., Sturdy Vanguard Chest, Rugged Vanguard Chest) do not—the same key can be used to open all of them. Simply put, look for the noun when buying a key, not the adjective.
Hero Gear is one of the best ways to customize your game experience, and to build a more powerful version of your favorite Hero. These weapons and armor are constructed from crafting materials and recipes (and sometimes received as loot), and can grant your Hero subtle in-game bonuses—for example, the Battleborn Axe provides Heroes with 2 Attack Power for every enemy Hero within range. As you level up your account you earn Gear Points which allow you to slot stronger and stronger Hero Gear before each match. You can only slot a maximum of four gear items at a time. Note that Hero Gear cannot be purchased directly from Ironclad, and players must level up their accounts to take advantage of whatever Hero Gear they have. This is not a "pay to win" system, but a way to grow into your skill and improve as a Sins of a Dark Age player.
The eight levels of item rarity in Sins of a Dark Age are:
Items from the first six rarity levels can be received by players as loot, becoming more and more uncommon as you travel down the list. The latter two rarities are reserved for items that must be purchased from the in-game store (ex: the Founder Skins), or that have been or will be discontinued and can no longer be purchased. Players will never receive them as loot, though they may luck out on the Steam Marketplace.
The Steam Community Market is a great place to find skins, recipes, chests, and crafting materials for cheap, or to sell your own excess stock! Similar to Steam Trading cards, you can buy and sell each of these in-game rewards for profit, or trade with other Steam players if you'd prefer to keep things fast and loose. On the market you can name your own price. Steam provides tools by which you can track the average sales (and average price) of the item in question, making it much easier for you to find the sweet spot between supply and demand. Both Ironclad and Valve receive a slice of every Community Market sale, so even when you're buying a Skin from Artyom in Ukraine, you're also supporting your favorite developer.