I find the fascination for hoarding material possessions in an RPG strange. While being able to fulfill some of our natural wishes of wanting to be rich, or own a fast car, or have a magic sword is neat… too much of them seems to be, well, overkill.
D&D type fantasy games exhibit this sort of behavior in two ways. Monsters as Piggy Banks and the fact that Theres Always A Bigger Sword.
Kill a monster, find drops. Even things without pockets somehow have gold or items somewhere on them (or in them). It’s one of the oldest things that people question when they play D&D. How the heck do these things have loot? Half the time the monsters don’t even have any form of written language, much less any concept of commerce.
Speaking of loot, there’s also the old emphasis on magic items over the characters. This mindset reminds me of the days when I still played World of Warcraft. At the start, abilities were awesome and Gear was cool. Later on, abilities start losing their luster and Gear becomes essential. This sort of focus of gear over the character tends to draw attention away from thinking of the character as anything else as a playing piece.
I think that all things can be done in moderation. Gold is awesome, but picking them up from corpses of wild animals? I’m sure that many DMs already avoid this due to the fact that it sounds pretty odd. Picking up a longsword from the corpse of a wolf, is enough to break anyone’s suspension of disbelief. Also, having a magic sword that does something awesome is very impressive, but the moment the world is surrounded with a glut of the things… well, let’s just say that we can quote Syndrome from the Incredibles movie “Everyone can be super! And when everyone’s super, no one will be.”
It’s this reason why I like the katana-fetish of Legend of the Five rings. The sword itself is a standard object. The true importance lies in the cultural aspect of things. Since every katana is regarded as a sacred object, the reverence and care for such is the norm, and the idea of permanently discarding one katana for a different one just for a bigger bonus is pretty sacrilegious.
In any case, these two are pretty easy to spot, and most GMs might either keep these for the heck of it, or discard it if it doesn’t suit their vision of how the game should be. Overall, I’m just glad that they’re easy enough to ignore and correct, and aren’t quite so ingrained in the system as say Classes or Levels.