Not a fan of boxes. Randomness is fine
How about instead of loot boxes at the end of each map, loot is randomly generated and placed thru-out the map itself. This would negate the need for the “Loot Dice” but would not necessarily mean the loss of the tomes and grimoires. Tomes and grimoires could instead grant bonus exp at the end of each map, be used in the higher levels of weapon upgrades, or have a chance of suddenly upgrading loot after the map end. Whatever works.
Loot is scattered around the map… There should be a total of three items generated per player. Bots do not generate loot so playing with others is encouraged. When a player finds loot they can press the interact key to switch with their current item or hold the interact key to stop and place the item in their pack. Only three items can be put in their pack per map. Once their pack is full they cannot place any more items in it. So quick hoarders would be stuck.
Replacing items in the pack, though realistic, is not allowed as that calls up too many problems. One example is: which of the three items is to be replaced and how many button presses is it going to take? Basically anything that slows the play too much is not desired. Holding to fill one’s pack is slowing things enough. Players with full packs can still switch items if desired.
Ranged items found in the map have a quarter to a half of their maximum ammo. If one is desperate for a ranged weapon and has run out of ammo switching to a found weapon may be a good idea. The player can then place their dropped, original weapon in their pack to take back with them.
Where is the loot? Loot can exist in obvious and obscure places. The option would exist to fully explore the map so everyone gets full packs, or simply rush through if desired. This of course extends the time spent in the map and increases the chance of dying. Its up to the players how much they want to explore or not. Anyway, loot could be found in boxes, chests, on bodies of allies (those found in maps), on “loot” enemies, on statues, at alters, in nooks and crannies, in hidden rooms, in coffins, on book shelves, etc. Basically anywhere that makes sense or creates a sense of story.
Map found loot items are always grey or green. If higher tier items are desired they must be upgraded at the forge. I posit that a simple box of crafting materials may be a thing to add to the map-loot tables as well. A box of crafting materials could have the equivalent of two or three high-tiered items, so very worth it if you are trying to upgrade preferred items.
So what about loot boxes? They should still exist. Each set of maps culminates in boss fight and every time a player completes a full set of maps (not only the final map). They are granted a prize (loot box), in appreciation for their hard work, with three items in it. These loot boxes will always have blue items, with a fair chance for one orange item (around a 20% chance) and a much smaller chance for red. If the players complete the full set of 13 maps then they are given one additional chest. This encourages players to play all the maps evenly instead of simply grinding through their one or two favorites.
Loot boxes are also granted at level gains (as done in the current game). These loot chests contain three items as well, but are restricted to green and blue items (with a minor chance for orange). Whether that is one or two blue is randomly determined, but never three blue.
In all cases, loot boxes or map loot, power level is determined by character level. This does mean that mixed leveled teams will find more variable-powered loot in the map. This is one way to power up lower leveled friends. Melted items grant equal materials to their tier, regardless of power level. So higher level characters, happy with their current gear, should feel no loss in picking up low power items (for melting) and allowing lower leveled players to pick up the higher powered items.