Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Giving Mundane Treasure a Kick

Over at the Tower of the Archmage, David is doing a series of posts based on how he is stocking his megadungeon, particularly the first level. His most recent post was on rolling random treasure and fitting it into his dungeon. He adjusted the values of the gems so 1st level character could not retire after a few rooms. That got me thinking how I do treasure, especially coins, gems and jewelry and some artwork.

I'm always one who likes to add a few layers to things. Sometimes I over complicate them, in which I just toss the idea into the mental bin and continue. When I decide treasure I may add a few curves into the value of things. Easiest one is coins. The standard is copper, silver and gold. I'm not one for platinum or by all the horrors above and below, electrum. What I do like to do is introduce simple variants in value and worth to them. An example is there is silver and hard silver. Hard silver is worth much more that regular silver and not found in coins, but rather small bars. What makes hard silver so valuable is that it accepts enchantments easily. It is usually part of a recipe when someone wants to make an enchantable weapon.

Keeping with the coins I like to slip in ancient coins which are different size and value. A gold coin from the third kingdom is three times as large as the ones minted today. The reason I like this is it adds depth and character to the treasure connecting itself to the world around. But again, sometimes it gets too complicated and the focus is elsewhere so then the players will just find a pile of gold coins.

Gems can hold enchantments, be an ingredient in an alchemical recipe or a component in some spell ritual. To cast a gate spell a mage may need to have the dust of 10000gp worth of diamonds or some such thing. To create a potion of strength the potion may require the chips off a ruby. Its fun to have these layers, but only if the players buy into it. Again if it seems to be something that bogs down the game or the players don't seem interested in that aspect I drop it.

Artwork is tricky, but I like to add a significant painting or sculpture. Like in the real world the value is not often the quality of the work, but who created it. Some of the paintings in a recent adventure I designed show significant details of a lost dwarven mine. It was an adventure hook I laid there to see if the players would pick up on it. If they do plan to explore, fantastic. If not, no problem.

As I have stated above sometimes this gets me too involved in details many times may not matter, but if done correctly and with a light touch, adding this kind of thing to your mundane treasure rewards will make it more exciting.

1 comment:

  1. I like this sort of detail in treasure. My player's, though, tend to be a bit goal-oriented to really appreciate it.