Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What is a Monster Worth?

There have been several discussions over the years of how much a human body is worth. The range is anywhere from $4.50 to $45 million. I won't list the gruesome breakdown of a human body, but I thought it might be interesting to break down what a monster might be worth. Adventuring parties always hack through the monsters to get to that pile of treasure, but they may be leaving the most valuable item behind. How much are a basilisk's eyes worth? How much for the blood of a dragon? What about the mind of a mind flayer?

All the listed prices are arbitrary and pulled out of my arse. Prices are given in standard gold pieces (gp), but you GMs out there know what to do if you campaign only uses beads, lint, or orc lips as currency. And since I recently bought Castle & Crusades I will be selecting the monsters from there. Here are three breakdowns of monsters, the price and the use.

Hide: A player can earn 100gp per 10hp of the bugbear. If the bugbear was killed by slashing weapons the value is halved or if killed by fire the hide is worthless. Exotic leather workers like the hide of a bugbear to make insulated leather armor. A suit of bugbear leathers will reduce cold damage of each die by 1. If a 9th level wizard blasts the player with a Cone of Cold the damage rolled is 9d6, but because the player is wearing the bugbear armor it reduces the damage by 9. A full suit of bugbear leathers costs 2500gp.

Living Hair: A single strand is worth 2500gp. To gain a living hair a dryad must give it to the player. Hacking off a dryad's hair will cause it to lose all its power. A dryad's hair is used to create Charm Person wands, powerful broaches of Glamour, or Love potions. The cost of the items made from the living ranges from 10x to 50x the cost of the hair.

Phase Spider
Eyes: A phase spider had 2d4 dozen eyes. Each eye is worth 10,000gp. The eyes are a highly sought after delicacy that induces an intensive feeling of euphoria as their consciousness lingers in the ethereal plane. This makes the eyes highly addictive and most kingdoms have banned the selling of them. So most phase spiders eyes must be sold and bought in a secret market. Wizards use the eyes in their formula to open gates into the ethereal plane. It is rumored one wizard replaced his own eyes with the eyes of a phase spider and can now move at will into the ethereal plane.

Poison: A player can earn 3500gp per 10hp of the phase spider for the doses of poison collected. The poison retains its dangerous effects. One dose can coat a dagger and will become innate after one day. Some have used it as an ingested poison to make the death look natural. A problem with the poison is it has a foul smell that is difficult to conceal.

Those are three samples of, What is a Monster Worth. There are a lot of ways to run with this in your campaign. I plan on developing an entire catalog. I think it will enhance a few areas of the game. It will help with components for the creation of magic items. Plus it will give the characters something else to think about when they loot the dungeon. "...leave the sword, grab the bugbear." (A very long stretch to twist a Godfather quote)


  1. This was some fantastic insight and helps me give players some new goals! Thanks!

  2. Heh, heh...hate to say it, but HackMaster beat you to the punch. Each monster in their multi-volume "Hacklopedia" has a "Yield" section to its entry giving information on the valuable parts of the respective victim. It's pretty creative...check it out!

  3. Good information JB. I've never checked out Hackmaster. I need to look at the Hacklopedia.