Saturday, February 1, 2014

Treasure Items

First a public service annoucement: I screwed up with my web host so all my sidebar links will be dead until I get it sorted.  Sorry, I'm an idiot.

Okay, after all that talk of tables here's one I've been working on for a while.  A simple way to generate interesting treasure objects has been my white whale for a long time.  I want to be able to generate many different things you might uncover when ransacking tombs or catacombs.  You can see my attempt at coming up with some kind of item generator here, and a separate attempt at coming up with item qualities here.  In this new table I've simplified and smashed the two together into a layered table.

The idea is that rolling a d20 will result in a treasure that is fitting for western myths and folklore.  But by rolling more dice for the different columns you can get many variations.
A few notes.  "Votive" is something made specifically to be left as an offering at a shrine or altar.  "Funerary" is meant to be something made specifically to be buried with someone or consumed in their funeral somehow.  I would assume all of them have value with someone, even the wooden or wicker, if brought to right person, if only because of their significance or rarity.

You can see one of the difficulties with this kind of table when you note that a common treasure of folklore is a cloak, but cloaks are made of different materials than crowns and chalices.  Belts fall into a similar category.  In my object qualities chart I made two seperate columns depending on whether something is clothing or not.  But I want to simplify the tables I might need at the table.  And besides cloaks and girdles, there isn't really any iconic treasure clothing items I can think of (wait . . . maybe caps, and boots, dang it!).  So, if you tumble the sub-tables on this and end up with cloak, you might have to do some interpretive work.  Maybe the cloak is made up of metal links, or maybe the "material" just indicates a color of the cloth.

You can run into the same problem going the other way.  The cloak has a material "fur" which works for it, but what the heck is a fur mirror, or fur chariot?  Again, you'll have to do some interpretation.  Maybe the easiest would be to imagine fur-trimmed items etc.

Another problem this doesn't adress is how many gp is each item worth.  I hesitate to be explicit about that because it depends on so many variables- your campaign's economy, the relationship the party has with the buyers, etc.  But what I might do for myself is roll another d20 and multiply it by 100 to give a result in 100s of gp, from 100-2000.  And then maybe bump it up or down a bit from there.

After those caveats, I think this might still be a pretty compact way to come up with some interesting treasure items such as:
16, 15, 5, 6
A worn wicker spear that belonged to your family  (maybe it was your grandfather's toy?).
7, 11, 15, 16
A painted brass coffer used to bludgeon to death an heir to the throne.
20, 6, 12, 12
A beautiful, gem-cut piece of glass found on the beach after a tsunami destroyed a city.

Anyway, I'll be trying this for my own game and I hope you find it useful.


  1. The item can have a base value; the condition and material are simple multipliers (e.g. 1/2, x5, x10); if the purpose becomes known that is another multiplier. I like this way of doing things!

  2. Hey, thanks for the comment. What base values would you give these items? I'm horrible at that kind of thing.

  3. Actually, I've been thinking about it and material seems a much more important determiner of value to me than the item type. So, what I might do is assume a chalice of some material (silver?) as the standard and bump up or down from there for item size and materials in relation to the standard.

    I'll try to draft a new table. I'm thinking for up and down modifiers I might use dice sizes rather than multipliers, and then just add values. That might be easier to understand if I ever have players roll on this, which I might some times.

    1. When I last looked at generating random "jewelry" treasure, what I did was look up a bunch of artifacts in the British Museum collection (their website has a nice search function:, the Wikipedia treasure trove category ( and some modern pieces (largely from websites selling ritual objects for religious use). I made a table of the weight and material of the silver and gold objects, corrected for different densities, and then just set multipliers for different materials (I just had "jeweled" be it's own "material). That gives the "melt-down" value of the treasure. Sale value can be determined based on it's own threshold or as a multiplier of the base value.

    2. Cool. Did you make a post about it? What I was thinking of doing was just look up the gp value of something like a silver chalice from an old module and bump up or down from there. As long as it isn't off so much it seems wrong I'm cool with not being too tied to real data.

      But I do remember once years ago trying to look up base commodity prices for generating trade good values. Never quite finished that.

    3. I think I lost that table of data when my host shut down. I'll let you know if I can dig it up anywhere.

  4. This is one of the things you've mentioned in past posts that I've been waiting/hoping to see for a while! I like the way this one was set up.

    An addition that might prove fruitful with it is having a column for a general sort and/or strength of magic the item can do (protection, prophesy, transformation); an associated column showing some form of drawback or player mini-game related to the magic would have the potential to generate some fantastic items.

  5. Hey, thanks. So it would be like smashing another table into this one. Like my spell-like effect chart:

    Hmm, I would have to think a bit what the 20 iconic magic powers would be and to stick with the way this table is trying to work, pick powers that fit very well for those items. That might be tough. I did just think that the bonuses and minuses for value might also work for magical power, if I go that route. So for example, any paper item will tend to be worth less and tend to be less powerful than a gold item. But now as I write that out, I think I like the gritty unpredictability that even a paper magic item might be very powerful. I'll keep thinking about it.