Monday, September 21, 2020

NPCs as Treasure

Rescuing someone in a dungeon may lead to them offering you a reward.  It may lead to players having a local contact for information and interactions in the future.  But what if the person rescued was so talented the reward they offered was like a magic item?

The Royal Jeweler - I can make a brass automaton that mimics the movement of a real creature so truly it can pass as that creature!  Come to me in the future and I will make one for you.  Whatever creature you wish as long as it is no bigger than a small dog. 

The Wise Woman - Take me to some dread place you will enter and I will ask my ancestors about it.  Then I will give you a walnut that will roll toward treasure, an acorn that will roll toward lost friends, and a maple samara that will flutter back to the exit.

The Mad Hermit - I have gathered foul herbs enough to slather three of you so you will appear dead to the dead and beast to the beasts and foul impertinent to gentlefolk and scholars.

That's the idea anyway.  I want it to be a kind of one time service, not something the players would go back to again and again.  So it needs to be unique and powerful enough that the NPC can only afford it once.  But also want it to function as another tool in the Player's adventuring toolbox.  Something they will keep in mind for future heists or schemes.  So it can't be a straight up reward, like if the wise woman gave the three seed to them and they would work in the next dungeon with no further help from her.


  1. Like the concept, especially since it helps establish the setting as having actual people living in it doing their own thing when the PCs aren't around.

    In keeping with the theme, how about:

    The Leaf-Haired Woodsman - Bring me a wild beast, be it mortal or fey, and I will tame it with unspoken words so that it accepts you as one of its kind and aids you as best it may.

  2. Sweet, I might want to give a reason they can't do it all the time (maybe it is exhausting for the woodsman), but this one serves as a kind of adventure hook, players may start looking for animals to do this with.

    1. Clearly unspoken words can only be unsaid once, and learning new ones to repeat the trick would be a major quest in the fey lands that the PCs would need to help him with. :)

      Has some inbuilt balance - having a larger critter (a bear, a yeth hound) tamed is a bigger benefit for many adventurers but what do you do with it when you're in town, how do you feed it if you travel outside its territory, how will people react to you when it's in your company, etc. More modest asks (an eagle, a wild horse) won't be as handy in a brawl but raise fewer issues. There's also the question of how you get the not-tame-yet beastie to the woodsman once you've subdued it. Porting a bear around is tricky enough, but some lunatic who manages to drug a tyrannosaur is going to have some serious transportation problems to deal with.

      I'd probably be pretty generous if someone was restrained enough to just hand over a squirrel or a mouse or a rabbit or something. Maybe it turns out to be a smarter-than-expected fey critter, or it can almost always call on hordes of its kin to help out when needed. Burying your foes in a tide of frenzied squirrels is a decent way to break off a fight - "These rodents, they vex me!" and all that.

      Come to think of it, there was a character in one of the Wild Cards anthologies who did in a mob boss by causing a fatal car accident with a carpet of mind-controlled squirrels. Little rough on the little nutcrackers, but it did the job.