Whatever awesome role playing game you and your players choose to play, one thing is certain. All players love finding treasure! And why wouldn’t they? Treasure is awesome! Players hope to find money and items that they can use to improve their characters equipment and lifestyle.
One of the important lessons I have learned is that treasure also gives the Game Master or Game Mistress (GM) a great opportunity to tell a story and story telling is the most important part of any roleplaying game. So don’t squander the opportunity treasure gives you to tell a great story.
Lets take a look at your roleplaying books for things that could be used as treasure.
Your roleplaying game books may contain weapon ideas or suggestions for you and your players. For example. In the Pathfinder Core Rulebook you have a dagger that gives you 1d3 damage. A perfectly good weapon for any player to find. But, why just have your players open up a sealed room to find a dagger that gives you 1d3 damage? That just feels kind of dull doesn’t it? I say, make that dagger interesting! I say, make some changes to that dagger to make it more interesting to your players. There is no rule saying you can modify items in a rule book.
When your players open that sealed room what if they found an expertly crafted light dagger with a dragon leather handle and seal of some unknown kingdom engraved on the bottom of the handle? Maybe because it was so expertly crafted it does 1d4 damage rather than 1d3. Now you have a treasure that raises questions.
Who would have had such a fine weapon crafted for them?
What is this seal on the bottom and why does no one recognize it?
All adventures love to find money. Once they find some money they just can’t wait to get to the next town or city and spend it on new gear. Just remember that money can be a great plot hook or a means to tell a story also. Coins can be stamped with a the image of a long dead king on it. As a result all the merchants in the next town may refuse to do business with the group once they see the old coin. The money can be cursed causing all kinds of miss fortune. The money could have a note saying something as simple as “If found please return gold to Travis McGinnis” and let the players have a moral debate about what to do with the gold.
Another trick I like to do with money is make my players roll for it. Sometimes my players will come across a purse of money. When they ask how much is inside I make them roll a d6. If they roll a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 they get the amount of money they roll and can continue rolling for more money. But, if at any point they roll a 1, then the purse is empty and they get no money at all.
The players could happen across healing potions or invisibility potions. To make these items tell a story think about how you can make them different. Maybe the potions are found in strange-looking vials. Perhaps the tinker that concocted these potions scribed his name on the vials. Just use a little imagination to make things different and ask yourself what changes would make the party talk about this item.
Don’t forget to throw random items into treasure piles also. I am thinking of things that might not be necessarily useful but worth a lot of money. For example:
- Master Work Cooking Pots
- A Chess Set
My players once discovered a flatware set. They spent many game sessions trying to figure out what the symbols on the plates stood for. Did they belong to a royal house? A wealthy individual? Are they magical in some way? They carried this truck of flatware with them everywhere hoping to solve that mystery.
Do you tell stories with treasure? Leave a comment and lets share ideas!