Features Archive | 7/14/2011
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Treasure Options
By Miranda Horner

Your group of stalwart adventurers has demolished its latest threat, and the search for treasure begins. After all, even if the heroes aren’t really interested in gold or fortune (as unlikely as this might be), having funds to increase one’s ability to handle future threats is always a bonus. Plus, well, those heroes just might stumble across that magic artifact that you’ve carefully placed somewhere in your campaign.

Until you get to that point, though, you need treasure of other sorts. Some of it can be magic, yes, but sometimes you just need the mundane shiny things that heroes can pocket until they hit town again. But does it really have to be mundane? Why not liven things up a little by providing odd, but pricey trinkets. Maybe add an adventure hook tailored to lead your crew into a new part of your setting. Put some lore into each item to give it a bit of a history. Or, if all else fails, drop in an item that helps gently nudge the characters back on track if they’ve wandered off so far that you might as well start a whole new adventure.

You can revisit past "Treasure Option" articles for other ideas, or jump right in to see what five items you could potentially add to your game tonight.

Dragon Incense Burner

Crafted from platinum, this 1-foot-tall incense burner was shaped to form a dragon sitting with its tail wrapped around itself and its wings folded in. Its right front claw is resting on a rounded sapphire. Its mouth is open wide enough to place a cone of incense within it. The remains of past incense dusts the inside of the mouth.

Appraisal Value: 5,500 gp

Options

The dragon could represent Bahamut, so adding an appropriate religious symbol to it could personalize it (see the lore check below). Additionally, in terms of story hooks, perhaps this burner also has a maker’s mark that leads the characters to someone who can craft extraordinary items for them. Perhaps that artisan has a few things of her own that she needs to have done first? Or maybe the incense within the burner is unusual in some way?

Lore

Religion (easy DC): The burner represents Bahamut and probably once graced one of his temples.

Religion (moderate DC): A maker’s mark on the bottom indicates that the person who crafted this burner is the artisan Selliana Thrush. She has a reputation for crafting all manner of metalwork-based items for those who follow Bahamut, though those with enough wealth know that she’ll take outside commissions… if the price is right.

Religion (hard DC): The remains of burned incense indicates that its past user preferred a very rare type. The rare ingredient in the incense—the oil from a variety of light gray rose called the platinum dragon—hasn’t been available for several decades. Perhaps some of that incense is also in this area?

Nature (hard DC): Growing a “platinum dragon” rose plant requires dedication and, occasionally, blood from a dragon to fertilize the plant’s bed. If you can find a live plant or seeds, you can gain a large boon (or a lot of platinum coins) at any temple dedicated to Bahamut.


Platinum Rose Incense

Nestled within a silvery velvet bag that draws closed with metallic, platinum-hued drawstrings are seven cones of incense. The scent that wafts from the bag has elements of sandalwood, rose, and black musk.

Appraisal Value: 500 gp per cone

Options

It makes sense to place the incense with the incense burner in this article, but it’s not necessary. Again, you could tie this into Bahamut, plus you could provide some lore that leads a character who is interested in alchemy directly to an artisan who not only creates this very rare incense (and might have an idea of where to find rare platinum dragon roses), but who also provides more practical items for adventurers to use. The rose scent is indicative of roses, but only someone trained in Religion or Nature will recognize that the scent is specifically that of a platinum dragon rose. (See “Lore” for more on this.)

Lore

Arcana (moderate DC): The maker of the incense branded each one on the bottom with a mark of a triangle within a circle. This is the mark of the alchemist, Ali Solanthus. He is known to set up shop in one town for a few years, then moves to another at a randomly determined time.

Nature or Religion (hard DC; trained only): The scent of the incense indicates that its past user preferred a very rare type. The rare ingredient in the incense—the oil from a variety of light gray rose called the platinum dragon—hasn’t been available for several decades. When burned, the smoke takes on a metallic sheen reminiscent of platinum, and it sometimes forms into the shape of a dragon as it wafts upward. (The DC to learn this becomes easy if the characters choose to burn the incense.)


Crystal Dragon Curio Box

A crystal dragon about to take flight is attached to a square crystal curio box. The box is about three inches wide on each side. Nestled within the crystal box are what might be seeds encased in a crystalline shell.

Appraisal Value: 1,500 gp for the box; 3,000 gp per seed

Options

As with the other dragon-based items in this article, you can tie this to Bahamut and tailor the details of the curio to match. Otherwise, choose a dragon you prefer to enhance with more detail if the players start asking questions. The seeds can be whatever you wish them to be, but if you want to introduce platinum dragon roses into your game, this is the perfect place to do so.

Lore

Nature (easy DC): The curio box contains five seeds. The crystal encasing them might be in place to preserve the seeds.

Nature (moderate DC): Centuries ago, an eladrin perfected the technique of keeping seeds viable by encasing them in a living crystal shell. When the seed is placed in an environment that favors growth for that specific seed, it dissolves and allows nature to take its course. Very few know how to create the casing these days.

Nature or Religion (hard DC; trained only): The seeds are that of the fabled gray-hued platinum dragon rose, which followers of Bahamut revere. Not only do temples create oil from the petals of these roses, which they then use in a variety of ways, but those temples that have burial chambers which allow in sunlight like to plant the flowers over the grave of those who have served that particular temple well. It is a great honor to have these roses growing over one’s grave. Tending these roses is tricky, however, as they require special effort, such as the infusion of dragon’s blood at regular intervals every few decades.


Twilight Phantoms Scabbard

Perfect for standard daggers, this scabbard has a black leather body and a dull black metal buckle throat and tip. Leafwork on the metal lends this otherwise boring scabbard a bit of grace.

Appraisal Value: 50 gp

Options

Featured in Heroes of Shadow, the Twilight Phantoms are an organization of eladrin assassins. If one of the characters in the party is a member of the Twilight Phantoms, he or she can see the sigil of the Twilight Phantoms on the leather. Otherwise you can turn this tidbit into an interesting plot hook. Perhaps a member of the Twilight Phantoms interacts with the heroes, sees the sigil, and determines that he or she wants to retrieve the scabbard (and the dagger within it if the heroes are using the scabbard). This could happen either by the heroes attempting to sell the scabbard to a merchant or while they otherwise make use of the scabbard.


Raven Scabbard

Crafted from black leather and tarnished silver, this longsword scabbard features a raven on the hefty throat of the scabbard and depicts its head on the tip.

Appraisal Value: 150 gp

Options

This scabbard could be a simple scabbard with no ties to the Raven Queen, or you could add some interesting connections. Perhaps this particular scabbard belonged to an elf who was a keeper of a gloaming heart (detailed in Heroes of Shadow, p.134). The loss of the scabbard (and perhaps the sword) might cause another keeper to seek it out. If the sword was a magic sword, and if the heroes don’t have it, you could introduce a roleplaying encounter wherein the heroes learn why the seeker wishes to have the scabbard and might need help procuring the sword before returning to her duties. Whether the heroes learn the entirety of those duties is up to you.


About the Author

When Miranda Horner isn’t editing, writing, playing with graphics, or monkeying with websites, she’s gaming, drumming, singing, dancing, exercising, reading, playing with assorted cats, hanging out with friends, and crafting. (Not all at once.) You can catch her giggling merrily and being silly on Twitter (@mirandahorner) if you’re so inclined.

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