Sunday, 15 March 2015

On Treasure

I'm a big fan of not just giving the party sacks of gold. It seems a bit silly to be honest. Why would Orcs collect bags of gold, that are fairly useless to them and are an attractor of looters (ie, PCs)? OK, so in checking the archives at The Dragon's Flagon here in the article on 'Orconomics' there is the suggestion that the Orcs pay for things in coin to local bandits - and by extension, though this isn't mentioned in the post, barbarians, evil temples, anyone not that bothered about the existence of Orcs or too concerned to follow 'the Law'. It may be that the Temple in the Caves of Chaos is actually laundering money that the humanoids are taking from passing caravans, while at the same time supplying the humanoid tribes with some necessities that the priests are buying in the Keep. But even so, large chests of cash should I think be exceptional rather than the rule.

On the other hand, I'm a bit lazy about converting the gold into other things. There's a great article from an old WD about economics in RuneQuest that suggests that the majority of treasure should be made up of tapestries, goblets, necklaces, silks, spices, and other small and large tradeable goods. Seems like a great idea. Over at Land of Nod last year, John Matthew Stater was examining the question of treasure hordes in this post but no real conclusions were reached I don't think - other than that bags of gold are unrealistic but coming up with viable alternatives is hard. Though the 'bags of gold' idea is unsatisfactory, it beats thinking about every treasure you roll up and trying to make it interesting and different, if we just take the 'bag of gold' as being 'miscellaneous treasure'.

Another post on the Dragon's Flagon from quite a while ago is also looking at the same question. It seems it bothers a lot of us at some time or another - where does all this gold come from, why, and what are the implications and alternatives? This questioning - which leads to examining 'Storage Wars' as an inspiration - does produce a potential answer however, in the form of a link to the Hack & Slash blog which hosts something that might be considered a treasure in itself: this post links to a pdf entitled 'Treasure'. I haven't seen this before. I have now of course downloaded it and will be poring over its contents with great interest.

How easy it will be to use these treasure tables in practice I don't know - but another shot in the arm of 'trying to find alternatives to bags of coin' is most welcome to be sure.


  1. Not a topic I've pondered before but now I am I think you're on to something

  2. Thanks for the comment Snickit - though I can't claim to be anything other than a messenger here. It is a problem that people have been discussing for 30 years or more!