Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Little gems in random treasure generation

In a previous post I said that with each trove I would also be including one randomly-generated item, just because. Boy, am I glad I did, and here's why:

The very first thing I rolled up was a Textbook of a Common Skill, Written in a Common Language with two enchantments and two embellishments. Those Enchantments were Waves and Fog; the embellishments were expensive extensive inlay and a cover of fine material edged with fur.

Oh, did I mention that the Bookbinding Properties table told me that this book was made out of stone tablets? It weighs twelve hundred pounds. I don't figure I'm spoiling this for the players because the book is around seven cubic feet, and so fairly obvious when you find it.

Given this information, I've decided this book is written in dwarvish and is called the Manual of the Sea, teaching whoever consults it Shiphandling/TL3, and allowing default rolls even without the prerequisite skills. It's bound in thick, fur-edged seal skin (elephant seal, naturally), and its letters are filled with tiny aquamarines, too small for individual sale.

I would never have put such a thing in the moathouse, and in the process of reading the dice I learned something new about my version of Greyhawk.

First, enchanters can sometimes go a little mad. They become obsessed with the creation of some masterpiece of their art; usually some extremely implausible but strangely powerful and valuable item that they go to great expense and hardship to complete. It can take years to finish, and is often made of implausible materials or otherwise reflects the partial insanity of its creator. Dwarves in particular are prone to this malady; any truly absurd item is liable to have been dwarf-work. In addition, if something keeps an enchanter in this mood from completing his work for long enough, he will go truly insane, with unpredictable effects - this is part of why there are so many towers of mad arch-mages about.

Second, the original lord of the moathouse was a sailor, both on the nearby river and on the Nyr Dyv it connects to, as a privateer for the Duke. When he was granted his title and the moathouse, he brought the Manual of the Sea with him at great expense (it was in his ship, as his 'lucky charm' - it didn't hurt that he could hide from other ships and change the conditions of engagement with its enchantments). Eventually he gave it to his son, but by that time the Temple was gaining prominence...

If you haven't, I highly recommend using some random treasure in your game. It provides a focal point for peering into the reality of the world you inhabit, sitting around the table, helping to clear away the mists of unreality just a little.

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