Mention treasure to an RPG player, and their eyes gloss other with the image of heaps of glimmering gold coins, interspersed with shining precious jewels. They will imagine the latest weapon or armour to improve their characters abilities, enhancing and supporting their role within the party.
But as the inaugural post in the Got Loot blog festival, I’m hoping that I, and my fellow bloggers from across the D&D and RPG communities will show you that such a view is not the only one you have to have.
Treasures of The Wild
The world of Nerath is full of unique animals and plants, varying from region to region. In some areas, thick jungle vines drip with an acidic sap that lizardmen coat their arrows in. In other places, mosses cling to windswept mountain sides, collected and used by witches to heal those in the the remote villages.
Because of the unique nature of these items of flora and fauna, they are often prized by mages and those who have the knowledge to gather them and use them in rituals. The most prized of these ingredients come from faraway lands, available only during certain times of the year. These trade routes are treacherous, if human bandits are not bad enough, the gatherers and traders have to contend with poor roads and monsters that are only too happy to feed on the pack animals.
Natures treasures are never as convenient as gold, while a kilogram of Devils Fern is worth as much of a single diamond, it must be chopped down, its fibrous stalks dulling even the sharpest sickle or scythe after a few blows, and woe betide any being that should accidently touch its dark red fronds, for they are fragile and exude an oil that burns the skin from fingers and hands in seconds. Once collected, it must be dried for two months in the sun before it can be bundled up and transported from the marshes of the Crimson Ramparts, across the seas to the Isle of Druids, who understand how to grind and infuse it into different potions.
Amongst the northern tribes, a well cured fur is worth more than gold can buy, for they can keep a man alive during the frequent deadly snow storms, but even beyond these wild lands, furs are values for their beauty and durability. From the raw unprocessed animal skins, trapped and skinned by wilderness foragers and barbarians, these pelts pass up the chain, as master craftsmen turn even the ugly skins of animals such as skunks into capes and robes worthy of a feudal lord. And each stage adds value to the product, what a ranger might trade with a farmer to add some vegetables or cheese to their diet, can be turned into a trimmed cloak that ill sell for thousands of gold pieces in the merchant quarters of Vor Rukoth and other great cities.
While many natural beasts an adventurer encounters in their early career have skins, the kind of foes they encounter soon have scales, shells or some other kind of armoured skin that must be penetrated to kill them. Most will scoff at collecting these from the carcass after the creature is eliminated, but some, such as dragon scales, are inherently magical, and blacksmiths will pay handsomely for a sack containing enough good quality scales to craft a full set of armour. Unfortunately, by the time you discard the scales that have sword marks on them, you’ll have stripped the dragon bare and you’ll be carrying 2 or 3 sacks of scales.
If you can’t remove the hide, or the scales are too damaged, most monsters you’ll encounter in the wilderness will fight you with tooth and claw. While these are of little intrinsic value on their own, some will trade them to use as ornamental jewellery, or as tokens for the focus of sympathetic magic. But should you take on the jungle behemoths, or the mammoths of the arctic regions, you can harvest the hard ivory tusks. Whereas you may get a single gold piece for a bag of shark teeth, you can get 10 to 20 gold pieces for a single short tusk.
It may seem like collecting natural items of treasure is an incredible amount of hard work, taking time and precious backpack space. However when adventuring in the wilderness, your options are collect the bounty that nature has offered, or hope that the critter you slaughtered was at least attracted to the shiny objects of the adventurers that have come before you. Of course, many creatures don’t collect the items that belonged to their would be killers. Instead, you will find their lairs filled with delicate eggs or balling young. It is not uncommon for bands of ‘heroes’ to be sent to retrieve these eggs by merchants wanting more and more pets to sell, or wizards after a strange familiar to set them apart from their counterparts.