Todays guest post is from Rich Green, renowned for his work on 4e monsters for Open Design. I’ve split it in 2, so the next part, covering art objects will be published on the 31st.
Glittering Prizes: 4e treasure made more memorable
by Richard Green, At the Sign of the Green Man (richgreen01.livejournal.com)
The treasure table in 4e’s Dungeon Master’s Kit is very handy and makes the job of giving out the right amounts of both monetary treasure and magic items nice and easy. Choosing magic items for your PCs is fun – you can look at the players’ wishlists, which items they’ve currently got, what slots they’ve not filled and what’s due for an upgrade, and then find a cool item on the Compendium or in Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium. But coming up with monetary treasure is a pretty boring job and the DM’s Kit doesn’t help much as it only provides short, basic lists for gems and art objects. This article is designed to help the harried DM come up with more interesting loot by fleshing out the non-magical part of a treasure cache.
Although designed to work with 4e, these lists will work just as well with Pathfinder or earlier editions of D&D.
The values of gems appearing on the treasure by party level tables are given as 100 gp, 500 gp, 1,000 gp and 5,000 gp. Some of the gems listed below are worth less than these values individually – in these cases, several of the item make up the listed value.
Amber – pale yellow to a rich golden colour, transparent, might contain a fossilized insect
Amethyst – deep purple & transparent
Bloodstones (3) – reddish brown opaque polished stones with gold flecks
Coral – pink, red or white pieces
Garnet – red, orange, green or blue & transparent
Jade – translucent ornamental stone, light to very dark green, originates in the Dragon Empires of the east
Lapis Lazuli (3) – intense blue, translucent, mottled with white and brassy striations; from the Caliphate of Akhran
Moonstones (2) – translucent bluish-white through to deep blue
Moss agates (5) – pink or yellowy white & translucent with green fern-like markings
Onyx (2) – white quartz with bands of black, brown or tan running through it
Ornamental stones (12) of different colours, in a small velvet bag
Pearl – bright white or tinged with yellow or pink, round
Peridot – always olive green (one of the few gems to only come in one colour) & transparent
Tiger cowrie shells (10) – egg-shaped glossy shells with attractive markings similar to the patterns on a big cat, hence the name
Turquoise – light bluish-green opaque stone
Zircons (2) – golden yellow or pale blue crystals. Sometimes passed off as more valuable stones but it’s hard to fool anyone but the completely ignorant.
Alexandrite – dark green & transparent, appears reddish under magical light
Aquamarine – pale blue or turquoise coloured beryl, transparent. Popular with barbarians of the frozen north.
Black or rainbow pearl – the rarest sorts, up to 2 inches in diameter. Found in the warm seas of the south.
Golden beryl – pale yellow to brilliant gold, transparent
Spinel – red, blue or mauve & transparent
Topaz – bright yellow, golden, orange or pink-orange & transparent
Tourmalines (2) – pale green, pale blue or dark yellow & transparent
Violet garnet – rare variety, found only on desolate islands in the Corsairs’ Sea. Changes colour in different lights.
Black opal – dark green opal with black mottling and gold flecks.
Emerald – brilliant green, very transparent, usually cut in a rectangular shape
Fire opal – fiery, orange-red opal, with golden or green flecks. Originates in volcanic regions
Opal – the “common” opal is white or bluish-white with a beautiful play of colour across its surface. Typically cut into an oval or rounded shape
Oriental Amethyst – rich purple amethyst from the far end of theSilk Road
Sapphire – bright blue corundum, ranging from pale to medium blue in colour.
Schorl – dark indigo or glossy black tourmaline, found in the Ironcrags.
Celestial Emerald – found only in the cloud-covered peaks towering above the jungles of the far south, this emerald is harder than the usual sort and is a clear, pure verdant green.
Diamond – clear, brilliant white stone, sometimes tinged with blue, pink or yellow.
Jacinth – fiery red stone, also known as hyacinth. Often used in magic items with the fire keyword.
Ruby – clear to deep red corundum stone, sometimes with pink, orange, or purple secondary hues. The most valuable rubies are a vivid, deep crimson.
Star sapphire – translucent sapphire with a white star-like pattern in its centre.
Looks & hooks for gems
To add some colour to a gemstone found in a treasure, pick one of the following:
- is uncut and will be worth up to four times as much if cut by a skilled gemcutter
- appears magical but isn’t (hard DC Arcana check to work this out for sure)
- is flawed and only worth 50% of base value
- was cut by an expert gemcutter and is worth +50% base value
- has a minor magical property (+1 to a saving throw once per day, grants 2 temporary hp, +1 to Endurance checks vs disease or similar)
- is cut with facets as a diamond, square or rectangle (transparent stones)
- is cut as a cabochon – smooth, dome shape – or just a polished pebble (opaque stones)
- flickers with its own light inside
- was stolen from a dragon’s hoard by a band of adventurers; the dragon’s magical mark is still on it, allowing her to track down the thieves
- is carved with a lost dwarven clan’s rune
- was taken from a mummy’s tomb and is cursed (-1 to ability & skill checks until the curse is removed)
- is as big as a halfling’s fist
- is marked by a wizard’s sigil; the mage can use this mark to track it down magically
- comes from the Great Dismal Delve of the dao on the Plane of Earth
- is a fake and is worth next to nothing. Trying to sell this gem could get the seller into trouble.
- is exactly the stone the foppish Earl of Westhaven needs for his potential fiancee’s engagement ring
- was prised from the Eagle Sceptre of the mad caliph, Adbul Al-Bayda by his treacherous wife
- appears to contain the ghostly, trapped figure of a man or woman inside
- is the missing eye from a large demonic statue
- was stolen from the person of a famous and powerful adventurer when he fell asleep, face down on the table at the Kirin’s Rest.