4d4 Troublesome Treasures
by Creighton Broadhurst
August 19, 2019
Sometimes the PCs emerge from the dungeon laden down with bags of coins, pouches stuffed with gems and jewels and even magic items! Other times, they emerge with items somewhat trickier to sell on...Use these tables below to add depth and verisimilitude to troublesome treasures in your campaign.
Difficult to Sell Treasures
Perhaps these difficult to sell items are apparently worthless, stolen or just only of interest to a subset of people. Others might have a moral dimension. For example, would a paladin be fine with selling unholy symbols wrenched from around the necks of slain evil cultists?
- This skull-shaped medallion is crafted from beaten brass. Covered in verdigris, it has a fell aspect. Symbols of death, suffering and damnation are etched into the skull's forehead
- At first glance, this small clay statuette depicts nothing more than a dumpy woman sitting cross-legged on the floor. The figure is poorly sculpted and obviously very old. Although it appears to be nothing more than junk, a collector or sage can identify it as an ancient depiction of the nature goddess.
- In lurid detail this disturbing tapestry depicts a slender, bald vampire suckling on the neck of an elven woman. The attack takes place amid the shadows clustering beneath a stand of stunted, gnarled trees. The tapestry is 20-foot square, is rather bulky and weighs 20 pounds.
- This ornate ivory candlestick holder stands almost two-foot tall. It depicts a naked, lascivious succubus standing in a provocative, seductive pose with its arms raised high above its head. The demon's face has a look of pure lust upon it. Clearly, the candlestick was commissioned by an evil, depraved individual.
Adventurers often find gold, silver and gems during their deep delves into the dark, unwholesome places of the world. Sometimes they find bulky treasures, difficult to transport back to civilisations.
- A 10-foot square tapestry hangs on one wall. The tapestry depicts a bucolic woodland hunting scene, is worth 50 gp and weighs 120 lbs.
- A cast iron chandelier easily 5 ft. across hangs from the ceiling. It has five arms forged to depict writhing dragon heads. Within each dragon’s open mouth writhe magical, heatless flames. A long metal rod leaning against the wall enables the user to open or close each mouth, to increase or decrease the amount of light. The whole is worth 200 gp, but weighs 75 lbs.
- A huge giant’s breastplate has been pressed into service as a brazier. Full of hot coals, the breastplate is heavy (45 lbs.) but finely decorated with intricate lightning bolt engravings picked out with silver. Worth 400 gp, the item is nevertheless worthless as armour because the entire back of the breastplate is missing.
- A map of the local area showing all major landmarks and settlements decorates this 15 ft. long and 10 ft. wide rug. Of great interest and value to local nobility and suchlike the rug is worth 75 gp (but weighs 100 lbs.)
Adventurers often find gold, silver and gems during their deep delves into the dark, unwholesome places of the world. Other times, they find items fragile enough that accidental damage or rough handling could render them worthless.
- This small silver framed piece of artwork hasn’t been done with brush and paint; rather, small shards of multi-coloured glass have been expertly arranged to depict a shimmering sea and a stark, cliff-fringed island. The whole piece is roughly two-foot square and worth 200 gp (intact).
- This tall, impossibly thin glass decanter has an elegant handle near its spout. It has been blown to depict an elegant swan’s head and has a sold silver stopper. Intact it is worth 50 gp.
- These four slender wine glasses have gold leaf around their rims. Clearly old, in places the gold leaf is worn by the touch of many lips. As a set, the glasses are worth 100 gp.
- This diaphanous red silk dress has a 15-foot long train. Practically transparent, this robe weighs virtually nothing and is extremely prone to snags and tears. Even wrapping up the dress for transport without due care and attention could damage it. In perfect condition, the dress is worth 250 gp.
Some items merely have a drawback to their ownership. Other items are tainted by a minor curse, which can cause much suffering and sorrow to its owner.
- While he possesses this item, the owner begins to believe his comrades and friends covet it. While this feeling does not grow into homicidal maniac, the owner carefully safeguards the item and refuses to lend it to anyone.
- The owner grows increasingly obsessed with the item. First, she merely keeps it safe, but her obsession slowly grows. After a while, she buys a nice pouch (or similar suitable container) to keep it in. Then, she buys a newer more expensive pouch (perhaps made of a particularly fine material or decorated with small gemstones and so on). This expenditure slowly increases while she possesses the item.
- The cursed item radiates a subtle field that attracts undead. Unintelligent undead prefer to attack the wielder above all other targets and intelligent undead feel drawn to the item. They do all they can to possess it.
- The item interferes with the magic of healing spells, magic items and effects, reducing their effectiveness. Such effects heal one less point of damage per die rolled.
The material in this article appears in 20 Things #18: Troublesome Treasures, which is available here at the Raging Swan Press shop.