Were you to break into my house*, this shelf probably has the most valuable loot.
It took me (& my parents) a long time to finally complete the collection of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks—clearly the series that got me into tabletop gaming. Half of the reason is the relative rarity of some of the books: the final of the original series—Curse of the Mummy—was only printed 5000 times, and even one of the newer texts goes for fifty quid online. I’ve seen auctions go to several hundred pounds for some of these books.
Sure, the TV beside might look more appealing, but these would probably fetch a higher price total.
So I’ve been recently building dungeons for a secret project** and much of that has involved deciding upon various things for players to locate and sell for cold, hard cash. Worryingly, this process has gotten me thinking.
The treasure you give your players doesn’t just have to be worth more money.
While the most obvious (& easily altered) value of an object is its innate or accepted cost, it shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when setting out treasure.
- If you have a buyer, it’s more valuable. At the baseline, this is the core of a fetch-quest. Here adventurer, go get me this thing. I’ll give you gold.
That said, it’s also possible to realise partway through possession of something that its value can go up.
- Information (& context) affects value. If you suddenly learn that someone is a keen buyer of something you already have, suddenly its relative value to your players increases.
- Value moves both ways. Blood diamonds are much cheaper. Epiphanies can shift value. Epiphanies are of value.
Luckily, I’ve never had a book stolen. I have had a bike stolen. (It was a really lovely bike too—sorry Mum.) You can’t ride a book away.
- The ease of transport is something that cannot be ignored in its value. I recently placed a massive ten-foot square triptych in my SECRET DUNGEON**. Its monetary value is fantastic; its relative value is quite low because it is so difficult to get out of the dungeon.
Clearly this list is missing a lot of nuance. I don’t really care to hone that out, but I do want to hear what you’ve done about valuable loot.
** SECRETS. Okay, honestly though – if you’re interested in OSR RPGs and playing cards, do get in touch.