Friday, October 12, 2012

Meditating on 2000cp

For a reason that is beyond me, there seems to be a meme going around this corner of the internet that the existence in a dungeon of a treasure hoard of 2000cp signifies that the creator of said dungeon is lazy. I take umbrage at such a concept, not because I think a round number of nearly worthless coins is as or more realistic than either a odd number or a collection of mundane items worth 20gp, but rather the underlying assumption of the criticism: Using random tables is lazy (because a treasure of 2000cp in most likely a result of a random treasure table).

As I noted yesterday, random tables are one of my favorite tools when it comes to playing RPGs. When used correctly, they are an endless fount of fodder for unexpected creativity. Treasure tables are no less a source of creativity than any other table. All it takes is a little work.

To take the 2000cp hoard that seems to be at the center of this meme, I have learned from years of gaming that adventurers are not very likely to waste their limited resources to bother with two thousand coins that are only worth 20xp and won’t even buy a short bow. This is especially true when said copper is part of a larger hoard that contains more valuable coinage and/or gems and jewelry. Those valuable resources will be spent recovering the more valuable treasure and the copper will be left behind without a second thought of its existence.

Thus, a treasure hoard of 2000cp may very well have been something left over from a hoard already looted by another adventuring party. A quick perusal of Labyrinth Lords’s treasure tables indicates that the hoard class most likely to produce 2000cp as part of a larger hoard is XXI.

Here is a list of creatures in LL that have a hoard class of XXI:

  • Bugbear
  • Ghoul
  • Grey Worm
  • Halfling
  • Hydra
  • Berserker
  • Nixie

Therein are a plethora of stories about not only the hoard itself, but the dungeon in which it was found and the campaign world world in which the dungeon exists. Each of the these entries represent a former occupant of the dungeon that was defeated and looted. Thus, each should produce a series of questions that, when answered, lead to a much richer dungeon environment and a much richer campaign world.

For example: What was a group of halflings doing here? What adventuring group would kill and loot from halflings? Are they still around? Are there clues that could help the players hunt them down and demand justice?

Yet again, a whole bucket load of creativity from an innocuous result of a random table.

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