Monday, September 4, 2017

Treasure Focused Dungeon Stocking

Scott Anderson has been engaging me over at ODD74 on stocking dungeons based upon treasure, first, rather than monsters; seeing as how that is the goal of the game - it is what gets you "points."

I have lots of people around the table when I play and we cannot play that frequently so I have altered the stocking tables. I multiplied all pieces ten-fold and I doubled the chances of gems, jewelry and magic items per level.

Treasure by Dungeon Level
·      Always copper
·      2:3 silver
·      If silver, 2:3 gold
Level treasure table
Dungeon LevelCopper* & SilverGold Pieces% Gems & Jewelry% Magic Items
*Multiply by 2d6, all else by 1d6

Over at the Ruins of Murkhill, I shared the way I describe gems and jewelry based upon the tables for determining them. Later, I added them together for convenience.
Determine and Describe Gems
First, determine the chance that the gem is precious or semiprecious by basic gem gp value:
d%gp ValueSizePrecious on d6
*5K; 10K; 25K; 50K; 100K; 500K; etc.
Precious by type:
Semiprecious by type:
2Coral12Lapis Lazuli
8Carnelian18Tiger's Eye
If >1K gp value, the gem is always named, famous with backstory, and perhaps enchanted, cursed, charming, geased or any combination of the above. "Enchanted," indicates some magical affect for beautification and value, it does not perform any functional magic, e.g., glowing or sparkling on its own, humming, etc. 
Determine and Describe Jewelry
Jewelry combines metals with gems. Determine whether its setting is precious or base metal:
D%gp Value RangeChance Precious
01-20300-1800Never Precious
81-001K-10KAlways Precious
Determine metal type:
d4Precious Metald6Base Metal
1Colored Gold1Brass
Precious gems are never set in base metal. If metal is precious, there is a 50% chance it is inset with precious stones. Jewelry of 7k+ gp value will always be inset with precious stones. Role for stones using the tables for gems, above.
Determine type of jewelry item:
5Brooch15Ring, ear
6Chain, belly16Ring, finger
7Circlet17Ring, nose
8Clip, hair18Scabbard
Any jewelry of 7K+ gp value is named and famous with backstory and perhaps enchanted, cursed, charmed, geased, or any combination of the above. "Enchanted," indicates some magical affect of no practical magical merit that adds value and beauty, e.g., a precious stone set in a silver flower that opens and closes over the course of some meaningful time period, etc.
So, first come up with an amazing focal treasure for your level or lair. I think a level or lair cannot be less than 6 rooms, not counting connections. I think more than about 36 rooms becomes too difficult for both players and the referee. I would come up with some kind of key item of treasure for about every 12 rooms. So, a lair of 6 would have one key item. A level of 36 rooms would have three -- scattered about. In all these cases these items would not have any strategically useful magic (although they might have gonzo or beautifying magic - or a charm or geas that makes them difficult), but they would be culturally important and either famous or forgotten (and important once remembered).

So, flip a coin whether it is going to be a gem or an item of jewelry. If it is a gem make sure it is at least 1Kgp in value. If it is an item of jewelry, at least 7Kgp in value. Imagine it's background, fame, name and if it has some enchantment on it.

Next, determine what kind of monster is its guardian. Is the monster aware that it is guarding this treasure, or not? Is it literally guarding it, or is it wandering around madly, trying to find away to get past the same trap that your character is going to have to deal with as well? Etc.?

In future, I will come up with some way of matching monsters to treasures. This is a kind of reversal of monster lists with treasure types. I will probably largely base this upon the color of the gem (either alone or set in an item of jewelry)! Red dragons will obviously have some kind of giant red ruby or a golden crown set with rubies, etc. The adventurers will get hooks and clues about the treasure long before they can guess what monster may be that is guarding it.

I am working on scaling by dungeon level / party level / monster level. That will help me to determine the treasure to creature table. So, more on that to come.

Now that you have a treasure and a guardian you should have all the inspiration you need for a theme for that level or lair. Now (and only now) start drawing the map. Once the map is drawn, if you know the obvious place for the lair treasure to be guarded, trapped, tricked or hidden - go for it. I you know the obvious best place for (one of the key) guardians, again, go for it. For the rest of the rooms it goes like this: Take a six-sider for each room:

  • 2:3 hold treasure. Of those with treasure:
  • 2:3 have a guardian or monster. Of those without treasure:
  • 1:6 have a monster. Of those with treasure without a monster: 
  • 2:3 are trapped
  • The rest are hidden or tricked in some way, TBD by the ref
When rolling for the rooms with monsters:
  • 1:2 it is the main level/lair guardian (or type, or minion, whatever)
  • 1:3 it is a random monster (no relationship needed. The dungeon is a mythic underworld)
  • 1:6 it is a unique random one-off monstrosity
I've also worked up my own underworld stocking tables that actually allow every kind of creature listed or mentioned in the LBB possibly to show up, but this post is already long, so I will stop here.

Comment. Let me know what you think. Fight on!


  1. You worked out a lot of the details already. It looks very good.

    What do you do to marry up creatures to your treasures? These tables tell us whether there is a creature, but not what or who it is.

    1. Well, that comes next. I am trying to do it by tier as well: normal, heroic, super heroic, legendary and (npc only) mythic. I'll work something up and share it . . . soon? We'll see!