A place wherein this Dwarven Cleric can share his love of maps, dice, miniatures, and all things involving gaming and general geekery--not to mention the occasional witty non-gaming observations--whilst escaping from the humdrum existence of his routine Terran existence.

Hail and Well Met, fellow traveler! May my Stronghold provide a place for enlightenment and amusement, and somewhere to keep your dice dry. Enter and rest awhile.

07 April 2011

F is for Found Items

Often I like to add a little flavor to my campaigns, as well as a little mystery to my players’ lives, by including in treasure troves or other tantalizing places certain little “found” items. Very often these items look like trash or useless little bits of flotsam on an NPC’s desk. Usually they are exactly that. But when you’re operating in a sandbox environment, it is sometimes amazing what these items will turn into, either on your own inspiration or your players’.

I have had players carry some of these little bits and pieces, just a random entry on their character sheet, for weeks and months (and on one occasion, a year) until one session they look up and say, “This little bag of fingernails.... Is it possible that it belonged to NPC X?” or “Is it possible to do Z with it?” and suddenly an entirely new window of the game opens up and you have a new adventure hook.

In one instance a player carried around a small bag filled with little bells. The character used these one night, spreading them across the floor of a cavern as an alarm so that they group could rest. The wandering monster entered the cavern, stepped on the bells which immediately jingled, the party awoke, and melee ensued.

Another option is to use them as Evil DM Fodder. In other words, they're completely useless items. However, if you plan correctly and present them in just the right way it's possible to convince your players that these little bits of detritus actually have value. Take advantage of the player mindset that says, "Everything the DM does, says, or gives us has a purpose." Take that mindset and run with it. You'll have the players thinking that the lump of dried cow dung they found has mystical properties when it was nothing more than part of an NPC's tinder box.

Hey, DMs are allowed to have fun too.

So, for your DMing pleasure and enjoyment, I present the following tables:

A small pewter box which contains:
(Roll d4 to determine the total number of different items in the box. Roll d30 that number of times.)

1:A handful of pecans
2:Two pieces of charcoal
3:A mummified bat
4:A small seashell
5:Two dried flowers
6:Shards of a bird's egg
7:A small pile of cedar shavings
8:A dead scorpion
9:A small, withered-up potato
10:A piece of hard candy
11:A dead toad
12:A multifaceted, crystal bottle of orange ink, sealed with wax from which a small holy symbol dangles
13:Four pomegranate seeds
14:Two morsels of unidentifiable dried meat
15:A single cloth clove
16:A mummified mouse
17:Eight pebbles
18:A tin comb
19:A small strap made out of hide
20:A wooden pipe
21:A small piece of pumice
22:An empty spool made of bone
23:A piece of deer antler
24:Three tiny lead figurines
25:A small skinning knife
26:A shard of petrified wood
27:A copper sewing needle
28:A small bag filled with metal shavings
29:A handful of walnuts
30:A bone spoon

1 comment:

Stuart Lloyd said...

I love this list. If you've read a gamebook by Ian Livingstone, you can find loads of items like these, most of which have a crucial role in the adventure.

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