Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for X Marks the Spot!

Welcome to the Tower of the Archmage’s April A to Z Challenge!

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter “X” the number “24” and the support of readers like you.

Thank you.

If there is anything else that will get an adventurer’s heart racing like a big pile of treasure, it’s a map that leads them to a big pile of treasure! I’ve had games where my players will find out someone else has a treasure map, and will spend an entire session just tracking it down, or figuring out how to steal it!

Now, as Professor Jones points out, X rarely marks the spot.
You know, except when it does.

In spite of the power they have, I’ve found that maps, and specifically treasure maps, are rarely used. Maybe it’s because it requires too much prep? I’m not sure. It could also be that DM’s don’t want to send players off the map, or the rails, as it were. Yet a treasure map can be a wonderful vessel for not only getting your players on the rails, but practically leading them on by the nose. Pick up an awesome new module? Tired of having your player hanging out and want to see something new? Simply promise them riches beyond imagining.

Of course not every treasure map actually leads to treasure. Some might be traps. Others may have been correct at one point but the treasure already collected. Others still may be completely false. The previous owner might be completely ignorant of the truth, no matter what they believe.

I heartily recommend making prop maps. For one thing, it’s fun, and generally doesn’t take a long time. For another, they don’t need to be - nay, shouldn’t be works of art! These are treasure maps made by ne’erdowells, not cartographers! While many online tutorials suggest using white paper stained by tea or coffee, I recommend brown paper. I also recommend ruining the map. Check out the one i did. How much of it is now illegible? How many times has it been folded and unfolded? Wrinkled, wadded up, longingly even lovingly caressed? Is the ink smeared, the page ripped? Burned? Stained with blood, beer, or even bile?Has it been sealed with wax? All of these are easy to do, and don’t require anything that you don’t already have in your house. I’d recommend paint rather than any actual bodily fluid however... But I promise you, hand that to your players, and they’ll be loading the horses and hitting the road!

Treasure Map/Magical Scroll Generator - Roll once on each chart

Medium - 1d12
  1. Vellum
  2. Parchment
  3. Papyrus
  4. Paper
  5. Bamboo or Wood
  6. Clay
  7. Bone
  8. Wax
  9. Cloth
  10. Metal
  11. Stone
  12. Special - See below

Special Medium - 1d10
  1. Grain of Rice
  2. Living being
  3. Ice
  4. Corpse
  5. Undead creature
  6. Glass
  7. Memory Liquid Metal
  8. Scale Model
  9. Snow Globe
  10. Inside a Locket

Condition - 1d8
  1. Pristine
  2. Worn and faded
  3. Intentionally damaged
  4. Reused (Painted/written over)
  5. Broken into multiple parts - some missing
  6. Corroded/burned/stained
  7. Roll 1d4+1 twice, ignore doubles
  8. Broken into multiple parts - all included

Inscription Technique 1d6
  1. Ink/Tatoo
  2. Paint
  3. Carved/Inscribed
  4. Burned/Melted
  5. Woven/Embroidered
  6. Embedded

Accuracy 1d4
  1. Nearly completely accurate!
  2. Mostly accurate
  3. There is some truth to it
  4. If it’s right, it’s by accident

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