Don't Forget Your Boots

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Tag: treasure

Pieces of Eight! Pieces of Eight!

“It was a long, difficult business, for the coins were of all countries and sizes—doubloons, and louis d’ors, and guineas, and pieces of eight, and I know not what besides, all shaken together at random. The guineas, too, were about the scarcest, and it was with these only that my mother knew how to make her count.” — Treasure Island, Ch. 4 “The Sea-Chest”, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Pirates don’t generally store up GURPS dollars in their treasure chests. The 3rd Edition GURPS Swashbucklers gives conversion factors for many currencies that were popular in the 17th century, but those are 3rd edition dollars, not 4th edition. So, I decided to do some math.

According to GURPS Basic Set: Characters, page 264, a pound of silver is worth one thousand GURPS dollars. According to Wikipedia, pieces of eight were supposed to contain 25.561 g of silver. Incidentally, they were also 38mm in diameter, just about the same size as an Eisenhower dollar. The pieces of eight had a lot more silver in ’em, though.

That comes out to right around $56.35 each. That is one darned inconvenient number.

Luckily, we’ve got plenty of wriggle room. I can round of history to the nearest round number and still claim authenticity. So.

Let’s say that minting silver into coins adds enough value that a piece of eight is worth $60. (That’s GURPS dollars, remember, not U.S. currency.) That means “two bits” is worth $15.

Taking that value back to the conversion tables in GURPS Swashbucklers, it turns out that a gold doubloon is worth $300, a gold French louis d’or is $180, and an English guinea is $315. An English shilling comes out to $15, making a penny worth $1.25.



The Portland Apocalypse, Session #2: “Those guys are trying to steal that stuff we stole!”


  • Cyprys Hill, who actually put it in his mouth… (PC)
    • Big Bad Dog, large dog of indeterminate breed (NPC ally — Not a pet. He’s his own man.)
    • Stopit, pet Jack Russell terrier (NPC pet)
  • Farrah Fawcett-Adler, bloodied brawler (PC)
  • Hanna Marlow, proud survivor (PC)
  • Steve Borden, following the herd (PC)
  • Robert (“Bob”) T. Builder, hungry hard worker (PC)

In the background:

  • Cauliflower Jones, farmer with a broken arm (PC)

What Happened:

The morning of 22 December 2012, Steve stepped outside onto the fire escape. In the previous session, he had appeared as an unnamed extra: the guy who had been hanging around with Daryl, who joined in Cyprys’ project to break open rooms in the storage facility. This session, he’s stepped up to full PC status, picked up a name, and lost the coin flip for the dawn watch. Figuring he might as well take advantage of his situation, he went outside for a smoke. While there, he was that the day was cold, windy, and heavily overcast. There was a strange cotton candy pink tint to the morning light.

The others awoke, one by one. Cyprys lingered for as long as he could, faking sleep. When he finally had to get up, he went scrounging around and dug up an old, dog-eared packet of instant coffee for himself. He mentioned for the first time, but not the last, that in a tough situation, any survivor needed, at minimum, a spoon and a towel.

Farrah saw the unusual light and spent some time watching out the window, noticing several things. There was a dusting of something like pink snow, that wasn’t snow. Whatever it was, it was light enough to be stirred by the wind. From the pattern of the accumulation, it looked like it had been blown in from the north, causing the bulk of it to blow over their place of refuge. The parking lot had only a dusting, while there were signs of drifts on the rooftops on the other side of the highway. She also noted that she didn’t see Oxford’s corpse, nor his pistol, though she did see blood on the ground near where he must have fallen.

There was no sign of killer worms.

Bob decided to take his mind off the situation by getting to work. His first project was to get the lights back on. He investigated the building’s electrical system, finding that there had been some kind of overload that had fried it. It seemed that the problem wasn’t restricted just to the building, but had affected the entire area. He might be able to get a generator up and running, given time, but short of that, the lights were staying off.

It didn’t take long for people to start getting hungry. Hanna dipped in to her stash of energy bars for an improvised breakfast, but there was nothing for anyone else. A lucky break poking around in other folks’ stored boxes turned up a sealed MRE and a Vietnam-era canteen. The MRE was split several ways, but wasn’t enough to fill anyone’s stomach entirely.

Meanwhile, an old friend of Cyprys’ showed up. Big Bad Dog showed himself on the far side of the parking lot, bearing a dead rabbit. Cyprys wanted to let him in, but with his injured leg, he wasn’t going to be able to make it down the fire escape stairs, climb down a ladder, carry an extra-large dog, and return.

After some negotiation, plans were made. Being on crutches, Farrah and Cyprys would stay behind and continue trying to wring out useful equipment from the storage facility’s contents. Bob, Hanna, and Steve would walk around the corner to the nearby mega-grocery, where Jones had seen the rioting the night before, and see if they could pick up food and medical supplies.

The “away team” took their time making their way in stages from the top of the fire escape, to the bottom of the ladder, and finally to the ground. They paused to observe at each step. Seeing the pink dust, Hanna wrapped a bandanna around her lower face to act as a makeshift dust mask. On the ground, Bob tried to scrape together some of the pink “snow” to see if it would form a snowball, but found that it was a dry powder, unsuitable to the job. Seeing this, Cyprys went several steps further, and licked some off the fire escape.

[GM Note: If I sound surprised, it’s because I am. I did not see that coming.]

It didn’t taste like anything in particular, just dusty and faintly bitter.

BBD approached at Cyprys’ call. Bob still had possession of the storage facility’s caretaker’s key-ring, so he opened a ground-floor door to let the dog in, re-locking it behind him. BBD was able to quickly make his way through the halls to Cyprys, where he handed over the rabbit. While Cyprys was no expert, he was able to skin and clean the meat. His explanation of how he intended to prepare the meat caused Farrah to take over the actual cooking. She used the rabbit, plus the remains of the MRE, to cook up a “rustic” stew, which they split between themselves and the NPCs, with the dogs getting the bones.

The end result of this was that everybody got at least a skimpy breakfast, even the NPCs… except for Bob. He was always either showing up fives minutes too late or leaving ten minutes too early to actually get a serving whenever food turned up.

Hanna, Bob, and Steve made their twisted way up out of the gorge towards the grocery store. As they turned to head north, they spotted a dead body lying on the street. The person had bled profusely from the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. All three were stunned at the sight. Steve threw up what little breakfast he had had. They briefly discussed how to proceed, deciding to keep their distance and pass by on the far side of the road.

The night before, in between the train wreck and the bright flash that killed their phones, Jones had spotted a “medical” icon on the map, but hadn’t had time to investigate further. The three found themselves nearby, so they swung by to see if there was any help to be had. There wasn’t the salvation they had hoped for, as it turned out to be a dental clinic. They pressed on, knowing they could find more generally-useful supplies at the grocery store.

There, they found a trashed parking lot, showing clear signs of the struggle the night before. As they approached, they noticed another corpse, but this one was dead of violence. Even worse, Steve recognized the man as a co-worker. He had apparently died of a head wound and been left where he had fallen, in front of the store’s main entrance. The entrance itself was barricaded from inside, with boxes and cardboard covering the glass.

They were challenged as they approached. A voice from inside rudely asked them their business. After some back-and-forth, it was determined that the party could offer $13 and a small knife, which the occupants were willing to trade for two gallons of mostly-melted ice cream. The party balked at the high prices.

While the discussion went out in the front, Steve wandered around back, looking for another entrance. He found one, manned by a security guard with a billy club. They had words, with the sentry demanding that Steve turn around and go back the way he came. Rather than escalate to a physical encounter, he did so. Returning to hear the outrageously high prices, he spent some time loudly and foully discussing the habits and parentage of the store’s occupants. This drew no reaction from inside.

After Steve wound down, the three walked away from the store, then circled back around towards the rear from the opposite direction, hoping to get a look at the dumpsters. They located them without being challenged. While Bob stood lookout, the others went dumpster-diving. It didn’t take long to come up empty-handed. Apparently the last pickup had only been the day before. The recycling bin was more fruitful, offering a variety of empty containers that could be used to carry water. They set to work, filling Hanna’s pack with the best of the lot.

Before too long, Bob spotted a guard walking the perimeter. The three stood their ground. Finding them, the guard brandished his club and shouted at them to leave. Hanna was having none of it. She began pelting him with empty plastic bottles, inflicting no injury to his body but badly puncturing his dignity. When he lost his temper and made as if to attack, she grabbed up a glass bottle and told him to bring it on!

Not caring for the odds, the guard backed off, telling them he’d be back in a minute with friends, and they had better be gone when he returned. Counting this as a success, the party quickly gathered up their loot of empties and headed back to camp.

On the way, they again passed by the dental clinic, where they paused to knock on the door, in case anyone was there. There was no answer. Steve tossed out the idea of maybe forcing the lock, since they had wounded people back at camp. Hanna and Bob both rejected this outright as looting, something they weren’t going to stand for, and Steve didn’t press the subject.

Meanwhile, back at the storage facility, Farrah decided to take a nap, leaving Cyprys on guard. He sat in the hall, playing his guitar and singing. This covered the sound of approaching footsteps. When Cyprys looked up, he got punched in the jaw and fell to the ground, unconscious. Farrah awoke to the sound of BBD being kicked. She struggled to her feet to confront the attacker as he came through the door.

The man had his face concealed, but his business was clear. (We joked that when he turned around, his windbreaker had “LOOTER” spelled out across the back.) He started delivering a “give me everything you’ve got” speech, but broke off after looking around the room and realizing they didn’t have all that much. He fled deeper into the building. Farrah was performing first aid when the “away team” returned.

The two groups traded stories, to everyone’s dismay, while those who had been out in the cold warmed themselves. There were some bitter words in several directions, with nearly everyone blaming someone else over a lack of either effort, or results, or both.

Finally, the group worked out a new plan. They found a heavy-duty four-wheeled dolly in the storage facility’s halls. Cyprys, Farrah, and many improvised containers settled down on the dolly, which Steve got behind to push. They left the building, heading to the south, hoping to buy food or find help.

Bob and Hanna were left to walk around the outside of the building, trying to figure out how the invading looter had entered. They found a broken window. Climbing through, they blocked it with nearby boxes after failing to find anything more sturdy to nail over it. They then finished their walk and returned to the third floor camp.

Not by accident, this left the honest, law-abiding folk back at camp. As soon as they were out of sight, the less-reputable PCs agreed that their mission was to obtain food and supplies, not necessarily to buy it. After all, they weren’t looters, they were just in a tight spot and doing what they had to, just to survive. Hanna and Bob were great folks, of course, salt of the earth and obviously trustworthy and all that, they just weren’t ready to face facts. The times, they were a-changin’. If a few locks needed picked (or maybe broken, if need be), well, if that was the price of living, then…

Just on the far side of the highway, they made for a diner with a broken window. As they approached, they saw a woman in a nightgown shuffle around the corner. She seemed dazed, and unmindful of the cold, despite showing clear signs of suffering from it. They tried to speak to her, but she didn’t reply, or even look in their direction.

Farrah and Steve shrugged and went to enter the apparently-deserted diner, but Cyprys wouldn’t let it go. He hobbled over to the woman, moving to drape one of his blankets around her shoulders. At his touch, she suddenly snapped out of her trance, screaming at the top of her lungs and flailing wildly at him with both arms! Shocked, he fell to the ground trying to get away from her. As soon as she was unencumbered, she went back to staring into space and shuffling aimlessly about.

Unsettled, the three got back to looting the diner. Farrah immediately took all the cash from the till, and found a first aid kit stashed under the counter. Cyprys collected spoons for everyone, and a dishtowel. Steve made a beeline for the kitchen, figuring to use his knowledge of the food service industry to locate the most valuable food with the longest shelf life.

The only hiccup in Steve’s plan was the dead man blocking the kitchen door. This appeared to be an employee of the diner who had died with the same bleeding-from-the-everywhere symptoms as the first corpse, on the street. By now, Steve was starting to come to terms with the sloppy distribution of dead folks, so he didn’t let him slow him down too much.

The happy looters loaded up the dolly with 45 meals in miscellaneous canned and dried goods, 13 packs of cigarettes, several packages of Sterno, and a collection of pots and pans. Cyprys taped a steak knife on a broom for use as a spear. (It is worth noting that Cyprys does not possess any training in Armoury or any other skill that might conceivably allow one to make an effective spear.) Steve put on a apron and filled its front pocket with salt. After a short rest and a warm-up, with a snack taken from the diner’s perishable stores, they were ready to go. With the lame using the dolly as a crutch, they turned back to camp.

Hanna and Bob were watching a guy in a hoodie who they had spotted stumbling around the parking lot. They saw him trip over a curb and fall flat on his face, clearly breaking his nose, then struggle back to his feet over several minutes. They weren’t sure what to make of it.

As the looters returned, Stopit ran on ahead, coming into view from the fire escape. Bob spotted the little dog three stories below, as he skidded to a halt and started barking at a parked car. A man carrying a baseball bat stood up from where he had been crouched, concealed behind the car.

The returning looters spoke with the newcomer, who explained that he was out to steal their stolen goods. They weren’t impressed with his threats, so he whistled for his two buddies, also armed with bats, who emerged from a nearby doorway and began approaching the dolly with a menacing air.

At the top of the fire escape, BBD started scratching to be let out. Bob obliged. He and Hanna followed the dog out the door and down the stairs.  Hanna readied her trusty tire iron, while Bob had previously picked up a long piece of scrap wood to use as a club. When they made it to ground level, Hanna sprinted towards the fight, while Bob took a few seconds to jab at the broken-nosed “zombie”, knocking him down.

In the parking lot, the two minions, Al and Sturges, moved to either side of the dolly, engaging with Farrah and Cyprys. The ringleader circled around the fight, seeking to take out Steve and gain control of the booty.

Farrah’s fight rapidly turned brutal. Her opponent moved in quickly and landed a lucky strike, disabling her right arm. For those keeping score, that left her short one leg and one arm. Still, she’s a brawler, so she moved in for the clinch. She threw her left arm around the man’s neck, alternating grapples and headbutts. Unable to avoid entanglement, the man let go of his bat to punch Farrah repeatedly in the head. As they wrestled, she delivered a steady stream of mind-screw into his ear, which finally did the trick. Her opponent quit trying to inflict injury and started trying to escape.

Cyprys tried to talk his opponent into surrender, but failed. He waved his “spear” around threateningly, trying to keep his enemy at a distance. As the man approached, Steve pulled his hand from his apron pocket and flung a handful of salt into the man’s eyes! This kept the enemy on the defensive long enough for BBD to come up behind him. After BBD’s initial pounce failed, he turned and, following Cyprys’ shouted directions, landed a successfully bite/grapple on the man’s groin. In a world with no armor, that’s a pretty effective fight-ender.

The enemy leader eventually found his opening and ran up on Steve, aiming a vicious strike at his knee, which landed squarely. Leg now crippled, Steve fell to the ground. The dolly rolled back down the slight incline, only stopping once it was firmly wedged by Steve’s body.

The enemy leader dropped his bat to grab the dolly, then looked around the field of battle and re-assessed his options. One of his minions was shouting “Get her off me!”, the other was shouting “Get it off me!”, and reinforcements were approaching. He chose to cut his losses, dropped the dolly, and ran.

The PCs made as if to follow, or at least watch which was he ran, but were distracted by an unnatural and unnerving sight. Something was heading towards them, travelling down the highway. It was a hundred feet high, with a hemisphere of metal supported by three flexing legs. A tripod.

This was too much for our over-stressed heroes. Farrah and Steve fainted dead away. Cyprys and Hanna were lost to ineffective panic. Bob saw his comrades fall, then turned the corner to see the tripod. He had a moment of clarity and realized what was going on, what had been going on the entire time: this was the end of the world, the Rapture, and here was an angel…

* * *

There was a bit of roleplay that carried through the entire session that I enjoyed: Steve is a smoker. As the situation became more and more stressful, he started chain-smoking. As things wore on, the others started to join him. First Cyprys bummed a draw off him, then later on, Farrah and Cyprys both borrow a cigarette of their own. The apocalypse is not a healthy place.

The damage report:

  • Bob: -1 HP, -2 Fatigue, picked up a 10 pt Delusion
  • Cyprys: -6 HP, -1 Fatigue, crippled right leg
  • Farrah: -10 HP, -3 Fatigue (2 from cold), temporarily crippled left leg, broken right arm (1 month to heal)
  • Hanna: no HP damage, -2 Fatigue
  • Steve: -3 HP, -1 hunger Fatigue, -3 cold Fatigue, -4 Fatigue from exertion, temporarily crippled left leg


Updated 3/7/2016: Totally forgot the Cool Point! It was awarded to Hanna, for throwing bottles at the guard when everybody else was about to back down and walk away. (And also for the moment when the player discovered the amusing Quirk that her significant other had slipped in on Hanna’s character sheet.)

Also, a detail concerning Farrah’s brutal wrestling match: The funny part was, the two fighters kept escalating the viciousness, but once they ended up in close combat, their every maneuver was successful, but ineffective. Farrah landed at least two successful headbutts doing no effective damage, the bad guy punched her in the face doing no effective damage, and there were a couple of 0 CP grapples traded. Lots of great “to hit” rolls, spoiled by low damage rolls. My rule is, one can get scuffed up and bloodied without taking a full point of damage, so the fight looked great.

I was reminded of the famous fight scene from They Live, actually…


Whatever happened to Jed’s book?

I seem to have forgotten to mention one bit of action that came up back in town last session. Remember how the party found a room that looked like the Tasmanian Devil had eaten a library, but with one book left untouched? They wrapped it up carefully and brought it back to town unopened. Even though it didn’t register as magical, they were concerned that it might have some kind of power. Cursed, maybe? Its position, safe in a circle of destruction, was worrying. Maybe it had unknown defenses that protected it from whatever had trashed the rest of the library. Maybe it lashed out and caused the destruction. Best to treat it with caution.

The reason I forgot to mention it is, it turned out pretty anticlimactic. Trevor was handling the inventory of the loot while Jed was dead. He had already put his knowledge of the dwarven language to good use, figuring out what the various etched scrolls were. When he got around to the book, he agreed with Jed’s assessment of “no magic”, and went to open it.

… and got a face full of unhealthy spores for his trouble. Luckily, he made his HT check, so he only lost a single Hit Point. Being in as good a health as he ever is, this wasn’t anything too troubling. He staggered outside, coughing and spitting. Once he had his lungs under control once more, he went back with a fold of his robe held over his mouth and nose, and confirmed that anything that might have once been legible in the book had long since surrendered to decay.

It was a trap, loosely based on classic D&D’s Yellow Mold.  I borrowed inspiration and crunch from Dungeon Fantastic, as I so often do. As I recall, I saw that particular post and immediately used it. I guess that means that I was stocking this part of the dungeon almost exactly one year before the PCs finally saw it.


It’s not all about the XP. Sometimes, it’s about loot, too.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a close look at the character sheets. I mean, I’ve kept up with what folks are spending points on, and I’ve mostly heard about any big improvements in equipment, but it’s been some time since I’ve stood back and taken in the big picture. The last time was a few months back. Since then, all the players have decided to mostly abandon their scribbled equipment lists, and maintain their load-outs in GCA. I might not be able to report on how much treasure they’ve gathered overall, but I can see the price of everybody’s Saturn’s-Day-go-to-dungeon clothes.

Alric: spent 317; unspent 3; load is worth $3,270 and weighs 70.6 lbs, leaving him unencumbered.

The barbarian travels light. Nearly half of the value of his kit is wrapped up in his oversized, fine great axe. If you took the axe away, over half the remaining value would be in the form of his elaborate dragon’s-head helmet.

He’s got a big cache of iron rations, but he leaves them all in camp. I guess he figures he’ll live off the land. He’s probably right.

FuBar Bombad: spent 251; unspent 15; load is worth $960 and weighs 18.75 lbs, for no encumbrance.

Being the new kid, FuBar is still struggling with entry-level tools. His cloth armor is fine and camouflaged, but that’s because it’s just really well-tailored rags.

Gabby the Cabin Girl: spent 255; unspent 33; load is worth $7,912 and weighs just over 30 lbs, for Light encumbrance.

On the one hand, Gabby’s got a lot of money tied up in her horse and tack. On the other, I think there might be a snafu in her equipment list. There’s a lot of cash tied up in a fine, elven mail hauberk, which was set to be included in her DR totals, but also wasn’t included in her list of carried equipment, while there’s some leather armor that’s still on the list. If I remember the discussion correctly, the idea was to replace her original leather armor with upgraded mail, not stack it.

Mississippi Jed: spent 310; unspent 0; load is worth over $22,000 and weighs 21.9 lbs, for no encumbrance.

Jed has really come up in the world. TKotBO didn’t even want to cut him in for a full share, to start with, and now here he is, carrying around the biggest fortune among the whole party. The overwhelming majority of his net worth is in the form of the purple-flaming quarterstaff they recovered from the weird sleeping guy.

Needles: spent 315; unspent 7; load is worth $10,835 and weighs 48.6 lbs, putting him at Light encumbrance.

I suspect the pile o’ gear could be slimmed down some, in practice. According to GCA, he’s not only got a sword on either hip, he’s also still carrying the short bow that he swore off, plus two different quivers. There’s some other duplication, as well, which makes me think he’s still carrying around some entry-level gear that he’s since upgraded.

One piece of duplication that I’m certain is intended is in the area of armor. About 80% of the value of Needles’ gear is his armor. He wears camouflaged leather armor on the outside, giant spider silk on the inside, with both being enchanted with Fortify. (I allow characters to double-up on the Fortify, but in exchange, I restrict Deflect to shields only. I had a bad experience with Passive Defense once, y’see.)

Posy: spent 275; unspent 3; load is worth $1170 and weighs 27.5 lbs, for no encumbrance.

Unsurprisingly, Posy’s most prized possession is her bow. It accounts for about 60% of her kit’s value. I think her equipment list is a bit behind the times, though. As I recall, the party bought her a second quiver and a bunch of specialized arrows. (All part of the effort to turn her into the feline Hawkeye, I’m sure.) I’m not seeing those reflected on this list.

Speaking of Green Arrow knockoffs, I’ve come to realize that there’s an incredible assortment of special arrows that are available to the DF scout. On one side, there’s the list of different arrowheads, which gives the archer quite a bit of flexibility in choosing how to bring the hurt. On the other side, there’s a long list of enchantments one could get on a projectile… and most of them are pretty cheap. Relatively speaking, anyway. A $60 arrow is expensive, next to the $2 generic version, but if it explodes for a couple of dice of electrical damage, it’s worth the investment. So, I expect Posy’s equipment list will soon get a lot more involved.

* * *

Looks like we need to take some time to clean up everybody’s lists, next session.

Looking at the wide range of equipment values, I wonder where the money’s going. I know there’s a long list of potions and so forth that they hold in common, but I think that stuff is mostly being toted by hirelings. (It’s getting to be the fashion, among the party members, to have a stalwart flunky standing just behind one, carrying a bag of healing potions, under strict orders to pour one on when the going gets tough.) I can see that Jed and Needles are re-investing in themselves, but I’m really surprised at the low values of the others’ gear. Before going through the lists with a calculator, I would have guessed that everybody was over the $5k mark, at the very least.



More Random Magic Items

More random items coming out of the half-built software, as they catch my eye.  All are unique, one-0ff items.

Bucket Full Of Thunder:  A holy relic stolen from a servitor of the storm gods, this bucket has a silver thunderbird on one side. The other side has hundreds of small copper nails, picking out the name of the servitor in question in elaborate calligraphy. The user can cast Lightning, by motioning as if to throw the contents of the bucket at the target. The lightning is immediately followed by a clap of thunder. The thunder isn’t loud enough to stun or deafen, but it will ruin stealth. As a holy relic that was never intended to be used by mortals, it inflicts damage to the aura of its possessor, causing Unluckiness. (4 lbs; $8,090)

Shirt of the Dry Eye: A light hooded shirt of unremarkable appearance, with two exceptions. First, it is embroidered on the left breast with the figure of a priest at prayer. Second, it has a set of three small, iron bells attached at the wrist of its left sleeve. The bells have scratches around their rims, arranged to give the impression of a minimalist riverbank. When the wearer touches the embroidered priest, she may cast Emotion Control to produce any emotion. When she rings the bells, she can cast Destroy Water. Both spells are enchanted at an effective 20 skill. (0.44 lbs; $158.40/$150,158.40)

Scythe of Disassembly: A scythe painted in a black-and-white scheme meant to make it seem to be made of interlocking bones. Even the blade is enameled in black, with a backing of white “bones”. It’s enchanted such that when it delivers a wound that cripples a limb, that limb is amputated outright. Furthermore, the enchantment was performed with a Power of 20, making it effective even in low-mana surroundings. (5 lbs; $90/$75,090)

Zim’s Skeleton Key:  An elaborate, enchanted, portable ram, which is almost certainly not named for Sergeant Zim of the Tembladera Guard. Perhaps an ancestor of the same name. While the business end is shod with steel, the rest of the ram is beautifully decorated. The far end is decorated with a series of beads in the shape of a hand waving a wand. The butt of the ram is encircled by a pattern of gold wires forming interlocking diamonds and triangles, giving the impression of an inferno. If one gazes upon the ram for too long, the grain of the wood seems to writhe like smoke, increasing that impression. These decorations are a clue as to the ram’s enchantments:  it enables the user to cast Warm and Create Fire. It seems that it was created as an instrument for opening strong, but flammable, doors under freezing conditions. (35 lbs; $3,263/$12,263)

Deck of Khonsu: A deck of playing cards, each card having been expertly dyed to display a scene from Egypt. (Note: This is the Egypt of the world of Tembladera, an ancient and powerful land, steeped in thousands of years of history and famous for its uncountable number of pyramids… which are tools used by its undead mummy rulers to maintain their own mystical powers.) When the proper card is turned face-up on top of the deck, it enables the owner to cast Sand Jet, with a enchantment power of 20. The deck was created by a native of Egypt, a gambler, who wanted a secret weapon. (0.25 lbs; $175/$36175)

Dragonbone Arrows of Seeking: A bundle containing an even dozen elf-made arrows. The arrows are balanced for +1 to Bow skill when used, and made from dragonbone. The broadhead arrowheads are forged from steel, but lightly carved to resemble a leaf. Each arrowhead has a polished stone inclusion in the shape of concentric circles, like a small target. Furthermore, they are enchanted with Accuracy +3, demonstrating the magical mastery of the elven enchanters. Each arrow weighs 0.1 lbs, and appears to be worth $66 to the mundane eye. Including the enchantment, each arrow is worth $10,066. (total 1.2 lbs; $120,792)


The Squidy Symbol

This past session, the party threw me a curve that I wasn’t expecting, and caught me somewhat flat-footed. They ended up making off with all the gear formerly owned by the guy with the octopus fingers. In particular, they took the thing he had hanging on a chain around his neck. It was clearly some kind of holy symbol, but unfamiliar to the members of the party. I hadn’t finished fleshing out all the details that I wanted to, so I promised them a more full description later. Here it is:

The first thing you notice is the shape of the thing. It’s as if a squid and a starfish were somehow combined, then rapidly sketched, and the sketch used as inspiration for an almost-abstract sculpture. There are five stubby points radiating from a central mass, not quite symmetrically. Two of the points are noticeably larger than the other three. It’s small enough to fit in a human palm, but chunky, like a paperweight. It’s somewhat concave, as if the thing that modeled for it were reaching forward at the time.

The object is made of ivory, though what sort is difficult to say. (Without consulting a sage or the like. –The Invisible Hand Of The GM) The whole thing appears to have been carved from the crown of a single molar of some unknown beast. It is mostly a sort of flat, fish-belly white, but there are veins of a darker yellow throughout.

Upon close examination, fine detail becomes apparent. A line of carved symbols makes its way around the entire inside face, in a lop-sided spiral. At first glance, the center of the spiral gives the impression of a single, lidless eye. The symbols are beautifully carved, with great detail. They are clearly some kind of calligraphy. One can see certain symbols repeated through the sequence, just like letters or runes in a sentence. However, the script is entirely unfamiliar, and the meaning, if any, undecipherable. (Again, without consulting some source of knowledge. –GM)

It does not appear to be enchanted.

The market price for the thing would be $350, selling it as a piece of weird, primitive art from the New World. However, anyone with the Merchant skill can see that it’s worth a lot more than that, to the right buyer. It’s got that look of “collector’s item” about it.


Odd things from the side project

For the past few weeks, I’ve been fiddling around with a programming project, as a way to help pick up a new language. The goal of the project is to help generate treasure hoards for the dungeon.

Along the way, I’ve discovered a lot of little nuances to GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables. For example, if rolling randomly, 1 in 6 enchanted items has some kind of curse. Makes sense. Folks keep a grip on the good stuff, so it tends to stay on the surface.

I’ve also re-discovered some gems (heh) that I had forgotten. There’s a great little table towards the end of the text, that you can use to generate an outline of an item’s history. That’s great stuff, there. Someday, the party’s going to have a wizard who can cast all those divination spells, and they’re going to start investigating the history of things. When and if that happens, I’m going to need all the help I can get, coming up with interesting stories.

Or maybe they’ll just keep busting in doors and mugging monsters, and let the archaeologists worry about the history. Seems about as likely.

At any rate, one of my tests for the project involves randomly generating a mess o’ items. I happened to notice this one, and had to share:

Dandy’s Hat

Unique item. A top hat, sewn together out of hundreds of tiny bits of silk, giving the impression that it’s formed out of black-tie evening wear, sized for pixies. It is decorated with an elaborate burst of long peacock feathers. It is enchanted to allow the user to cast both Charm and Command. At some point during its history, its wearer offended a being of power, who laid a curse upon the hat: anyone who possesses the hat also suffers from a cloud of misfortune, as if they had Unluckiness. (0.3 lbs; $35,180)


A Gift For Needles

A few more magical items that might be of particular interest to a thief. Needles, particularly, in a couple of cases.

First, three swords.  All three are fine, balanced short swords weighing 2 lbs. Each one is a custom creation, not something one would find readily for sale in the local market. Suitable for being a quest object, for example.

  • Sword of Quickness: This sword comes with silver inlay on the hilt and includes two 2 caret emeralds, one on either side of the ricasso. It has been enchanted with Penetrating Weapon and Defending Weapon to give a (2) armor divisor and a +1 to Parry. Furthermore, the wielder can cast Haste upon himself. This takes 2 seconds of Concentration, costs 4 Fatigue to activate for 1 minute and half that for each additional minute, and bestows +2 to the wielder’s Move and Dodge scores. If one is unaware of its enchantments, it appears to be worth  $6,440, including the gems. Actual value: $31,440
  • Thieves’ Bow: The blade appears unremarkable, aside from a 4.5 caret bloodstone in its pommel in an elaborate silver setting. It is enchanted with Penetrating Weapon, giving a (2) armor divisor to normal attacks. Its name comes from its power of Distant Blow, however. At a cost of 3 Fatigue and 3 seconds Concentration, the wielder can strike at a distance with the short sword, taking normal range penalties, for up to 5 seconds. The armor divisor does not apply to distant blows. Still, unless there’s something I’m overlooking, a skilled thief could activate this power and strike from stealth, using Rapid Strike to effectively backstab several opponents in a single blood-drenched second. It appears to be worth $6,748; actual value $51,748
  • Unseen Blade: This one has a plain, leather-wrapped hilt, but its blade is invisible. Anyone attempting a disarm against it is at a -6 for the attempt. Unless the wielder is also invisible, anyone attacked with the Unseen Blade defends normally, once the natural of the weapon becomes apparent. The first time an unaware opponent faces the Blade, it should count as a dirty trick (see Bp405); I would use a Quick Contest of IQ, giving a -2 to the defender’s defense rolls if the Contest comes out in the attacker’s favor. Aside from the blade itself, the matching, rather plain scabbard is enchanted with Hideaway to hold the entire blade, though it is sized for a small knife. The sheathed sword’s weight is not reduced in any way, only its apparent size. This can simplify the problem of carrying military-grade weapons in certain situations. Mainly, all of these enchantments are aimed at confusing witnesses; between the invisible, impossible blade and a little Sleight of Hand, one might be able to pull off a backstab in plain sight. As a mundane weapon, it appears to be worth $3,200; actual value $13,275

Plus, a couple of semi-random bonus items:

  • Self-Cocking Bow: This is just a balanced ST 15 crossbow, enchanted with to re-cock itself when needed, without any input from the wielder. This property is automatic, and becomes obvious to anyone working the mechanism. (In the past, Needles has gotten some use from a ST 15 crossbow, but it’s a fire-and-forget-it weapon. He hands it over to Alric, after the right, to get it re-cocked. I suspect he’s better off sneaking, skulking, and shiv-ing, rather than playing archer, but when that’s not an option — like, when the flying enemies show up — Needles might get some value from having more than one shot.) This is a relatively common enchantment, which can be had second-hand through the local markets. $9,250; 6 lbs.
  • Valda’s Eye: A 2 foot long gold chain supporting a pendant with a 10 caret cat’s-eye surrounded by five ½ caret pieces of jade in a pentagonal arrangement. At will, the wearer can cause the pendant to glow with a cold light equivalent to a candle’s flame. The wearer can activate various spells upon himself by lifting the pendant to his eye and Concentrating. Each effect lasts for 1 minute, and can be maintained at a reduced cost. The available spell effects are See Secrets (4 to cast, 1 to maintain), See Invisible (cast 3, maintain 1), Mage Sight, and Night Vision (both cast 2, maintain 1). See Secrets takes 5 seconds of concentration to activate, while the others only require a single second. This is one of several legendary items associated with the (in)famous thief and rogue, Valda Dije. Mundane value $7,785; actual value with enchantments, $41,845; 0.2 lbs.


We Come From The Land Of The Ice And Snow…

Some items of interest to the Barbarians of the North.

Horned Helmets:  These are all leather helms with horns.  The horns give the wearer an effective +1 SM for intimidation purposes, but remove the first -1 of any penalty to grapple one of the head locations. Anyone trying to find the wearer in a melee gets a +1 to the Vision check for this purpose, thanks to the distinctive and highly-visible horns.

  • Basic Horned Helmet: Provides DR 2 to the face and skull. $40; 1.5 lbs.
  • Dragon’s Head Helm: Crafted from dragonhide, and styled to resemble a dragon’s head. Provides DR 4 to the face and skull, and counts as Ornate +2. $1,080; 1.75 lbs.
  • Enchanted Dragon’s Head Helm: As the previous item, but enchanted so that the wearer, if a mage, may cast Breathe Fire. This includes adding gold and and a $500 ruby, usually mounted decoratively in the center of the forehead. It appears to be worth only $2,080 if one is unaware of its magic. $22,080; 1.75 lbs.

Some weapons. These are all assumed to be dwarven work. They’re really fond of the orichalcum.

  • Bloodthirsty Axe: An orichalcum great axe, sized for SM +1, enchanted with Quick-Draw. It becomes ready at it’s owner’s mental command, instantly, so long as it is within a yard and not somehow restrained. Aside from the obvious benefits, this means that it does not become unready after being used to parry. Appears to be worth no more than $6000 to the mundane merchant. $102,000; 16 lbs.
  • Hammer of Thor*: Another oversized orichalcum warhammer, but dwarven as well, and so does not become unready when used to parry through design, rather than magic. It is decorated with platinum and opals. Enchanted with Lightning Weapon and Puissance +3, and so does 3 extra damage, plus 2 points of follow-up lightning damage when charged. Appears to be worth $7,100 if not enchanted. $122,100; 14 lbs.
  • Warhammer of the Thunderbolts: An oversized (SM +1) orichalcum warhammer, enchanted with Loyal Sword, Quick-Draw, and Thunderclap. It will not only leap to its owner’s hand, it will also return from a distance if dropped or thrown. The wielder may cast the Thunderclap spell (Magic, pg 171) at a cost of 2 Fatigue at a skill of 15. Appears to be worth $6,000 as a mundane object. $306,000; 14 lbs.

And some miscellaneous magic:

  • Arm Ring of Might: An individual oversized (SM+1) orichalcum armband. Choose which arm to wear it on, left or right; provides DR 3 to that arm. The wearer enjoys +2 ST. Appears to be worth $5,400. Actual value: $65,400; 6 lbs.
  • Gauntlets of Ogre Power: A pair of fine, oversized (SM+1) heavy gauntlets, DR 5 for the hands. Enchanted with Might to give the wearer ST +3, while worn. Appears to be worth $5,000; actual value $95,000; 3.75 lbs.
  • Girdle of Giant Strength: Oversized (SM+1) fine mail loincloth, DR 4/2* for groin. Wearer enjoys ST +5 while the girdle is worn. Appears to be worth $1,200 without enchantment. Actual value $151,200; 9 lbs.
  • Horn of Valhalla: A silver horn, extensively etched with scenes of drinking and/or fighting barbarians. (It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference, with barbarians…) The user can blow the horn and spend 2 Fatigue to create a single Northern barbarian warrior with DX 15, as with the Phantom spell (Magic pg 97). For 6 Fatigue, the warrior appears with ST 30. In either event, the warrior appears without gear. (As I aim for PG-13, so for that reason and for the sake of ethnic identity, I would allow a furry loincloth, furry shoes, and a furry hat. Maybe some crude costume jewelry – arm rings and such. No armor, no weapons.) To the untrained eye, the horn appears to be worth $700.  Actual value: $43,700; 2 lbs.


* I’m working up a much better homage to Mjolnir, but unsurprisingly, it turns out to be really expensive. That’s end-game content, there, that is, boys and girls. This one’s just a pale imitation.



Hand Me Down My Walkin’ Cane, Hand Me Down My Hat…

Some magical items for the fashion-conscious wizard…

Hats:  Each of these appears, at a glance, to be a pointed black wizard’s hat, constructed of fine materials (silk or velvet), embroidered all over with stars, astrological symbols, misspelled words, or what-have-you. To one who is unaware of their hidden virtues, they appear to be worth $171. They are fancy enough to be considered Ornate +2. Both are readily available on the open market.

  • Cap of Refreshment: Contains a flask, 1 pint capacity, hidden in the point. The flask is enchanted with Water To Wine, and once per day will change water, fruit juice, or the like into beer or wine. Quality of the end product depends on quality of the starting liquid. Apparent value $171.00, actual value $237; 0.65 lbs.
  • Thinking Cap: Gives the wearer +1 IQ. $40,171; 0.3 lbs.

Rods: At the most basic, these are fine batons. They appear to be worth $90, unless one is aware of their enchantments. They are all enchanted with the Staff spell.

  • Rod of Spell Maintenance: Enchanted with Lend Spell. A wizard can hand off responsibility for a maintained spell by activating the rod’s power and giving the rod to another person. That person may, in turn, hand off the item and its maintained spell. One does not require Magery to maintain spells using this item. It’s rare to find this item available second-hand, since it’s considered something of a “guild secret” by the same kinds of people who refill power items and so forth. $20,090; 1 lb.
  • Rod of Command: Allows the wielder, who must be a mage, to cast Fear and Mass Suggestion. You might find one of these on the black market, but open sale is unlikely. This is the kind of thing that you find in the pocket of would-be conquerors, which tends to draw the attention of the proper authorities. $36,090; 1 lb.

Robes: A stereotypical wizard’s robe, made from silk. Black, with extensive embroidery, usually matching the pointed hat. To the casual browser, they appear to be worth $684. (An additional premium of $108 gets you robes in a brighter color, including blue, green, red, or purple.)  Each of these magical items was inspired by its namesake in the 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide. None of them are considered secret, and they are general enough in their utility to be on the market. They’re just expensive.

  • Robes of the Archmagi: Enchanted with Fortify +3, covering torso, groin, neck, arms, and legs. (If pierced 5 times without being restored with the Repair spell, this enchantment will fade.) Provides +2 Magic Resistance, which does not affect the wearer’s ability to cast spells. Enchanted with Presence, the robe assures that others will pay attention to the wearer: any Reaction modifiers are doubled, for better or worse. A wearer with no particular modifiers gets a +1, as people assume, if they’re paying attention to him, he must be somebody important. $39,884; 1.2 lbs.
  • Robes of Blending: Enchanted with always-on Insignificance, so that the wearer will be ignored by others in accordance with the rules of that spell. $14,684; 1.2 lbs.
  • Robe of Eyes: Enchanted with the spells Rear Vision, Infravision, Bright Vision, and See Invisible. Also enchanted with Power 4, which means that all of those spells are considered “always on”. $112,784; 1.2 lbs.

And, just because Jed’s player will really appreciate it:

  • Three-piece suit: A set of jacket, waistcoat, and trousers. Each item is dyed black. Considered Ornate +1. $450; 3 lbs.
  • Three-piece suit, silk: $810, counts as Ornate +2.
  • Three-piece suit, blend of giant spider silk and cave goat wool: $3,870. Ornate +3. If you want to use it as a power item, you can always start sewing on rhinestones…
  • Collared shirt: $38; 0.6 lbs.
  • Collared shirt, silk: $114.
  • Collared shirt, silk, with lace trim at neck and wrist: $247.
  • Collared shirt, silk, dyed in the vivid pastel color of your choice: $418.
  • Shoes, fine leather, with taps: Give a penalty to Stealth on hard floors, but worth Ornate +1. $125; 2 lbs.


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