The Treasure Hunter: But what is treasure, anyway?

As we begin work on our next new class for Mazes & Perils — the Treasure Hunter from Vince — I’ve begun doing a bit of brainstorming to see what exactly “Treasure” may be. I suspect that, like trash, it’s different for everybody.

In role-playing games, we tend to focus on the treasure you can use, sell, or trade. Magic items and weapons are useful. Gold spends. And gathering certain “hard to find” resources gives you a different kind of currency to trade. But not everyone is motivated in the same ways.

Let’s start with something that’s hard to spend — knowledge. Scholars seek it. Sometimes they hoard it. Sometimes they destroy it. Sometimes they sell it. But to your average thief, it’s useless.

Compare that to the things your common thief might steal. Jewelry. Paintings. Sculptures. Anything for a few coins. But those items are probably useless to the scholar in the last paragraph.

So how do we as GMs create treasures to help drive forward our plots and engage our players?

My answer is a pretty standard one for me: roll some dice.

Treasure Tables

Let’s put together three quick tables:

  • Treasure Type
    1. Artistic
    2. Scholarly
    3. Religious
    4. Legendary
    5. Monetary
    6. Visionary
  • Need
    1. Collection
    2. Piece to a puzzle
    3. Gift
    4. Higher purpose
    5. Bargaining chip
    6. Trade item
  • Conflict
    1. Competition
    2. Zealotry
    3. Protected
    4. Hidden
    5. Guarded
    6. Priceless

These can be used to create many plots for adventures.

Here are a few quick ones I threw together…

Artistic + Trade Item + Competition

The party is approached to cause difficulty for a competing artisan selling a similar product at market.

Visionary + Collection + Priceless

The local thieves’ guild reaches out to the party to break into a nobleman’s house to steal a one-of-a-kind weapon for a client of theirs. The guild will give the party 60% of the profits and handle the transaction if they can retrieve it.

Religious + Gift + Protected

A local noble asks the party to retrieve an object left behind by a popular saint in his protected tomb. He wants the saint’s robe for his wife’s birthday.

Monetary + Higher Purpose + Hidden

The priest of a local church asks the party to find the treasure of a rumored lost temple somewhere nearby. He has a few clues but is ill equipped to tackle such a job himself. The treasure would help the church pay their taxes to the king and keep a local orphanage open.


Is this useful? I think it’s a quick way to put together an interesting hook for a Treasure Hunter or other adventurer seeking gold, jewels, or glory.

Any suggestions?

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