What’s in that shiny box?

Though most of my articles deal with generating ideas for encounters, NPC, or place descriptions, I’m thinking this approach could also be used to help create some unique treasure parcels for our heroes to find. Things beyond the traditional “bag ‘o’ gold” and “big heavy chest.”

treasure-chest-vintageSo let’s start with sizing our box (roll a d10)…

  • 1 = Tiny (roll 1x on contents)
  • 2-4 = Small (roll 1x on contents)
  • 5-7 = Mid-sized (roll 2x on contents)
  • 8 = Large (roll 3x on contents)
  • 9 = Huge (roll 4x on contents)
  • 10 = Gigantic (roll 5x on contents)

Then, let’s look at what it’s made of (roll a d8)…

  • 1 = Bronze
  • 2 = Silver-plated
  • 3 = Wood
  • 4 = Marble
  • 5 = Bone
  • 6 = Alabaster
  • 7 = Onyx
  • 8 = Gold-plated

Maybe see how it is decorated (roll a d10)…

  • 1-2 = Carvings
  • 3-4 = Etchings
  • 5-6 = Lacquer
  • 7-8 = Jeweled
  • 9-10 = Plain

Then see what might be inside (roll a d10)…

  • 1 = Coins
  • 2 = Hair
  • 3 = Sand
  • 4 = Ring
  • 5 = Necklace
  • 6 = Bracelet
  • 7 = Precious stones
  • 8 = Dice
  • 9 = Cards
  • 10 = Gems
  • (and many more)


  • (Tiny/Bronze/Carvings/Coins) Tucked away in the room, you find a small, aged bronze box with ornate carvings in the sides depicting a common myth from a century ago. Inside you find a single coin, minted for a short-lived Queen who sought to have her likeness put on everything she could to help secure her reign. Unfortunately she was assassinated two weeks after her coronation and her coins never saw the light of day. It was rumored that a few made it into the hands of collectors and the majority were melted down and re-minted into new forms.
  • (Small/Silver-plated/Etchings/Hair) On a dusty shelf in what was obviously a lady’s bedroom at one time, you find a small silver-plated box with simple etchings depicting a baby in a manger or bed. The lines have been very worn with someone’s hands, as you can see the oily, dirty fingerprints of someone on either side of the lid. Inside you find nothing but a lock of blond hair.
  • (Mid-sized/Wood/Lacquer/Sand/Ring) Atop a stone pillar in the center of the old temple you find a well-kept wooden chest with lacquered, beautifully painted panels depicting the four stages of the Goddess’ life – birth, childhood, motherhood, and being an old woman. Within the chest all you find is a layer of two inches of the most beautiful white sand you’ve ever seen. Could it be that these were once the marble tablets rumored to have been given to the Goddess by the All Father? Buried in the sand you find an ornate ring with a single purple gem of unknown origin. Any who wear the ring are rumored to have the Goddess’ ability to feel the pain of those who depend on her. Is there any truth to the stories of those powers?
  • (Large/Marble/Jeweled/Necklace, Bracelet, Precious stones) The marbled casket of the great Queen Arathea was once covered with a beautiful pattern of jewels depicting her beautiful blue eyes, but they were long ago stolen by grave robbers. The casket was never opened by the thieves however, as it was protected from any but those who were descended from her bloodline. The first heir to touch the marble lid would find it easy to slide open. Inside they will find a small fortune in precious stones and a heirloom bracelet rumored to bring with it a claim to the throne.

Obviously this could be greatly expanded to cover the age and condition of the box (is it ancient or brand new, broken or empty?) as well as including additional items for the available lists and more.

Would this be a useful tool in your arsenal?

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.