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Friday, April 8, 2011


The Jovial Priest has a pretty useful set of tables on a recent blogpost about gems. Deciding what gems adventurers find in a treasure chest always seemed like a complicated process to me, usually requiring learning what a whole bunch of different gemstones are called, what they look like, and about how much they are worth. For me, gemstones are a lot like trees and flowers: there's a couple very recognizable ones I'd know, but most of them are just names I don't really care about. The Jovial Priest's tables simplify that quite a bit.

But then I thought: why not simplify it more?

You have three categories, as defined by the Jovial Priest:
  • Low-end gems (<100gp): are usually opaque, with exceptions (quartz;)
  • High-end gems (>500gp) are usually semi-transparent.
Use the mid-range (100-500gp) for outliers from the other two groups plus unusual valuable substances: amber, ivory, and pearl. Roll a d6 for your cache of gems:
  • on a 1, you have really good quality gems from the lower category, if there is one (for the mid-range, you can change this to 1-2);
  • on a 6, you have poor quality gems from the higher category, if there is one.
If you don't want to pick a name without assistance from the dice, roll a d10 and use the Random Random Table to pick the first letter. Can't think of a gem name that starts with one of those letters? Use the letter you rolled to come up with an imaginary sub-variety of a common gem in the low, mid, or high range: "blood pearls", "cloud agates", "shadow diamonds". Have fun imagining why they're called this... they may turn into an interesting feature of your fantasy world.

1 comment:

  1. I did something very similar to this:
    The base value of a gem is 1 mark, for a precious stone (120 sp in my silver standard; in the baroque gold standard, the base would be 100 gp).
    Roll three six sided dice.
    If the first is one, the gem is a common fancy stone, halve the value. If six, the gem is rare, double the value.
    If the second is one, the gem is small, halve the value. If six, it is large, double the value.
    If the third is one, the quality is poor, halve the value. If six, the quality is fine, double the value.

    Then I have a list of types for each grad of quality:
    Fancy: amber, carnelian, bloodstone, onyx, citrine, garnet, moonstone, sunstone.
    Precious: diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald, amethyst, pearl, opal, topaz.
    Rare: cut diamond, star ruby, star sapphire, traphiche emerald, black pearl, fire opal.

    I do the a similar thing for jewelry treasures; I have a list of forms with their approximate weight in gold (from historical/archeological sources), and then add three multipliers for composition (gilt/silver/gold), quality, presence/quantity of gems.