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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Treasure Codes: How Gems and Jewelry Work

Topic Two in a series of explainer follow-ups for the treasure codes post is gems and jewelry. The original treasure table specified that gems and jewelry are rolled separately, but in all but two cases, the chances of finding each and the quantities found are the same for any given treasure type. They are just combined into one column to save space.

There are two broad categories of treasure in relation to quantities of gems or jewelry in the trove: standard quantities (in the 1 to 3 dice range) vs. generous quantities (either 6d6, 1d100, or 1 die x10.) Gems/jewelry collected by bandits and other large bands of humans are generous, as are dragon hoards. All others are in standard quantities.

[There’s a similar distinction for gold possessed by pirates, dwarves, or dragons (generous) vs. all other treasures (standard,) which when combined with gems and jewelry gives us four categories: standard, generous gold, generous gems, and doubly generous.]

Vowels in gem and jewelry codes should be used to represent base values of each item, rather than the multipliers we use for coins:

i for inferior gems (10 coins base value)
a for average gems (20 coins)
e for excellent gems (50 coins)
ee = 100 coins
o = 500 coins
y = 5,000 coins
u = 50,000 coins

Most of the standard gem values are represented here, with a few extra. If the base type is y or u, don’t roll a d6 for the number of gems, but instead assume it’s a single gem (or, for example, 5 gems if the code is 5 gy, etc.) Jewelry will normally just be joo, but the value can go up or down for either gems or jewelry.

Each piece of jewelry, gem, or group of 5 or 10 gems of the same value, gets a d6 roll on the value adjustment table:

d6 roll Gem Value Jewelry Value
1 half normal 3d6/10 x base
2-5 normal 1d6 x base
6 doubled 2d6 x base

This is a simplification of the way gems and jewelry are handled in Monsters && Treasure.

As for suffixes, most of the time there won’t be one. If you really want to specify different kinds of gems, you could use codes like r(ed), g(reen), b(lue), and y(ellow), or p for pearls. But probably the most useful suffixes would be those indicating size.

gyl is a large gem (10x normal size, about the size of someone’s fist)
gyh is a huge gem (100x normal, about the size of someone’s head)
gyt is a titanic gem (1000x normal, about the size of someone’s torso)

The size multiplier doesn’t affect the base value, but it affects the space it takes up in a bag, sack or pack. You can’t fit a titanic gem into a large sack, but 1 to 3 huge gems could fit. These size codes would be especially useful if we added another code, F, for fancy items like vases, urns, paintings and other decorations.

Next up: maps and magic items.

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