[Editor’s Note: Welcome to Sunken Treasure, in which we turn our eyes towards classic adventure modules, campaign settings, core books, supplements, and more. Enjoy these commemorative strolls down memory lane together with us.]
10 Years Later, we look back at Necromancer Games’ epic product
Written by Joe Bingaman
*DISCLAIMER*: The Mother of all Treasure Tables was published during the 3.5 era of Dungeons and Dragons. While about 97% of this book is usable by any edition, some terms may be unfamiliar to those who are unfamiliar with the d20 system (any edition from 3rd to 5th.) As such, it is recommended by the author of this article that you use the System Reference Document (SRD) for 3.5 if you choose to use this product to enhance your game.
Necromancer Games really hit the nail on the head in 2006 with The Mother of all Treasure Tables, as this book is not your classic treasure tables. To start things off, the ten chapters (titled “Table I” to “Table X”, in Roman numerals) are divided up into gold piece value. The values of the tables range from 10 gold pieces to what they call “Epic”, valued at over 100,000 gold pieces.
The introduction gives us a rundown of the book, and how it works. As the disclaimer says, you may need a 3.5/d20 System Reference Document (SRD) or Glossary of Terms to understand some of it, if you are not familiar with that system. This is evident when you reach the section titled “Determining Treasure Value”, as it uses the terms “Challenge Rating” and “Encounter Level”, both unique to the d20 system. If you do not use the d20 system, fear not, this book is still very useful for any fantasy setting, as those terms are easy to understand, and a quick review of the SRD or a Glossary of Terms will get you the answers you need. After that, any average game master can figure out how to adjust the chart to use for earlier editions of the game.
Another important topic of note is that The Mother of all Treasure Tables does not include magical items, so if you wish to include a magical item, the introduction takes you through step-by-step on how to substitute one into one of their treasures under the “Variations” heading in the Introduction. So if you run a low-magic, high treasure campaign, this book is perfect for you. If you use moderate to high magic, there will still be some work to do to add in those magical items the player characters so desperately want.
Once you flip to the tables, as stated before, these aren’t your typical tables. Where most treasure tables just give you a gold piece value, or so many items, The Mother of all Treasure Tables gives the game master specific items, as well as descriptive fluff about how the player characters find it. For example, a roll on Table IV reads as follows:
“Two large barrels [2 gp each] rest in the corner. As you approach them you see they both have sealed lids. After breaking the seal and opening the lid on the first barrel you see it is filled with
a reddish liquid. [If someone tastes the liquid or does something to determine what the liquid is:] You find the liquid is red wine and it appears to still be drinkable and quite tasty [equivalent of 40 bottles of fine wine in this barrel; 385 gp]. You break the seal on the other barrel, expecting to possibly find more wine. Instead you find the barrel is filled with copper and silver coins [573 sp, 6207 cp]. [Total 508.37 gp]”
Note that this does not equal the exact amount of 500 gold pieces for Table IV. This is because all treasures in The Mother of all Treasure Tables are within 2% plus or minus of the listed amount. This appears to have been done for two purposes, the first being to ease up the process of creation, as trying to hit 500 gold pieces exactly for multiple treasures would have been a headache, and the second to allow breathing room for game master substitution. So if a game master chooses to substitute magical items, they should not worry about hitting the exact amount, as a 2% deviation is normal.
The fluff is of interest, as it can apply to a single thief performing a pickpocket or an entire party picking up anything of value in a room. An example of a thief pickpocketing can be found in Table I:
“A set of fat copper beads [prayer beads; 6 gp] has been stuffed into the pocket, which bulges with its bulky contents. Designed to be worn around the wrist, the bracelet is secured with a simple tin hook, and religious pictograms have been carved onto the surface of the beads. [Total 6 gp]”
The fluff can also lead to side quests, as shown in the introduction:
“[Later when the thief is showing his take to the rest of the party:]
Thief: ‘Yeah, all I got was this bracelet.’
GM: ‘Father Guido you immediately recognize this is no normal bracelet but instead a set of prayer beads. You cannot tell what order or religion they are from unless you examine them more closely and make a successful knowledge roll.’”
Whether a game master decides to take this onto a side quest is entirely up to them, but this example shows how even the most mundane item can lead to an adventure.
The final chapter, Table X, is designed more for an endgame treasure, like the player characters have heard of a fantastic hoard, and go searching for it. With every roll on this table worth in excess of 100,000 gold pieces, it is designed to be once characters reach 20th level in the d20 system. However, depending on your system and how much treasure the game master likes to give out.
The Mother of all Treasure Tables is definitely worth the $15.99 it costs for a pdf copy. If you can find a physical copy for under $25, snag it up and consider yourself lucky. This is one of those items that takes the work off of being a game master, and should be in every game master’s arsenal.