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Troy’s Crock Pot: You Can’t Take It With You

One of the most intriguing — not to mention challenging — dungeon spoils are those things that are simply too large to carry easily or at all.

Usually these things are intended as stationary effects. The item is fixed in a location and generates a magical effect or grants a one-time boon. Imagine an obelisk that wards a room against undead creatures or a fountain whose waters grant cures or healing.

Most often, the player characters will recognize such artifacts as dungeon dressing — a little bit of meta-gaming that actually works in the GM’s favor — utilize the thing as intended, then move on.

Inevitably, though, a player character is going to want to haul the thing home, dismantle it and reconstruct it even, ala Napoleon and his spoils from his Egyptian campaigns.

What then?

1. Price is Right Solution

Big winners on the “Price is Right” quickly find out they have to pay taxes on all their loot — which certainly takes the thrill out of hearing “C’mon down!” One strategy they employ — other than forfeiting their prizes outright — is to sell some of it to pay the taxes on the things they really wanted.
PCs may have a choice. The cost of extracting and reconstructing that fixed item may require them to sell some of their other prized gear.

2. Relocate

If the mountain can’t come to you, then you go to the mountain. Sometimes it’s just easier to have the PCs relocate their base to the site of the wonderfully fixed item. Of course, this only works if the location is otherwise suitable for a player hangout.

Tips for decorating the new digs can be gleaned from watching hours of HGTV.

3. Beam it up, Scotty

Invariably, there is almost always a magical solution to any problem. Some powerful spell that transports the item intact may be the most efficient way of dealing with the situation. Such a spell would be costly and require a powerful spellcaster — who just may have their own ideas about decorating their lair with your stuff. PCs should always think twice before exploring this path — or have a benevolent uncle in the magical transportation business.

4. Jobs stimulus

Hirelings, lots of ‘em, can be employed to get the thing from here to there. Of course, the problem with some hired help is that things may not exactly arrive in the condition that they started out in. Moving things piecemeal also requires organization — and someone good at putting the pieces back together again. Don’t forget the cornerstone …

7 Comments (Open | Close)

7 Comments To "Troy’s Crock Pot: You Can’t Take It With You"

#1 Comment By lyle.spade On January 21, 2010 @ 7:22 am

You just gave me an idea…maybe one that would irk my players, but a good idea for story purposes: in-game taxes. What if the best city for selling loot and buying new stuff is also the most economically and politically developed city? That makes sense, doesn’t it? But mature governmental systems, with sitting officials and whatnot, cost money…which comes from taxes. So if you want to sell your loot, you have to pay some excise tax on the assessed value of it first. There could be, thinking along the lines of a traditional walled city, a gate for adventurers and their loot, where they are met by guards and pencil-pushing city assessors. If you try to seel your stuff without the proper tax paperwork (“awarded” after payment, of course) you risk arrest — it’s tax evasion! You’re taking food from the mouths of babes! Everyone benefits when you spread the wealth, right? Huh. You could create a fantasy welfare state, funded off the backs of adventurers. It might be an interesting way to introduce a new series of roleplaying challenges into a traditional fantasy campaign.

#2 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On January 21, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

The new Pathfinder Roleplaying Game has a very low resale value on loot — something like half-price — which I can safely assume includes the sort of tax you’re talking about.

As to the idea of a fantasy welfare state — you could safely say that the entire area of Delver’s Square in the Ptolus campaign setting is exactly as you describe.

#3 Comment By Scott Martin On January 21, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

It certainly isn’t a very heroic plot, but it can be fun to let players make a buck with a lot of hard work, like #4. Plus it can be fun to have lowly goblins harassing the hirelings as they haul the gold statue across the swamp… it saddles the PCs with escort duty.

#3, magic, is often an easy solution, and is usually under the PC’s control. If bags of holding aren’t too common, it’d be fun to play the spellcaster they hire.

#2, taking over a base, always surprises me when it happens, but it’s usually a very cool development in the storyline.

#4 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On January 21, 2010 @ 9:35 pm

[1] – what if the lowly goblins are the hired help?

#5 Comment By Simulant On January 22, 2010 @ 7:13 am

[2] – Then the group would have to defend the hired goblins against roaming adventurers, I suppose.

#6 Comment By Target On January 22, 2010 @ 9:31 am

I see a potential for sidequests when the aforementioned wizardly mover takes the payment AND the item to be moved. The PCs then feel obligated to teach this guy a lesson and retrieve their stuff.

#7 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On January 22, 2010 @ 9:58 am

[3] – If the PCs are tough enough to do so … ask Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser about double-crossing wizards sometime.
[4] – Exactly! Isn’t this fun!