Thursday, March 1, 2012

Treasures from the Underground


Adventurers delve into the underground environments of the City and the Strange New World looking for treasure. This comes in the form of relatively mundane riches and more exotic items imbued with magical power. The Ancients are generally believed to have been the builders of the underground structures, but the treasure within them comes from various sources.

Many of the mundane objects of archaeological interest found in the underground do represent the material culture of the Ancients. It’s unclear why the Ancients built the underground structures in the first place. Some are certainly tombs and are filled with the usual valuable burial goods: objects of art (many of precious metal), coins, and jewelry. Some personal weapons or armor bearing enchantments are found. The mummies themselves, embalmed by magical means, are sometimes sought by unscrupulous thaumaturgists. They can be used to “fuel” spells--though they are sometimes cursed to prevent such desecration. A few aren’t dead, but instead undead and rise to wreck vengeance on would-be defilers.

The Ancients apparently didn’t produce many magical devices--at least not that still have power (it’s long been known that thaumaturgical infusion has a half-life in nonliving things). Scrolls are the most common. Potions and ointments are almost never found; the Ancients appear to have had no real understanding of the alchemical sciences.

The Natives seemed to have mostly avoided the places of the Ancients, perhaps out of superstitious dread. Few of their artifacts, magical or otherwise, are found in the underground. There are exceptions, of course, and in the West there are structures they may have been built by Native cultures influenced by the Ancients.

Ealderdish explorers and tomb-robbers of earlier eras left their mark on the underground. Coins from historical periods and magical armor and weapons are found--often next to the moldering remains of their previous owners. Most magic armor or clothing found will be related to the Ealderdish. Some have lost their potency over time; others have been spoiled by exposure to raw magical elements (or whatever killed their previous owners) and are now “cursed” or malfunctioning.

Finally, there are anomalous items. These are either products of nonhuman species or otherwordly intelligences. Many underground structures are built around “soft spots” in the material plane, more susceptible to irruption. Indeed, one theory regarding the structures is that they are large scale mandalas or sigils for the purpose of concentrating and controlling extraplanar energy. These anomalous items are often the most dangerous--their purpose can often only be guessed at.

7 comments:

The Angry Lurker said...

Some true poisoned chalices to be found....

Sean Robson said...

This reminds me of the November 2011 issue of National Geographic, which had a great article about recently discovered Anglo-Saxon treasure trove that was discovered after 1,300 years. Great gaming inspiration.

Bard said...

Like the "soft spots" concept -- very cool.

Trey said...

@Lurker - Indeed.

@Sean - Oh, yeah! I remember that. That would be great inspiration.

@Bard - Thanks. I can't take full credit for that one. I encountered the concept of "soft places" in the Sandman story.

Needles said...

Why do I have the Indy March playing in my head now! Color me sold on this post awesome work. Nice touch having players stumble across adventurers gear from long ago.. Now ruined or worse.

Trey said...

Thanks, Needles.

The Grumpy Celt said...

Reminds me of things I've seen in Bulgarian museums.