“…the whole room filled with bales of all manner of stuffs, and heaped up from sole to ceiling with camel loads of silks and brocades and embroidered cloths and mounds on mounds of varicolored carpetings.” ~ Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
I have some mixed feelings about Treasure Parcels, and I consider them both a boon and a bane to playing the newest version of Dungeons & Dragons.
It used to be that creating the treasure for an encounter almost took as long as creating the combat encounter itself. In old AD&D, rolling up a random treasure for just a single monster could take quite a while, as every monster had a unique set of treasure tables. It took time to cross reference the monster’s treasure codes, and then roll percentile dice over and over again, while jotting down the elements of the growing treasure pile. Sometime it could take up to an hour to get all the money, magic items, potions, scrolls, art and gems set up! On some level it was fun, seeing a treasure pile take shape, but it was also terribly inefficient.
Over the successive editions, creating treasure became quicker, but still amounted to a bunch of dice rolls to determine the numbers of coins, the type and quality of the gems, and what if any magical gizmos would be included in the mix. And with the use of Treasure Parcels in D&D’s most recent incarnation, treasure is very easy to generate – but it also tends to be pretty boring as well.
It seems that days of flawed jewels and strange trinkets, of gilt-threaded tapestries and bolts of strange silks are long gone in favor of a quick-and-dirty Treasure Parcel. Don’t get me wrong, Treasure Parcels are actually a brilliant device, and they save countless hours of time, allowing Dungeon Masters to work on other facets of their adventure. But will a Treasure Parcel ever generate the image of decadent wealth like what Ali Baba found in the Thieves Den?
Well, apparently Chaotic Shiny Productions wants to bring back some splendor and awe, and put the wonder back into those cut-and-dried Treasure Parcels with the release of Treasure Hoard Generator Pack!
Treasure Hoard Generator Pack
- Programmer: Hannah Lipsky
- Publisher: Chaotic Shiny Productions
- Year: 2010
- Media: Application (.NET)
- Cost: $3.95
Treasure Hoard Generator Pack is a random treasure generator written in .NET and compatible with most versions of Windows XP, Windows 7, MAC (with Mono), and Linux (with Wine). It is capable with generating unique treasure parcels with a variety of coins, gems, art objects, and even more unusual items, generally conforming to D&D 4E. The application can also generate troves of mundane and rare items for Dungeon Masters to add to locations for flavor, or assign them values to create strange and even bizarre forms of treasure. Charms, Gems, Art Objects, Potions, and even Artifact descriptions can all be randomly generated individually, and the Programmer even added a random coin generator, capable of producing images of currency in a variety of shapes, colors, denominations, and markings.
The Presentation Quality of Treasure Hoard is very good, with a simple and intuitive interface, and instructions provided within the application itself to make an overall user-friendly experience. The output generated by the application is basic text, but can be modified prior to exporting by an editing interface allowing bold and italics. Results can be sent directly from the application to a printer, or can be saved in a rich text file, or can simply be copied and pasted into a document as needed by the Dungeon Master.
One feature I particularly liked was the ability to save 10 results from each of the eight generators in the application, and they accessed, backwards and forwards using “previous” and “next” result buttons. The program can also save your last output even across sessions, so if you accidentally close the application you will still have the most recent output available to you.
As previously mentioned, there are actually eight random generators in Treasure Hoard:
- Treasure Parcel – generates a level appropriate treasure parcel
- Trove – creates a list of an assortment of unusual items
- Charms – creates the description text of a charm, amulet, or other jewelry
- Gems – creates the description text of a gem
- Art – creates description text of an painting, statue, or other art object
- Artifacts – creates a description text of an artifact
- Potions – creates a description text of a potion and its container
- Coin – creates a graphical image of various coins
While the piece of the application which will have the greatest use to D&D 4E Dungeon Masters is the Treasure Parcel Generator, the other generators in this application are definitely worth a look.
Trove is a random generator of non-coinage loot, as might be found in a dungeon storeroom, wizard’s lab, or burial mound. The items are imaginative and unusual, and often unrelated to each other, which adds a certain air of mystery to the collection. There are no values set for these items, leaving it up to the DM to decide. Troves can be small, medium, or large in size (or random), and can be generated in lots of 5 to 50:
Fifty very small sealed letters, one huge opened letter, forty skeletons, fifteen sapphires, four tiny bright blue turbans, fourteen bronze-capped maple canes, thirty arcane tomes, one very large silver cutlass, six small white gold bells and two pale gold gloves.
One small platinum greatsword, seven scrolls, one white gold waraxe, one locket, fourteen huge gilt breastplates, one very large book of prayers, four huge gilt torcs, one black pine shortbow, fifteen books of tales, three copper daggers, seven large blue steel maces and one opal.
Charms creates random charms, jewelry, or what the Programmer calls “D&D Loot”. Like Trove, and all the other generators, Charms creates batches of 5 to 50 entries. I’m a big believer in wanting a visual image of jewelry and other “shinies” found amongst the coins in a treasure pile, and this generator definitely scratched that itch. The descriptions have imagination and a wide variety, and like Troves, left the valuing of the booty up to the Dungeon Master. D&D Loot threw me a bit, as it described a trinket which was to be part of a random magic item, and I’m not sure if this particular generator is all that useful to most 4E DMs. Perhaps Dungeon Masters wanting to create more “house rule” magic items might find this part of the generator inspiring:
A lead charm with a cat’s paw and a musical note on the front and towers and a hand making a sign made of simple shapes on the back.
A tiara of onyx with charms showing a stallion, a sparrow and a dagger in a very abstract style, and flames and a longbow.
A very large dark red charm with a sitar and a herb on the front and nothing on the back. Part of a level 1 waist-slot item. Its power involves psionics.
Gems is a generator for Dungeon Masters who want to create their own setting specific gemstones and jewels. The application generates random descriptions, detailing the appearance, possible variants, and general value of a gemstone material. Definitely great for the world-building DM tired of every fantasy setting having too many “earth” gems in it:
The gem is multihued yellow-green. It is rare. It is commonly cut with many facets. It is associated with air and grounding.
The gem is rose. It can also be found in shades of scarlet, red-violet, vermilion, and crimson. It is associated with love, confidence, sleep and dreams.
The gem is translucent peach. It is very rare. It is commonly cut in a hemisphere. It is associated with a specific bloodline and compassion.
Art is self-explanatory, but is surprisingly massive in scope, capable of creating pieces ranging across nine different mediums including Paintings, Tapestries, Sculpture/Statue, Mosaics, and even Frescoes/Wall Paintings. Dungeon Masters can choose to select a particular medium or just random it, and a check box is provided to allow “Portable Only” results, so as not to get a bunch of mosaics and frescoes that would require dismantling the dungeon in order to cart off:
[Editor’s Note: It is NOT unknown for Player-Characters to want to cart off portions of the dungeon anyway.]
A somewhat large tapestry depicting an act of kindness involving a lanky, chivalrous cleric. It is in excellent condition.
A small granite sculpture of a mace and a coffin.
A small oak sculpture of an eagle. It was done in an unusual style. It was thought to be lost.
Artifacts can generate descriptions of unique and singular items which can be given powers as a Dungeon Master chooses. The type of item can be selected from a drop down menu (i.e. Any Weapon, Swords, Armor Pieces, Shields, etc.), or a random assortment of artifacts may be created. In addition to the physical description, the application provides an origin “hook, the item’s power source, recommended powers, and possible quirks as well :
This large shield was forged by a legendary warrior on another plane and seems almost ethereal. The wooden parts have been painted red. It allows the owner to fly and increases its owner’s perceptiveness. It periodically needs to rest in the sunlight.
This small shield is typically used by mages and is engraved with words in a forgotten tongue. The wooden parts have been painted green. It strengthens the owner’s will. The source of its power is loss and suffering. It was once used by a deity.
This compound shortbow was created on another plane. It was made to be used by dwarves and is emblazoned with the symbol of a deity. The grip is a crude series of hash marks. It enhances the owner’s accuracy. It periodically needs to rest near a fire. The source of its power is its owner’s inner fire. It seems to gravitate toward those with modest destinies.
Potions generates the physical color, taste, smell, and consistency of a potion. The container it is held in is also described as well as possible quirky side effects of drinking it. This generator took me back to my early computer gaming days and a little ascii-based adventure program called Moria which loved to throw bizarre concoctions at you. (Icky Green Potions of Slime Mold Juice for the win!)
Constantly shifting colors with gold flecks and cold, contained in a bone flask. The potion smells frightening and tastes spicy. Side-effects may include feelings of apprehension.
Blue-green with green swirls and boiling intensely, contained in a flask inset with silver. The potion smells like cow dung and tastes like ginger.
Coin is a remarkable part of the application which allows you to actually design the appearance of various coins in your campaign world. You can select four different coin shapes, six different styles of text (such as runic, middle-eastern, Slavic), the appearance of the coins center (empty, a hole or a figure), and the profusion of glyphs and images on the coin (from none to many). But that’s just the beginning, as the application also lets you choose to have a weathered and cracked appearance to the coin, its color, and denomination marking. There is an assortment of random images that can show up on the coins, ranging from Egyptian like hieroglyphics, to profiles of faces, and even monsters. The Programmer even allowed for users to upload an image that can be placed on the coin, if none of the random images suits a particular setting. Once done, a coin can be saved to file, or using the “Printable Page” option, can generate a whole page of coins, front and back, which can be printed and cut out to use as props.
By the way, Chaotic Shiny Productions has a free product called 10 Fantasy Coins which were obviously generated using the Coin part of this application. You can download it from RPGNow to get the full idea of what the Coin generator can accomplish.
And finally, the most generator most applicable to D&D 4E in the Treasure Hoard Generator Pack is Treasure Parcel. Treasure Parcel creates a random assortment of items for the monetary type treasure parcels, as described in the official Dungeon Masters Guide. It generates coinage, art objects, gems, foodstuffs, potions, components, and other items which can make up the value of a treasure parcel. The entries are imaginative, interesting, sometimes bizarre, and show a wide-variety, which will make finding treasure much more interesting than just a pile of coins with a potion or gem thrown on top.
A Dungeon Master can choose to include as many or as few variations to a random treasure parcel as they see fit, meaning that you could create a parcel consisting of coins and rare components or foodstuffs, or coins and a mixture of gems and jewelry. The options are selected by check boxes, and can be as mundane or unusual as desired.
Now I’ll admit, I was totally taken with the generator on first appearance, and spent several minutes clicking up random treasure parcels and chuckling at the results, thinking how my Players would react to finding some of these items in their next treasure chest. But on closer inspection I did find a couple issues with Treasure Parcel that I was less excited about.
I was a bit taken aback at the default setting to create a treasure parcel of “random” level, which is not really how treasure is doled out in D&D 4E. However, since one can select a level from 1 to 30 from the drop down interface, this is more of a quirk than a concern. However, inability to specifically select the value of a treasure parcel is obviously more problematic. The treasure parcels created by the program generally conform to the parcel values in the DMG, give or take about 10%. However, if you needed to generate Parcel #8 for a 5th Level Party, you have to randomly make Level 5 Parcels until you get one that around that value. [Editor’s Note: GSL prevents discussing of the actual parcel value as listed in the DMG.]
Also, some of the values of the randomly created items in a parcel are a bit off, but could be explained away as flawed or damaged goods. For example, I created a 7th Level Parcel containing only “sparklies” (gems and jewelry):
* A platinum crown inset with a quartz (78 gp value)
* A copper tiara inset with a sapphire (69 gp value)
* A lead crown inset with an emerald (45 gp value)
* A necklace of tigerseye with charms showing arrows and a fish with radial symmetry, a snake, a flower and a knot of some sort, a tree and storm clouds, an eagle and coins, a sword and the setting sun, and a man and waves. (34 gp value)
* A large umber charm with a goat and scrolls on the front and nothing on the back. (63 gp value)
* Azerite (80 gp value)
* Lapis lazuli (59 gp value)
* More lapis lazuli (74 gp value)
* Crystals (85 gp value)
* Aquamarine (74 gp value)
Coins: 4 gold pieces and 2 gp worth of exotic coins
Now a platinum crown would seem to be worth more than 78 gp, but might be crudely fashioned and only worth the metals it is made from. Likewise, an aquamarine is worth quite a bit more than 74 gp according to the Dungeon Masters Guide, but this particular gem might be very small or flawed somehow. There was also a problem with potion values included in treasure parcels, which were non-conforming to the value of healing and vitality potions which are commonly found in treasure parcels. However, one could substitute alchemical items found in the Adventurer’s Vault for these entries, or simply uncheck Potions from treasure parcels, and dole them out according to DMG recommendations.
Overall Grade: B+
Despite some of the quirks with the program, particularly in the handling of treasure parcels, Treasure Hoard Generator Pack offers a chance for Dungeon Masters to create really interesting and unique treasures to offer to their Player-Characters, and are likely to both entertain and spark role-playing amongst the group. I could easily see Players wanting to keep certain strange and unusual items found in some of these hoards to decorate their homes, or keep as little mementos of their campaigns. I know at least one of my current Players who would have his Character be taking his share of the loot from the rare and strange foodstuffs, just to go off and party with it, regardless of its value. While the randomness of the value of treasure parcels is a bit cumbersome, it is still worth using if you want to add those little details to an otherwise boring pile of treasure. And at only $3.95, and the promise of furutre software upgrades, the Treasure Hoard Generator Pack is a real steal at that price.
So until next blog… I wish you Happy Gaming!
- Presentation: A-
- - Design: A-
- - Illustrations: NA
- Content: B
- - Crunch: B-
- - Fluff: A-
- Value: A