Friday, January 21, 2011

What It Is: All the Treasures of the World by Faster Monkey Games

Did I say I wouldn't have time to review the first two entries in the All the Treasures of the World series by Joel Sparks and published by Faster Monkey Games?  Well, you can thank Mother Nature for giving me the time.  Thanks to about two or three inches of snow, East Stroudsburg University cancelled classes for the second time in a week.  Mrs. Higgipedia and I got to spend another snow day together and, while she works, I'll write up a more comprehensive review.

Now I know what some of this stuff is!
All the Treasures of the World Part I: Gems is a twelve page supplement which serves many purposes: random treasure generator, introduction to gemology, and rules supplement for the evaluation and sale of gems.  With it, you can generate a gem the size of a grain of rice up to one as big as a cantaloupe, which could be worth anywhere from a measly silver penny to 100,000 gold pieces.

The first section allows to to randomly generate gems.  You can either roll for value on the table provided or, if you know the value of the gem (which is more likely from my experience), you can roll on the charts based upon value to find out what type of gem you've found.  For example, a 1d20 roll on the 10gp Base Value chart gives you a Moss Opal if you roll a 12.  I wouldn't know a Moss Opal from a Moss Agate, so I look at the descriptions in the back and see that Moss Opals are green and white with a sparkle to them.  You polish them (as opposed to cutting them) and they are medium sized.  One of the nice things about Gems is that they have two scales for size: real-world and fantasy.  If you want gems the size of fists and melons (keep in mind the Hope Diamond is like an inch around and a half inch thick), go with the fantasy rules.  If you are bit more realistic, go with the Real-World size chart.

Are we done with gems?  Heck no!  While it's a no-brainer to move up and down a chart to reflect the changes in value based on size and quality, Gems includes charts to make it a lot easier to randomly generate the sizes and quality based on final value.  You find a gem worth 500gp?  Well, on a 3d6, I roll an 8 and find that find that it's a Larger (one step) 250gp Base Value gem of Good (average) quality.  Rolling a d6 on the 250gp table, we get a Flame Pearl (and after checking the description) the size of a pea (or a marble, if you are using the fantasy sizing).  They also explain how some gems can have stars and cat's eyes and some other distinctions that most of us unversed in gemology might not know.

The last section gives some rules for identifying gems as well as detecting (and trying to pass on) fakes.  They show how jewelers, merchants, fences, and PCs will all have different abilities to detect certain things.  PCs are not very good at it, comparatively, so be wary if you plan on ripping off the pros.  I'll probably bump Dwarves up to the Merchant level of identifying things in my game (as well as any who have a merchant or mining background).

All the Treasures of the World Part II: Jewels is a little trickier to work with, since the nature of jewelry means that you have to manage a few more moving parts.  Jewels breaks down each piece of jewelry based upon what type it is, what it is made of, any kind of style or motif, and gems added.  I think the easiest way to show what the supplement is capable of is to walk you through the creation of a few bits of jewelry.

Let's say you want to buy your mother some nice, simple copper earrings.  Looking at the item chart and cross-referencing the materials chart, you come up with 5 sp.  Happy birthday, mom.

Something a little crazier?  Well, let's see what the King's Crown would be like?  Well, it's made of platinum, which makes it's frame along worth 300gp.  It's masterfully engraved with 12 images of past Kings' triumphs, upping the value to 2880gp.  We're going to go with the nonpareil level of gemstoning, since it's a sovereign's gaudy headgear.  The glory on it is a 2500gp gem (A flawless blue diamond the size of a pea), surrounded by 30 100gp gems (Lesser sapphire chips),  with 66 10gp gems (Flawless star garnet chips) in the setting.  The King's Crown is worth about 9,000gp.  Good luck fencing THAT.

Gems and Jewels  are a wonderful investment of four dollars (two bucks each).  I plan on using them extensively in my sandbox.  If you are a fan of flavor and detail in your treasure, these are indispensable.