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Saturday, 29 January 2011

A Supplement To Treasure II?

How detailed does your fantasy game get? When playing Dungeons & Dragons or the Retroclone of your choice, does your group prefer to grab the treasure and sell it without a thought? Or does it take the time to sift through the hoard and take notice of every single item, perhaps admiring a piece or two for their beauty, while still appraising each for their value and potential provenance? If your group happens to sway towards the latter style of play, then perhaps the latest pair of supplements from Faster Monkey Games – whose scenario, Wrack & Rune I reviewed last year – might prove to be useful tools to that end. All the Treasures of the World: Gems and All the Treasures of the World: Jewels are each written as resources that can be used to add detail to your game world. Both are designed specifically for use with Labyrinth Lord, the Retroclone from Goblinoid Games, but as with so much of the scenarios and support available for the Old School Renaissance, they can be used with the “Edition 0” RPG of your choice. This time around, having reviewed the first in the series last week, All the Treasures of the World: Gems, I will review the second, All the Treasures of the World: Jewels, this week.

The first question about All the Treasures of the World: Jewels is what is the difference between gems and jewels? After all, are they not the same, and if so, why does the All the Treasures of the World series need a second supplement devoted to the subject? Well, a gem can be cut and polished and so turned into a jewel, and gems and gemstones can be worked into a setting or piece of jewellery, usually to increase its value or significance, if not both. Such items are the subject of this supplement, and while there is a means given to determine the number and value of gems of on any one piece included in its pages, the details it gives about those gems is cursory in comparison to that found in All the Treasures of the World: Gems. Thus the two supplements are designed to work together.

Since both All the Treasures of the World: Gems and All the Treasures of the World: Jewels are designed to work together, they work in a similar fashion. Where the former presented a series of tables via which a GM could determine the type and value of one gem over another, the latter provides a series of tables that will determine the type of jewel, its base material and value, and lastly, its style, and any patterns and motifs worked into it. In addition to the table devoted to gems, another details nonpareils, jewellery that has been enhanced by smaller gems, along with an explanation.

So for example, rolling on the Common Item table tells that a particular piece of jewellery is an earring. My roll on the Materials and Value table determines that it is made of gold and has a base value of 10 gp and a Décor Class of V. This table lists both precious metals and other materials, so that piece of jewellery could also be made of bone, ceramics, tin, and so on. Rolling on the Style, Patterns, and Motif table further tells me that the earring is engraved worth a further 5 gp and also patterned. That pattern is artistic and skilful, that of a beer stein. Its value is also increased eightfold. Given that its base value is 15 gp, its actual value is 120 gp, and since this is of a beer stein, it is probably of dwarven workmanship.

The supplement is rounded out with two fully worked examples. The first is of a simple piece of jewellery, while the second describes a more valuable work, one befitting a treasure hoard. In comparison with All the Treasures of the World: Gems, this supplement is much shorter, being two thirds of the length. What this means is that this supplement contains less background detail than All the Treasures of the World: Gems and is thus less informative. There is some information on coinage and heraldic jewellery, but what there is does leave you wanting more. Perhaps there is room for a further supplement that explores heraldic jewellery and its place in your gaming world.

Despite there being fewer tables in All the Treasures of the World: Jewels than All the Treasures of the World: Gems, it is a more complex affair. The results require the user to think more about the results created than All the Treasures of the World: Gems and the lack of background detail, does make this supplement more a utilitarian affair than the first in series. Not that having to think about the results of using the table is a bad thing, and whatever the outcome of the tables in All the Treasures of the World: Jewels, there is always the potential for it to be interesting, for the chance that it might add detail to the DM’s campaign, and even the possibility that it might be the basis for an adventure. Despite it not being not quite as interesting, All the Treasures of the World: Jewels is the more useful of the series to date and the one most likely to add facets to your campaign.