Odd Loot Items

Whether you run a heroic fantasy campaign or prefer something gritty and dark, it’s likely that your players will look forward to the moment when their foes finally drop. Early in the career of any adventuring party, PCs start rummaging through the belongs of fallen opponents in search of loot.

As a GM, it’s fun to watch your players get excited to discover what treasures they have found. However, it can be a bit of a slippery slope. Gold and gems can feel too mundane to be satisfying, while too many magical goodies can throw your game into an unpredictable state.

I like to keep my players on their toes with unusual items that they are not expecting. By sprinkling in occasional pieces of unique loot I’m often able to spark the imaginations of my players, while also creating a reason for them to buy into the story at large.

This week I have compiled a list of 25 different items that your party might discover while looking for loot. Hopefully you can drop some of these into your game. You may roll a d100 and let fate take its course or peruse through and see if something strikes your fancy.

A looted diary might contain all sorts of useful information. Art by © Sławek Mietła

01-04 Treasure Map: This is straightforward. The map can be for something you already have planned or you can wait to see if they ever pursue it. Either way, their foe was carrying a map that marked the way to some great treasure. Will they become treasure hunters?

05-08 Mag of Marbles: A simple bag of marbles. The question here becomes “what will the party do with them?” Enterprising adventurers might use them as simple baubles to trade with creatures they meat, or perhaps they throw them to the ground while making a desperate escape. It’s fun to see what they will come up with.

9-12 Love Letter: Somehow the villain your party just dispatched came into possession of a rather steamy love letter. Who was it from? Has the author or the intended recipient met their final fate or are they simply locked away somewhere? Will the party try to find out or will they simply move on?

Finding a wanted poster can lead a party off in another direction altogether. Artwork © 2015 Dean Spencer, used with permission. All rights reserved.

13-16 Wanted Poster: Rifling through the belongings of the fallen foe, the party discovers a wanted poster. The posted might feature a notorious villain, a “harmless” NPC that the party encountered a couple sessions ago, or even one of the PCs themselves.

17-20 Spyglass: If the system you’re using doesn’t happen to have specific rules for such an item, it’s easy enough to come up with something. Make it a worthwhile little trinket for your party.

21-24 Invitation: The party discovers an invitation for x number of people to a masquerade ball. There’s a lot you can do with this one. Perhaps the fallen opponent had been the invitee or perhaps they had simply come into possession of the invitation. Who is throwing the party? It could be the BBEG, an influential NPC, or perhaps the person who owns some MacGuffin that the party needs to acquire.

25-28 Key: An ornate key is found. There may be documentation included as to what the key unlocks, or not. The key might be useful in an upcoming adventure or perhaps it would give them access to unexplored areas that they had to pass by during a previous engagement. Alternatively, it may be a fragile skeleton key that would give them a percentage change to open any lock but likely break once used.

How did this lightly scented love letter end up in the hands of a villain? Artwork © 2015 Dean Spencer, used with permission. All rights reserved.

29-32 Bag of Toys: The party discovers a bag of finely made handmade toys. While they might fetch a decent price on their own, the party might gift them to the child of a landed lord, to gain favor. Perhaps they give them to the local street urchins who will then thankfully be their eyes and ears in the city.

33-36 Diary: A carefully wrapped diary is found. Who did it belong to and what secrets does it hold? Does the party use it for blackmail, sell it to the highest bidder, or return it quietly to the rightful owner?

37-40 Bag of Bones: Is this just a grisly discovery or does it give the party some valuable insight into something? What type of creature are the bones from? Do they carry any value with local alchemists?

41-44 Peculiar Coins: The party has never seen coins like these. Possibly they are oddly shaped or forged from strange new metal. Perhaps they are stamped with the visage of some horrible abomination.

45-48 Mislabeled Potion: This is the only item on the list that is magical. It has magical properties; it just doesn’t do what it says it does.

49-52 Bag of Caltrops: It’s fun to watch what the party comes up with for these. If your system doesn’t happen to have specific rules for these, it’s easy to whip something up. Something like: “Covers a 5’ square area. Creatures not moving carefully through must save or take 1-2 damage and be immobilized for a turn.”

53-56 Troop Movements: The party finds documents detailing the upcoming troop movements in a local conflict. What will they do with this information? They might use it to sneak behind enemy lines, win the favor of a local lord, or sell to the highest bidder.

Intercepting these orders from a local conflict could allow the party to turn the tide. Art by © Sławek Mietła

57-60 Exotic Creature: The party discovers a small cage containing an exotic creature. Will it become a pet? Will the party sell it to a local noble? Does it simply become dinner?

61-64: Piece of Chalk: While perfectly mundane, I love seeing what my players will do with chalk. Are they marking subterranean passages with it, sharing with peasant children, or grinding it up into a fine powder?

65-68 Flamboyant Hat: Unbeknownst to the party, this foppish headpiece was recently stolen from a wealthy noble. Describe it as you wish. However, it will instantly be recognized in town if the party tries to sell it or wear it.

69-72 Fireworks: Party finds a bag of fireworks. This is another one where it’s just fun to sit back and see what the party finds to do with them.

73-76 Jar of Ink: This is a 1-quart jar of black ink, capable of making quite a mess. Let’s see what the party does with it.

77-80 Secret Map: This is a map of a local cave complex or building. However, all the secret entrances are labeled.

81-84 Important Missive: This piece of parchment details the most recent orders from someone. Perhaps it’s from your BBEG to one of his lieutenants. Alternately it could be from a guild leader taking action on one of their rivals.

85-88 Body: The party finds the remains of a somewhat famous person who was not known to be deceased. Will they go to the authorities, or would that risk them being blamed?

A looted tome containing lost knowledge. Art by © Sławek Mietła

89-92 Tome: This musty old tome contains lore about something specific within your world. It could pertain to history, geography, or politics. There’s no need to flesh out the whole book. Just allow your players a % chance to find a relevant bit of information if they spend time reading through the pages.

93-96 Mystery Box: This appears to be a simple wooden box with the dimensions being up to the GM. While a mundane item, characters taking time to really investigate it will discover a finely crafted hidden compartment.

97-100 Inheritance: This final one is a bit of an homage to the classic The Enemy Within campaign for WHFRP. The party finds a notarized document claiming that the bearer is entitled to a large inheritance. No need to take the Warhammer route here but it obviously creates some fun moral questions for the party.

That’s all for now. Do you have any bits of mundane loot that you’ve handed out to your players to spur their creativity or help develop your story? If so, please comment below. I would love to hear what has worked for you. Have a great weekend and good gaming!

50 Wilderness Oddities

For today’s post, I have put together 50 odd occurrences to toss at your PCs while they are traveling from point A to point B.

Sometimes you don’t want the day to pass uneventfully but a wandering monster would burn too much precious time. Even if you’re largely handwaving their journey it can be nice to have something interesting happen along the way, so roll a d100 and see where the fates take you.

Each of these could be nothing more than what they appear at face value. Alternately, with a few tweaks you could easily expand them into a full blown encounter, or even an adventure hook.

-Good Gaming!

Art by: Donnie Maynard Christianson https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/9116/Sqeezi-Games

01-02: Party stumbles on a patch of incredibly large mushrooms. Are they edible? Toxic?

03-04: After breaking camp for the morning strange tracks can be seen all around the perimeter of the camp. These weren’t present the night before and nobody noticed anything during the night.

05-06: A pair of rough looking men step out of the brush carrying a large, spiked collar. They claim they are looking for their lost dog.

07-08: Party finds a white stag trapped in a snare.

09-10: Over the course of a two mile stretch, various items of clothing are found by the roadside.

11-12: Having passed a simple traveler walking along the road on the previous day, the party encounters the same fellow on the following day. However, he is headed in the same direction as he was the day before and claims to have no knowledge of meeting the party.

13-14: The smell of smoke increases throughout the day until the party realizes that their path forward has been blocked by a forest fire.

15-16: Party comes across the shed skin of a monstrous snake.

17-18: A bountiful berry patch lines the side of the road, allowing the party a delicious snack.

19-20: Colorful birds are seen in the trees. Knowledgeable party members will be able to identify these as only coming from warmer climes.

21-22: A patch of small flowering plants are discovered. Knowledgeable party members will be able to identify these as an effective insect repellent. May be burned or used topically.

23-24: Pleasantly fragrant plants are found. Knowledgeable party members will be able to identify these as being used by locals in the region to mask scent from predators in the wild.

25-26: Is that bullfrog singing? Surely that bullfrog can’t be singing.

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27-28: Party finds a smoking crater where a meteor has landed.

29-30: Party comes to a clearing. There are a number of toy dolls hanging from the trees all around the edges of the clearing.

31-32: An alabaster monument juts up out if the ground in the middle of the forest. It bears a plaque but the language is foreign to all of the party.

33-34: Party hears the occasional sound of crying. However, the sound ceases whenever they stop to listen closely.

35-36: A possum pops out of the brush briefly before running back into the woods. If followed, it leads the party to a sinkhole where three racoons are trapped.

37-38: Party encounters a simple traveler who offers to share a meal with them before heading on the way. Upon reaching their destination, the party sees a wanted posted for a notorious highwayman and the description matches that of the traveler.

39-40: Mosquitos plague the day’s travel, making everyone uncomfortable and causing them to appear afflicted with the pox for d4 days after.

Art by: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/9116/Sqeezi-Games

41-42: Party passes a small caravan owned by a showman who display oddities and curiosities at festivals throughout the realm.

43-44: Wild boars are about! If there is anyone capable of hunting within the party, it will be an easy hunt.

45-46: A freshwater spring yields tasty trout, to anyone with the skill to fish them out.

47-48: The rhythmic beating of drums can be heard in the distance. It seems to be getting closer toward nightfall.

49-50: Party encounters strange formations of sticks bound together with twine.

51-52: An abandoned cottage is found. It appears that other parties have passed through and used this as a shelter recently. What appears to be a map is drawn on the wall with charcoal.

53-54: A large fish lays flopping in the path. The party is not aware of any water nearby.

55-56: Party passes a caravan of prisoners being lead from on settlement to another. The party members recognize one of the prisoners.

57-58: A trail of pieces of bread leads off into the forest.

59-60: Party comes upon a disheveled man who has amnesia.

61-62: An onyx statue of a bull is found deep within the forest.

63-64: A loud buzzing sound leads the party to a beehive the size of a man.

65-66: 3 wooden barrels of rum are found, poorly hidden within the forest.

67-68: Party encounters a religious zealot and his entourage, traveling from one settlement to another. They encourage the party to throw down their arms and join them.

69-70: Without warning, the forest fills with cicadas. Their song drowns out all other noise, to the point on being nearly deafening. This lets up within an hour, without explanation.

71-72: Party encounters a man wearing wrist and leg irons. He claims that he was falsely imprisoned and barely escaped with his life. Is he telling the truth?

73-74: An abandoned campsite is found, neatly laid out. There is a tent, modest belongings, and prepared campfire. However, there are no signs of who left it.

75-76: An incredibly large, winged beast can be seen circling above the canopy of the forest.

77-78: Deep within the forest, the party finds 3 incredibly lifelike statues who are all posed as if shielding their eyes in horror.

79-80: A stone altar it found, topped with the carcass of some woodland beast.

81-82: Strange tracks end up leading to a massive hollowed out tree. However, upon arrival there is no trace of whatever made the tracks.

83-84: A raucous band of revelers, celebrating some religious festival pass the party. Party members are encouraged to throw down their weapons and join them.

85-86: The party comes upon a coach that has thrown a wheel. An obnoxious noble verbally abuses the coachman and demands that he fixes it quickly. Will the party assist?

87-88: A blight has taken over the portion of forest that the party is traveling through. All vegetation has died, with no apparent reason.

Art by: Donnie Maynard Christianson https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/9116/Sqeezi-Games

89-90: Deep in the forest, the party discover what appears to be a shrine built for a deity that none of them are familiar with. Small offerings are scattered about.

91-92: A circle of tall standing stones are covered in moss. Standing within the circle, party members can feel a steady vibration.

93-94: A shaft of sunlight shines down through the canopy. Figures can be seen dancing in the sunbeam.

95-96: A massive tree stump have pooled with water. Characters looking down into the water see bizarre images.

97-98: A magpie attempts to snatch a small trinket from the party’s camp. If successful, it flies up and deposits it in a nearby tree. If the tree is investigated, a small cache of other treasures will be found.

99-100: A short, cactus-like bush is found along the trail. Knowledgeable party members will be able to identify these as having limited healing properties.