Why settle for giving out ordinary gold to your players when you can instead offer treasure items with rich backstories? Especially when these items also provide hooks to your next adventures!
Estate of Deveron: Inventory
Appraiser: Journeyman Aletia Cromley
Under Direction of Master Appraiser Ignatius Booth
Master, I'm here. I'm knee-deep in now-really-dead halfling skeletons, but I'm here. (Halfling skeletons! Why were there halfling skeletons here? And animated? This is a human estate! Or was. I ended up defeating five of the things myself. I didn't think I was supposed to fight, given those you sent with me. And did you know that halfling skeletons stink? I didn't. The rotting leather was bad enough, but the smell that some of them had after I smashed their bones into splinters was... unique. And sickening.)
The estate isn't exactly what you expected, though. Everything's so mundane—no glowing swords or even necklaces that strangle you. (The half-orc you sent with me—Brun—he's been looking for that necklace. In fact, he's still looking. Who looks for that sort of thing? He must have a death wish.) Nothing like that at all.
And this group you sent with me—did you find them in the Salty Duck? I mean, honestly, the way they talk. It's a whole other language sometimes. And does this inventory book you gave me even work? You've not responded to my notes in it before now. I thought you could read what I wrote in your copy and could write back to me so that I'd see it in mine. Maybe it's not working.
Stop, girl. Just stop. It works. You've just been penning meaningless drivel about your trip. I can't believe you wasted the space and time to write, "...and the soup they served us wasn't even hot." Focus, girl. The job is to secure the place, make it habitable, and provide the family with an inventory of items within it.
Now, do as I say and start sorting through things as we discussed. Pick up something, look at it, and write the description and your appraisal value here. I'll comment if it's worthwhile. Start right now.
Oh. Okay. Sorry, Master Booth. I didn't
Stop, Aletia. Pick up something and appraise it. Now. The next words you write need to be about an item.
Amulet of Iggwilv
Introducing Iggwilv and the Demonomicon
This month you can pick up a copy of the Demonomicon, which focuses on, as you might expect, demons. Although this particular treasure item isn't of particular note as presented, it can be a way to introduce Iggwilv and demon lore (including summoning and banishment rules) into your campaign. A player character who expresses interest in Iggwilv and demon lore might use the amulet as a springboard to learn more on the topic.
Strung on a 24-inch length of linked nickel loops, the round, ivory amulet features the two faces of Iggwilv. On one side, she is portrayed as a human crone—perhaps in her 80th year. Her hair is straggled and close to her head, and her facial features are wrinkled to the point of almost hiding her eyes. Her expression indicates great displeasure—the skill of the artist almost makes it seem as if you could hear her snarling at you.
The other side has her as a human woman in her twenties with flowing long hair, regular features that please the eye, and a peaceful expression unusual in any other portrayals of Iggwilv known to this appraiser. The amulet is 1 inch in diameter and 1/2 inch thick at its thickest point. The condition of the amulet is very good—only a few scratches mar the sides of the amulet. The chain is of cheap work and materials.
Appraised Value: 300 gp
Iggwilv? Really? How did you determine that?
My question would be this: Who'd craft an amulet featuring Iggwilv? And why is it here, of all places?
That's two questions, Aletia. Neither are relevant at this point. Answer mine if you would be so kind.
Okay. You remember that statue you appraised for that gentleman with the jeweled eyepatch?
The crone side resembles it exactly. I think this amulet was crafted by the same artisan, in fact. You determined the statue was of Iggwilv. And I still wonder why someone would buy a statue of Iggwilv, by the way. I thought the books she wrote were more important.
The six volumes of the Demonomicon of Iggwilv are more valuable—the knowledge of demons that Iggwilv revealed make them sought after by people you probably don't want to meet, Aletia. Also, we provide estimations of value. We don't ask why someone would have or want such a thing. At least if you wish to live a longer life, you don't. Your curiosity is going to shorten your life, girl.
My curiosity makes me willing to learn more about things so that I can provide better appraisals. Or so I think.
At this pace, you'll be there for years. Next item.
Introducing the White Lantern Consortium and Vor Rukoth
One of the factions that player characters might interact with while in Vor Rukoth is the White Lantern Consortium. DMs might consider placing this ring elsewhere ahead of time, and a savvy character might use it as a means to gain good standing with the consortium.
If the characters haven't yet run into the consortium when they find the ring, but one among them wears it prominently, they could learn about it quickly once they do meet someone from the consortium. Additionally, if the characters have not yet heard of Vor Rukoth and attempt to sell the ring, they could learn a bit about the location thanks to a chatty buyer who might just have dealt with the consortium (or could be a member of it).
White Lantern Consortium Ring
This silver ring features the symbol of the consortium: a lantern from which rays of light emanate. The silver is tarnished, but it can be polished to restore it to its former finish. This appraiser notes that a hint of wax remains within the ring's engraving. It was possibly used to seal missives.
Appraised Value: 100 gp
When did you learn of the consortium, Aletia?
I was at the White Thorn when one of their number came in to enjoy some ale. It sounded like he was on his way to Vor Rukoth.
It sounded like? You don't know?
He was a dwarf and wanted nothing to do with my attempts to talk to him, but I overheard him chatting to one of the serving girls. He mentioned he was with the consortium, brought up Vor Rukoth, and showed off his cloak pin. I got a good look at the pin. The symbol matches. My question again is this: Why is that ring here?
See above. Next?
Introducing Clan Glintshield and Orcs of Stonefang Pass
Orcs of Stonefang Pass
is an adventure for 5th-level characters, so you, as DM, have a few levels in which to add the treasure item if you want to start introducing these particular dwarves ahead of time. If you aren't concerned with introducing an item that might possibly have been owned by a thane, you could place this pin in the iron coffer listed in Encounter 6: Pit of Doom.
A player character might earn a higher price for this particular item if he or she tries to sell it back to a Clan Glintshield dwarf. If you want to use this item in a later adventure to keep Clan Glintshield in the minds of the players for campaign reasons, consider making the pin a former thane's pin—it could be handy to have such an item if the characters need a reason to interact with Clan Glintshield again.
Clan Glintshield Cloak Pin
Crafted from white gold, this cloak pin is shaped in the form of the traditional Glintshield kite shield and has no other ornamentation, which is common to Clan Glintshield emblems. The back of the pin has the name "Ravanok" engraved in Dwarven on it. Ravanok was once thane of the Clan Glintshield before they disappeared or killed each other in a civil war.
Appraised Value: 250 gp
I appreciate the history lesson, Aletia, but it's not necessary.
I thought that adding that bit of lore to the description would help a buyer make a decision regarding the pin. I didn't place the value as it being Ravanok's pin, though. I can't determine that here.
If you can't determine it, then don't mention it in your description, Aletia. We've talked about this before.
Now, what's next.
Introducing Acererak and Tomb of Horrors
Although the earrings were a joke, the lore about Acererak is available to scholars in the world. The adventure itself has several suggestions to involve the player characters, but a DM could also start introducing the lore in a variety of ways before implementing any hooks to snag player interest.
Examples include lacing NPC interactions with toss-away lines that mention Acererak, dreams (or nightmares), and even bardic performances (and a well-done performance might spur a few of the characters to have nightmares featuring any of the lore mentioned by the bard).
You shouldn't overwhelm the players with too much foreshadowing—subtlety can be your friend. However, a bit of work ahead of time to put the common lore in front of the players can pay off by making the adventure feel more like part of the tapestry of the world around the player characters.
Hold on a second, Aletia. Acererak earrings?
You find it hard to believe that someone would craft earrings featuring Acererak's symbol but find an amulet with Iggwilv's forms on it normal?
I find the thought of these earrings ludicrous. Who would make earrings featuring Acererak's symbol? You must be mistaken.
I have seen the demonic face that people associate with Acererak, master. I know the lore of his infamous tomb. I would never mistake it for anything else. But, I was joking about the earrings.
Sorry, I couldn't resist it.