Friday, 3 October 2014


So, treasure in SAVAGES isn't treasure. None of the PC's (except Thieves and Human-Obsessed weirdos) really care about it in the same way Adventurers would. Treasure for Savages is food and days spent alive and maybe status and burning a village of elves or a sword that doesn't break.

But they have treasure, because the work in a dungeon. And their boss has treasure. So why do they care?

I wanted players to start the game with great heaps and piles of gold and then have to fight to keep it. What could be more pleasurable than having a hoard? What more satisfying than simply keeping it? Playing Midas, going into the cave and running your fingers through the piles of silver and jade and looking at all the statues and artifacts and scrolls and mysteries and knowing that all of this is yours. Yours forever.

And I wanted them to generate the hoards they guard as part of their character, like generating dungeons and the landscape around them. The hoards should be good and special in some way. Which lead me to ask, what is the poetry of a hoard?

It is the story that it tells, or hints at. Treasure is just history worth preserving. so the question we should ask of a mighty hoard should be 'how does it pierce through time?'

The weight of the gold pressing against time itself, so when you guard gold you are guarding slow time, preventing it from being employed, preventing entropy and change, preserving the world, time holds itself still around a great treasure.

You should get a heavy rep if you manage to stop anyone taking your treasure. Well, not a reputation, but an anti-reputation. You become the blank spot on the map. The part where it says 'here be monsters' that's you. The Place From Which No Man Returns.

And the more treasure you can accumulate and not spend, the more fully you can slow down the world, so the whole thing becomes about stasis, slowing down, preserving the long slow cycles of the world against the rage for order and organisation.

So another way treasure must be assessed is the danger of losing it, the extent to which it will accelerate human development and expansion. And visa versa, this is why you take treasure off humans. Not to own gold, but to cripple economies and cultures. The more you can steal from humans the more their economy slows down, the more cultural capital you can destroy, the harder it is for them to manage their disparate minds and the more fractured they become, obviously, the more magical items you can take off them, the less they can use against you.

So I jammed together these very awkward experimental tables to help generate hoards from the Monsters perspectives. These would be used in a game of SAVAGES where the PCs occupy the centre of a map and on the edges are numerous human cultures, all gradually pressing in, ejecting thieves and adventurers like spores.

Currently its really more of a sketch idea than a workable system. The tables should interrelate and feed off each other and there should be more options and more 'chunky' options for specific artifacts ways it relates to the overall system.

Ways to define a hoard.

1. How does it pierce through time?
2. How much time does it guard?
3. How will its loss accelerate human development and expansion?
    a. Financially.
    b. Culturally.
    c. Magically (reality altering)

1. How does it pierce through time?

1. Days.
2. Months.
3. Years.                                                            (Someones probably really pissed off that you have this.)
4. Decades.                                                      (Knights might still come after this)
5. Centuries.                                                     (Henry VIII's crown)
6. Origin of Current Culture.                               (Excalibur.)
7. Height of Ancestor Culture.                            (Roman, Greek)
8. Origin of current ethnicity/nation/racial group. (Probably Indo-European/Babylon for us.)
9. Forgotten Ancient Culture.                            (Example might be the briefly-imagined feminist Iron Age before horse-riding-swordsmen-ruined-it)
10. Age of Heroes/Origins of Gods                    (Zeus/Hercules/Typhon origins if-they-were-real)
11. Outer/Other/Aberrant/Should-Not-Exist        (Brainmelting Lovecraft stuff)   
12. Primordial or Elemental Origin                      (ie langauge of Fire, First Ice, Laws of Stone)

2. How much time does it guard?

This is the strangest one, I am not sure yet how this will actually work, or if it can actually work. I will keep chipping away at it.

Maybe nothing new is created around it or nothing is lost around it. Maybe it keeps the consequences of that distant time away and stop them compiling with the present. Or that the more Treasure you keep, the slower your turns go and the more time you have to react to stuff

1. Dreamlike Passing Of Days.
2. The Forests Refuse To Yield.
3. An Age Without Discovery
4. Wars But An Echo.
5. Slows Death To A Crawl.
6. Keeps Back A God.

3. How will its loss accelerate human development and expansion?

A. Financial

1. Live Fast, Die Young. Adventurers get rich, famous, more will come.
2. The Company. New Adventuring company set up. All further Adventurers better resourced, equipped and trained.
3. Thieves Ennobled. Adventurers promoted to nobility/elite. Each now heads small armed force based on speciality. Add new armies to the map.
4. National Rebirth. Base culture can renew all armies and settlements for free for a certain number of years.
5. To Big To Fail. banking system renewed, credit everywhere, all human factions get a boost.
6. A New Empire is Born. Introduce a new human faction with low population but full coffers. Base its culture on the Adventurers that survived.

B. Cultural Boost

(A load of the cultural change from the retrieval of ancient treasures will be broadly invisible to the SAVAGES players, the only way it effects them directly is how it changes the actions of the enemy, not their internal culture. But yeah, if someone brings Excalibur back from a dungeon, that's  a big fucking deal.)

1. Buccaneering Spirit. All base culture forces and settlements gain morale, lose fear of the Other (i.e. you), for limited period.
2. A String of Victories. Base culture inwardly unified, gains belief in manifest destiny of frontier, diverts more resources to settlement.
3. First Among Equals. Rival human factions a bit scared of base culture, will not fuck with it unless attacked.
4. The New Cesar. Rival human factions very scared of base culture, will seek alliance/appeasement.
5. Touch of the Divine. All human populations convinced some serious shit is going down with base culture. Other settlements start spontaneously converting.
6. The Power Of Gods. Base culture now wields unquestioned divine sanction. All other human cultures must test morale. If failed they become vassal states to the base culture, now operate as its limbs.

C. Reality Altering

1. By This Axe! Introduce single supercool magic weapon into setting in enemy hands.
2. The Affairs of Wizards. Base culture now has shitloads of Wizards everywhere.
3. The World Beyond. Base culture now aware of/has access to other realities/plains. Intelligence and mobility improved but resources diminished by the same extent as they gain ambitions in the Other Spheres.
4. Moving Mountains. Base culture can now forgo other actions to move lakes/mountains around on its turn.
5. Time and Space. Can rewind time/move capital/send agents to past.
6. Gone Melinbone Way. base culture effectively neutralises self as expansionist force as brainfractured/decadent/invading mars.


  1. I wonder how you might make it work to reward players mechanically. Where normal world starts players with nothing and they gain new treasure to use and spend to improve themselves in their gaining and spending, I wonder how a nega-game of SAVAGES might hit that same feeling of gaining and spending while flipping the start gates.

    Maybe they are new to that dungeon and the longer they are around a big hoard, their shaman/dungeon lord/lich-king/BBEG infuses them and gives them more important and useful things. Everything they personally add to the horde empowers their dungeon and its keeper, which empowers them.

    Adding to the treasure horde could be the flip side of normal adventurers spending their treasure, they get new abilities and tools. Defending the horde and stealing from MAN would be the flip side of adventurers getting sweet loot.

  2. Awesome as always. My first thought is the adage "money makes the world go round." In a kind of Terry Pratchett sense this is true for the game world. So here's my riffing on this idea.

    Savages collect gold in order to do two things depending on how you want go characterize the Savages.

    The hordes of gold are arresting history. Keeping the other cultures locked into the pseudo medieval setting. The treasure forms a sort of time dam. When located throughout a kingdom it holds by the progression of culture.

    Alternatively, the treasure Savages keep actually makes the world spin in its natural course. With the loss of treasure days, seasons and years begin to lengthen (or weirder things happen).

    This is certainly going to be one of my next campaigns.