OSR: Ludicrous Loot from the Veins of the Earth

The rewards from the Veins should be as great as the dangers. Here are some ideas for rewards surviving characters could haul to the surface and swear it was all worth it. Some (like Occultum, obviously) are adapted from lines in Veins of the Earth.
Coin weight, 8-9th century Egypt

1d10 Items

1. Occultum

Glassy, massless, and smooth. Occultum slowly accretes into tiny translucent gold-black grains. On the surface, you'll be lucky to find a few grains. In the Veins, water and time concentrate particles of occultum. Grains are melted into coins; coins are used to buy impossible things. The highest level currency. Occultum is raw stabilized magic. It's depleted uranium.

An occultum coin the size your thumbnail is worth 100gp in the Veins. On the surface, it's worth at least 1,000gp. A bag full of occultum coins is a king's ransom.

Uses of Occultum

Warning: uses are theoretical, untested, unbalanced, and dangerous.

I. Magic Amplifier.
A staff or wand made from at least 10 occultum coins (1,000gp, 10,000gp) allows the caster to:
-reroll any dice used to cast a spell
-reroll any numeric effects (damage, duration, etc.) of the spell.
-increase effective caster level by +2 (or equivalent)
 The caster's ego automatically inflates to fit their new magical prowess. They also attract attention. Occultum in coins is safe; weaponized occultum could upset the local balance of power.

II. Magic Boost

Melt and occultum coin over a magic flame and inject it into your forehead. Save. If you fail, explode. If you pass, gain +1 permanent caster level or magic dice, etc. You become pale, twisted, and very powerful. Roll on the Veins Effects chart twice. You will die of more-or-less natural causes in 1d10 years.

You can try again, but you'll need to roll under half your Save. 3 coins and you've got a 99% chance of exploding. Your life expectancy doesn't drop further and you don't roll on the Veins effects charts. Some aspiring liches use this method to fuel the last stage of their transformation. Wealthy underground races keep various kinds of spell-slaves. The deadliest varieties have syringes pre-wired into their pineal glands, ready for the moment they'll be activated and set loose.

III. Construction Materials

If you want to build a deep carbon observatory, use occultum to hold the lens. If you want to build a time machine, use occultum to hold the crystals. It's a malleable, stable, and resistant material. Where inferior metals fail, explode, melt, or change into goats, occultum will persevere. It's the unsung hero of a thousand doomsday projects. If you want to build something insane, you'll need a bag full of occultum.

2. Stone Lightning

Every time a volcano erupts, huge storms form overhead. Ever wondered why?

Lightning can become stuck in stone. It follows a winding crystal path into the veins and fossilizes. Sometimes, a miner chips off a piece. The survivors, if there are any, carefully extract the rest of the bolt.

Stone lightning looks like a frozen tree branch. A 3" piece is worth 50gp in the Veins and 200gp on the surface. It can be discharged as a lightning bolt wand, but the true power of stone lightning comes when it is used on stone. All damage against stone is doubled, meaning a very small section can destroy a castle wall. Larger pieces can level cities. In the Veins, using stone lighting effectively is difficult. There's always closer exposed stone. On the surface, the bolt will fly straight and true.

3. Bedrock Charter

Stones are proverbially lazy. They can move. They just don't want to. They're stubborn, grumbling, miserable, and conspiracy-minded. You can negotiate with them if you are patient. This charter, a roll of parchment and leather the size of a sword case, is the result of centuries of negotiation, compromise, bribes, and betrayal. It gives the bearer total command over stone. It's been stolen, traded, lost, and rediscovered many times.

When unrolled, the bearer automatically gains the attention of all stones in a 100' radius. The bearer can speak with them and they can respond. The default attitude of the stones towards the bearer is, "truculent", like unionized dock workers on a Thursday before a long weekend. They'll do what they're told (assembling a city, disassembling a city, diverting a river, spitting up gems and metal), but they'll kind of half-ass it and complain the entire time.

The stones will try and engineer situations where the contract could be lost, burnt, or shredded. They aren't very good at it.

4. Drugs

Really. Good. Drugs. Think the Gin Craze, the Opium Wars, the Cafe Societies... If this stuff gets into your setting it spreads like wildfire.

5. Soul Tablets

A small clay tablet the size of a pea. Swallow it and you never need to eat. You can instead draw life directly from the environment and other nearby people (unless they've also eaten a Soul Tablet). This effect has a ~30' range. In caves, this still means finding living things and mingling with them. On the surface, where life is abundant, no effect. You'll waste away if you're stuck in a desert or on the moon.

One person's effect will barely be noticeable. Five people will start to brown grass and kill insects if they stay anywhere overnight. Twenty people will start draining mammals and birds in a few hours. An army will create a wavefront of death.

Soul Tablets come in bags of 100 and are typically worthless in the Veins. People down here know about the downsides. You can't really exist in a community if you take one; you'll slowly leach the life from everyone else. And if everyone takes one, the combined life-leech will kill all local life, requiring constant movement or slow death. It's not usually worth it. People dying of starvation may disagree.

But on the surface, the pills are worth at least 100gp each. Anyone who dies (of any cause) after eating one will have a head full of Soul Tablets (~100). The price will plummet; the effects will spread.

Soul Tablets are delicious and smell appealing to animals.

6. Half-Mile Cloth

A broad cloak. The inside has a pattern of cold, alien stars. The outside is black. If the cloak is spread on the ground, black-side up, it creates a hole half a mile deep. It's not a portal, so you will need a rope or a way of surviving the fall. If the cloak is placed with the star side upwards, anything placed on the cloth is launched half a mile straight upwards.

Larger bolts are available.
The Swords of Glass

7. Dream Key

Carved from under-meteorite iron. Fits into an ear. Allows you to walk into people's dreams, affect their lives, find memories, etc. It can be difficult to tell when you've left a dream. Experienced dreamers may be able to bring unreal objects back with them into the waking world, including loved ones, impossible treasures, and more keys.
Side Note: before introducing this item into your games, please read The Arabian Nightmare by Robert Irwin.  You may want to read it anyway.

8. Sideways Citadel

The key looks like a shovel made from bone and basalt. Insert it into a crack in the rock and turn. A passage opens to the - your, that is - Sideways Citadel. It's a castle hidden in the rock. It's always deserted. The front few rooms are safe. Anything beyond that links to other castles, times, and locations. The key is worth at least 1,000gp in the Veins and about the same on the surface.

9. Fossilized Angel

The size of a coffin. Should be heavy, but it isn't. It's awkward to haul but it floats like a soap bubble. Projects a consecrated aura 50' in all directions. No creatures in the aura can lie or insult anyone. No one in the aura can die (even if mangled, decapitated, etc.). Any water in the aura becomes holy water.

10. Red-Gold Crown of Command

Carved from phoenix bones. Anyone who kneels, swears to be loyal, and kisses the hand of the wearer will be resurrected if they fall in battle within sight of the wearer. If they were killed by a spell or effect that left their body intact, they rise permanently. If their body is no longer intact, they are raised until the end of the battle, or the crown's wearer falls asleep or is killed.

1d5 Books

1. Der0 Manual of Surgical Alterations

A bundle of paper, leather, skin, and metal. No spine, no covers, no index. Reading any part of this book inducts you into the der0 conspiracy (level 1).

If you read the book and consult it like a manual, you can perform any surgical feat you describe. Unusual materials will be required; silver coins, hair, nails, straw, dead cats, human blood, and earwax are good starting points. Just for starters, der0 surgery can:

-transfer an effect or ability from one creature to another (dragon's breath, troll's regeneration, beholder's eye-beams)
-grant +1d6 or -1d6 to any Stat.
-transfer memories or implant false ones.

-raise the dead.
-cure or inflict any disease.

Anyone who has der0 surgery performed on them is also inducted into the der0 conspiracy (level 1) if they are ever made aware of the fact. The surgery is not neat; strange lumps, buzzing sounds, side-effects, scars, digestive disorders, and madness may result.

2. Prophecy Cylinder

Contains compressed prophetic vapours (made from decaying prehistoric angels deep beneath the earth). 2d6 doses. Each dose is worth 1,000gp. Anyone who inhales the fumes make a true and accurate prophecy. The event listed will occur in 1d6 weeks; usually, the prophecy will only be recognized after the event has occurred. If your players don't feel particularly prophetic, generate one by these methods: 1, 2

3. The Riddle of Steel

A book on metallurgy. Worth at least 10,000gp on the surface (payable in installments, provided a war does not interrupt them, which it will). Clearly and patiently explains how to construct blast furnaces and make very good quality steel. Also explains coal mining and basic pump design. The book is fragile and water soluble.

4. The Unnatural Gourmand

An illustrated cookbook inked onto flayed skin. Covers recipes for every living creature. You can't flip to a given creature; you need to have a dead one in front of you to open the book. If you follow the instructions in the book, you can reroll any effects from eating a creature. The recipes will only include ingredients available to you without extraordinary effort. You should probably keep a few ingredients on you or the cookbook will suggest using your companions.

Anyone who uses the cookbook becomes obsessed with exotic meals and rare meets. Their tastes tend to the sadistic. If they wish, they can add marginalia and new recipes to the book.

5. Your Horrible Secret

A small volume written by a very sadistic wizard. Anyone reading it is convinced the book sets out their worst secrets and most shameful thoughts in lurid, judgemental detail, as if written by an English male historian born before WWII and writing before 1980 (trust me on this one). Anyone reading the book must Save or shut it after a few lines. They will desire the book and wish to see it destroyed or kept locked away somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Perfect presents to celebrate Narblesnard with! http://furtivegoblingaming.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-true-meaning-of-narblesnard.html