"I, Satampra Zeiros of Uzuldaroum, shall write with my left hand, since I have no longer any other, the tale of everything that befell Tirouv Ompallios and myself in the shrine of the god Tsathoggua, which lies neglected by the worship of man in the jungle-taken suburbs of Commoriom, that long-deserted capital of the Hyperborean rulers. I shall write it with the violet juice of the suvana-palm, which turns to a blood-red rubric with the passage of years, on a strong vellum that is made from the skin of the mastodon, as a warning to all good thieves and adventurers who may hear some lying legend of the lost treasures of Commoriom and be tempted thereby."The Tale of Satampra Zeiros by Clark Ashton Smith
Once again I was looking over some of the Grenadier advertising literature that I've collected over the years. The mid point product line of miniatures for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons miniatures & figures were all over the table top in '83.
Grenadier models Inc. were the go to line for serious AD&D players in my neck of Connecticut & my uncle often took me right down into the bowels of West Hartford. The sunny, quite small town New England bowels that looked like they came straight off of a Norman Rockwell painting at the time. My young mind was on the 'game' & what the dungeon master had cooked up for us that week. But what it was really about was treasure & the "gold stuff". But what the hell is treasure & where's it come from? Why is it valued by monsters, evil forces, & vile villains. Why are people risking their lives, their souls, & even their sanity in the pursue of this material? Like I said yesterday there are places that man wasn't supposed to go & yet dungeons call to these fools.
Dungeons are created & not build but that's another blog entry. Treasure defines the Dungeons & Dragons & marks the souls of adventurers with experience. Why!? Because there's a supernatural or occult aura about treasure similar to 'gold fever'. Just give an adventurer a taste of the favors, social position, & mental wealth that treasure can bring & their hooked. If they're really lucky then they retire & operate through proxy adventurers & hirelings. Treasure itself is a left over from the 'old world' or the cycle of ages preceding the 'current age'.
"Now Commoriom, as all the world knows, was deserted many hundred years ago because of the prophecy of the White Sybil of Polarion, who foretold an undescribed and abominable doom for all mortal beings who should dare to tarry within its environs. Some say that this doom was a pestilence that would have come from the northern waste by the paths of the jungle tribes; others, that it was a form of madness; at any rate, no one, neither king nor priest nor merchant nor laborer nor thief, remained in Commoriom to abide its arrival, but all departed in a single migration to found at the distance of a day's journey the new capital, Uzuldaroum. And strange tales are told, of horrors and terrors not to be faced or overcome by man, that haunt forevermore the shrines and mausoleums and palaces of Commoriom."
The Tale of Satampra Zeiros by Clark Ashton Smith
But this isn't the only explanation about treasure & it goes much deeper into the gut of adventurers. The fact is that treasure is the root & spoke around which all of the dealings of Dungeons & Dragons adventures & campaigns revolve. I've a few thoughts as to why, how, & where these treasures come from & why they seem closely tied in with adventurers:
- Treasures are part of the spoils of war between the forces of light & darkness or Chaos & Law. That is to say that natural order of these multifaceted conflicts across the ages creates treasures.Many times this is to fuel the war machines for both sides & war costs money, time, & the spoils of conflict. The aura of fortunes lost & won gets imbued into these articles.
- Monsters & alien forces come to see that these items & artifacts have value to humanity & their gods. Since the dawn of time these forces have aped both the gods & man giving these items places within their own evolution. The occult forces of magick & chaos divines this as the cycles of ages continue. This has reinforced the aura & allure of these objects.
- Old gods die & the cycle of adventure continues leading the gods to creature new treasures & artifacts so that they have material anchors into the world of men & monsters.
- Supernatural auras change men & women in subtle ways maturing them, radically changing their life outlook, greed has its hooks in adventurers hearts & minds. Greed is the motivator for treasures & experience is the best teachers. Greed & lust for treasure is the engine for adventure!
- Thieves move treasure & artifacts to spread the allure of these objects for the same reasons that magpies & crows are attracted to shiny objects. The occult power of these treasures grows & changes calling to monsters & men alike. This is the germ of dungeons & ruins of power.
- Treasure equals power & wizards know this better then anyone. It is liquid asset for the making of war & campaigns for adventure. Wizards & dragons know the power of gold & treasure much of which comes from the elemental plane of Earth. The world of men & wizards is very different but the ability to move or wreck the economies of nations is true power. Power enough for the gods to notice & power enough for kings to murder wizards.
- Treasure & the supernatural are tied together like the ecologies of nature. These hoards call for guardians & monsters of chaos for they are drawn like moths to the flame.
- The aura of lust & greed is so strong around some treasures & hoards that it can call the forces of chaos or even open doors to Hell itself. These guardians are the worst of the lot & require their own blog entry.
As I said yesterday I think that treasure has far deeper meanings & is closely tied in with war & violence. Why? Because these same supernatural auras never entirely leave these objects especially in old school campaigns. Can I prove my point here? We played in a long running hybrid AD&D,OD&D, & B/X campaign based on the Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) opera cycle throughout the Eighties and Nineties. All of the above was taken from this old school campaign. Next time hirelings, thieves,tramps, & alchemists.