My players finally returned to the Elfenburg, the halfling village at the most beautiful waterfall of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. I had previously established that the village was built around a green glass tower which was later found to have been built by elves, and down in the dungeon there was a room with 86 petrified elves and a gorgon bull (the kind with petrifying breath). The story was this: The elven sorceress used earth magic to erect the glass tower. Something poisoned the earth blood and caused the building to turn evil. The sorceress decides that she needs to post her spell casting power and leaves, looking for a power-up.
Since elves cannot reach the level necessary to cast stone to flesh I decided that all this stone magic had to be based on long and elaborate rituals. The sorceress decided that the Aakom of Qelong would do and disappears. Before leaving, however, she decides to use the gorgon bull to petrify her people “for storage” and to keep them safe against the ravages of time. I occasionally force myself to make elves strange and alien. Before she does that, one of the elves decides to leave a note basically explaining the situation and asking for help “just in case the sorceress doesn’t return”.
The party does eventually find the sorceress and she—having partaken of way too much Aakom and on the way to immortality—has more or less forgotten about her people. She gives the party 50 scrolls of stone to flesh and a magic ring with which to claim her glass tower as their own because she couldn’t care less. Another attempt of mine to make elves and immortals alien and basically indifferent to human concerns.
The party returns, depetrifies half the elves, they are grateful, some setting background is revealed, the elves join the party’s domain (since we’re using An Echo Resounding), and so on.
I was left with the question of treasure. What to do? I had already decided that the sorceress’ many books had been carried off by a floating, round monster…
This is cool, because now I have three more plot hooks for future adventures:
I decided that the only treasure to be found beyond ownership of the tower and the service of the elves was the wardrobe of the sorceress.
The room being a giant loft under a fortified glass dome in art nouveau style, guarded by ten nearly invisible glass tentacles to prevent unauthorized landing (as long as the earth blood is poisoned these tentacles are evil and attack everybody), a random distribution of little mirrors such that there is one exact spot near the wardrobe where all the mirrors align giving you a perfect view or yourself…
My wife loved it.
But is it treasure? I’m not sure. I don’t plan on granting simple mechanical benefits. I do plan on it impressing and awing the common folks, if my players ever want to use it like that. Or of granting boons with other elf lords if given away as a present. I also didn’t plan on giving it monetary value and therefore not granting any XP. My players seemed happy enough. If I wanted to grant some XP award, I’d probably say that the four items I listed could be sold for 10,000 gold pieces each for a grand total of 40,000 XP. Except that my players got to the end of a different story arc last section and ended up with 171,000 gold pieces (this included the sale of a Neogi spelljammer ship and the treasure of the neogi captain) and the part about the elven sorceress and her tower was essentially dénouement. That’s why it didn’t grant any gold or XP.