Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Where is the treasure in Felltower megadungeon?

There is a lot of treasure in Felltower, but it's not evenly distributed across rooms or encounters. Where can you find it?

From most to least, here are the places - roughly - where you will or will not find treasure.

Dedicated treasuries. There are few of these in Felltower, but they exist. These places are usually guarded, trapped, hidden, or all three. They're loaded with treasure. The PCs found one of these after solving the "rotating statue" puzzle, and took home some serious loot - piles of coins, so much so that they missed some of them in a hidden compartment of a chest, a ring with wishes, and a few other significant magic items. Such places aren't terribly obvious, and are hard to blindly seek out, but they are out there . . . and have piles of loot. While not universally true, a well-hidden and (passively or actively) well-guarded location can be a sign of a potential hoard. Not always - some are just hidden and unguarded, other places aren't full of treasure but are guarded for other reasons . . . but the odds are in favor of loot behind loot-protecting defenses.

Hoards. Intelligent or otherwise treasure-hoarding monsters tend to have the biggest hoards. They may in fact exceed the dedicated treasuries - but they fall to second on this list because the amount of treasure can vary a lot more. The smarter, and the more powerful, the monsters, the bigger the hoard. It's almost directly linear because of the roll bonuses and penalties included in the treasure system I use (see DF21: Megadungeons.) These will be protected, and may not be with the monster itself - the loot might be hidden nearby. Do not expect an intelligent monster to carry its loot with it unless that's the only way to protect it. Sufficiently nasty monsters might feel free to leave their treasure out in the open, and even wander off away from it without fear of theft - knowing that the other dungeon dwellers won't molest it out of fear of the consequences. Most others will either need to stay close by, or leave it guarded - much like a dedicated treasury, with traps, concealment, and possibly guards.

Finding the "lair" of an intelligent or otherwise treasure-hoarding monster is a good way to increase your odds of finding loot. Expect that they'll want to keep you as far away from their loot as possible in many cases.

Unguarded, Hidden Treasure. Some "empty" rooms and "looted" areas have loot. It's a relatively small proportion of them - less than 1 in 6 of them initially, and many have been looted over the decade of play. But one way to secure treasure is to stash it somewhere that people will either avoid, or just bypass. Expect such to be carefully hidden, and hard to find - simply wandering around with See Secrets making Per checks isn't likely to turn it up . . . although it's a good start. What you can find will vary, but generally is small compared to guarded loot.

Believe it or not, "empty" rooms with unguarded but hidden loot will generally be more valuable than wandering monsters or patrols out looking for, or responding, to trouble.

Wandering Monsters. These are the least loot-worthy foes and have the lowest amount of treasure as a group. This has come up pretty consistantly since we started playing, with players new to the group and old, veteran and new to game. It's the idea that adventurers should welcome wandering monsters, as they'll be something to fight and have treasure. This is almost 100% false. Occasionally, some wandering monsters will be intelligent, armed foes that can be defeated and looted for their gear. But they're the minority. The majority of Felltower wandering monsters are unintelligent predators or scavengers - rat swarms, stirges, puddings, oozes, spiders, and similar nasties. None of them carry loot and not a person in the game world is willing to fork over money for their remains. Some wandering monsters are made of valuable bits, but you're taking a high-risk low-reward approach here; fine if you just want enough XP to hit the threshold for low-point PCs but even then the odds aren't in favor of this working out for you.

Even when intelligent, armed foes "wander" up, they're likely the sharp edge of a larger group, they usually don't fight to the death, and they almost never carry their loot with them into combat.* They're the "wandering monster" you least want to encounter unless your plan is "let the enemy set the objective." The PCs have often done exactly this, but it's always ended up with a bigger fight, for less gains, than penetrating to a superior loot location would gain them.

Good luck, and good looting. And stop banging on doors hoping to attract treasure-bearing monsters. It's a shell game.

* Like Colonel Bat Guano.


  1. Joking aside, I like your breakdown of the treasure distribution. In my DF Novices game, the PCs have been clearing an abandoned mine of goblins. It is not a megadungeon by any means, but there is still a sense that the treasure is not evenly split between encounters. Goblins don't just keep loot lying around in the open. If you don't look for secret doors, then you won't find them.

    Finally in the last session, the group found a secret room that apparently contains on old tomb. They would not have encountered it at all if the thief player had not decided to look while they were waiting for the clerics to exorcise an unholy altar (technically the NPC thief found the door, but that's only because a PC was looking so he joined in; it's not my job to have the NPCs proactively find treasure which the players aren't making an effort to look for). Hopefully this result will encourage my players to look more often.

    1. I totally agree on that approach with the NPC. They can amplify a player's effect but shouldn't provide the ideas or leadership.

      I'm glad the breakdown helps. I hope it helps my players, too. They're pretty diligent about searching and being thorough in any given room. At the same time, they can focus a bit too much on "win a fight, take the weapons of the slain, and get to loot threshold" and perhaps don't see that as as much of a dead end approach as it seems from this side of the GM screen.

  2. Oooooooh, treasure. Vladimir wants some. Need to find out where those werewolves came from.


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