11 April 2013

J is for Jewlery

The Hope Diamond, 45.52 carat deep-blue diamond.

"Just see how it glints and sparkles. Of course it is a nucleus and focus of crime. Every good stone is. They are the devil's pet baits. In larger and older jewels every facet may stand for a bloody deed...." 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, British author. Sherlock Holmes, in "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle," The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1891).
Jewelry, the settings for gems. This is another area that Gary obviously put a lot of thought into for AD&D.  He devotes about two pages, give or take (DMG, pp. 25-27), at the beginning of the book, not in the back with the magic items. That does highlight the importance somewhat. True, he was attempting to follow the outline of the PHB, and that would indicate his thoughts about gems and jewelry as money, a means of exchange. But there is more to it than that.
First, there is the idea of jewelry as "easily portable wealth." That is a double-edged sword, however. What is easily transportable is also easily stolen. Tied in with this is the idea of jewelry as experience points. 1 ep for every gp value of treasure taken. Note, however, that the PCs should never receive full g.p value when they fence their jewels: 60-80% seems to be the standard rate of exchange for fences in modules that Gary authored (Cf, "The Village of Hommlett" and "Keep  on the Borderlands"). Buying jewelry is also at 100-120% usually. So, the PC buys a ring worth 1000 g.p. in Hommlett with the 1100 g.p. he carted out of the ruined moathouse and then later sells it in Verbobonc for 600 g.p. Ouch. That of course, assumes that it's not stolen on the road thither!
The Star of India, a 536.35 carat star sapphire.
Second, jewelry and magic: a stunning combination. AD&D does not focus on magic item creation as much as 3.5 did, but there are extant rules for such, if the players at higher level wish to pursue them. One line of particular note is thus, "He or she commissions a platinumsmith to fashion a ring of the finest quality, and pays 5,000 g.p. for materials and labor." I would allow players to use "harvested" jewelry as well, but the point is that magic items should, in general, be flashy, opulent, luxurious. I firmly disagree with the line in the DMG that states, "Furthermore, all magic rings look alike, so that determination of a given ring's magical powers is very difficult." I invoke the magic words "Poppycock!" and "Balderdash!" against such knavery! In fact, I would go so far as to say that the "ring" of protection +1 doesn't need to be a ring at all; how about a nice gorget necklace? change it up; make it different; customize the game to suit both your own style and the style of fantasy literature. Not every bloody magic ring should be a plain gold band like the One Ring!
Necklace of Protection +1!
Third, jewelry serves a roleplaying function as well. Who will people take more seriously and treat with respect and deference: a scruffy looking ranger and a wizard (Aragorn and Gandalf the Grey) or a properly attired "noble" with a jewels on his fingers and at his throat? And think of the other possibilities! Meeting with a  recalcitrant official, one could easily say, "Look at this lovely emerald ring. It would be a shame if it slipped off my finger and I didn't notice."
All-in-all, jewelry is another important area of the game that is often neglected and merely seen as a money grab. Until tomorrow, gentle readers, when I shall lecture about knightly orders!

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