Wes Baker

#RPGaDAY2020 Day 15: Frame

August 15th, 2020

For Frame, I want to take a play out of Top Gear/The Grand Tour’s playbook: having large framed art as loot in the dungeon. Now, a large framed piece of art (or a sculpture if you’re feeling really mean) has some obvious problems with it:

  • It’s large
  • You may not know it’s value
  • It’s awkward and can’t be tossed in a bag
  • It loses value if it’s damaged
  • Not all buyers are created equal

Imagine you’re looting a dungeon and come across a room with several pieces of art and you’re trying to figure out which one to keep. Someone in the group may have an idea of value, so we’ll give them a vague idea that one of the paintings is more valuable because it looks like it was done by an adult. The party then decides to take that one and not the other. As a game master, I’m usually pretty open with this information as I don’t see the fun in hiding this.

You now have this piece of art and have to get it out of the dungeon undamaged (or at least minimally so). If you’re still sneaking around and will possibly encounter enemies, you’ll may want to keep whoever is holding the painting in the back so they can keep it safe. That character will likely be out of the combat at least for the first round of combat. Another option is to hide it somewhere until you know it’s safe, but there’s always a chance that a random enemy will come along and abscond with it.

The framed art is now out of the dungeon! It’s time to get paid! Well, the player characters are adventurers, not art appraisers and someone else is always willing to make a quick buck on your ignorance. Finding a buyer might take some time (in-game, this shouldn’t be an entire session, it should probably be a series of roles along with some loss of time and money), but could be worth it. However, there should be a chance that the first buyer is honest and worth dealing with. Once the players have found a buyer, should that buyer have bottomless pockets? Should they be interested in all art? I’d argue that they can’t buy every piece due to budget and interest, so players will have to find additional honest buyers and not everyone will be honest.