There, I said it. You, yes YOU, gamemasterrefereejudgekeeperDM! You know you're guilty - you've been hoarding gold and silver under your dragon's belly all this time. Maybe a few gems here and there, or a fancy ring or two. But, seriously? Gold pieces and silver pieces were medieval cash. Common cash. Picture your dragon sitting atop a pile of $20 bills interspersed with a few wedding rings. That's essentially what an adventurer in a quasi-medieval setting would see.
But you're better than that, aren't you? I think you're the kind of gamemasterrefereejudgekeeperDM who wants to be different, wants to bring a touch of class to your campaign, maybe even a little of "the weird".
Well, here you go. I present to you five absolutely free PDFs from the Getty Museum which can inform the distribution (and hoarding) of wealth in your campaign. Sure, your adventurers are going to have a tougher time smuggling delicate, exquisite porcelains past dungeon guardians, and there's a slight chance that the bejeweled crystal marten head attached to that fur might become animated and choke you to death, but getting the treasure home should be part of the adventure. Amiright?
These are some real treasures, from the real world. And they are so much cooler, intriguing, and seem so much more valuable than the mere pile of cash in that treasure chest or the change in a troll's pocket. I use these sorts of things in my own games, when the situation warrants it, when it seems appropriate. After all, a demon might have a hard time being dainty with a finely-painted Italian ceramic vase. But then again . . . dainty demons . . . hmm. There's a thought.
Ancient Gems and Finger Rings
Decorative Arts of the Getty Museum
Masterpieces of the Getty Museum
and my favorite (which I reviewed here):
Luxury Arts of the Renaissance
PS: Also look here for tempting riches that will sucker in adventurers every time!