Booty: The Fruits of Adventure

Booty is the reward almost every adventurer looks for at the end of a potentially profitable encounter. This is doubly true when the enemy has been faced down in battle and defeated. Most adventurers think first of ready coin, “filthy lucre”, when looking for spoils to take, but booty is in fact far more than that; it is anything that the PC’s can either consume themselves or turn around or trade at the market for a profit. Before the GM can evaluate and determine booty he must get a good grasp on what sorts of things it encompasses. The people of the period of the game carried their ready liquid wealth in three basic forms: coin; jewelry (with or without gems, pearls, decorative stones or inlays, etc.); “plate” (plates or trenchers, serving pieces such as large bowls or platters, saltcellars, candlesticks, ewers or flagons, and other similar items, with or without gems, pearls, decorative stones or inlay, etc.) which may be of good quality bronze or brass or fine pewter, as well as precious silver and only VERY rarely of gold. Items clad in silver-gilt (plating) are far more common that those of solid precious metal, and gold almost always found as gilt, also, usually as trim. Items wrought of pure gold found only in the treasuries of kings and the greatest nobles and princes of the Church.

Although these are the common forms of ready transportable wealth most commonly known to the denizens of the medieval gameworld, there is a lot more to booty than just these. Those players whose minds are stuck on such obvious wealth should remain relatively cash-poor for rather a fair amount of time, because only the nobility, the heads of the wealthy guilds (especially merchants) and the princes of the Church have any appreciable amounts of this sort of wealth, and the PC’s opportunities for relieving them of any of it without the most dire reprisals no doubt very and far between, if they ever present themselves at all. The savvy GM can scatter booty all around the PC’s in forms that are far more immediately useful and far less likely to attract undue attention.

Booty is, in fact, any object or objects, substance or resource of value in the marketplace belonging to the Bad Guys that the PC’s can conceivably carry off without any real fear of legal repercussions afterwards, such as charges of trespass, assault, theft, robbery or, worse yet, murder. Booty, then, can be determined by the circumstances … BUT taking booty can also bring complications when the PC’s are not very careful. It could be disastrous to loot a dead foe’s residence only to discover that the PC’s are wanted for looting a house that actually belonged to a third party, along with all its furnishings and supplies.

For those of any notable social class or station, wealth can be found in the very clothing on their backs. A good heavy cloak is very valuable just for the yardage of fabric that went into making it, even if the fabric was only just good quality. Furs are portable wealth, also, but the PC’s have to be careful which they are seen to be wearing, for the very best are the sole province of the formidable upper classes. The clothing and gear a foe – and/or his henchmen – is wearing when knocked over … or dispatched … should be considered a prime source of booty, especially weapons and armor when they are wearing no clothing of note or particular value. A good pair of hard-soled boots can retail for a couple shillings, and even the clothing of a common craftsman can bring a few pence, even a shilling if he was relatively prosperous, from the old clothes monger, good deal more if the foe(s) was at all affluent and wearing good cloth, especially with fur trim or linings.

A goodly hat such as a knight banneret might wear might fetch a shilling or two in and of itself, and other personal items they might have on them, as well, including the purse worn, and not due to the coin in it but due to the quality of the purse itself. These include hats, fine leather or brocade gloves, fans in the summer, embroidered handkerchiefs, combs, brushes and mirrors for the vain, veils of silk or fine embroidered cotton and ladies’ headdresses, pattens to keep the hems of fine clothing out of the muck of the streets, spice bags or balls, and then there are the common sidearms, the ubiquitous knife or dagger, and the pricker and by-knife sets for use at table. If the body is rifled, such tools as lock picks might be found.

All of these things should be considered before jewelry and coin and articles made of or clad in precious metals, for these are the ways in which the people of the medieval era express and carry their wealth. Most NPC’s are only likely to have a few incidentals in jewelry unless they are truly wealthy, of a station where a real display is a social imperative.

In regards to such personal items, which are easily identified and traced unless immediately rendered down into precious component materials, if the PC’s are looking for booty after a battle it is hoped they were savvy enough to have allowed or insisted that their foes make the first strike so their foes have no recourse at law for assault with arms, a very serious charge. Liveried or household men of a foe of high-standing who took the first swing are similarly at a loss before the law, BUT their patron has means of his own to make life hard for the PC’s, one of them being plenty of money to hire more bully-lads to make a reprisal and clean the PC’s out in turn. Outlaws, privateers, pirates and brigands all stand outside the law and are therefore fair game to be fleeced by the PC’s, but they do not always have much to offer in the way of booty, except for a piece or two of the richest ever taken as a trophy of high watermarks among past exploits. Their lairs or homes, their wagons or ships, however, are likely to be richly laden with their accumulated wealth – at least that part they have left, for the habits of such folk is to live high as long as the money lasts before going out to make more – but it is by no means unusual for them to keep the best of what they have gathered as trophies, and these are free for the plundering once such a foe is defeated.

Of clothing and those personal items mentioned above, those the GM includes are up to the his discretion, BUT the players may be looking for something appropriate to the NPC’s rank and station and wealth as previously described. In numbers of the things present as potential booty, there should never be more present than the PC’s knocked over (and their household) could use. This could be equally true of tools, weapons and armor, etc., unless the place where they were taken included the armory or stores for some larger group. The lodge of masons or other craftsmen, if that is where the NPC’s were knocked over and the group to whom they were attached, would naturally contains tools enough to equip a whole work gang, with incidentals for prepping and carrying materials, also.

When the enemy is defeated at his own home or base camp, the possibilities in booty can get really creative and the total value in booty present more accurately reflect the foe’s actual worldly resources. In these cases, the GM must deal with such things as household stores, foodstuffs, the produce of the NPC’s (farm) lands or estates, or the number of places from which tribute is being extracted (as applicable)

Household booty should include:

Furniture: trestles and boards (comprising tables and benches that break down for storage); dormant tables (only in wealthier houses); single chairs (few in number), settles (more common); cupboards; coffers; chests; sideboards and aumbry (for displaying plate and serve food); dresser (for the kitchen/buttery for preparing food prior to serving); folding draught screens; tester bed (four-poster with canopy).

Furnishings: Books (rare, 1-5 for most, more only where specifically appropriate); cushions (individual); bankers and bolsters (long bench or bed cushions); blankets, coverlets, ticks and mattresses; sheets and towels; wall hangings (plain); painted cloth (wall hangings); tapestry (Gobelin-style); curtains (for beds as well as windows), candlesticks (individual); candle stands (multiple stick table stands); candle trees (floor stands); wash basins; chamber pots; ewers/flagons; pitchers; tankards; rush or reed mats; reed and willow-withy baskets; buckets; fireplace bellows; andirons; fire irons; kitchen wares such as cauldrons and pots of various sizes and shapes (usually bronze but may be cast iron), kettles, frying pans, strainers, sieves, skimmers, spits, pot hangers, tongs, spoons of various sizes (the smaller ones generally being wood), querns (grinders) for grain or pepper or other spices, mortars and pestles, assorted knives for peeling, chopping, butchering, and carving for the table (being among the most expensive kitchen items), great forks.

Food Stores: bushels of corn (any grain – wheat oats, rye, barley, etc.) on the ear awaiting threshing; drink of various sorts, generally beer and/or ale, some wine, perry and apple ciders only in orchard regions and when in season (turning to apple beer and fermented perry in a month or so after squeezing), and mead in areas where bees are kept, honey itself if the NPC keeps bees or has a tenant who does so; a few bushels of an appropriate fruit if in season and the NPC fancies it, or some withered remnants (late winter, early spring), or jars or jellied or jammed fruit or bags of dried fruits; carcasses of slaughtered livestock, cows, pigs, sheep, and/or fowl (salted, dried or smoked, or freshly slaughtered and wrapped in linen); milk, cheeses and butter if the NPC keeps cows or sheep; eggs of the NPC or a tenant keeps chickens, and so on.

Dead stock (the hardware of the farm): plough, plough shoes, mouldboard; buckets and bucket yokes; forks for dung and fodder; butter churns, dairy sieves, dairy stamps, milk pans (for making cheese), cheese presses and dairy forms (for butter and cheeses); tools for cultivation (hoes, bill hooks, scythes, sickles, spades, threshing flails, winnowing fans, seedcods for planting, etc.); tools for taking care of livestock (hoof picks, strigils, currying combs, hurdles – panels of woven fencing to make pens and hedge fields); also conveyances like carts and wagons, palanquins and travois’. Dead stock also includes non-foodstuff produce of the fields such as flax and hemp (at any stage from raw fibers to spun in skeins, depending on how far past the harvest the season), green or tanned/tawyed hides of slaughtered animals (including horse and ox hides), wool from sheep or woolfells (hides with the wool still on them).

In the case of townsmen who do not farm, the dead stock consists of the tools of the trade and any and all raw materials for the work that the NPC does, in the ground floor of his home where he keeps his shop.

Household Stores: this should include broken pieces of furniture awaiting repair; the spice chest lock box and the spices inside for the kitchen; extra sheets and towels; new cloth on the bolt and scraps accumulated from making garments in the past; spools of woolen and flaxen and even silken thread or floss for sewing or embroidery; wax for candles; soap; hand-me-down clothes awaiting a child to grow into them or a retainer or servant to fit them; candles, rushlights and/or flambeaux (the latter in wealthy houses only); extra furnishings and scraps of materials for making them (inc. bags of feathers and down for cushion stuffing); lanterns, sticks, stands and trees for lights, wall hangings, scraps and raw blumes of all sorts of metals, broken fittings for the house or farm (as applicable).

Livestock: may be of the most interest to the PC’s as they are cash on the hoof that doesn’t have to be carried, only cared for – oxen, cows (for dairy), bulls for breeding (very valuable), sheep (dairy and wool), rams for breeding (very valuable), sows, boars, geese, chickens, doves from the dovecote (nobles and churchmen only), hounds, hawks (very valuable), pack or sumpter horses, donkeys, mules and especially palfreys or good riding horses and chargers (for nobles and knights for the chase or for war, only), and destriers (for knights for the battlefield, only), and so on.

The allowances provided in Character Creation under the heading “Clothing & Gear Allowances” should give the GM an idea of the extent of peoples’ clothing. Of individual chairs, there are likely to be only one for the master and one for the mistress and perhaps one or two for visiting company of equal rank and standing which elder children might use, otherwise a small collection of benches seating as many as 5 to 8, and settles seating 2 or 3 and small three- or four-legged stools such as might be used for milking. Most of these are found in the hall, where meals are taken, the rest in the chambers or apartments of the family members. the master and mistress might also keep a couple lesser chairs for their own use in their solar or bedchamber, the children might have a bench or settle in their chambers or a common stool apiece.

Having an individual chair to one’s self is a sign of prestige and privilege.

Books are a rare and expensive commodity in the period of the game, especially considering the fact that the literacy rate among the common people is c. 10%. Because of this, and the fact that books have special uses in providing SP’s and other benefits to Scholars and practitioners of magick, approaches to defining personal and institutional libraries is covered in “The Grimoire”.

Of such niceties as curtains, only the windows of the chambers with which the master and/or mistress are personally concerned are likely to be so equipped. That is, the main hall or common room of the house and the solar and chambers or apartments occupied by the family itself. If the master and mistress are wealthy enough to have a formal bedchamber (from merchants to wealthy craftsman and upwards in rank), as opposed to the simple loft of the common craftsman and farmer, it is fitted with curtains in addition to shutters to keep out drafts. Those with cupboard-style beds behind cupboard doors in wall recesses (some small commoner households) also use curtains, only by necessity they are not so large, full or elaborate.

Where the chair is a sign of prestige, the players and GM must understand that the bed is also. Only in wealthy and noble households where separate bedchambers are affordable are the master and mistress going to have separate beds. Where they can be afforded they are present, even if only as a symbol of wealth, no matter how close master and mistress are. Under those circumstances, any children are likely to have their own bedchambers, and each a bed of his own. For the common folk this is not so, however. Where master and mistress share a bed, the children do too. In well-to-do households, the eldest children might have small beds of their own. The second and third best generally go to the younger children who share, one each for the boys and the girls. For the sake of guarding the virtue of the eldest, the girls are likely to all share a bed, leaving it only upon marrying. In poorer households, the parents may have only one other bed for the children to share, or they may have to share their own bed with their children.

Of household furnishings like candlesticks, plate for table, torches, candles or rushlights, candle stands, candoliers, oil lamps, andirons, bellows, and fire irons, and the like, the best in the house are always reserved for the master and mistress, any leftovers going to the children in descending order of age, second best for any remaining children and worst quality for the servants. Any visitors of note or higher rank are always provided with the very best that the house has to offer, and everyone else makes do with next best right on down the line. Among the commonalty, a highly valued possession that cannot really be classified among the plate is the “maser”, a large round cup or bowl of fine-grained maple or hazel wood. Among those who could afford it, this was commonly lined in silver, or the rim at least clad in silver, often with a foot of silver, like a goblet, and sometimes also fitted with a cover or lid also of silver. Accents of vermeil or gilt are commonly also included by those who can afford them.

Where the grain listed for household stores is concerned, the greatest portion of that found (50-75%) should be wheat, closer to 50 in rocky backward rural areas with poorer soil where rye and barley grow better. Only a limited amount of this grain should be already threshed (d5 + 5 week’s-worth) and even less already bolted (ground to meal or flour, d5 + 5 day’s-worth). A “day’s worth” of grain is 1/5th of a bushel per person in bread, multiplied by the number in the household, then multiply by the number of days on hand. Supplies of grains run lowest from midsummer to the harvest. Prices should be greatest in July, during the mowing, and drop again in mid to late August as the harvest is brought in.

Between September and November the grain is laid in, generally sufficient for the household until next year’s harvest. Livestock that cannot be fed through the winter are slaughtered and laid in by the and of November, either dried, smoked, pickled or salted.

The standard allowance for robes is 7 ells of fabric for household members who are paid in this way, a suit of new clothing for lesser servants. This allowance is typically given at MidWinter (Christmas) and Spring (Easter), as often as four times a year among the upper nobility. This cloth and/or clothing must be laid in among the master’s stores some time beforehand, thus may be found among the household stores depending on the time of year, multiplied by the number of dependants who take part of their pay in this form. Cast-offs might be found stored in trunks waiting a suitable recipient to whom to give them.

Beer and/or ale are the common drink of common folk and servants, but both of these spoil soon after brewing, so no more than (d5) day’s-worth for the household can be present at any given time. A “day’s-worth” of beer or ale is roughly one 1/2 gallon per person (adults, half this for children). This is also true of apple beer or fermented perry. Wine is the preferred drink of the wealthy and noble, and (d5) barrels can be found on hand in lesser households, the same amount in tuns for greater households. A “day’s worth” of wine is 1 quart per person.

If the PC’s are located in a backward, rural region or the NPC from whom they are taking their booty comes from such a region, up to half of any wine stores may be substituted with mead to reflect that fact. The later it is in the year (counting from the previous harvest), the closer to the next harvest, the less there should be of seasonal foodstuffs in store. In the case of carcasses of slaughtered livestock, the excess beyond the households needs can be found in the process of curing so they won’t spoil before they can be sold. In any event, any excess beyond the household’s needs are likely to be sold off by the feasts of MidWinter. What remains of the household’s needs in store depends on the date, the time of year. Only the very wealthy can afford to slaughter livestock according to what they have a taste for that evening, and to facilitate that they have widely scattered estates to draw on.

The GM should be very stingy in regards to horses among the booty captured. The prices of horses is generally exorbitant, so that only those who have a fair amount of money can afford even a simple packhorse, much less a noble steed with spirit, endurance or strength such as are ridden to the hunt or on the battle field. Most villages have one or two, but not the best quality, although if there is a “radman” in the village they might also have one of better quality in his charge for discharging his duty.

The greatest aspect of livestock as booty lies in the fact that it carries itself rather than having to be carried away. Donkeys, mules, et al. can help haul the rest away or pull any carts that might also be present. The GM shouldn’t make carrying ALL the available booty away too easy, however.

Of so-called “movables”, as personal property was known in the period, the common freeman might have a box or barrel for salt, bags for grain and flour, an ewer and basin set of crockery or common metal (tin, brass, copper), two or three candlesticks of iron or latten for general use, one or two brazen pots for boiling, perhaps a ratchet-hook for raising or lowering the pots on the fire, one or two good, sharp knives for the kitchen, two or three brass dishes for serving at table, and a set of crockery or wooden platters and trenchers to serve the family and maybe a guest or two. In better households these platters might even be pewter, the commoner’s silver, and displayed in a cupboard called an aumbry, not likely to have more than one shelf, as the number of shelves in this piece of furniture is dictated by society, indicative of wealth and station, a. kings aumbry laving eight shelves.

Hanging about the walls of this room are mattocks, scythes, hoes, pitch forks, reaping hooks, buckets, corn measures (baskets), and empty sacks. The main hall or chamber of the house is also where the fireplace is at which the cooking is done, or the fire-hardened clay hob in the middle of the floor. The bacon rack, for preserved meals, is secured to the ceiling beams immediately adjacent to the hob fireplace for easy reach, and braided bulbs of onions, garlic, and bundles herbs from the door-garden hang from it, as well.

A freeman generally own the tools he needs to work to provide for himself and his family, but rarely more than he needs for his simple household tasks and farming, as follows.

Common Freeman’s Tools:

an axe

a yoke with 2 buckets

a hoe

a billhook

a spade

a barrel

Furniture in the hall or main room of the house is likely to be scanty: a pair of “tressels” (trestles) and a board make up a table that can be broken down and put aside when not in use for meals, a few “forms” or hard-seated settles and stools or a long bench with a cushion woven of straw in the same manner as a beehive or covered in cloth if it can be spared, stuffed with straw, wool, and/or herbs, one or two actual chairs for the heads of the house, perhaps with cushions, and a few chests for the storage of extra linens, blankets, and off-season clothing pushed up against the walls, out of the way which doubles for extra seating at need. In the bedroom, or “dorm”, located in the small upper storey or a simpler loft, there is little more than a bed and a rack on the wall called a “perch” for the hanging of clothes, and in better homes a “press” or small cupboard of some sort for storing clothing. The children of the well-to-do farmers sleep in cots or shared rough narrow beds, while the parents share a wider, finer affair, a gift to celebrate their wedding.

Unlike the poorer folk, the freeman farmer may own a hat, though perhaps not a really good one, more like a simple thing of shaped felt, or a broad-brimmed one of straw to keep the worst of the sun off when working in the fields, or a leather “Phrygian”-style cap. These folk commonly wear leather or carven wood shoes, or may even have a pair of good hard-soled boots, especially if they live in rough, rocky country, and may have a heavy cloak for winter and a lighter one for summer. In addition to the blankets for their beds, where the poor serf uses his cloak to wrap himself of nights to keep warm, as well as to keep the weather off outdoors.

Where a freeman sheep farmer is likely to have shears, a churn for butter, tubs for butter and cheese and hurdling and a crook, and a few farm tools to work the vegetable plot out back, a manor must have a complete range of tools for accomplishing the work of the farm, from husbandry to cultivating fields, all aspects of rural life in which it is involved.

The wealth in tools (“dead stock”) kept on the average manor-estate is quite an improvement over the tools of a simple farmer. The manor needed to be far more self-sufficient, where the simple farmer had his village to rely on to help him meet his needs.

The following is an inventory of the medieval manor of Holywell, which held 130 acres in demesne.

Common Manor Equipment & Tools:

4 iron-bound carts

4 cart frames

4 rope harnesses

4 forks for lifting trusses (trussed sheaves of grain)

1 long fork for the rick

3 ploughs

6 iron dung forks

3 hoes

1 reaphook (bill-)

1 scythe

2 mattocks

2 wheel barrows

1 seed cod

2 axes

1 saw

2 winnowing fans

3 milk buckets

1 butter churn

3 cheese vats w/cheese cloths, etc.

& divers[e] measures and kitchen utensils

In addition, to provide for the needs of the manor court, 3 pair of leg irons were kept at Holywell. All of this totaled no less than £25 in value.

Then again, the lord of the manor was supposed to be there for the village(s) gathered by him to depend on, and was not so free to borrow from his tenants and neighbors as those of lesser wealth might be.

This should at least tell the GM what can be found on the average manor estate as far as farm tools and equipment, if the PC’s go looking.

The wealth of a well-to-do craftsman lay mainly in his tools, but can also be seen in the extent of his household furnishings and kitchenware, as can be seen in the inventory of moveable property in one wealthy carpenter’s estate, as follows.

Well-to-do Carpenter’s Tools:

5 chisels

1 gouge

2 augers

1 compass

2 drawing planes

13 small planes (asst’d)

2 adzes

1 handsaw

1 drawer

7 small planes

1 square

1 hammer

1 wimble

4 boxes

2 prickers

1 knife

1 sm. grindstone

Well-to-do Carpenter’s Furnishings & Wardrobe

2 brazen pots, broken

1 sm. pan

1 kettle

1 dropping pan

1 frying pan

3 candlesticks

4 porringers

1 platter

1 old [wash] basin

2 sm. pewter pots

2 old salt cellars

1 pr. of tongs

1 pot hanger

1 pr. fireplace bellows

I strainer

1 chafing dish

2 saucers

2 stools

2 boards

1 form [settle]

1 chair

1 aumbry [birch] w/1 shelf

1 plank & 2 old trestles [dining table]

an old rope

1 bedstead

2 old coffers

1 old tester [bed]

2 painted cloths

2 old mattresses & 1 old pillow

5 old blankets & 5 old sheets

4 old tablecloths

4 old towels

1 undercloth stuffed w/flocks

2 old doublets

1 gown

1 jacket

1 frieze jacket

1 woman’s hood

1 old mantle

1 jack

1 coverlet

This inventory is certainly applicable to any other similarly successful craftsman. This man certainly had enough tools to keep an apprentice or two busy and a couple journeymen, as well. The gown and woman’s hood were likely mementos kept from a wife, daughter, sister, or other beloved lady of his family who passed before him. Note the single chair, for the master of the house, a settle for company and a couple stools. Individual chairs for seating were rare. To have one to one’s self was an honor. Although they don’t appear on the inventory above, the average citizen craftsman or merchant of a large cosmopolitan city of the size of London (c. 100,000 pop.) or larger might have as many as three dozen spoons of silver, each most commonly weighing c. 4 to 6 oz. Troy.

‘The wealth of the upper classes is very evident in the furnishings with which they surrounded themselves. The goods with which one Dame Agnes Browne entered a nunnery are very illustrative of the extent of the personal household possessions even a single lady [with the social rank of a knight, the least of the nobility] can command in the game even when entering a supposedly austere religious house:

1 feather bed

1 bolster [cushion]

1 pr.blankets

coarse coverlets

good sheets (new)

bad sheets (old)

1 square, carven coffer

small chests

1 sm. wainscot cupboard, carven

1 silver spoon

1 fire pan

candlesticks

sm. andirons

1 pr. of tongs

1 porringer

pewter dishes

skillets

1 pewter [wash] basin

1 cauldron

1 sm. brass pot

1 sm. piece of silver [plate]

1 pewter drinking pot

sm. goblet w/silver cover, partly gilded

1 maser [fine wood cup] w/rim of silver & gilt

And this inventory doesn’t include her clothing which, while she won’t be able to wear it in the religious house around the sisters, she is certain to keep with her and wear on those occasions for which she gets permission to leave the house. The following brief inventory of only the primary items in the wardrobe of a wealthy earl should give the GM an idea of how limited even the wardrobes of greater nobles are compared to those most people keep today.

robes of the Order of the Garter

Peter’s robes for Parliament

black satin gown furred w/sables

tawny velvet gown furred w/sables

black damask furred w/black coneys

suit of cloth-of-gold

The Order of the Garter was a fraternity for knights regardless of other rank, first instituted on April 23, 1344 by king Edward III. It was considered very exclusive and a signal honor even among the ranks of knights.

In addition to the basic garments in the inventory above, and the fine smallclothes which would be worn underneath (“underwear” of silk for a man of the rank of earl), the earl would also have an assortment of coats and slippers, shoes and boots, cloaks, hats, gloves, and similar accessories, as well as a large assortment of jewels, pearls, rings (for every finger including the thumb), pectoral chains of state for formal occasions, brooches, and girdles [belts] of silk, enamel, silver and/or gold medallions or lockets, and a fillet of silver or gilt marking his high estate.

An inventory taken from of the Earl of Shrewsbury included 11 pieces of fine textile hangings called “Alexander”, 40 pieces called “Vice & Virtue” (portraying the ideals discussed in character generation, VERY popular in the period), and 57 of actual “Gobelin” tapestry-work, still well-known today. The earl’s store of coin at the time of his death stood at almost £1,500, and the GM should consider the great body of furnishings and effects required to furnish whatever residence he occupied, which he would lave carried with him where ever he travelled.

Having access to inventories like these also provides the added benefit of giving the GM an idea of just what should be lying about in the way of small objects and general furnishings in such a household if something untoward should happen in such a setting, should a tactical situation spring up.

Of all the different types of booty, coin, plate and jewelry probably attract the most attention, considered the most important, regardless of the fact that they make up the smallest portion of any booty garnered (or they should!). They make up the most concentrated form of liquid wealth, the most easily ported. It can either be spent as is, dropped at the moneylenders for a cash advance, or taken to the mint and rendered down and struck as new coin. Jewelry and plate in particular tend to attract the attention of PC’s for the fact that they, when the quality is good, they have intrinsic beauty. This appeal is especially strong when the GM takes the time to provide detailed descriptions of the pieces using the procedure provided as follows, and when they include precious stones. Good quality gemstones are without a doubt the most compact form of liquid wealth, but even decorative stones used in some cunning technique such as intricate inlay have an enhanced appeal.

To determine the liquid wealth of an adult NPC, the GM should use the procedure provided in NPC generation and take 10% of the result. This should be increased by 1% for every year by which the NPC is within the “middle-age” or “old” category (cumulative from one to the next – provided he is human. For dunladdin this should be 1 per 2 years; 1 per 4 years for dwarfs; 1 per 10 years for elfs, halfelfs, and halftrolls.

Of this, (d5)% should be in shillings, (d5)% in groats, (d5)% in tuppence, (d10 + 5)% in ha’pence, (d10 + 5)% in farthings.

Taking a Purse

When a foe is dispatched and the body is rifled, the GM must determine the coin carried in his purse.

For those of the serf class, a d5 of farthings might be found.

For those above that station but still landbound, add a d5 for ha’pence.

For freemen, add the roll of a d5 for pence.

  • IF a “5” results, add another d5.

For more well-to-do freemen, add a d5 in tuppence, adding a d5 in groats on the result of a “5”.

For upper crust freemen and lesser nobles and knights, add a d5 in shillings.

There should be no gold unless a great deal of liquid wealth is being transported to a safe location or for the completion of a large-scale transaction is being prepared for.

Nobles do not carry purses on their persons, their body servants, chamberlains, bailiffs or stewards carry them for them, depending on who is attending to him at the time, and these also handle chaffering and payment. Such activities are beneath the nobleman’s dignity.

  • IF the GM wishes to include a few gold coins, no more than (d5)% of the whole value of the hoard should be in (foreign) gold coins, which are most likely to be completely lost amid the silver until the PC’s have a chance to take a full inventory.

The balance should be in plain silver pence, though they may be of various nationalities, and the GM might fudge on the values of some by including some debased coins, also. Such debased coins were VERY common in the period, but only outside of England in the period of the game.

Plate includes all tableware like saltcellars, which were often very elaborate, as those sitting “below the salt” at table were marked as inferior of social rank. Trenchers, while often wood, or even simple slabs of stale bread in the poorest households, could be made of plate in the finer households, serving platters of all sizes and shapes, serving bowls and dishes of all sizes and shapes, covered dishes and goblets, porringers, mugs or steins, cups, esquelles (for rinsing the hands at the table), all can be found among the fine silver of a great house.

Gold-ware can only be found in the houses of the extremely wealthy – merchants of national stature, households of earls and other greater nobles, but primarily at the high table of the royal hall. Gilded silver or silver with gilt accents or gold vermeil (“gold washed”) pieces are more common among the wealthy barons and merchants, and especially silver-plated base metal (usually copper). Pewter is considered next best to silver. Historically, especially that fine pewter which was considered only slightly inferior to silver produced only in England. Brass and bronze follow pewter in value, and copper and tin after. Bronze, copper and tin are not commonly used for tableware, but bronze was historically commonly cast into pots for the kitchen ­– enough so that the trade of “potter” refers to one who casts pots of bronze. The common folk make use of ceramic earthenware and wares of fine-grained carven wood, as do the servants of the wealthy and the wealthy themselves when entertaining on a large scale. Few single pieces come to the price of even a single farthing, and they appear in the accounts of the wealthy priced by the half-hundred or by the hundred.

The GM can pick out individual pieces of plate he wishes to bring into play from the rosters of personal belongings in the NPC section of Character Creation. Silver spoons were one of the most common forms in which silver was kept among those of modest wealth in the medieval period. Even the average burgess of the city of London might bequeath as many as two or three dozen of them in his will, historically (see the royal inventory, as follows). Plate is always inventoried according to its weight in £. s. d. (pounds, shillings and pence), but keeping in mind that the pence are pennyweights of Troy measure, or 20 to the ounce (Troy).

If the GM wants the PC’s to keep to keep track of these in common weight (avoirdupoids) along with the rest of their gear, he should provide them with those figures. The value of a piece of plate or jewelry, or a gem should NEVER be revealed when first obtained unless it is purchased from a smith or merchant. The PC’s must be made to have their gems assessed by a qualified merchant and their precious metals weighed and assayed, like anyone else of the period, unless they can accomplish the task themselves, especially by other (magickal) means.

The weights for pieces of plate are the most difficult to set, and in many cases must simply be arbitrary. The weights of ornaments and trim can add to the weight of an item in an ambiguous manner difficult at best to measure, but for which the GM must decide on some way to account. To get a solid basis in fact for the weights of pieces of plate, so the GM has at least some point of reference, the GM can find quotes for the (shipping) weights of platters and tea sets from various mail-order catalogues and online sites, determine how much metal is in the item by dividing the weight by the weight per volume, of copper in the case of silver-plated wares, to determine the volume of metal used to make the object. Once the amount of metal comprising an object is known, its weight in any metal desired can easily be computed, should the GM want to bring that item made of pure silver or gold into play. In cases where the GM wants an item of gilt or silver plating, a figure of 1% of the amount of metal in the object can be taken as the standard for the amount of precious metal in the object, and the value determined from there.

When the PC takes such items to be coined, they are purified when smelted, the dross drawn off until the proper purity is reached for striking coin. The character receives 107% of the value of the precious metal back from coining, the mintage fees are deducted after the metal is coined.

The following is an inventory of the plate belonging to Queen Eleanor, wife of Edward I, to provide the GM with a point of reference when determining the value of plate to be brought into play for booty.

The “Common Wt.” figure in the far right column is the weight of the item in common avoirdupoids measure, as they would be listed in the character record sheet for the purposes of tracking Encumbrance. These items are only those kept by the queen for her personal use, as opposed to those kept by her officers for use in serving her at table in the great hall, or those kept by her husband the king and those looked after by the king’s officers for serving the high table in his hall.

Item Wt. (Troy) Common Wt.
1 gilded silver goblet, footed, no cover £2. 0s. 5d. 1.66 lb
2 plain silver goblets, ea. £0. 14s. 4d. 0.59 lb
1 plain silver goblet £0. 13s. 10d. 0.57 lb
1 plain silver goblet £0. 13s. 0d. 0.53 lb
1 silver basin £3. 12s. 3d. 2.97 lb
1 silver basin £3. 11s. 3d. 2.93 lb
1 silver basin £3. 9s. 3d. 2.85 lb
1 silver basin £3. 8s. 11d. 2.84 lb
1 silver pitcher £3. 13s. 11d. 1hp 3.04 lb
1 silver pitcher £3. 1s. 4d. 2.52 lb
1 silver water-pitcher £1. 7s. 0d. 1.11 lb
1 silver water-pitcher £1. 2s. 8d. 1 lb
1 large silver dish “for entremets” † £5. 2s. 5d. 4.21 lb
1 silver jar £3. 11s. 3d. 2.93 lb
1 large silver spoon for the kitchen £1. 6s. 0d. 1.07 lb
24 silver spoons for the children, ea. £0. 1s. 1d. 3fg 0.05 lb
2 rich silver cups, a gift for an earl, ea. £1. 13s. 4d. 1.37 lb

† an entremet is a brightly colored and highly flavored dish served at the end of a course, marking its end, designed to be a delight for the eye as well as the palate. It is likely to be very elaborate, such as a model of a castle from myth complete with wine fountains, musicians. It could be modeled into an allegorical scene, such as the triumph of Love in soothing the savage heart of the Beast.

To determine the number of such pieces of plate in the “hoard” taken a NPC has, the GM should roll first for spoons, as notes 1) and 2) following the table indicate. For every die rolled to determine the number of fine silver spoons the GM should add one (1) to the roll of a d5 for determining the number of pieces of plate kept in the household.

  • The GM rolls first to see what the basic piece of plate is, its form/purpose, then roll on the table for shape and/or Special Feature(s), as called for by the * and † marks on the Items table entries. After this, the Style needs to be determined to see how ornate it is, then roll on the Base Metal to see what metal it is actually made of.

3d10 Type of Piece
3 Basin, large *† (foot-bath)
4 Basin/Esquelle, small *† (rinsing hands at table)
5 Deep Serving Dish, large *†
6 Pitcher/Ewer, water-, large †
7 Dish *†, Serving- (middling size)
8 Dish *†, Serving- (small, knick-knack)
9 Pitcher/Ewer, wine- (small) †
10 Platter/Tray *†, large
11 Platter/Tray *†, middling size
12 Salt Cellar *†, large
13 Salt Cellar *†, small
14 Spice Box *†, large
15 Spice Box *†, small
16 Plate/Trencher, small (table use) *
17 Carving Fork/Carving Knife †, large
18 Cup/Goblet/Tankard/Chalice †, large
19 Cup/Goblet/Tankard/Chalice, w/cover/lid †, large
20 Cup/Goblet/Tankard/Chalice †, middling size
21 Cup/Goblet/Tankard/Chalice, w/cover/lid †, middling
22 Cup/Goblet †, small
23 1) Spoon, Serving- (large)
24 2) Spoon, table-use (small)
25 Box/Coffer *†, large
26 Box/Chest *†, middling size
27 Box *†, small (knick-knack)
28 Jar †, large
29 Jar †, middling size
30 Jar †, small (knick-knack)

d10 * Shape
1-2 Round
3-4 3) Polygon with rounded corners
5-6 3) Regular Polygon
7-8 3) Stretched Polygon
9 Oval
10 Oval w/full-bellied rounded walls

d10 † Features
1 Hinged Lid
2 Handle(s)
3 Stem-and-Foot (goblet-style foot)
4 Footed
5 None
6 Cover w/Handle
7 Catch-Closure/Ring & Hasp (for padlock)
8 Escutcheon & built-in Lock
9 4) Special Feature, roll again
10 4) Vindictive Feature

2d10 Style
2-4 Incised/Etched Trim/Accents
5-6 Incised/Etched over main body of piece
7-9 Plain
10-11 Pierced design or wound/woven strips in trim/accents
12 Pierced design or woven strip construction in body of piece
13 Repoussé trim/accents
14 Repoussé over main body of piece
15-16 5) Appliqués of solid, sculpted mounts
17 5) Appliqués of solid, sculpted jeweled mounts
18 Jeweled trim/accents
19 6) Jewel-encrusted over main body of piece
20 Multiple types of Decoration, roll again

d10 Base Metal
2-3 Brass/Bronze
4-5 Brass/Bronze w/silver-gilt trim/accents
6-7 Pewter
8-9 7) Pewter w/silver-gilt trim/accents
10-11 Silver-gilt copper (silverplate)
12-13 Silver-gilt Pewter
14 Debased Silver
15 Pure Silver
16-17 7) Gilded trim/accents, roll again ignoring this result
18 Vermeil (“gold washed”) or gilded silver
19 Debased Gold
20 Pure Gold

1) To determine the number of fine serving spoons an NPC keeps, the GM rolls one d5 per 2 stations the NPC is above “Courtier/Household Officer” or “Scholar Lawyer” on the Freeman Station tables in Character Creation, counting nobles as a continuation above the free townsman stations, or one d5 per 2 stations above “Priest/House Officer/Clerk on the town Clergy tables, or 1 die only for the Abbot/Prior station.

2) To determine the number of fine table spoons a NPC keeps, the GM rolls one d5 per 2 stations the NPC is above the “Dayworker” or Household Servant/Worker” on the Freeman Station tables in Character Creation, again counting nobles as a continuation above the free townsman stations, or one d5 per station of the NPC from the bottom of the Clergy Stations.

3) To determine the number of walls the polygon has, roll 3d5. This should be more than sufficient, unless the GM has some purpose in mind or whim to satisfy in giving it more that this. For the Stretched Polygon, not all sides must be of equal length, only those that are opposite one another (provided it has an even number of walls), or one wall is disproportionately long, or three or more. It is up to the GM to interpret what the actual shape of the polygon is to be.

4) Special Features include things such as false bottoms and or other built-in secret compartments, concealed features or uses, fold-out or detachable tools, and the like. The contents of such compartments may be vital to the adventure at hand, or may be pivotal to a plot that lies ahead, unbeknownst to the PC’s.

Vindictive Features here, as discussed under “Adventure Sites”, indicates some sort of capacity to inflict harm, generally by means of a Special Feature, unless the object is also intended to be somehow used as a weapon or conceals some sort of weapon, even if it is only a simple needle trap bearing some sort of poison.

These results may be just as easily ignored, or used to create a new wrinkle for the current adventure or an up-coming plot, as desired.

5) This entry refers to solid-cast mounts either soldered or riveted on to the base piece, and especially includes decorative embellishments or renderings of spouts, handles, stems and feet, covers/lids, lid hinge assemblies, and the like, as applicable. To determine the number of mounts the GM rolls a d5 for small items or a d10 for middling to large items. On the roll of a “10” for a large item, roll an additional d10 and add the result. It is advised that any features be subtracted from the number of mounts and those features be embellished as mounts. The balance (if there are any still remaining), should be placed in some pleasing pattern to heighten the decorative effect to enhance rims, belly trim, base, etc. as applicable.

The sizes of the mounts can be varied (GM’s discretion), but should always be in proportion to the piece itself. The GM must check to see what metal the mounts are made of separate from the item they are fixed to, as they may well be different for the sake of contrast, a place to either concentrate the value of the piece or one area in which quality was forsaken.

6) This entry applies only to objects that are made of solid silver or better. If this is not the case, the GM should reroll, ignoring this result.

7) When this entry applies to a piece of plate used in food service, the areas coming into contact with food are always gilt, in addition to being used as an element of design(s) applied to the outer surface.

Gilt on otherwise “plain” pieces of plate generally takes the form of plain banding just below rims and perhaps the outside surfaces of any handles (less likely to wear from being handled), on feet, or banding on stems (as applicable).

  • For every class and station for which a die roll is allotted, the GM should make a check for fine serving spoons.

The size parameters for the items on the first table ”Type of Piece” are necessarily vague for the GM’s convenience, so he may adapt them to his own particular needs during play. As a rule of thumb, the small objects might be anywhere from as small as a couple inches in any given dimension to as large as one’s open, outstretched hand (c. 8-9in’s). Middling-sized objects might be up to twice the small size, while large objects should generally fall between half-again and twice the middling size (up to 36in’s). Boxes of the large size are most likely created using a base of good hard wood clad in beaten sheets of metal, a sheath nailed or riveted down with corners bound in a sturdier thickness. This is most definitely recommended in the case of those boxes which the dice indicate are made of silver-plated copper, the wood being substituted for the copper, with fine sheets of silver tacked down onto it.

Settling the values on the various pieces of plate is entirely up to the GM, but he does have the queen’s inventory provided as a point of reference, and the weights of other similar pieces can be found for the GM’s use in determining value by equivalent precious metal content. As a further reference, especially for adding amounts and trim bands and the like, the general thickness of the walls of the piece vary from 1/8th of an inch in the areas to receive the greatest wear (roundness of bellies, rims of bowls, platters, trays, etc.)down to 1/10th of an inch. Of course, the GM can make his life a little easier by simply assuming a uniform thickness. This helps out a lot in figuring out volume of metal by simplifying geometric forms (reducing a tankard to a simple cylinder with a bottom, etc).

  • To determine the number and quality of gems in a piece of plate, the GM should use the method provided for jewelry, as follows.

The player and GM should understand that plate is a temporary thing in the thinking of the people who had wealth in the period, a convenient and concentrated means for enjoying and transporting wealth, but one that is meant to be melted down and coined at need to provide ready money, and until the time just as likely to be melted down and remade from scratch rather than be repaired. This is less true of the truly elaborate great treasures (three or more means of embellishment, especially those bejeweled) for their value as trophies, and those pieces that bear a particular sentimental attachment due to the means by which they came into hand, but the latter are not so common due to the general attitude towards plate in the first place. Jewels are more likely to be pried out and replaced with glass, and with new jewels as the means present themselves before the piece they came from would be forsaken for the value of the metal.

The GM must feel free to fudge the results when generating pieces of plate so the results better suit the class and station of the NPC to whom they belonged, especially lesser nobility, knights, merchants and even commoners. It just doesn’t make sense for such people to have great “trophy” pieces of plate, much less more than one such, UNLESS their doing so is a part of some plot and fits the GM’s purposes for the game. An acceptable instance of such a thing is one in which any stones have been replaced with glass already, and in which the metal is debased or the fine metal in it only a plating, especially if the family it came from was on a long slide down from “once upon a time” having had great social rank and prominence. In any event, unless it is part of the plot already, it is a little awkward to have to retro-fit something like that in on the fly due to the roll of the dice for booty, so best not be done on a whim or solely by chance.

Determining the volume of metal in a piece of jewelry in a piece of jewelry is very difficult – probably moreso than in a piece of plate. Most rings are only a d-weight (penny-weight) or two, especially women’s rings, which run lighter. Even a heavier man’s ring won’t run more than four d-weight, maybe five. It was not uncommon for a wealthy man, especially a nobleman or a high churchman expected to give largesse, to pick up simple, plain gold rings by the dozen for as little as 2s. 2d. a piece to give as gifts. By the price they are obviously only plated or they are highly debased (c. 10kt to 12kt), and maybe a single d-weight each. These are the sorts of common bagatelles passed out to those who have earned notice but are still relatively “unimportant”.

A good point of reference for the GM is finding catalogue weights for modern pieces of jewelry that are similar in size and mass/thickness, BUT they should be solid sterling in order for the GM to be able to substitute the weight of another metal accurately using the materials tables provided for him. Even 18kt gold is 25% alloy, and 24kt is rare in the extreme to find, considered too soft to be practical for wear anymore. Silver can be converted to the weight of copper for silver-plated copper, and the weight of silver stand as it is for gilded silver, as the gilding is so thin as to make no real difference in weight.

In determining the weights of ornaments added to plate and jewelry, the GM can use the sizes and weights of coins as a point of reference. These are generally small, about the right size common for use on cups, mugs, jewelry, the handles of platters, and they are deceptively light. Adding a band of coin-like ornaments to the rim of a goblet or chalice and another about the base can greatly increase the value of a piece, as can making up a bracelet in the same manner. Indeed, using coins, especially foreign and antique or even ancient coins, as jewelry can be a less-obvious means for carrying ready coin around, a fashion especially popular in the Middle East, as charms on bracelets and girdles.

Using strips of chaised or incised metals is another easy way to embellish a piece of jewelry or plate in such a way that the added value is easily determined. Most of these should be c. 1/16th inch thick, as recommended for plate in general.

The GM can easily find the volume of metal in such cases and, from there, the value of the metal ornament(s).

The quality of gem cutting in the period of the game isn’t anywhere near what we are used to in the modern era, and the quality of gems those of the period of the game found not only acceptable but desirable fall far below the modern standards. The most common “cuts” used are the smooth-domed cabachons, rendered with a flat wall around the base where a flattened wire called a “bezel” holds it, after having been soldered onto the piece on which the gem is being set. These are rendered by the use of a grinding wheel. Of actual “cut” stones the shapes are simple, regular polygons, the smaller the stone the fewer the facets. Contrary to the usual modern practice, opaque as well as translucent and transparent stones are rendered as “cut” stones. A pyramid cut and also a simplified version of the cushion cut are the most common shapes used in cutting stones. A pyramid with the point cut off to form a flat face and the corners beveled off is likely about as fancy a cut as might be found.

The standard modern round brilliant cut was unknown in the period. The “single-cut” which gave 8 facets to the girdle surrounding the table (face) and 8 to the pointed “pavilion” (back of the stone) was as intricate as the tools of the period would allow. More sophisticated methods of cutting stones designed to maximize the refractive and reflective properties of clear gemstones began with the invention of the horizontally-turning cutting wheel in the Renaissance, but even then, the first incarnations of the “brilliant” cut waited until the “Old Mine Cut” cut of the 1700’s, and the “Old European Cut” of the 1800’s.

In the author’s gameworld, gem-cutting is a high art in the hands of the dwarfs, who are capable of cutting stones as intricately as any modern cutter, their work commanding commensurately higher prices. The cut stones of other peoples sell more, due to the difference in price, but the dwarf practices have given the gameworld consumers a more discerning eye and demanding taste when it comes to flaws and inclusions that the true people of the medieval era would have considered perfectly acceptable.

Well-made and formulated glass was considered by many to be an acceptable alternative to expensive natural ornamental gemstones for those with budget constraints, in part due to the fact that glass was not all that common, especially good clear glass without air bubbles or other impurities or inclusions.

Brightly colored good quality glass was very popular. Glass might be cut and laid between flattened-wire bezels in inlay-work that has much the same appearance as cloisonné enamel.

Small medallions might be covered with inlay or enamel-work designs and the results set like stones as an alternative to gemstones, also.

Most common pieces of jewelry consist of worked metal alone, however, without gems, even of the ersatz sort just described, relying solely on the interplay of color of different sorts of metals from brass and copper to silver and even a touch of gilding.