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View Full Version : DM Help What's in the crate? (Fantasy)



hymer
2015-07-15, 04:31 AM
So an order of paladins gets caught up in a civil war, and one of their now understaffed bases of operation needs to be shut down and evacuated before it gets captured. They take as much stuff with them as they can, destroying anything else that cannot fall into the hands of evil. And they arrange with the local temple to store a crate of things the paladins can't take with them, but also cannot (bear to) destroy. They hope to come back eventually and retrieve the crate.
About a century later, the PCs find that crate in the ruins of the temple, still unopened. One of them is a member of the paladin order, and she did not know such a crate existed. She isn't surprised, though.

What could be some interesting, cool and/or informative things to be found in that crate? And what could be some of the more mundane stuff they might find? All thoughts, comments and suggestions are appreciated.

Slipperychicken
2015-07-15, 03:33 PM
Sounds like records, manuals, holy books, or other useful texts might be in there. It could be of historical or educational value, or perhaps contain some magic spells or thought-provoking analyses of obscure canon. There might even be some records of a magical experiment in its early days. That's good enough for paladins to be reluctant to destroy, but not much use to the forces of darkness. It goes without saying that the tomes are well-decorated and would fetch a good price.

Spartakus
2015-07-15, 03:49 PM
Why couldn't the Paladins take the crate with them? Is it a gigantic crate with tons of stuff in it?

Maybe it is some crate of pandora that was build around something that could not me moved itself like the Rift of Azure City.
Or the body of some eldritch abomination whoose spirit can't find it because its "radiation" was overshadowed by the consecration of the temple.

On the other hand it could be a trap for the forces of evil that was simly not discovered after the destruction. A helmet of opposite alignment designed for the evil overlord would fit :smallamused:

I think some context is needed here. Is it supposed to be a major plot point and you are looking for ideas or do you just need some interesting treasure?

Yora
2015-07-15, 03:54 PM
One option might be that they had serious concerns about getting captured by the enemy before they reach a new safe base, so they instead hid the box. Could either be a relic with great powers for either good or evil, or alternative information about a place or thing that the enemies must not find. Either something the enemy wants but the paladins had been unable to destroy yet, or something that is important to the paladins and they want to protect. Knowing that they might die and their knowledge with them, they made the records and stored them in a safe place.

MrStabby
2015-07-15, 03:56 PM
Records of atonement.

Every paladin in the history of the order who ever broke the code is listed there alongside what they did to atone or when they died.

Obviously there can be hints to oathbraker paladins, blackguards, death knights etc in the list but also essentially quests that had killed the paladins that has been sent on them to atone.

Spartakus
2015-07-15, 04:08 PM
One option might be that they had serious concerns about getting captured by the enemy before they reach a new safe base, so they instead hid the box. Could either be a relic with great powers for either good or evil, or alternative information about a place or thing that the enemies must not find. Either something the enemy wants but the paladins had been unable to destroy yet, or something that is important to the paladins and they want to protect. Knowing that they might die and their knowledge with them, they made the records and stored them in a safe place.

But they expected the temple to be overrun by evil forces. It is by definition one of the worst places to hide something that must not fall into the hands of the enemy.

Yora
2015-07-15, 04:12 PM
No, only their own stronghold, I believe. The temple where the stuff is stored seems to be a neutral faction not under threat.

Slarg
2015-07-15, 04:27 PM
Could be an insignia/banner, so as to be able to inspire people who find the place long after the evil things have been smote to battle evil.

hymer
2015-07-16, 07:46 AM
@ Slipperychicken: Yes, thanks! My mind was reduced to 'Uuhh... Some books?' Good ideas, I'm definitely using most of those, maybe all.

@ Spartakus: The paladins had more stuff than they could carry along as they fled bravely away. :smallwink: Anything left behind would likely fall into the hands of evil. This is why, as Yora correctly believe I meant, they left some stuff with a local temple, which was not due to be overrun. (Later the temple was sacked too, but by a different enemy, and the clerics managed to seal off a large section, which is where the PCs went and where the crate was.)
Iím not so much looking for major plot points (as thereís already at least one of those in the crate). Iím trying to avoid saying ďInside you find a whole bunch of irrelevant but interesting stuff (just take my word for it), and then this macguffin.Ē Iíd like for there to be things the players can choose to make relevant, and various things I can describe and the PCs can examine, to make it more entertaining if the PCs decide to open the crate.
Thanks for your thoughts!

@ Yora: Excellent thoughts! Thank you! And for clarifying to Spartakus, too.

@ MrStabby: I love the idea! Unfortunately, these are human paladins, and itís been a century. But maybe some undeadÖ HmmmÖ Thanks!

@ Slarg: Interestingly, a battle standard is exactly what the PCs are looking for at the moment. So I like the idea, but this probably isnít thematically the right time to bring it up. But thanks! :smallsmile:

AxeAlex
2015-07-16, 08:10 AM
Tools the forces of evil would have used, for EVIL.

Rituals to summon demons and devils.
Rituals to sacrifice virgins to unlock magic powers.
The Evil Sword of the Evil God that must never be found by his Evil Cult.
Maps showing the location of the portal that leads to a great evil, sealed away by the order.
Maps of the secret headquarters of the order.
The terrible secret that the paladin order's founder is still alive and is now a vampire blackguard BBEG.
A strange alchemical mixture that can protect from "Smite Evil".
Proof that the earth is round.

Berenger
2015-07-16, 08:33 AM
1. It's a war chest containing enough money to raise an army for a crusade.

2. Weapons of [Type of Evil Creature] Slaying.

3. A sarcophagus that holds the physical remains of the first paladin in the world.

4. A sarcophagus that acts as a prison for a demon to powerful to be killed.

5. A silver dragon egg.

6. A sword, a suit of armor and the equivalent of a holocron ( a device designed to teach and train paladins in forthcoming generations), as insurance against a worst case scenario in which the order and its traditions are completely eradicated.

goto124
2015-07-16, 10:06 AM
they fled bravely away

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f278/katietiedrich/comic4.jpg

Storm_Of_Snow
2015-07-16, 10:39 AM
How about a reliquary?

Whyrocknodie
2015-07-16, 12:38 PM
Another crate.

MrStabby
2015-07-16, 12:39 PM
Another crate.

crates all the way down.

Bard1cKnowledge
2015-07-16, 11:42 PM
A halfling skeleton that should have been alive half a century ago.

goto124
2015-07-16, 11:52 PM
crates all the way down.

The crates get smaller and smaller...

Each one has a lock on it. That should buy you a lot of time to think about what's actually in the crate, while the party runs around trying to open all the crates.

Jaredino
2015-07-17, 12:10 AM
Perhaps training equipment for novice paladins, maybe plates and silverware, scrolls detailing the oaths of the paladins, stuff that you wouldn't NEED while running away. You would take things like money, armor, and most things magical, but mundane objects that could give a little bit of flavor are always nice. Maybe there is a scroll containing the secrets of the order, or maybe they find broken helmets and weapons that are inscribed with the symbol of the order. Maybe make them things that you don't think about paladins having, like excess lantern oil, or a box full of rags used for cleaning the floors.

Kami2awa
2015-07-17, 04:09 AM
But they expected the temple to be overrun by evil forces. It is by definition one of the worst places to hide something that must not fall into the hands of the enemy.

If they expected evil forces to take over... then whatever they left behind is likely a trap.

Knaight
2015-07-17, 09:32 PM
Relics and reliquaries have been mentioned here, but there's also the possibility for ornaments that don't quite reach that status but still would have had sentimental value. Small statuettes of notable members of the order, tools that were used by contemporaries who aren't necessarily of that much historical importance and are in some disrepair, personal correspondence that was impractical to bring along but that would have had great personal meaning to the recipient - all of those work well.

Then you just pick a handful of them for examples, with a bit more detail. The personal correspondence becomes cherished letters from a dead sibling to a living one detailing their life in the field trying to do good, the small statuette was lovingly carved by an artisan who had to abandon their work when the war came and they took up holy orders, stuff like that. You don't necessarily need to convey all that, but just knowing it and taking details from it can help.

YossarianLives
2015-07-17, 10:29 PM
The crates get smaller and smaller...

Each one has a lock on it. That should buy you a lot of time to think about what's actually in the crate, while the party runs around trying to open all the crates.
After about 30 or so crates the party opens the last one to find a single gold piece.

Slipperychicken
2015-07-18, 12:38 AM
After about 30 or so crates the party opens the last one to find a single gold piece.

Then you realize that you have 30 crates and 30 locks, which would fetch a pretty good price by any measure. Not to mention that the sheer novelty value of a full set of 30 matryoshka-doll-style boxes would make it an item of interest to nobility, even if there wasn't some eccentric collector of exotic containers.

Even if that doesn't pan out, you can just drag it back to the paladin order, and most likely collect a reward of some kind. Heaven knows why they would even bother dragging this oversized bauble into a temple. Perhaps it's symbolic of the ultimately-futile struggle for worldly gain? As in, all of a man's effort spent in pursuit of wealth won't even be worth one coin in the afterlife?

YossarianLives
2015-07-18, 01:06 AM
Then you realize that you have 30 crates and 30 locks, which would fetch a pretty good price by any measure. Not to mention that the sheer novelty value of a full set of 30 matryoshka-doll-style boxes would make it an item of interest to nobility, even if there wasn't some eccentric collector of exotic containers.

Even if that doesn't pan out, you can just drag it back to the paladin order, and most likely collect a reward of some kind. Heaven knows why they would even bother dragging this oversized bauble into a temple. Perhaps it's symbolic of the ultimately-futile struggle for worldly gain? As in, all of a man's effort spent in pursuit of wealth won't even be worth one coin in the afterlife?
Good point, although my players would most likely destroy the crates and locks in the process of opening them.

Leon
2015-07-18, 11:07 AM
Dust and some scarps of something that should have been reclaimed long ago.

Honest Tiefling
2015-07-18, 11:17 AM
1) Paladins might be lawful, but they don't have to be stupid, either. If they give a crate over to a neutral faction, nothing says they have to tell them what is in it. If they are completely honest in saying that opening it is a really bad idea, that's probably lawful enough, right? Why not make it an anti-evil trap? Make it something that won't really trigger for more neutral people in case the neutral faction starts poking at it. Perhaps a celestial got bound to the mortal plane, and cannot leave. They are bound and cannot leave the object they are bound to. The paladins could not undo this prison, and decided to keep the celestial safe and let them out occasionally. Now, the celestial would really like out and implores the group to help them.

Another alternative would be something to create massive amounts of holy water, which wouldn't really hurt most people but be useful in a pinch against the forces of darkness.

2) The crate contains information regarding a royal lineage. They kept it, knowing one day it might have to be revealed that the daughter of two warring bloodlines was in fact, fathered by another. If this information were to get out, the war might continue with many people claiming decent from and loyalty to both factions.

3) Knowledge of a heresy or strange sect within the order. One that the god is very quiet on, and refuses to support or deny. The paladins don't know what to do with such knowledge, but didn't want it to disappear in case there was a reason their god never stamped out knowledge of it and there was a good reason they never spoke of it.

bulbaquil
2015-07-19, 09:36 AM
Some possibilities:

- Agree regarding relics, particularly those of lesser importance - those are things that the paladins would like to have, but can ultimately live without. The enemy might desecrate or destroy them, but if the paladins are pressed for time they might decide it's an acceptable loss. The most important relics, they are likely to take with them.

- Recruitment/enlistment rosters and disciplinary records - "HR department" stuff, in other words. These have little strategic value to either side of the war, but they're something the paladins would like to have available at some point.

- Musical instruments, hymnals, and the like.

- Commentaries and interpretations of holy scriptures. (The holy scriptures themselves, they are likely to take with them.) Not militarily necessary for the paladins, not particularly useful for the enemy, not religiously important enough to take with them but too religiously important to destroy.

- Blank books and writing supplies (ink/parchment/etc.)

Lord Torath
2015-07-20, 08:22 AM
I really like Mr. Stabby's idea of lists of completed and uncompleted atonement quests. Paper is bulky and heavy, and these aren't critical records, but at the same time, they detail the heroic actions of those striving for redemption (are you considered redeemed if you perish in pursuit of your atonement quest?). So the paladins wouldn't want to lose these (glorious history of their glorious order), wouldn't want them to fall into their enemies' hands (who would likely destroy them), but would likely have much more important things to take with them.

Plus, it's an entire chest full of unfinished quests since the founding of the order.

An entire chest full of unfinished quests...

FlumphPaladin
2015-07-20, 12:31 PM
I'm with the relics (we have St. John Fisher's staff and St. Thomas More's head for this reason, their bodies being buried unmarked in the Tower of London), artwork, and redemption records.

DireSickFish
2015-07-20, 01:06 PM
-Stone sculptures would be heavy and take up a lot of space, and aren't critical so they could be left behind. They could be sculptures of prohocy, have one sculpture be of something the PC's accomplished during the game and have a few more depicting evil acts that have yet to pass. You could make one of them being done by a villan/harmless NPC the party have met.

- The stone sculptures are depicting kings or old rules of the paladin order. Names/histories lost to time and memory. One has an inscription listing where he died with a holy sword of power if the PC's pick up on it they can investigate to find it still buried int he swamp where he lost this life.

-Records of the order. The catch being they had a record keeper that was a warforged or construct of some kind. His legs were damaged int he battle and ever since he has been in this crate, long forgotten. That way you can have the PC's engage him and ask him questions. If he remembers something important later just blame it on him not being used in so long. A infinite supply of exposition and plots if you want.

-The bones/ashes of prominent people of the order. Not something you'd want to destroy. Not critical to fighting off evil, but something the order would want to preserve if they could.

-Like the worlds sickest yo-yo. You can do so many tricks with it and it never needs more lubrication.