Anybody who has spent time in the Kingdoms sector of Ada-Kar has probably wandered into the Pirate’s Gold pub for a drink or five. A pleasant and entertaining place, the Pirate’s Gold is always lively. The pub’s owner, Damon Anseti, can often be found pouring drinks, carousing with the patrons, and spinning yarns about his adventuring days. I asked him to sit with me and discuss a few of his favorite subjects.
Having managed to make his fortune by finding a pirate’s hidden treasure, he has a curious take on the value of treasure maps.
Valhalla Crier: Can you tell me your theory about treasure maps?
Damon: Yeah. Don’t trust them! They aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.
Valhalla Crier: Really? Considering that’s how you came to your fortune, that doesn’t sound chum.
Damon: Well, I got lucky. What I say holds. Treasure maps, on the whole, aren’t worth it.
Valhalla Crier: Please elaborate.
Damon: Well, there are a number of different kinds of maps. You’ve got your fakes, your obscures, your extracted, and your golds. The problem is you will never know what kind it is until you’ve followed it to the end.
Valhalla Crier: Fakes, obscure, extracted and gold, huh? Tell me about the fakes.
Damon: The fakes are the most common. People make up fake maps and sell them to some dumb-ass rube. Hell, sometimes people even make them up for practical jokes.
There was this guy once, Ingmar the Mad. He made a whole bunch of treasure maps that really looked the part. He started spreading them all over the place. Some of them he sold to Newbies. Some he “lost” in a card game. He would roll them up in bottles and throw them into the sea. He even presented one map to some Saxon nobleman. Poor bastard spent the better part of five years trying to hunt down a treasure that never existed. Spent his whole fortune on the adventure. In the end he came back empty-handed to a home that didn’t even exist anymore.
Valhalla Crier: Got it. Any map could be a fake. What about the obscure maps? What are they?
Damon: Obscure Maps may or may not be real, but it doesn’t matter because they are so difficult to understand. You pretty much need to know where the treasure is in order to even start looking for it. Say your map has a picture of an island. You know how many damned islands are in Valhalla? There are more uncharted islands in Bifrost than there are bullets in Berlin!
You’ve got to remember, the person who buried the treasure doesn’t want you to find it. He put it somewhere so concealed that even he can’t be sure where it is. The more complex the map, the more likely it is to be real.
Valhalla Crier: Okay, so what exactly are extracted maps?
Damon: Extracted maps are probably the most heartbreaking. Just because you have a map doesn’t mean that the treasure’s still there. Somewhere along the way somebody beat you to it. Maybe the person who buried it came back and found it without the map. Maybe somebody else found it and then pitched the map for some poor, dumb chump to find. Who knows! The long and the short of it is that the hoard you have come all this way to find is in someone else’s pocket.
Valhalla Crier: I guess that just leaves the gold. I want to hear about the gold.
Damon: Yeah, everybody wants the gold! The gold is the real deal. The big dream.
Valhalla Crier: You look a little gloomy. Why is that? You got the gold, didn’t you?
Damon: Yeah, I got the gold alright. The problem is that you end up getting more than just gold with the treasure. You also get all the other things along the way. Some of them are good things, no doubt about that. Some of my fondest memories are of the time seeking the treasure.
I also lost a lot along the way though. Some really good friends died trying to get that treasure. Marcus tumbled off the side of a cliff with the rockslide. Phil Two-Toes was taken by those damned harpies. And Bianca . . . I don’t want to talk about Bianca.
Valhalla Crier: You obviously have some regrets, then. If given the chance would you go back and do something different?
Damon: Yeah, there is a lot I would do different. Not bringing along that traitorous toad Hawthorne for one! But you mean not going after the gold, don’t you?
Valhalla Crier: Yes.
Damon: No, I wouldn’t change that. I don’t think I could change that. The nornir wove that fate for me and I don’t think I could have escaped it even if I’d wanted to. That being said, I will never follow another map. Even if I lost everything, I wouldn’t follow another map.
Valhalla Crier: So is there any way to tell the difference between the maps? To tell which ones are gold and which are not?
Damon: Well if you go into it thinking that it is all bunk then you won’t be disappointed. That being said, there are clues you can look for.
The biggest clue is if somebody it trying to sell it to you, or offer it up to you in any way. If its chum there is no way anybody is getting rid of it. You are better off buying toilet paper than that map. At least the toilet paper is good for something.
Finding a map in amongst another treasure is a little better. Say you slay some monster, or you turn the tables on some highwaymen, or something. A little after-action recon and you find their hoard. In with all the other stuff you find a treasure map. Now, at least, there is a chance that it’s good. Of course it could still be fake, or obscure, or its already extracted. No way to know.
Another good tell is if the map is too explicit. If the map has coordinates and a little dotted line leading to a big, red X, then you can be pretty sure it’s worthless. Nobody trying to hide their goods is going to be dumb enough to lead you right to it. It needs to be obscure enough to throw the regular observer, but not so obscure that you won’t know where to begin. The harder it is to decipher, the better the chance that it is real.
Valhalla Crier: So is there any way to know it’s real?
Damon: Not really. Maybe find an Iclavian that can do some psychometry on it. That, of course is assuming you can find one that will help you. They aren’t exactly known for doing people favors. Even if you do find one that will help, you still might not learn anything.
Valhalla Crier: So how did you know your map was gold?
Damon: I didn’t. Like I said, I just got lucky.
Valhalla Crier: Fair enough. Is there anything else you want to add?
Damon: Yeah, don’t trust treasure maps!