The Golden Pool
The adventurer rode into the golden-hued glade, looking around. If the tribesman he had 'persuaded' to help him hadn't been lying, it should be here. Ah, there it is, he thought. A small pool, with no inlet or outlet. Dismounting, he looked into the crystal-clear water. He could see goldfish swimming around, and beneath them the bottom was covered with golden statues of men and women, mostly nude but some with a kilt or loincloth.
“I'm rich,” he exulted. “That damn tribesman didn't die in vain!” He stripped off his clothes and armor, noting in passing that the ground was mounded, here and there, with weapons, armor, and other items, mostly rusted or rotted by time, and dove into the pool to begin gathering up his wealth.
Silence fell over the glade as the new statue settled onto the others littering the bottom.
The Golden Pool is a small pool with no inlet or outlet. Water wells up from below and is carried off by an underground stream. The trees and grass around the pool have a golden sheen and goldfish (or koi if you are feeling more obscure) live in the water. No animals go there, although birds and insects abound.
The native tribesmen avoid the Pool. In their legends, the Sun came down to drink there, and the place is both holy and taboo.
The water turns everything into solid gold. Splashing, or a few drops won't do it, the item must be immersed to be turned to gold.
Getting the statues out without being statufied yourself might be a problem. A grappling hook on a rope wouldn't work, since the rope would be turned to gold and would probably break. A pole with a hook on the end might work, although hooking a statue and getting it out would be difficult, and the likelihood of an accidental immersion of a hand or foot would be rather high.
The water looses its virtue after being carried away from the pool. A bucket of the water would have the ability to turn one or two things to gold before becoming ordinary water. Thus, no instant bankers.
The carp? Are they living gold, or are they immune to the effects? Catch one and find out!
1) Legends abound of a place where golden statues litter the bottom of a pool. Instant wealth for greedy PCs.
2) An alchemist wants a sample of the water to analyze and or to make some item, and hires the PCs.
3) The son of a nobleman went looking for the Golden Pool and didn't return. The PCs have been hired to find him, or return with proof of his demise, such as his signet ring, before the will is read.
(With inspiration from The Voyage of the Dawntreader, by C. S. Lewis, one of my early favorites)
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? Responses (13)
That's nifty. I like it. It's short and concise, giving all the details I need to use it. Very solid execution and idea. Nothing really fancy, but I think it's original. Good work.
I agree; original and fun little trap/environment. I'm assuming all the statues are life-sized? Might be a dead giveaway; perhaps another property of the pool would be to shrink immersed items as well? Might make it even more interesting to try and get things out.
I was thinking life-sized, but your idea would be even better.
Not only is that a good idea, but it might even make sense. The Midas touch could crush you, pushing all of the air out of your body and condensing it to a smaller form before finally turning to gold. Or you could just get horribly thin-looking statues... Either way, I do like this sub.
Not bad, but there would need to be some limitations. For example, if a dragon happened to find it, well, his treasure would be immense. He'd simply dip all his live victims in the drink, and then fish out the treasure.
Even humans, once they found out about it, would find a means to harness it. Many kings would simply march enough prisoners that you could simply reach in and grab the most recent ones. Taboo only goes so far.
But how do you get them out? Reaching in would leave you with a golden hand. Dipping the victims would leave them on the bottom, minus the hand or whatever you held them by (Gold is heavy).
I'm sure there are ways to do it, but one mistake would probably be fatal to the experimenter, which would cut down on repeat tries. The king or whatever probably wouldn't find out about it because the finder would be dead.
A couple of thoughts to add to the others. What if the water flowed in and down rather than up and out? That would pull in any wayward attempts to retrieve the statues. I like the idea of the shrinking statues. Add in a remote and difficult to reach location, and the greedy would easily believe they were the first to find it, without any being the wiser.
As an added twist, you could always have someone who had figured out a way to retrieve the pool's contents, but only living flesh made real gold while any other material became fool's gold. It would make sense to leave a few statues behind as bait and spread rumors around...
Anyway, just a few thoughts you inspired with this sub.
What Pieh said. And slartibartfast's idea is a good one! Can picture the bottom littered with tiny statuettes...
Half (or more) of the fun of course, would be watching PCs or gold-hungry despots trying to fish out the gold.
Another idea that i get as I read this is maybe the gold turns to water(!) after a long period of time (weeks, months, years?). This could be part of the strange inherent nature of the pool. This way the pool is never too over-crowded with gold, and those managing to take some gold away, will be shocked later when their golden statues and items revert back to H2O. Just a thought.
Turning back to water is a *great* idea. Thanks!
An interesting pool although I fear most intelligent characters will quickly capitalize on the pool to become incredibly rich. (Immersing copper or iron cookware to make all but the handle gold would be fairly simple, as would immersing weapons up to the hilt) Also, with the inclusion of magic, fishing bodies from the depth would be fairly simple. (using levitation magic especially)
Perhaps changing things so the item has to be fully immersed for the change to take effect would help? (although then smart characters would immerse a small hand sized rock let go of it until it turns to gold then pick it back up)
The idea of gold items turning back to water is a good one, although I would change it to make the gold effect a temporary enchantment that would wear off as soon as the item sufficiently dried off, or after x # of days.
This could lead to short term wealth gain to near by merchants that later comes back to bite them in the ass when the merchants treasure turns back to normal items. (If it turned to water the merchant would likely think he only got robbed.)
It can also lead the more kind hearted characters to devise a means to rescue the poor saps who had been turned into gold at the bottom of the lake. (Especially if one or more them was an attractive member of whatever sex the characters found appealing) "Thank you for saving me, I'm forever in your debt brave adventurer!"(of course after rescue the newly re-fleshed person would come with considerable complications/plothooks for their suitor to deal with.)
Short and sweet.