/tg/, I come in need of your expertise with weird shit.
I'm running a game set in the age of sail, where the players are basically conquistadors. While there will be gold, I don't want it to be a normal game where most loot is coins and gems. The New World(and the East, but earlier) provided many new materials to us in real life. I would like to mimic this, by giving the players strange plants, animals, gems, and metals as loot.
Get your creativity hats, I want every weird idea you have. Magic is limited, but present. Strange properties that seem -somewhat- plausible are preferable.
spices, especially pepper
gold would be in dust or nugget form initially, having been panned from rivers
drugs such as opium, tobacco or coca
novel food crops like the humble potato
later on it was mined silver or gold, or cash crops like sugar, cotton, indigo or rice.
sugar was often turned into molasses for transport by ship. rum was another trade good.
basically the ability to grow things all year round makes the land worth something anyway.
What about some fantasy elements? Those are good things to add into the resource pool but ide like to have rare/valued by both the game and the players. Like mythic woods that have the strength of Iron or the like?
The biggest loot of all for the conquistadors was the land itself. Especially if they managed to acquire some of it for themselves and not just for their sovereign. Mexican mines produced an absurd amount of silver for the Spanish Empire, it's how the piece of eight was so common.
Look at native Mexican weapons, the ones which used volcanic glass. I'd also recommend reading the Shaman's Apprentice which is about tribal medicine men in the Amazon, more or less. Think about what it would be like with Shamanistic medicine really working. Also, curare poison and curses.
Water of the fountain of youth? A relic of the lost tribe of Israel?
Also, exotic birds and flowers. It's sort of stupid but these were a real hit. Gold's super easy to smelt so pure gold was around in finished items even in otherwise non-metal using pre-Columbia cultures.
magic animals fine right?
Id check out the link, plenty of weird animals that people back in the old world would buy. I'd definitely have one of pic related.
Make some element of magic weapons only available on this continent. Adamantine or Ironwood or something like that. Maybe Dragons or some other mega-creature is only found in the new world and their bones or skin are especially valuable.
what if the new world contained a type ore which was entirely unaffected by magic
the uniqueness of the resource and its immediate benefit to whoever controlled it would help kickstart the need to colonize that part of the world