treasure from Venus

“Ruins. Cyclopean, strange, and alien in contour, half-destroyed shapes of stone were blurred against a dim background.” What’s waiting for us on Venus, according to Henry Kuttner’s science fiction story “Beauty and the Beast”, is a D&D dungeon crawl setting.

No dungeon crawl is complete without treasure. In “Beauty and the Beast”, astronauts find a jewel: “Oval, large as an egg, the gem flamed gloriously in the light of the electric torch. It had no color, and yet seemed to partake of all the hues of the spectrum.” Even more valuable, though, are the flowers that surround the ruins. “The new flowers had proved tremendously popular, and florists demanded them avidly. Lovelier than orchids they were, and they did not fade for a long time after being cut.”

If PCs travel to Venus and find beautiful flowers surrounding empty ruins, they probably won’t think to sell them to florists. If they do, they might get rich. They might also (spoilers ahead) plant the seeds of the destruction of civilization.

The egg-sized jewel turns out to be an egg (a classic D&D treasure trick). It hatches a Venusian, who, too late, tries to warn humanity about the beautiful flowers: “And now, the flowers grow on Earth. In a month, the petals will fall, and from the blossoms the virus will develop. And then, all life on Earth will be destroyed, as it was on Venus, and nothing will exist on all the planet but bright flowers and the ruins of cities. I must warn them to destroy the blossoms now, before they pollinate…”


2 Responses to “treasure from Venus”

  1. Claire Claire says:

    Creepier and creepier!

  2. newsalor says:

    Sounds to me like this was written in collaboration with CL Moore.

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