Ten Uncommon Coins

1. Compacted Cubits: A compacted cubit is a full ton (2,000 lb) of silver dust stuffed into an extra-dimensional space sealed inside a tiny cylinder (coin shaped) of force. They look like grainy, silvery coins but feel perfectly smooth. God forbid you have a few of these in your backpack when somebody casts dispel magic. Depending on how you value coinage, a compacted cubit is worth 20,000 sp or 200,000 sp. And yeah, I know a cubit isn’t a measure of weight. You can blame Battlestar Galactica.

2. Soultaker: Appears as a blank, gold coin. When pressed on the forehead of a recently dead body, it absorbs the person’s soul and their image appears on the coin.

3. Dragon Tokens: Dragon tokens are wooden coins that are steeped in the blood of a freshly slain dragon and then coated with wax to keep the draconic goodness locked inside. Value depends on how much you value dragon blood, but probably not more than 10 gp.

4. Token of Friendship: A tarnished brass coin. Creates a vague emotional connection between you and the person who presented it to you – i.e., you know when they are frightened, happy, etc. The coin can summon the person bodily to you if you call out their name while holding it.

5. Platinum Cone: A small platinum cone, worth 2 pp. When the tiny end is held to the ear it implants a random magic-user spell (level 1d3) in your head, making you capable of casting it if not wearing armor. There is a 1 in 6 chance that the spell is actually reversed, or just not what you thought it was.

6. Pennywise: A copper coin bearing the image of an owl. It increases one’s Wisdom score by +3 (to a maximum of 18), but makes that person very tight with money.

7. Golden Rad: Radioactive gold coinage, with all that radiation brings (poison, mutation – depends on your campaign). Each coin has a 1 in 20 chance per month of transmuting back to lead.

8. Silver Sylph: A silver coin with a hole in the center. If one blows through the hole, the coin produces bubbles of perfume, with a 1% chance of instead producing a sylph. You have no control over the sylph, and if you dragged her away from something important, she might be quite cross with you.

9. Gold Spiral: Gold coin with a spiral design, it can absorb one lightning bolt (no save needed) and then discharges it one hour later. While holding the charge, the holder is immune to electricity.

10. Corpse Coins: Copper coins. If placed on the eyes of a corpse, they completely stop decay. If held over a single eye of a living creature, it makes them invisible to corporeal undead. Of course, one could hold coins over both eyes, but they’d probably run into things.

Monstrously Large Fantasy Coinage

How big are fantasy role-playing coins? In older editions of D&D, there were 10 coins to the pound, and since different metals have different masses they would vary in size. In more recent incarnations there are 50 coins to the pound, and I’ve often used 100 coins to the pound to keep things more realistic (yeah, I know) and to make encumbrance accounting less of a chore. If you peruse the internet you can find a fair amount of information on ancient and medieval coins, how much they weigh and how much they were worth. For the purposes of a game, none of the minutia of coinage is all that important. One can simply imagine a “gold piece” to be an expression of weight (and therefore value) rather than a coin itself. A chest of 100 gold pieces could contain a thousand delicate golden leaves minted by the elves or 10 large trade coins used by the merchants of Antigoon, the city of merchant-princes. It could also be two or three bags of gold dust or a large gold plate. Doesn’t really matter. But, since it’s fun to imagine the things your players find while delving into their neighborhood mythic underworld, the following picture might be of interest. It depicts several different thaler coins (the forebear of the dollar) along with a modern U.S. quarter for size comparison.

Thaler

These coins might represent the 10 gold pieces to a pound coinage of OD&D. In fact, the real coins pictured above would come in a bit lighter than that, but their existence at least makes such large and heavy coinage not entirely out of the realm of possibilities. In my own game, I went back and forth with coin size, weighing the cool factor of giant coins with the logistical problems of toting them around. After all, I wanted the focus of the game to be on exploration rather than logistics, and I had a group of players that weren’t terribly excited about hiring mules, mule drivers, torchbearers, etc. I finally went for the 100 coin pound, but had I to do it all over again, I think I might go for the 10 coin pound.

And check out the lower lip-chin on that mug in the lower right-hand corner. The reformation was not kind to the royal gene pool in Europe.

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