Fantastic Coinage II: Varisinian Cursed Bloodcoins, Wraith Stelae, Shan Herb Packets, and Caradan Sacred Cross-Tokens

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Varisinian Cursed Bloodcoins

When the great city of Varisinian finally fell after an eight-month siege, the long-frustrated attackers ran amuck and massacred almost everyone they found before seizing it’s treasures, staining the streets and buildings of he city with the blood of men, women, and children. The gold of the citizens and the great treasury was struck into crude coins, and distributed amongst the warriors of the besieging armies.

Two weeks later, at the dark of the moon, on a hill overlooking the remains of the greatest city of the age, at a carefully-selected point of power, the necromancer Saker sent his soul to join his family – but left behind a fearful curse and an undead body animated by undying hatred.

Nowadays, the bloodcoins appear as simple well-worn coins. A careful inspection might reveal a faint trace of necromantic magic – but nothing more then would be left by simply being exposed to a powerful spell.

  • Claiming a dozen or two bloodcoins is safe enough now. The curse has faded with the passing centuries.
  • Claiming more than that will bring strange and terrible dreams, restless nights, and horrific visions. Claiming a large amount will begin to draw undead; the greater the amount, the more powerful the undead. Fortunately, this only affects those who bear a blood relationship to the members of that ancient conquering horde. Unfortunately, after the passage of so many centuries, most humans, and not a few elves, do so.
  • Claiming any major portion of the ancient horde will draw the attentions of Saker’s Lich. Whether it’s for good or ill, this would be a difficult task today; the cursed gold is scattered across the world – although a few major hordes were carefully gathered and placed in awkward locations with a few sacrificial victims and items that needed guarding, or were seeded into towns or cities that someone wanted destroyed – thus drawing a mighty swarm of undead to such locations.

Of course, that also means that Saker’s Lich now possesses a splendid collection of horrific items, including several talismans that – while powerful – were accursed when the world was young. Still, confronting and destroying the Lich may be the only way to put an end to the curse for good and all.

Wraith Stelae

Carved from rock that has spent millennia in utter darkness in deadly cavern and tunnel quarries by warriors and older boys who seek to prove their courage and strength, Wraith Stelae are cut from the living stone of the depths and carried across hundreds of miles of open ocean in small open boats, only to be set up scattered among the local villages with their initial ownership going to the survivors of the voyage.

They are valued according to the number of people who died bringing them back.

Owning a Stelae grants the owner the ability to call on the services of one minor “spirit” – roughly equal to an Unseen Servant, albeit an unseen servant with enough intelligence to be left on its own to perform simple household and farming tasks – per person who died obtaining it. Ownership, or some portion thereof, can be transferred by verbal agreement, with the spirits as witness. They’re typically used for major “purchases”, as wedding gifts, as bride-prices, and for similar transactions. After all, a single such “spirit” is a competent servant or light-duty worker that will labor on your behalf tirelessly, without complaint, around the clock. The services of a few such spirits mean a lifetime of prosperity.

Unlike more common forms of currency, Wraith Stelae cannot readily be stolen and are difficult to counterfeit, since the owner can readily demonstrate the extent of his wealth – or lack thereof. Even better, the Stelae are near-eternal, and so the wealth of the communities which make them is constantly increasing.

While there have (inevitably) been attempts, you can’t simply upgrade a Wraith Stelae by ritually murdering people; it takes very powerful spells to bind the power generated by such a sacrifice to the stone. It IS possible to create a more powerful Stelae by pushing some of your fellows overboard on the way back – or by dragging along slaves to help hack one out and throwing them overboard to drown on the way back – but unwilling participants in the quest are less effective than those who chose to go; it takes three such unwilling victims to count as a single warriors death.

Shan Herb Packets

The many, varied, spices, herbs, and extracts – flavorful, medicinal, or recreational – of the Shan rain forests are widely renowned and highly valued. Small packets – each officially graded, sealed, and stamped – serve as currency throughout the region and for some distance beyond. Naturally enough, rarer, more flavorful, or more potent, grades serve as higher denominations, while things like cheap, common, teas serve as small change. Sadly, beneficial herbs generally will not affect a single character more then three times per week.

Thanks to the way in which counterfeits, once accepted, can circulate for lengthy periods and devalue the currency, counterfeiters in Shan are subject to some exceedingly gruesome penalties. It still happens, but it is considerably rarer than one might think.

Unfortunately by most standards, Shan Herb Packets do NOT have well-fixed values with respect to each other; if it’s been a bad year for tea, the value of tea-packets will shoot up. If there’s a plague in the area, the value of those “coins” which can treat or cure it will become immense – and the locals will frantically attempt to obtain such coinage elsewhere. This makes accounting in Shan – or even just trying to work out how much money you have in your pockets – rather difficult.

Caradan Sacred Cross-Tokens

The scattered isles of Caradan are small and poor. Their inhabitants mostly rely on the sea for a living – fishing, gathering seaweed, and harvesting its bounty. What exports of wool, and a few minerals, there are bring in relatively little cash to purchase tools and other necessities from the wider world.

The few wide-ranging trading vessels the isles can support help – but not enough.

The resourceful monks of the scattered monasteries that cling to the isles found a solution – investing a bit of their personal strength in the creation of Cross-Tokens*. Not only are these a rude shock to certain evils that occasionally attempt to disguise themselves and walk unseen amongst the simple folk of the isles, but they provide a useful item of trade, drawing merchants to the isles and paying for their wares.

Caradan’s cross-shaped silver coins are minted at ten to the pound, and can be thrown like shuriken. More importantly, they are blessed by the religious orders that mint them before being given out. If they touch an undead creature or an evil outsider, they inflict 1d4 points of sacred damage before dissolving.

A cross-token is usually valued at ten gold pieces – but they are rarely accepted as simple currency beyond the isles by anyone unable to detect their holy power. After all, since each monastery stamps out it’s own, rather crude, cross-tokens, it’s all too easy to make mundane counterfeits.

*Essentially this is a weaker version of “Bless Water” that burns off 1 XP, rather than using up masses of powdered Silver. It’s weaker, and has no “splash” – but the monks can spare a few XP, while piles of coinage metals are hard to come by.

3 Responses

  1. Great ideas here.

    Do the Shan Herb Packets include preservation magic?

    • The official seals normally include a cantrip-level preservation charm – but properly prepared and dried herbs usually last for a fairly long time anyway. A bank / moneychanger / herb dealer (there’s no particular difference in Shan of course) might invest in a more powerful preservation spell, but – if the game master feels like bothering to include it – depreciation may become a factor with older fortunes.

  2. […] exotic coinage, there’s the “Fantastic Coinage” series – Part I, Part II, and Part III, as well as the Obols of the […]

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