I was walking on the main street when i saw an emaciated man lying on the side, he was clearly starving, so i decided to give him my lunch.
He devoured it in a few seconds and, incredibly happy, tried give me 3 copper coins as thanks, of course i declined. It wasn't right to take money from such a poor person, but he really wanted to thank me and he proposed to exchange his 3 copper coins with 3 copper coins of mine, i accepted to make him happy.
But i must say that these coin feel 'strange', here, could you please take a look at them?
How does the man looked? Now that's strange, i really can't recall any particular detail about his aspect...
Sometime, more often that you think, you are tested.
It's not entirely clear who the tester is, maybe is a manifestation of fate itself giving you a chance; maybe is some kind of spirit or some forgotten goddess, who knows. For sure it's not just you, but almost anyone has been tested at least one time in his life, often more.
What's important is that you could acquire some peculiar object that will have some hidden influence in your life.
The 'test' usually consist in a situation involving someone in hardship or in peril in which there's nothing to gain by giving aid. It don't need to be some task of heroic proportion, often it consist of a beggar asking for change, a child who lost his pet, a woman who can't find her children and so on.
Basically there are three way to aproach this:
1-Give aid: You give help and are rewarded with 3 copper coins.
2-Ignore it: The most popular choice; fate gave you a chance, but you passed.
3-'Be a bastard': Basically you give aid only with the promise of a pay or something similar in return (you get 3 gold coins in this case), or you downright rob the tester.
The coins can't be bought, they can only be exchanged with 3 other coins of the same value.
Their magic can't be detected by normal means.
They came in two variety
The blessed version:
What they do:
These coins bring 'luck' to their owner; it's a peculiar kind of luck that must be regulated by the GM. Maybe he'll have a higher chance to meet that npc they were looking for; maybe a deadly attack will be not so deadly, or maybe he'll just be more appreciated by the the people around it.
The important thing here is to not use it as a mechanical bonus (like +1 to ac) but as something more vague. It must be really difficult for the owner to be sure about the nature of the coins ('are they really lucky or the GM is toying with me?'), the kind of luck they bring is subtle.
E.g.: The player is losing a card game but some random event interrupt it, he found the item he was looking for at a discounted price, which by chance is the exact amount of money he have ...
How they work:
After receiving the coins the receiver would always feel that they are 'different', without really understanding why, and his prime instinct would be to separate them from the rest of the coins, to put them is a small bag or talisman and to use it as some sort of lucky charm. But he's not forced to do it .
If the coins are used to buy something they lose their power.
If they are stolen or extorted in some way they act as cursed coins until returned (see below).
The only way to give them to someone is to willingly exchange them for three other coins of the same type (copper usually).
If the owner of the coin find himself in a dire situation, and he's saved or helped by someone, he will feel the urge to trade the coins with the helper ( he's not forced to do it ). If he do it the coins power grow stronger and a tiny bit of luck remain 'around' the previous owner. If he don't give them, the coins lose their powers.
Alternative 'practical' version:
Every time the owner of the coins is gonna recieve a fatal blow or die in some way, an incredibly unlikely event occur and save him, at the same time one the coins disappear.
The cursed version:
What they do:
This version is obtained when you 'help' the man in need only for a monetary gain (in this case the 3 coins are usually made of silver or gold), or if you downright rob him.
Aside from that they pretty much work the same as the blessed version, only they bring misfortune. The owner will hurt himself in some stupid way, he'll break things, he'll be blamed for things he didn't do and so on.
How they work:
They don't lose their power when sold or used to buy something, but instead they pass the curse to the item bought with them. Throwing the coins away is possible but that would make the curse move directly on the poor guy, plus he'll need to retrieve them to get rid of the curse.
Of course, since they don't seem magical, the cursed guy is led to belive that he's been cursed by 'karma' (which is true, in some way), at least at first. Given the nature of the curse is hard to really understand what's going on.
The curse can me removed by using the coins to help someone in need. Donating them (along a significant amount of money) to the church of some good deity may also remove it, if he truly regret his actions.
Alternative 'practical' versions:
This was inspired by XXXHolic Rei
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? Responses (18)
Love them! A nice version of a classic encounter/item.
A decent item with lots of potential.
I have heard versions of this the story before and I have always wondered why does fate hate the free market? Is fate some bleeding heart liberal? :)
If a bad man happens to give the starving guy his lunch, because maybe he didn't like his lunch, maybe helping the poor made him feel good about himself, maybe he wanted to shame the other guys around him, does he still get coin? Could he use the power of the coins to amass huge fortune and what does that tell us about fate? Or will the coins only work in the 'vague' method of helping nice people?
If all this is up to GM is this really a developed item or plot?
But do you intend this be a tool to push your PC towards a certain morality or level of compassion?
This is a reasoning i also ear a lot in real life.
For me, and so for fate in my work :D; what count are facts, not the apparent reason behind it. Maybe he helped the man to shame the other? Ok that's fine but what count is that he still helped while other people were doing nothing, and who knows, maybe the 3 coins will make him feel that there's meaning in helping others.
Such is the purpose of this entity.
'If all this is up to GM is this really a developed item or plot?'
Imo yes, just like dnd it's really a developed game that let you run adventure in fantasy worlds even if all the adventures, the worlds and npc are up to the GM.
Some things are mechanical tools for PC, like a +1 sword, other are items that exist to give the dm chance to enrich the game experience without 'forcing' him in to do it in a very specific way or just in a few specific occasions that may never happen in his campaign. Both are valid assets in my opinon.
While this is indeed a tool to push a PC to a certain level of morality and compassion while i was was writing it i was merely thiking about an entity that work to fortify the good side of people.
Maybe there are other entities who do the exact opposite ( thinking about it should write something about this!)
Since these are magic, I just figured that the coins would understand the intent of the gift or help. So if the coins are with a person, the coins will know when it is time to move on and urge the owner to pass them to another deserving of the luck...and an enhanced version of the luck at that. If a greedy many did something to further himself then I doubt the coins will urge the passing. Pretty self-regulating as far as I could tell. You get them in the wrong fashion...bam....cursed.
'what count are facts, not the apparent reason behind it. Maybe he helped the man to shame the other? Ok that's fine but what count is that he still helped while other people were doing nothing, and who knows '
This is interesting and perhaps these coins could be or are being used to realize a certain perspective of fate (monkey's paw)
How far ahead does this lucky hand look? Might you loose a card game but as a result leave the tavern before it burnt down? Would it have burnt down if you were still in there? What if the Orcs whose tracks you missed go slaughter a village that includes a baby that would have grown up to be the Necro-tyrant that covers the world in a second darkness. Does having a the hand of fate guide you to the best outcome take choice out of the equation?
'Well Rex should we take the tunnel on the left or right? What does the Hag's map say?'
Rex finger the three coins in his pocket and says, 'It doesn't matter, what ever choice I make is the right one.'
Overall I am always weary of things that let you see the hand of the GM in the game. I know a lot of players look for it, but isn't more fun when we are immersed in the game? According to the intent laid out in your teaser, these things were conceived with the idea that the players will feel the presence of the GM.
Well first of all anything that's not a step by step guide (and sometimes even that) need a bit of commong sense. So if a GM read this sub and then use it to kill one of the boss of his campaign before he's even born... well he need some serious work on his gming skills (while i must say that this kind of item are not the first-time GM).
Aside from that, is specified:
'It must be really difficult for the owner to be sure about the nature of the coins ('are they really lucky or the GM is toying with me?'), the kind of luck they bring is *subtle*.'
So it's not an 'i win' button, and luck is not equal to invicibility.
As for the intent in the teaser, and in the sub in general, it was just refering to the fact that one of the key aspects of the coins is that the owner can't know (at least easily) if they really work or what. The character will ask himself 'who was that man?', 'am i becoming superstitious?' 'if i feel they are lucky why i can't see any magic in them?' and so on, so it will in fact favor immersion if used well.
The player on the other side will wonder if the GM, since he's a player so he know that everything in the campaign is regulated by him, gave him a real magical item or is just leading him to think that it is while they are just 3 normal coins.
That was dismissive.
Sorry if it seemed that way, not my intention.
Why do you feel that it was dismissive?
Because you took the description to a meta-level, suggested that my questions were devoid of common sense and that my questions failed to comprehend the basic nature GMing.
But my questions were attempting to take the item away from the confines of GMing to an item. Because if you can only discuss the item in the terms of GMing then it becomes like your plus one sword. (nothing wrong with plus one swords) It becomes like your plus one sword because you can not move the plus sword to different medium without changing the way the sword is described. If you were to put that plus one sword in a novel or poem you could not describe it as giving the character 'plus one to hit'. This item description-specifically the way you expanded on it in the dismissive post- lacks verisimilitude and world building, because it is only describing a meta-level GM-player dynamic. Example:
'player on the other side will wonder if the GM, since he's a player so he know that everything in the campaign is regulated by him, gave him a real magical item or is just leading him to think that it is while they are just 3 normal coins'
Your stated goal in this piece was to write up an item that forced the characters to think about fate and morality. I had questions about your view and thus the item's perspective on fate and morality. You answer was that fate and morality are ultimately in the hands of the GM (true perhaps) and thus such questions are moot. Thus descriptions of the nature of your item are moot.
Honestly, while trying to force a sub or something through his limit can an is a nice way to have a better understanding of it and so a tool to better a sub, there's a limit to that.
Personally i don't think (just my opinion of course) that you really had that doubt after reading the sub; but that these were just questions made to play the Devil's advocate game. Which as i said can be nice and useful but has it's limit; and i didn't really feel the need to answer with an essay to rex's question; since it was in fact moot, in my opinion :)
Well thought out idea I thought. I had a few questions that were quickly answered and it all came together for me. I had a distinct Twilight Zone voice over effect in my head during the first bit and the intro. That set the tone for the rest of the piece for me.
Re-voted up, cause I'm all for stuff that gets me this geeked about 'fate and free will' and I love eclipse for playing with me.
I'm glad you like this kind of things :) If so maybe even my other sub 'the moral compass' may interest you.
Even tought it may lead to even more questions that this one.
Interesting item, and I can certainly see it encouraging the rest of the group to also be more generous int eh hopes of receiving coins themselves (even if the luck is purely imaginary and only seems lucky to the PC's/players)
Oh and one small nit pick in the line: a woman who can't find his children and so on. (I just found the sentence a bit jarring due to the error)
Fixed, thanks for the feedback :)