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ID: 3181


October 8, 2006, 11:42 am

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Cheka Man

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The Golden Snake


For as long as there have been possessions, thieves have tried to steal them, and others have tried to protect them.  With the discovery of magic, however, the protection of wealth took a sharp turn for the deadly.  Not to be outdone, thieves learned the magic arts, and so the cycle began anewâ?¦ (History and its Patterns, Magnus Blackjack)

History Part 1 
For as long as there have been possessions, thieves have tried to steal them, and others have tried to protect them.  With the discovery of magic, however, the protection of wealth took a sharp turn for the deadly.  Not to be outdone, thieves learned the magic arts, and so the cycle began anew… (History and its Patterns, Magnus Blackjack) 
Arcane protections were one of the first applications of the powerful art of magic, and the methods of penetrating those defenses are just as old.  Before the invention of the golden snake, there was no standardization of magical defense, because the only way for mages to stay ahead of the thieves was to keep the criminals guessing as to what defense they would come up against.  It was during this time that a young mage (who’s name does not appear in recent history and may have never been known in the first place) thought of the idea of enchanting his gold instead of placing wards around it.  Being of somewhat loose morals, he decided to try his deadly invention out on an unsuspecting thief by leaving an “unguarded” bag of gold in reach of grasping fingers.
The unlucky thief who found the mage’s experiment could not believe his luck as he raced away with a bag of gold that he had taken from a mage, of all people!  The stash of gold was easily enough to last him at least a month, so he decided to take the day off and enjoy himself.  That night, as he laid down, he never heard the movement that came from his unexpected gift.  The last thing he heard was a hiss, and twin fangs facilitated his journey to the afterlife.  The next day, the mage found his pile of gold at the foot of his bed and smiled. 
Full Item Description 
The standard method for creating a golden snake is a few animation charms that allow a few coins to move the rest.  The original design for the snake also called for two fangs and the poison of the creator’s choice.  Because the enchantment lies in a few coins, it is very difficult to detect, and even if you can detect it, dispelling every coin in a sack is a very expensive proposition.  There is enormous variance in the specifics of the snake that have been created over time, with everything from illusions to make the construct look like a real snake to particularly sadistic enchantments that allow the snake to strangle its victims.  Most of the people who invest the money in the usual enchantments also give the snake the ability to locate its master and return, laden with all the gold that was with the enchanted coins at the time.   Also, since a pair of fangs in your recently-stolen gold sack is a dead giveaway that everything is not as it seems, several wizards developed gold serpents that use force fangs. 
History Part 2 
The development and widespread adoption of the golden snake saw one of the biggest drops in crime in recorded history, with criminals dying left and right, and the gold passively returning to its master.  Because of the variation and the simplicity of the enchantment, thieves could not reliably rid themselves of the deadly gold, so many thieves gave up their trade for safer lifestyles.  Needless to say, the creator of these wonder-guardians became extremely wealthy, but remained unseen to the public eye.  It should be noted that several clever thieves melted their gold down to aviod the serpents for a time, but were dismayed to find new enchantments that heated the gold to the point where it could re-form into a snake after it had been melted.
Of course, this perfect solution did not last long, because an inventive thief who was angered that an entire class of people had been decimated by a single invention thought of a way to turn that invention around.  Purchasing a golden snake, he went to a local merchant and paid for a few small wares with the golden snake.  The next day, the merchant was found dead, and the thief was much richer, thanks to the gold that had been animated by the snake when it was put with the rest of the merchant’s money.  

This thief’s name was Magnus Blackjack, and he reconstructed the criminal empire with the same speed that it was destroyed in.  New, more advanced versions of the snakes were made to transport gems, magic items, and even furniture back to their masters.  The snakes proved as effective at stealing gold as they were at protecting it, and Magnus easily became the most powerful criminal ever known in Moonbound (or insert your own world).  In fact, he was so successful that gold currency was temporarily suspended due to the fact that the gold that made up the coin was far more valuable than the coin itself.  
After it became readily apparent that the gold snakes were nearly impossible to control, laws across the continent swiftly ended the legality of the golden snake, but it is still used commonly for both protection and acquisition of possessions.  Magnus went on to an early retirement, and to write books with innocuous titles such as History and its Patterns, which detailed a history of crime in general, and even gave suggestions to up-and-coming crime lords!  Historians who have studied the incident have decided that the most likely explanation for the incident is that Magnus created the snakes in the first place (it should be noted that he is an accomplished caster), but he could just be one of Fate’s fortunate few… 
Adding this item to your campaign will have world-affecting repercussions, as described in the comments, but it is also an amusing surprise for cocky party members.  A GM could also use one or several golden snakes to guard a treasure hoard (imagine the paranoia of the players afterward).

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Comments ( 11 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

October 7, 2006, 0:41
I can't find the submission, but I was inspired by one regarding a copper wyrm, or something along those lines.
Voted Scrasamax
October 7, 2006, 8:05
While this sub has a few problems, like the paragraphs needing spaces between them, it is a very novel idea! The first thing that actually popped into my mind was gold coins that were minted in magic using countries or by mages themselves would have a serpent embossed one side of the coin. Kind of a reminder of the Golden Snake spell, and of their own power. Feel free to insert stuff about snakes being symbolic of wisdom. I like the idea of the spell being so popular, and then abused, and have a rippling effect through the realm.
Voted Cheka Man
October 7, 2006, 9:30
I really like the backstory.
Voted MoonHunter
October 7, 2006, 13:56
I don't know why you would think this would have a nominal net effect on the world. This enchantment (and the chain of events it would unleash) would radically change the world. The action and response lag of these events would be years... so those years would require faster applications.

It now makes coinage dangerous, so other options (like cheques and letters of credit) would be used to be "safe". Nobody would let anyone give them coins (or even possibly charmed item). Thus only the "rich" would have safe money. Everyone else would have to take their chances that an enchanted coin might be out there.

This inability to take coin would create a banking system. They would keep the coin and letters of credit/ cheques would be used. Now the rich would start, then the guildsmen they traded with. Eventually all but the poorest would have bank accounts. Banks then take their money from transaction fees and capital investments of money in their trust.

You would then spawn early corporations and bank exchanges. You would throw your world towards Modernity, even if it has deeply feudal roots.

The creation of "detection plates", like the iron plates that touching of all coins to... to detect/ destroy fairy/ glamoured coins, would eventually be created. The price of safely doing business would be the cost of said plate. If it was not dirt cheap, it would focus safe commerace into the hands of a few (so each market would have a "check out stand" with the detection plate).

Once the other kinds of snakes were created, then anti-magic wards would need to be invented to block the snakes. The presence of these charms would make magic in urban and town areas, nearly impossible. Sure an individual one would not be bad, but overlapping upon overlapping ones would make it near impossible to cast. Thus magic users would be limited by their own counter spelling (which they originally made money selling to people).

Note: You should find the Lord Darcy series. They make some interesting and logical points about magic.

So the counter magic backlash would come by the poor and those forced out of safe transations. They would hate magic users for unleashing this upon the people. They would be hunted down, hung, and burned. Sure their spells might make them dangerous, but they have to sleep. If they have to spend so much of their time on safety spells, they will have preciously little other magic to spend on doing other things.

Possession of snake spells would become illegal, a law enforced. Then all dangerous magics would outlawed.. first the enchantment then the spells. Then all other magics. So then all magics would either be in the hands of the government (for your own protection) OR outlawed entirely. So no more magic items allowed in the free hands.

In short, the presence of this spell will radically change your world.
Voted valadaar
October 7, 2006, 21:25
Well, many anti-magic spells are area-affecting, and detect magic spells can be used to differentiate between enchanted and non-enhanted coins (depending on game system, of course).

Also, the cost of the spell has to be balanced by it's effect.

Now, an easy countermeasure for theves would be to simply melt suspect coins and recast them.
No magic required.

An interesting idea.
October 8, 2006, 11:48
Well, the idea is that the snakes themselves are amazingly weak, but a pair of fangs in the throat is a pair of fangs in the throat (especially when they are pumping poison.)
Voted Pariah
October 7, 2006, 21:44
Yeah, what val said should be right. Unless if the enchantment stays with it, so you get an ingot snake, 50 feet long and capable of simly crushing someone.
Voted manfred
October 8, 2006, 4:35
You know, even melting and recasting coins is not an 'easy' countermeasure.

This is one of those items you should be VERY CAREFUL of adding to your game world. As MoonHunter has shown above, the chain of events that are likely to follow its invention has massive consequences. The moral of the story: be careful when playing with magic. :)
October 8, 2006, 11:42
Updated: I re-worked my whole submission for clarity (it was needed), and I put a few more specifics on how I envisioned the animation process to be. I also figured out a way around the melt-the-gold-down procedure, but I am afraid that I did not properly explain it. The idea was to use a heat metal charm of some sort so that the gold would melt itself down, then rise back up as a snake. I was also unsure whether to quote Moonhunter's comment or simply to reference it in my submission
Cheka Man
November 23, 2006, 14:02
BUMP-this is a great item.
Voted Murometz
December 5, 2006, 14:24
Only voted

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