What if gold was magical?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Rather than having all this handily available diamond dust, what if gold was the actual material component for spells?

Not just talking about mechanics, what would happen with society? Would Wizards just aggressively hoard gold so hard that silver just becomes the de facto currency? Do dragons stop hoarding gold because wizards have become so g~~@+#ned determined to get it that being a dragon is just not enough to deter them?


Gold is currently so commonplace in this world that there wouldn't be any need to hoard it for spell components. You could just earn some gold (through spellcasting services, crafting, selling loot, etc.) and then use it.

If so much gold was needed that it started to run out in the world (and they couldn't just get more from the plane of earth or wherever), then things might change. But that doesn't seem to have happened yet with diamonds.


Here's another brain twister: what if the price of the raw material drops dramatically? Say someone figures out how to make Shaitans barf diamonds. Does that the spells very cheap to cast? Or is 25K gp of diamond dust now something you haul around in a wheelbarrow?


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It's hard to mix economics and gameplay.

One possible explanation of why 5000gp diamonds are always available no matter how many are consumed is that the rarer diamonds are, the more valuable diamonds become. So after thousands of years of Raise Dead spells, 5000gp diamonds are the size of a grain of rice. If diamonds suddenly became more common, 5000gp diamonds might be the size of a football.

Under this interpretation, a diamond you bought for a spell might suddenly become ineffective if a shift in the market meant its value went down.

Another possibility: the 5000gp Raise Dead spell is a product of its time; the price will increase as we pass 'peak diamond' and never come back down.

Another possibility: Divine intervention to keep the supply of diamonds constant. As they get used up, the gods stick new diamonds into the earth for miners to find.

Another possibility: diamonds are actually cheap and plentiful, but a price-fixing cartel is restricting availability.


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The fixed value of diamonds and other goods is a simplification, otherwise getting a goid deal on diamond dust would ruin it for the purposes of magic. Never mind an overall market change, just hard bargaining would do it.


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I assume the 5000gp is "What you could sell it for on the open market", not "What you paid for it after haggling". Otherwise you could, for example, buy a worthless diamond from another member of the party for 5000gp and it would work as a component.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:
Another possibility: Divine intervention to keep the supply of diamonds constant. As they get used up, the gods stick new diamonds into the earth for miners to find.

I think that is actually the one that I would go with. Otherwise, I would imagine that none of the spells that require diamonds would work after the fall of a highly advanced magical civilization that presumably mined out the entire available supply of them.

The Exchange

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"What if gold was magical?"
0.0

Wait, are you implying that IT ISN'T?!!


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Cashie wrote:

"What if gold was magical?"

0.0

Wait, are you implying that IT ISN'T?!!

Wait, wait, wait, wait.

Wait.

Wait.

Has anyone told Abadar, yet?!

(He's going to be soooooooo unhappy...)


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Abadar is, even more than Asmodeas, the Keeper of Accounts. He never gets angry, he gets Even.


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Vlaeros wrote:
Cashie wrote:

"What if gold was magical?"

0.0

Wait, are you implying that IT ISN'T?!!

Wait, wait, wait, wait.

Wait.

Wait.

Has anyone told Abadar, yet?!

(He's going to be soooooooo unhappy...)

*sigh*

I’m going to have to redo all of my ledgers.
*sigh*


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

5000 gp of diamond dust is an abstraction. Obviously it completely begs the question of market forces and a rising or falling value assigned to diamonds and their dust.

It would require little effort on the part of game designers to say 5 grams of diamond dust, knowing that the value assigned to each gram was 1000 gp. But the game designers decided at some point to abstract the physical representation of commodity pricing, and just list the gp cost, skipping an intermediate step.

We had this exact same discussion a couple months back.

It's what's called "a conceit". An abstraction meant to take some book-keeping out of our adventure game. There's already enough book-keeping as it is. I see no compelling reason to convert spell components into actual weights and measures.


Industrial-grade diamond dust in our world is available wholesale for about 20 cents per gram, I believe.

Assuming that 1gp is about $100 - which works fairly well for most comparisons - you could buy about 1lb of diamond dust for 1gp.

Therefore, 5000gp of diamond dust weights 5000lbs.

Think about that next time you're shoving the components for Greater Restoration in your pouch.


Except we use explosives and advanced metallurgy to make that diamond dust today.


So, assuming diamond dust costs 25000gp per lb (or whatever) in Golarion, the first person who figures out a magical way to convert pencil lead into diamond dust is going to make a fortune.

It shouldn't be particularly difficult. The people who make adamantine and mithral must have pretty advanced metallurgy. And if you need explosives:

Spoiler:
Explosive Runes!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

For gaming purposes, we assume that a 5000gp diamond is functionally the same as 5000gp of diamond dust. Which completely avoids the question of attributing gemstone values based on cut, clarity and quality.

We also assume that said gemstone is of negligible weight, and that the resultant dust is also of negligible weight. Not to mention avoiding the question of what method could be used to reduce a diamond to dust.

It's just easier to allow players to go to the city and convert their wealth to gems, diamond dust and the like, not only to make it more portable (10,000gp weighs a lot!) but also in preparation for spells like restoration and raise dead.


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The game never specifies (a) how you reduce a 5000gp diamond to dust, and (b) how much that dust is worth.

I think my house-rules are much the same as yours:
(a) Just whack it with a big rock or whatever - diamonds are more brittle than most people think.
(b) A diamond is worth just as much after you smash it into tiny pieces.

Anything else is too complicated.


Daw wrote:
Abadar is, even more than Asmodeas, the Keeper of Accounts. He never gets angry, he gets Even.

If you piss off Abadar, would you say he finds a way to put you in the red?


If gold was magical, and hoarded as a result... then people would just use something else for money.

Before the advent of representational money systems (paper money, the modern bank accounts), items used as 'money' were picked because they had the appropriate qualities. This is all based on how a barter system evolved so that anyone would be willing to accept a trade for a particular item (large in part because they can easily find another trading partner that is the end user). These qualities are:

-long lasting- this is just so it can survive being traded about.
-some kind of use so it has value-gold is very easy to make into jewelry, for example.
-somewhat rare so people can't just pick it up off the road-because if it was too common, it loses value (see- Spain after colonization of the Americas- its economy crashed in part because it brought in too much gold, dropping the value).
-but not so rare that there isn't enough of it to go around -otherwise, it would just be a rare trade good, like a diamond. "Money" needs to be something that everyone needs to participate in- it needs a wide enough circulation to support the entire economy's trading system.

Various kinds of items can fit these qualities. For example, salt was used as currency in some places (in land locked areas, salt might not be common, but it is an essential good). It has slightly lower longevity, due to its constant use.... but its essential utility is high enough that it still saw use.

Rare metals are preferred though, since they can be made into nice portable bits that don't spill like salt does. It is also easy to take various different metal types and make a system out of them (so even if a peasant never saw a gold coin before, he could recognize that the item is the same as the copper coins he uses regularly).

So if gold had a magical value that lead to hoarding... then it would just not be used for money. There wouldn't be enough of it for the economy to go through it. It would be the end of gold coins and the beginning of gold bars perfectly sized to be enough to cover one raise dead.


I think there are a couple of things here;

* gold as an element(Au) or precious metal.

* gold as money/currency. In this aspect it is the fourth control in DnD (ability scores, level & class, money, action{time}). People historically want it as it's shiny & pretty, doesn't decay or rust for the most part, and gold is rare. Of course people want it as other people want it... so desire and greed, and therein lies its 'value'.

* The mundane and magical. Magic is part of the fantasy that is used to rationalize character's doing special things. The system would work fine without magic although it would be kinda boring.

* Paizo has given rules for gold as an impractical special material.

* The impact of being magical. The debate over spellbooks being magical (and thus locatable using Detect Magic) has gone on for years. Essentially they're not if you rule they are just information and the magic is in the caster or act of casting.
If gold is innately magical (without any mechanical benefit) it can be located with Detect Magic. That's about it. Muggles(non-spellcasters/no SLAs, etc) have no way to detect or use the magic in 'magical' gold.

* Gold use in magic. Gold certainly is a component in magical spells for the home GM. A few spells directly use it, particularly Coin Shot. Of course it has an equivalence in any foci or material that costs the character money.

As a practical experiment, I'd introduce 'magical' gold into your game keeping regular gold in play. See how it works out.

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