On a Question of Mastery

Had a friend ask me a question about fantasy.

The logical and rational thinking of the modern world is a literal inhibitor to our ability to imagine a fantastic reality. It crowds out fantastic ideas and results in an incredible sameness to the large numbers of fantasy settings out there. More damaging it makes us unwilling to engage in something that pushes the boundaries of the fantastic due to the frustration of attempting to assimilate a new world order.

The question was, "Where does all this gold come from?"

My first response was from the fantastic realism angle.

Consider a world that's been through countless Aeons. Not just one roman empire, but thousands of empires. Cities built upon cities built upon cities. Mega-structures built and long forgotten beneath the ground. Every kingdom, nation, and realm minting their own coin, toiled, extracting it from within the earth, or from within the confines of another civilization.

So there's that.

I then mentioned that this doesn't even begin to touch upon the realm of the fantastic. Perhaps there are portals deep within the earth, perhaps it is the excrement of giant purple worms that have very cities in their interior, perhaps earth spontaneously cycles through different types of materials.

How many fantastic origins of gold and coins can we list?


  1. Ha, I really like the idea of purple worms crapping gold. My campaign world I use a silver standard so gold is more valuable. It is the currency of nobles and wealthy merchants. But the question for me would be where is all that silver coming from.

    Mining of course is plays the largest part in this. Especially with dwarves being a playable race. But like in your example a good portion of the silver is reused, reminted from former empires. But I still really like the idea of purple worms pooping out precious metals.

  2. The midgets who helped God create the universe made a bunch of extra gold for themselves and hid it in 7th dimensional space.

  3. The explanation is simple: In the fantasy world, alchemy works. Throughout the years in the fantasy realm, countless alchemists have managed to turn lesser metals into gold, thus we have(literally) tons of the stuff lying around. This also explains why a quantity of gold that would be worth several thousand dollars in "the real world" is just enough to buy a flask of oil or coil of rope or space on a flea-infested mattress for a night in the fantasy world.

  4. Gold and other precious metals are the calcified remains of the bones and bodies of dead (and in some cases forgotten) gods that are interred within the earth.

  5. a) Areas having a strong enough association with some phenomena are actually co-extistant with a similar plane of existence. Traveling in certain underwater regions one could accidentally find themselves on the elemental plane of water. Similarly those delving deep enough into the bowels of the earth routinely end up in far-flung parts of the elemental plane of earth.

    Long ago Dwarves would've mined out all the easily reachable gold in a mundane world. But the plane of earth is theorized to be infinite, or at least light-years in all directions, so mining it out is apparently impossible.

    b) Sometimes powerful mortals pursue avarice so rashly or grandly that it offends the very gods of prosperity. The bards tell of many such individuals who have been afflicted with the Phrygia Blight. Persons afflicted with the blight turn all the objects they touch (sort of the ground itself) into gold.

    Over the millennia there have been enough Phrygia afflicted to greatly swell the amount of gold in the world. Some sages predict that in a few thousand more years this phenomena will increase the amount of gold in the world to a degree which makes it useless as a currency. Others with a more bean-counting bent caution of the far future day when the amount of gold in the world piles up in such great quantities as to pose practical problems to life.

    Greedy adventurers be warned!

  6. Gold is the natural flesh of the great Primordial Evils who were defeated so many aeons ago. This explains why (the love and pursuit of) gold is thought to be so deeply corrupting; ie. the root of every kind of evil.

  7. Just as flies are spontaneously generated from poop, and salamanders from burning logs, gold is spontaneously generated any time a monster settles down and declares a place to be its lair.


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