By King of the Castle
Gamer Bling is a numismatist. And by that he doesn’t mean that he’ a Gary Numan fan, although he is; he means that he is a coin collector, and he geeks out over coins the way other people geek out over whatever it is that they geek out about, many examples of which, like PVC statues of underclad Japanese anime girls, are things that are generally not admitted in public.
Gamer Bling collects coins. And he is geekily proud of his collection inasmuch as it has coinage from a variety of legal entities that no longer exist, like Yugoslavia, the free city of Danzig, France when they were a military powerhouse, and whatever company it was that thought the d20 Book of Erotic Fantasy was a good idea (Gamer Bling didn’t really see a need to read a guide that defined gnomes by the fact that they liked to have sex in groups, and probably using PVC anime statues as props, too).
With the arrival of the eurodollar, the Gamer Bling collection also boasts coins from a number of value systems that are no longer in use either, including the venerable lira, the Imperial pound/shilling/pence system, and the ideals of the 1994 Republican Revolution.
And now, thanks to King of the Castle, Gamer Bling has coins from countries that never existed in the first place! How cool is that?
Answer: Pretty darned cool.
Gamer Bling started off in the same manner that you should: with the big box o’ coins, or, as King of the Castle calls it, the starter kit. First off, the packaging is impressive. Not the box, which is designed to look like a faux chest and, as a standard RPG accessory, features an elf babe sporting what most gamers hope is not a faux chest (Gamer Bling also has this vague recollection that there might have been someone else on the box cover). If anything, unlike the elf-babe’s armaments, the box is a little bit light for its duty. And, also unlike the elf-babe, the box probably a little too large. Not that it matters, because if you’re smart and properly blinged out, you’ll toss the box and use your poor neglected Crown Royal bag to hold your coins.
Where the packaging really comes into its own is when you first open it up. Permit Gamer Bling to elucidate. Inside the box you find a large bag (and taped onto it is a little zip-lock bag, henceforth called a baguette). In the large bag are four bag bundles. Each bag bundle has four bags, roughly the size of a sandwich bag but with neither a zip lock nor a sandwich. Each bag in the bundle has 5 or 10 zip-lock baguettes in it. Each baguette holds one coin. Thus not only do you get 121 coins, you also get 121 little zip-lock baguettes to store them in. Sort of like card sleeves for currency.
But that’s not what you want to do. Aside from being woefully inefficient—using a different baguette for each coin is like using a different wallet for each bill in your pocket—what you’d rather do is toss all those coins into a fabric or leather dice bag and sling them on the table with a loud pound-plus ka-chingle! It sounds just like it ought to, like a good fantasy movie sound effect.
Gamer Bling did this at a recent gaming session, and Gamer Bling’s companions, being suitably jaded by this time, even if they are still woefully underblinged and oozing virulent clouds of envy, were quoted as saying, “Woah, real gold coins?” By which Gamer Bling hopes they meant “real imitation gold coins,” not “real 24k gold coins.” Because otherwise that’s just dumb.
But let’s poke at the coins, shall we?
Included in the bulky box of baggie bounty are coins totaling some 22,940 in total gp value. The coins come from four distinct cultures, and are minted in denominations of 1, 10, 100, and 1000, with one 500-value coin tossed in just for giggles. King of the Castle assures us that the 500-gold coins are collectible, which must be true because that’s the way the collectible industry works. But just the same, Gamer Bling does not see the 500-piece coin being a driver for sales. Even if it is a pretty cool coin with the visage of a dwarf who looks like he’s suited up for the Bloodbowl, spiked helmet and all.
Anyway, Gamer Bling prefers to think of the four distinct cultures as the Knights, the Mages, the Dwarves, and the Druids, although what druids are doing minting coins remains to be explained. So we’ll call them Barbarians instead, or something else of that ilk. Each culture has decorations following a particular theme on the obverse side (front), its unique societal symbol on the reverse side, and a particular minting metal (which super-secret formulae King of the Castle, much like Ronald McDonald with his secret sauce called “thousand island dressing,” refuses to discuss). Put simply, we have:
|Race / Culture||Base Theme||National / Factional / Racial / Local Sports Team Seal||Appearance|
|Wild Things||Animals||A cross pattée (similar to an iron cross) and other decor||Coppery, like a modern alloy 1-cent piece|
|Mages||Arcane knowledge||Fleur-de-lis and swirly bits (honestly, you’d think they were bards or something)||A dark/aged/tarnished silvery look|
|Dwarves||Dwarfish (duh)||A gear with maybe a shifting or control mechanism inside||Rather brassy, like the ideal girlfriend|
|Knights||Chivalry||Frankly, it looks like a map of a Houston freeway interchange but without that scary third dimension||Bright silvery, like a polished tin can|
So what’s on the front side? Since KotC makes more than one set of coins, check the “products” section below.
The 1000-gp coins are the same size as the real-life make-believe Greyhawk gold piece shown on page 168 of the 3.5e PHB. That saves a lot of weight, since the 1000-gold KotC piece weighs next to nothing compared to a stash of 1000 gold coins of Greyhawk size, which would weigh in at 62.5 pounds and therefore not be terribly mobile for gaming.
The coins are all about 2mm thick, which is a little bit thicker than a nickel or a quarter or a suitably thick euro coin (and by the way, curse the euro for causing the demise of the drachma!). The 1, 10, and 100 coins are round. The 500 and 1000 have ornate edge designs, like 16-point stars, octagons with beveled corners, or a gear-toothed circumference. The newer 2, 5, 20, and 50 coins have… well, extravagant edge designs.
So enough of the cold, hard facts: how do they play?
Well, Gamer Bling wishes he could tell you in depth, but he can’t. Recent gaming sessions have been all fight no plunder. So Gamer Bling doesn’t actually have any feedback on how they work when you return to town with a fistful of loot, but he wants to get this review up because the coins are even more fun to fiddle with than Alea Tools’ magnetic markers. And watch this space, because Gamer Bling will update this paragraph as the situation warrants.
Some have voiced concern that there aren’t enough lower-demonination coins, meaning players will have to make change all the time. Gamer Bling is unsure whether or not this is true. But it looks like we’ll be starting a new campaign with new 1st-level characters soon (Gleek is at the verge of ruling the entire planet), so you’ll be able to get blow-by-blow accounts on how things go.
One final word: These coins are rated for “ages 12+” because those in public education these days are unlikely to be able to count higher than the number of fingers they have up their nose, no matter how high their self-esteem is.
Well, they’re not gold. Or silver. Or even copper, honestly. One of the facts of life that saddens Gamer Bling is that, starting right around the time he was born (surely this is nothing more than a coincidence), currency started switching from being made of silver, like the Canadian 5-cent pieces were at the turn of the previous century, to the more common copper-nickle alloy or even (in the case of countries that actively hate numismatists but make big yen by sculpting gravity-defying PVC breasts) aluminum. Aluminum! That’s like saying your coins need to be recycled! Gamer Bling challenges you: go find a good silver dollar or copper-nickel alloy dollar and slap it on the counter of your local pub and hear the solid impact. Flip it in the air and hear the singing of the coin as it spins. Now compare that to a lusterless, weightless, noiseless, worthless aluminum coin. Bleah. Gamer Bling doesn’t even like the feel of aluminum coins, and he wouldn’t keep any of them except that they come from misguided and no-longer-extant places like East Germany, where communism managed to turn the titanic Teutonic military-industrial complex into something that produced low-quality products in an inefficient manner. Running a productive German industry should be as easy as shooting your pistol in the air, yet somehow the communists missed.
So, being not-gold and not-silver and even-not-copper, Campaign Coins don’t get top ranks for bling factor. But they still rank high, because we’re talking the dedication of 538 grams (0.081 slug, for those of you using the English system) of mixed metals to perform the same task as a #2 pencil and a three-square-inch section of your character sheet.
Second, they don’t represent coins with a value of less than one gold. Well, you could, if desired, use the different cultures not as countries, but as differing metals for copper (Los Animales), silver (Mages), gold (Dwarves), and platinum (Knights) pieces. But then you get wacky things like the big 1000-copper piece being worth the same as a little 1-platinum piece. Oh, well. Does anyone really bother with copper pieces these days? The 4e treasure tables don’t use them at all, not even for 1st level chumps adventurers.
Speaking of which, the packaging states that the coins “represent the various denominations commonly found in popular gaming systems.” Last Gamer Bling checked, not a single fantasy role-playing environment uses “denominations.” It’s a gold piece, not a 1-gold coin. Historically, coins were valued based on metal content and weight. It wasn’t until after paper money came into being that coins started representing values not inherent to their composition.
Because the embossed designs are sometimes quite thick, the coins don’t stack well. But they make great piles and feel keen with all that high-relief engraving.
The reverse sides just don’t look medieval. Let’s face it; abstract was not something done on coins until, like, never. National seals, coin values, kings, gods, and more all appeared on coins. Not abstract art.
All the coins use the same font for the numerals. This makes them easy to read, but it’s culturally indefensible.
None of the coins look worn. Yes, they used some sort of black ink or something to create the illusion of wear, but then packaged them in individual little baguettes to keep them from being dinged or scratched by the other coins. Real aged coins have a flattened look about them that wears away the detailed engraving to a mere silhouette of its former glory. So Gamer Bling suggests you and your gaming companions just toss a handful of coins into your pockets so they’ll wear down.
There is no graining or printing on the edges; in fact the edges have a seam like video-game tokens. No big; Gamer Bling doubts grained edges came into being until the 20th century, but there it is.
And finally, sometimes a pile of a thousand gold is just not that impressive. So the gamemaster better choose how to represent the treasure carefully.
The Bottom Line
These are just great. They’re fun. They make noise. They’re great to fiddle with, they’re great to role-play with (especially when bribing someone), and it’s a whole lot of fun to drop a bag of coins on the table so they spill out. And overuse won’t rub a hole in the “treasure” section of your character sheet.
They’re perfect for games with developed cultures like, say the Eberron setting, which could use denominational coins, but still great fun for any fantasy environment because no one really wants to handle 10,000 gold coins. Unless they’re real gold. In which case sign Gamer Bling up.
And if you need extra baggies, that’s a good perk, too.
Bling Factor: 9
Price: $70 (which, since they’re made in Australia, reads ,,0L$,,) for the big box or $6 per pack of 10.
You need: One box for most campaigns. Higher level campaigns or large player groups may need two. Or you could just buy smaller batches of coins (see below) to fill out any needs.
Since King of the Castle is in Australia, Gamer Bling does not recommend anyone buy direct unless you already live Down Under. However, you can use the link to the right to purchase them from RPGShop.com. Better yet, RPGShop sell the coins individually! But, regardless of where you buy those coins, be sure to write King of the Castle and tell them Gamer Bling sent you to spam them.
Gamer Bling also supposes fantasy paper money would be a possibility.
Fake gems? Nah.
The original starter set costs $70 for 121 coins, or roughly 58¢ apiece. Or you could buy coins in sets of 10, which, at $6 a pop, is easier on the cash flow, and at only 60¢ apiece, is not that much of a price differential.
The Original Decimal Starter Set
This set covers the basic decimal units of 1, 10, 100, and 1000. So what do the front of the coins look like? Let us observe the obverse:
|Category||1 gp coin||10 gp coin||100 gp coin||1000 gp coin|
|Size||19mm (the size of a penny)||22mm (nickel)||25mm (quarter+)||30-31mm (half dollar)|
|Tree Huggers||Bearded horse||Wyrm||Horned skull with, uh, ears still hangin’ on||Lion or wolf rampant (or tripping and falling)|
|Mages||Abstract smoky fangy summoned demon… or a sneeze||Fireball with a face like a dried apple||Book with magic glyphs||Cup of knowledge with fire of inspiration, or a very big flaming shot|
|Dwarves||Gate leading into a mountain||Hammer and eagle||Double-bitted ax||Mailed fist of doooom!|
|Knights||Coat of arms||Knight on charger with lance and stars||Helms with sun||Sword and roses (no, that’s not a rock band)|
The Expanded In-Betweener Set
Thanks in part to severe agitprop from Gamer Bling, plus a threat to hit King of the Castle in the kneecap (which, since they’re Down Under, is the elbow), King of the Castle came out with this set of intermediate coin values, being 2, 5, 20, and 50. Now change for that mighty masterwork compound bow is perhaps a little easier to make.
Most of in-betweener coins are irregularly shaped. No boring rounds here. Also makes measuring size rather tricky.
Also, they inadvertantly switched the backs on the mages’ and the knights’ coins, so that the tarnished silver gets the freeway interchange and the platinum gets the fleurs-de-lis. No big deal, since the kewl art and the coin denomination are all on the front, but it’s pretty funny nonetheless:
|Category||2 gp coin||5 gp coin||20 gp coin||50 gp coin|
|Design Concept||Shaped like shields: from an ellipse to a cross between subulate and hastate||Odd edge decorations, except for that one odd cruciform coin||Circular with differently shaped holes in the center||Generally circular, but with a variety of embellishments|
|Rednex||A hand with three fingers… which makes Gamer Bling wonder how they count to five||Arrows crossed over a crescent moon or a wide, toothless frown||Two wicked-looking survival knives||A three headed hydra or maybe a garter snake with a terrible congenital defect|
|Mages||A Maltese cross with the inscription “Imperivs”||A, um, top hat? maybe? with the inscription “Dominvs”||A castle barbican with a big triangular hole in the center of the coin breaching its defenses||Portrait of the queen with all her curly hair… or else the king is effete|
|Dwarves||A coat of arms that does not involve anything gearlike||Crossed hammers over an anvil||Two clashing beer steins – now we’re talkin’!||Indecipherable dwarvish runes on a banner, but it sure looks sweet|
|Knights||Three crossed arrows nocked on a bow… someone’s been using a multiarrow feat from a third-party sourcebook||A dragon rising from a nest, or flames, or a nest of flames||Laurel wreath or droopy grape vines after the harvest (hic)||Profile of a scowling elf… you’d scowl too, if your Vulcan ears were tied down|