Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Star-currency of the gods

You've probably heard of the stone money of Yap Island, great stone wheels called rai.  They're terribly impractical: large, cumbersome, fragile, just about the most awkward currency in the world.
In fact, they're so awkward to move that no one really moves them around anymore.  When you spend one, everyone knows who it now belongs to, so you don't need to bother rolling it all the way over to their house.  And when they spend it, everyone knows who it belongs to now.

The stones change ownership without ever changing hands.

As Yap islanders once used stones, giants use the stars.

When the world was young and the giants first emerged from the earth, the gods opened their mouths and taught them to speak.  They told them the names of the animals and mountains and the stars.

The gods gave stars as gifts, a sign of honor for the noblest and most loyal giants.

Owning a star means knowing its name and its place in the heavens, and being able to recite its history many generations back.  Gifted with prodigious memory, giants know the names of thousands of stars and their owners across the land.

Stars can be sold or given away, but only at an annual gathering where others may bear witness to the transaction.  Dim stars are traded away regularly, but bright stars are reserved for the most valuable of purchases or gifts bestowing high honors.

Stars function as something like money in the bank, a form of wealth universally accepted, but kept in a form that's very hard to steal.  Instead of a ledger showing how much you have in your account, the collective reckoning of giantish society keeps track of who owns which stars.

There's a bit of a delay in passing along that information.  It may take several years for knowledge of a transaction to propagate to the farthest reaches of the continent, but it will eventually get there.

Stars have fallen into the hands of other species.  Some have been given to human tribes as a peace offering.  Some have been used in trade with the goblins.  A few have even been given to the elves since their arrival a century ago.  But even the most giant-friendly of outsiders don't keep track of stars across generations, so giants will, from time to time, inquire about lineages and inheritance in an effort to determine the rightful owner of a star.

Many stars were lost in the apocalypse as people died without kin and heirs.

Giants name stars by their place in a constellation.  Each is named for a divine figure: a god or something like a god from one of the stories.  These are some of the major constellations; there are also many minor ones.

Constellation (d20)
1Old Porcupine
2Talking Goose
3Granny Vulture
4the Flock of Quail
5One-Eyed Bear
6the Poet Cricket
7Lean Coyote
8Salmon Who Listens
9the Thundering Moose
10Youngest Squirrel
11Snowstorm Jackrabbit
12Lame Deer
13Devouring Owl
14Mother Skunk and her Three Children
15Too-Fat Turkey
16the Unrepentent Raccoon
17the Crow Brothers
18the Great Rattlesnake
19Sleeping Turtle
20Many-Hued Beetle

Once you know the constellation, make up a position that makes sense there or choose from the list below.

Position (d20)
1the outstretched wingtip of
2the broken horn of
3the left shoulder of
4the third right toe of
5the end of the branch dropped by
6the long tooth of
7the wound in the side of
8the corner of the mouth of
9the tip of the tail of
10the drop of blood from
11the neck of
12the nose of
13the stone before
14the stolen amulet of
15the fly that annoys
16the eye that watches
17the one that pursues
18the bright eye of
19the second point of the right antler of
20the ear of

Roll up a random star yourself:

random star


  1. This is brilliant! What a great extrapolation of that idea.


  2. My star is "The end of the branch dropped by the Flock of Quail"

    This is a really wonderful post, concise but full of imagination. Good job.

  3. Best currency idea since Arnold K's negative currency of the orcs (they will give you something you want if you agree to take some of the debt they owe to the gods).