The Alexandrian

Jacques de Gheyn - Vanitas Still Life (1603)“Gilted Fiends”, like “101 Curious Items”, was originally submitted to Dragon Magazine. It went through several revision passes: First, the editors cut the coin of fate, coins of the damned, Aethope’s coins, the thief’s coin, coins of the dead, and the gilted fiend. They asked me to revise the rest and re-submit. (I’m no longer certain of the rationale; I think partly to make for a smaller word count, partly to eliminate the “artifact-like” objects, and partly to “tighten the focus” of the piece.)

When I re-submitted the article, the editors were unhappy because the coins did not rigidly follow the guidelines for pricing magic items in the DMG. In my opinion, the guidelines were pricing most of the coins as being way too expensive/valuable and they were, after all, meant to be guidelines not a straitjacket.

So I ran the coins through the DMG guidelines and re-submitted… which resulted in the article being rejected because the coins were too expensive for their utility.

I promptly restored the coins that had been cut and sold it pretty much instantly to the now-defunct Campaign Magazine.

A few years later, WotC released the Magic Item Compendium and basically said, “We’ve repriced a bunch of items by ignoring the guidelines when the guidelines were making items too expensive.” I felt vindicated.

However, the revised prices survived the transition to Campaign Magazine.  (The principle of “guideline = rule!” was memetically viral at the time… and remains so today. I’m actually including a big “guidelines are not rules” disclaimer in Legends & Labyrinths for this very reason.) Those revised prices are also the prices which appear here because I’m generally following the principle of not revising this reprint material as I archive it on the Alexandrian. But you really would be better off ignoring them.

Finally, here’s a list of “ideas for coins” that I brain-stormed for the article but never actually developed:

  • reverse gravity
  • able to breathe only water
  • mask which allows one to speak with animals
  • exchanges gold coins for copper coins as you walk by people
  • need a pun on gilt/”guilt”
  • coin purse coin — randomly absorbs other coins like bag of holding
  • some (all?) are bags of devouring
  • jade coin from lost empire that transforms other coins to match itself (lost dimension?)

(No, I have no idea why I included the idea for a mask in the middle of this list.)

Read “Coins of the Damned”, a sequel to “Gilted Fiends”.

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4 Responses to “Gilted Fiends – Reflections”

  1. Andrew says:

    I think these are more fun as the focus of an adventure or a subplot, more than just tossing them into someone’s loot bag.

    I feel the same way about throat leeches, and those things that lurk in doors and go into listener’s ears, and incorporeal level-draining plants. How much paranoia do you really want to instill? Because nobody wins if the party focuses on examining every bit of everything to protect themselves from the random.

    As a focus for an adventure, or a subplot, these are fantastic. As legendary campfire tales, too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. noisms says:

    I’ve just stumbled across your blog and like it a lot. I’d like to subscribe via RSS, but the link at the top right of the page seems broken. Or, at least, it gives me a “document tree” that I have no idea what to do with. Normally RSS links should go to an XML feed that can be transferred to Google Reader or suchlike…

  3. Justin Alexander says:

    Hmm… Sorry you’re having problems, but I’m not sure what to tell you. The link works for me in Firefox, IE, and Chrome. Also on my Android phone.

    The link should be taking you to:

    It’s also possible that it was just a momentary server error (since the feed is generated dynamically, IIRC) which has now passed. Let me know if you’re still having problems and I’ll try to dig deeper.

  4. noisms says:

    Oh yeah, it works now. Must have been a server error as you say. Cheers!

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