Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Currencies for the system behind the character sheet

These are the primary currencies in the Gheste, valued for their rarity and capability to affect the world.

Bones: the foundation, the armature, the framework, the simplest of basics, the reduction of complexity, stalwart and unmovable core on which every other excess is built upon, the first arrival and the last remainder of multitudes that come and vanish as mere moments. Keeper of the longest memory, earliest of strata, quiet, and stubborn, and self-sufficient in its ascetic existence.

Blood: the quickness, the flow, the passion that is fluent like a dream, and as potent as a poison, one which imbues and binds like a chain anything that it touches to drag along with its neckbreaking ride. Intricately connected to time, blood is the fuel for the most reliable clock and hoarder of legacies.

Flesh: the pleaser, the eternal self-adjusting solver of problems, malleable to whims, potentiate for change, caller of the future, connection between differentiated states, the bridge into unknown, chaos bound by its own limits. The witless, suffering fool, so very vulnerable yet so much enduring in the face of a danger, joyful in its blind idiotic optimism.

Reflection: the ending to ignorance, the careful precipice of truth and domain of lies, the backbone of comprehension, the wilderness of meanings, cold and merciless fracture in the world from which the abyss can be seen. Liar and prophet, all the same, and easily shattered. 

Shadow: the unwanted gift, one's duplicate devoid of the identity and filled with something else, useful slave who one day will take over and carry away that is to remain in the world after its master is gone.

Echo: imposer, imposter, forceful imprint of one's existence onto the world with the voice; a castoff of the birthing scream and the remnant of the dying breath; a claim to the being; the projection of one's self, the silence broken, inability to cease existing until the world makes it so and forces it to fade.

You can pray to your currencies as (if) they are deities.

There is seventh building block, that is the soul. But it is infinite and ever-present in everything in Gheste, suffusing even the tiniest particle with itself, and as such, absolutely worthless.


Those currencies are precious and everybody starts with 4d6-drop lowest amount of them.  


These are a flowery descriptions of stats in Gheste, for the system behind the character sheet. Each sort of, kind of correlates to the traditional stat (bones for strength, echo for charisma) but aside of that:

1) they are somewhat literally the most basic constituents of the being/entity, both in physical and, at least partially, in symbolic sense as well, but just like with "what are hit points in-world?" question, I don't know yet if abnormally high stat, say, in Flesh, means a literally huge body mass or not. Ghosts devoid of flesh, blood, bones, reflections and shadows have limited ability to affect the world, so on some level this does work literally, but I foresee a lot of places where it must be taken in more abstract sense just like hit points cannot be fully correlated to actual wounds. 

I don't think that this is different too much to high stats in DnD, because in recent editions having Intelligence 30 and Intelligence 50 goes beyond what is possible to compare in human terms and just affects the numerical bonus or some special gated tiers.

2) like the colours or the colours, such currencies are not merely some intrinsic, innate, forever-here part of a character, but something that can be spent, utilized and traded. Traditional DnD makes stats the foundation of the character, and only rarely affects them, either through rare attacks or even more rare levelups; in such situations spells and items can give some extra stat or curses can drain them but there is that unspoken perception, I think, that the core of the character as they were generated remains more or less the same. I wanted stats as rare currencies to be more actively involved.

Because of what they are, I don't think currencies are as detachable as cash, but more like colours that, once harvested and made into nerva or lympha, are not easily stolen (the way I think about currency heists now is 'identity dungeon', something similar to Persona games dungeons, not merely pickpocketing a mayor). Yet, I do like the idea that such things can be voluntarily traded for, bargained for, coerced away, used as a reward or a last-resort payment, or even stolen with effort, thus literally transforming a person who falls below certain thresholds or zeroes on some currency altogether into a different being.

3) stats or abilities in TTRPG on one hand are the most basic, primitive way the PCs are interacting with the world, and on another hand, the way the world measures and appraises a capability of each entity to interact with itself, the emphasis on what is important and what is not in such interaction; a way the world views the being, in a sense. If everybody in otherwise standard DnD setting had a seventh stat named, say, 'whiskey' or 'dogs' measured on the exactly the same scale as Strength or Wisdom it would say something about this otherwise standard world; if the system has five different basic stats related to firing weapon but not a single for social interactions, it also says something about the world the system is for. I want currencies to say something about Gheste in this manner, mostly that 1) even what a person is may be not be what they have / can maintain a firm grasp on, and 2) the world is rather utilitarian in how it views each such being in it. 

P.S. I am pretty sure that I borrowed some bits of flowery texts from somewhere (probably either or both of colours articles above) but this post was in drafts for last year and a half, and if it was to be there any longer for rewrites it would have never be finished. I'll track the sources for a proper attribution and/or fix the borrowed bits around March, but for now I am just glad for it to be out.


  1. I haven't read those linked articles and am not familiar with that, but these are really beautifully written and interesting concepts. I like the idea of the stats as a kind of currency, something partially physical or literal but also partially symbolic, more like systems of exchange or value in the abstract than something like money, and how even something like prayer and the divine can replenish it or tie into it in some way. As you said, it takes these ideas that are still kind of familiar, like from a strictly game perspective you could fairly closely map them to the familiar ability scores, but in the reflavoring, the text itself, and the added layers of thought and depth to it, it really transforms these ideas into something far more interesting. Like blood being linked to time and clocks, it's just an interesting thing to think about, and what it says about the game and the world and so on.

    1. Thank you for reading. I would highly recommend reading the linked articles, as they represent interesting concepts and have a much better writing as well.

    2. Ya I'll check those out, thanks.

  2. Fuckin adore this; as per usual, you've come up with something I haven't seen represented in the ttrpg scene anywhere else, and it's incredibly compelling

    1. Thank you, I am glad you found it useful. As I said above, the roots for this are rather transparently inspired by the colours and the colours (of their respective worlds) but hopefully it will be used by somebody somewhere.

  3. "There is seventh building block, that is the soul. But it is infinite and ever-present in everything in Gheste, suffusing even the tiniest particle with itself, and as such, absolutely worthless."
    Funny, insightful, wonderful

    1. I am glad you like it. If you do anything with this or similar concept please let me know, I'd like to take a look.