Spooky action at a distance

Magic Gold From the Future

In this post I will be developing the world of Industry Marches, where tech and magic are at odds and capital is god. What if gold came from the future?

Gold has always been available to the people of Pale Provinces in small quantities. It is an important ingredient in many rituals for its soft and shiny qualities, allowing it to be easily molded into magical forms. However, only with the advent of large scale mining (ergo more gold available to industrial researchers and engineers), was the true nature of gold revealed.

All gold moves backwards in time.

At first there were accidents; miners getting crushed by gold ore falling upwards; train cars carrying gold melting down. Several insufficient theories later, Charles Laforge (of the University of Material and Temporal Sciences) came up with the only model that explains every property at once. If gold was somehow manufactured in the future and reversed in time, then it would explain the anomies it causes around it.

Gold ore appears only on plots already owned by the bourgeois class (or plots soon to be owned by them). This fact has led to the supposition that these industrialists have sent the gold back in time to themselves to further enrich their past selves. Of course it cannot be reliably proven and has been called « proposterous » by every mining operation owner.

Use Cases

How players (and referee) can use gold in the Pale Provinces.

  1. Encasing something in gold and moving it back in time. The bigger the object, the more gold you would need to encase it. In gameplay terms, could be used as a flashback mechanic to send an object to your past self; or have great consequences by sending it back in time to a major faction or character. People could potentially travel back in time in a sarcophagus with food and water, but air supply would be very very limited.
  2. Weird bullets that fly into the barrel (yes, just like in Tenet). Could be useful for stealth shots or ambushes. However, requires pre planting the bullets and knowing where the target will be in advance.
  3. Crafting warning amulets. If the amulet starts heating up, this perhaps means that you are in danger of being shot with a fireball. This is not deterministic however, if you substantially change your life path, the future will also change.
  4. Hide from or avoid magical fields. Since gold interacts with space-time in a strange way, it can shield the user from magic fields that rely on a consistent fabric of reality.
  5. Bringing a sacrifice to god-capital. Accumulating gold will allow you to bargain favours with the god; increased power over reality; power over nature; powers to convince bourgeois characters.
  6. Cashing in. You could always just sell it. Gold is unique in that it is valued by both the sorcerers and industrialists, so any character can get something useful from the trade. Keep in mind what that trade will do to the balance of power in Pale Provinces.

What other implications of gold can you think of? How would you use gold in your game? Do you know any examples of weird materials in other settings?

Published on July 5, 2023.

Tagged: industry   osr   setting   gold  


Spooky action at a distance is a blog run by emmy verte, to muse on sci-fi, fantasy location exploration and short fiction. You can donate to support Ukraine here.