Urik’s Coins and Nibenay’s Banner

Polyhedron 99’s article “Coin Collecting Under Athas’s Hot Sun” by Carlo Anziano and Tina Brown primarily describes the coinage of the Tyr Region’s seven city states. It’s the kind of article that adds a level of detail you never knew you needed and gives the Dark Sun setting a touch of realism.

Of course there is a detail which we might question, namely the Nibenay banner having a symbol of a braxat rather than a cilops despite the article being published a year after Ivory Triangle which had this on the Emblems of Nibenay:

The royal seal is the Cilops, a gigantic centipede with one eye. Nobles and merchants use stylized images of the sorcerer-king, their ancestors, and themselves. Some use various creatures, real and fantastic, that come from Nibenese folklore.

And Veiled Alliance, published two years before the article, which has this to say regarding Nibenay’s emblems:

Many monsters, both real and imaginary; highly conventionalized representations of nobles, the sorcerer-king, and various nats; all integrated in a complex folklore.

The word “nats” must be a typo and perhaps was meant to say the word “natives” or perhaps something to do with “nature”. In thinking of what the banner of Nibenay would be though, I would like to think that it would be that of the royal seal (the cilops) as Nibenay should naturally see himself and the city as one and the same.

So the authors either got it wrong or had something in mind when they chose the braxat for the Nibenay banner, and with some imagination you might explain the use of a braxat or just use a ciliops for your needs. What can’t be explained away though is that this article describes Urik’s coins but the names of the coins are omitted from the main table. All we are given about them is:

The names of the coins reflect the different occupations prevalent in the city-except, of course, the gold piece, which is named for Hamanu himself. The gold piece, or Hamanu Gold, is also known as an auric, but not in Hamanu’s hearing. The arrow symbol portrayed on the obverse of the ceramic coins is shown fletched in fire rather than in feathers, and it has a barbed obsidian head. The silver piece boasts a halberd dripping blood from its chipped obsidian blade. The lire-maned lion, one heavy paw resting on a defeated foe, is obviously meant to pay homage to the great warrior King, Hamanu.

There was an attempt to name them in the Athas.org Athasian Emporium which used Polyhedron 99 as a source and had them named in this way:

Known as a Quiver, the ceramic coin has on the tail side the images of 10 obsidian-headed arrows fletched with fire in place of feathers. Each of the arrows represents one ceramic bit, or Arrow, when broken off. The silver piece is called the Blade and is hexagonal. The tail design is that of an obsidian halberd dripping blood. The gold piece, also six-sided, is named after Urik’s sorcerer-king. Known as the Lion, the tail side celebrates the sorcerer-king’s reputation as a great warrior. The coin depicts a lion with a mane of fire resting one paw on a defeated enemy. The gold piece is nicknamed the “auric”, although this name is not used near Hamanu by those who value their lives.

Which in terms of coin name and tail design means:

Arrow: Barbed obsidian flame-fletched arrow
Quiver: 10 arrows in a ring
Blade: Obsidian halberd dripping blood
Lion: Fire-maned lion with paw on defeated foe

But these names don’t match the description found in Polyhedron 99: “The names of the coins reflect the different occupations prevalent in the city-except… The gold piece, or Hamanu Gold, is also known as an auric”. It also doesn’t follow the theme of the other cities coin names in that they are not named to be descriptors of the tail design. We could say Urik is the exception had the article not given us a hint at what the actual names are.

So what names would be more likely? Looking at the original boxed set, Veiled Alliance, and Dune Trader the three major industries noted for Urik are quarrying obsidian, silk weaving, and pottery, with the professions of Quarrier, Weaver, and Potter therefore considered as “occupations prevalent in the city”. Granted though, the “profession” of quarrying obsidian would likely be carried out by slaves which is described several times in Slave Tribes.

Quarrier (formal)/Quarry (informal): Barbed obsidian flame-fletched arrow
Weaver: 10 arrows in a ring
Potter: Obsidian halberd dripping blood
Hamanu Gold: Fire-maned lion with paw on defeated foe

These are names that better match the Polyhedron 99 description in that the Potter (silver) is the highest profession as indicated in Veiled Alliance and Dune Trader, Weaver being less than a Potter and Quarrier (i.e. slave) being the smallest denomination (which in name is similar to Raam’s smallest denomination called a “Slave”). Quarrier though doesn’t really roll off the tongue and the language of commerce can be quick so one might imagine that the general public would have a slang word introduced and instead call it a “quarry” which is easier to say and conveys the same meaning.

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