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Trying to develop a consistent system for my world based on the idea of the substance, Gold, being a special material that can conduct spiritual energy in a way similar to how metal already conducts heat and electricity. Let's say gold in this world has all of the same properties and applications of its real world counterpart, but it's also discovered to be a conduit for the energy of a human soul or underworld spirit (also part of my world).

Based on this idea, how would you imagine interactions with gold to go? (would too much gold cause your soul to leave your body, would metalworkers need to take special precautions, etc)

Also, how would this impact the value of gold and a culture's perception of the substance? How does a society develop around this new gold standard?

EDIT: There's a few specific applications I have in mind for gold in my story. Gold would be a way to transfer one soul to a different body. Also, Gold vessels can be used to capture spirits that roam the world, some even considered deities. If we assume spiritual energy behaves similarly to heat/electricity, how can a conductive material be used in a way that captures and stores this energy, sort of like "lightning in a bottle"? Also how could this material still be abundant in the world, yet have these interactions remain a secret from most of society? I'd like to have gold still used frequently as jewelry and other applications, but have these secret uses mainly used by an ancient religion that's mostly forgotten in a modern time.

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    $\begingroup$ You're providing the background, and asking us for both the rules and the end result. This makes it brainstorming. Try providing us with two of the three. For example, you could provide the information about gold, provide the rules, and ask how this would affect ____. Or you could give the background on gold, say what you want the end result to be, and ask for help creating rules to achieve that end result. $\endgroup$ – Nex Terren Sep 13 '16 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ @NexTerren oh ok! let me see what other details I can provide and narrow the scope of the question $\endgroup$ – skeletim Sep 13 '16 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ If you cross out 'gold' in your question and write 'crystals' instead you can find a pretty diverse set of information across the internet on this topic. This would be the first time I've ever seen gold used for this line of thought before. $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Sep 13 '16 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ Note that heat and electricity behave very differently. So what exactly do you mean with "behaves similarly to heat/electricity"? $\endgroup$ – celtschk Sep 13 '16 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ @celtschk I meant only in the way that heat and electricity flow and spread through a metal, but I should probably specify if this spiritual energy acts more like heat or electricity to define the system more clearly $\endgroup$ – skeletim Sep 13 '16 at 19:35
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Perhaps instead of looking at gold as a means of conducting spiritual energy, you could use another metal as a battery of spiritual energy.

Lithium most readily comes to mind. It is very light and extremely reactive, which is why your cell phone and nearly every other handheld device in the world stores energy with lithium.

Lithium, like other alkali metals, is very soft. In fact, you could cut it with a knife. However, because of its reactivity, it bonds with oxygen almost instantly, causing it to tarnish.

Given these properties, you could establish lithium as a battery of spiritual energy. In its pure form, it is a very soft metal, representing the fragility of souls and morals. The extreme reactivity of lithium could be seen as a matter of spiritual control: if you can keep your lithium as a pure metal, then your soul is also pure. You could also describe a process in which lithium's energy can be transmitted via reaction to unleash a wave of pleasure, power, what have you, but also drains the soul of the beholder (or the spirit within the lithium) in the process.

Even though your question was about gold and my answer was about lithium, you could still incorporate gold in one way: because gold is extremely non-reactive, you could seal your lithium with a shell of gold, so instead of being a conductor of spiritual energy, gold is its protector.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting thought. In fact, you could even take it a step further and use this idea in a fashion similar to a horcrux, or even an inanimate version of a daemon in the way that Philip Pullman uses animals in His Dark Materials. $\endgroup$ – Jesse Williams Sep 13 '16 at 18:42
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Well, from a "real-world" perspective, you could look to the supposed mystical properties of crystals by many pagan religions and spiritual healers. Or blood, even.

Without any additional input, I would suspect that "too much gold [would not] cause your soul to leave your body" as you say it's a conduit. If you attach a wire to the positive terminal of a battery and nothing else, it doesn't just drain the battery. I would suspect the same would hold true under your suppositions.

As for value, that would depend entirely on multiple facets of society. Is spirituality revered or feared or something in between. Is there a caste- or class-based system that puts members of the religious elite above the plebs, or is spirituality a shared, common, and classless experience?

If there is a priest caste that is either revered or feared, that still doesn't necessarily answer the question directly. Does having gold cause them to take notice of you (people would shun gold, potentially), or could you use the spiritual conduit inherent in gold to ward off religious zealots? Or even ward off or draw on souls and spirits?

There are a LOT of questions and a lot of ways this could go. Hopefully, this gives you some points to consider.

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