The programmable matter called 'Glimmer' serves as one of the City's basic currencies. With the right inputs and an energy source, Glimmer can be transmuted into nearly anything. This makes it precious to the City's industries and artisans. That value, in turn, makes Glimmer a useful means of exchange - especially with those who venture beyond the City's walls.
Glimmer passes through an economic life cycle. New Glimmer comes from reclaimed Golden Age caches and technology - whether a tiny mechanism or an underground lode seeded by ancient machines. This expansion of the Glimmer supply drives down the value of Glimmer. But Glimmer is also constantly used by the City's industry, which converts it into necessary components and materials. This sink helps keep Glimmer scarce, and therefore valuable.
Between this inflow and outflow lies the pool of liquidity - Glimmer used as trade currency. Master Rahool in the Tower, for example, sells recovered matter engrams in exchange for Glimmer, since he knows he can use Glimmer to acquire new engrams and keep them flowing to Guardians.
Newborn Guardians often complain that they should be issued high-quality gear for free - are they not, after all, fighting for the future of the City? Unfortunately, this gear requires resources to manufacture. Guardians must bring in enough Glimmer and other staples, like spinmetal and relic iron, to keep the engine of the City's economy turning. If good times lead to a resource boom, that surplus may help mass-produce advanced gear.
When a terrible threat rises, Guardians look to the Vanguard, the closest thing they have to a command structure. These elite veterans coordinate the reports of roaming Hunters, the analyses of cloistered Warlocks, and the instincts of grizzled Titans into a single plan of action. And when Guardians fight as part of that plan, the Vanguard rewards them.
Vanguard Marks are tokens of favor that earn a trusted Guardian access to the Tower's armories. Listen carefully to the rumblings of Lord Shaxx, and you might come to believe that this system was meant to keep vital warfighting supplies from being wasted in the Crucible. Talk to Commander Zavala, and he will reassure you that the Vanguard Mark system exists for one reason: to get the best equipment into the hands of those who get the best results.
Guardians eager to win Vanguard Marks would do well to participate in Strike missions organized by the Vanguard.
The Crucible is a program of relentless live-fire training, hardening Guardians for battles to come. Competition thrives on risk and reward, so Lord Shaxx has seen fit to dispense Crucible Marks to those who excel.
Guardians with a name in the Crucible can spend these Marks on elite gear. Shaxx considers it fitting that the best should earn the best. The City's factions, fond of using the Crucible as an arena to advance their own interests, will also accept Crucible marks in exchange for their equipment.
Guardians eager to win Crucible Marks should fight in the Crucible, with particular attention to those challenges Lord Shaxx deems important.
Motes of Light
The Speaker has no interest in Glimmer, Marks, or the other currencies of the Tower's military functions. But he happily accepts these Motes, points of Light willed into being by an exercise of a mighty Guardian's power.
Some say they will one day become the souls of new Ghosts. Others believe they feed the intricate machinery that the Speaker tends. Whatever the case, the Speaker will happily reward donors with patterns and signs from his collection - more out of gratitude than any mercantile impulse.
Each coin rings with a faint, sharp hush - as if it has touched the sounds around it with the edge of silence.
These could buy incredible things, in the right hands. Whispers say the faceless creature who sometimes comes to the Tower covets them above all else.
As Guardians buy or salvage new equipment, they learn to tinker and improve. This work requires Glimmer and other material.
Some can be recycled from unneeded gear. Titans favor plasteel, which can be found by disassembling old equipment. Hunters unspool discarded armor into sapphire wire. Warlocks extract hadronic essence from dismantled fieldweave robes. And any Guardian with a sense for weaponry can disassemble old ordnance into weapon parts.
Other materials need to be scavenged on site, generally in the course of Patrols. The Cosmodrome in Old Russia is rich with spinmetal, a fantastically light and strong composite created by rogue colonies of Golden Age machinery that escaped storage. Solar coil systems on the Moon still generate helium filaments. The baffling, possibly Vex-influenced flora of Venus grow spirit blooms. And the surface of Mars offers deposits of ultra-dense relic iron.
The most powerful Guardian equipment transcends ordinary science, entering the realm of Golden Age secrets and the Traveler's power itself. This wargear demands Ascendant Energy and Ascendant Shards - burning fragments of the universal fundament, earned through mighty acts of heroism.
Look for them in daily Story challenges and Raids.