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Challenge coins were popular coins or medallions used in “challenges” in the individual services of the UNSC and even inter-branch, emblazoned with the symbol of a branch and carried by service members.
Coins were typically 1.5” to 2” in diameter and featured the insignia of a branch of the military on one side, and a rank on the reverse. Special coins might be made to commemorate particular events.
Typically challenges only applied to those who possessed a challenge coin. A challenge was typically initiated in a place of gathering for service members. A challenge could be initiated by rapping a challenge coin on a counter or table, but in noisy environs repeated raps may be necessary. “Accidentally” dropping a coin is also considered a deliberate challenge to all involved. After the initial challenge anyone who noticed had to produce their coins and rap them as well. Anyone who could not produce a coin immediately had to buy a round of drinks, either for all who had their coins or for the whole bar. Allowances might be made for “a step and a reach” for challenges made in areas where a coin might not be ready at hand, such as showers.
Other variants might include the person with the lowest ranking coin has to buy the round, the highest rank coin gets a drink from each challenged person, and that anyone who can successfully steal a challenge coin gets a drink bought for them by the person who they stole it from. Inter-branch challenges were rare, but could occur. Typically the rule was that whichever branch's members couldn't all produce their coins, all members would have to buy a round of drinks. Another rule was that whichever branch had the highest ranking coin, all members of that branch got a free round on the rest present.
Several civilian organizations also had challenge coins, although they were less common and therefore challenges were not often made with them. A civilian coin might have the insignia of the organization and another decoration, or a depiction of an important event to that organization.