Thu Sep 18 20:43:30 CEST 1997

13 people now...still too quiet. :p

One of the easy things about the P&P economic system is the "factor of
10" values for each of the coins.  This makes price conversion easy, but
as a result some "world specific" flavor is lost.  The following are my
notes on the monetary system in my game.  All comments welcome.

In general, only civilized cultures deal with coins -- their trade
networks are large enough and the social level complex enough to require
a method of trade beyond simple barter.  Barbarian cultures that trade
with ("Allies", in the culture book) civilized cultures will also accept
coin.  Barbarian cultures that are isolated (no trade) or only trade
with barbarian cultures do not deal in coin -- the best you can hope for
is that they will accept gold or silver coin at a reduced value for the
metal alone.

NOTE: I assume that minted coins are slightly more valuable than the
same amount of plain metal.  The kingdom's seal is something of a
"guarantee" that the coin is of a consistent worth to other coins.

In my world (and most others, I would think), gold is very scarce,
silver less so but still hard to find.  Copper is actually fairly
plentiful (in the real world, gold and silver mines are usually found
near a major copper mine), and in general too common and too much in
demand to be used as a unit of value (barbarian cultures require copper
to make bronze for armor and weapons). The civilized world, therefore,
operates on a "silver standard" since silver is the most common of the
precious metals.

The most commonly encountered coins are obviously the "Brass Bit" and
"Copper Coin".  The CC not 100% copper, but actually a coin made from a
mix of copper, silver and some zinc (for hardness & durability --
straight copper and silver is too easily bent), probably in a ratio near
to 8.5:1:.5 (or so).  The weight for coins in Book 1 (8 to the ounce) is
too small, producing coins that are realistically too tiny for iron-age
cultures to make.  A better weight is 50 to the pound, which produces a
coin about the size of a US quarter (23mm) and a tad thicker (2mm).
Plus, 50/pound is easier to figure weights from.
The BB is little more than what it says, a squarish bead of polished
brass about 7.5mm on a side and weighing 100 to the pound.

The SC is similar is size and weight to the CC, composed of silver with
some zinc for hardness.  It too is about the size of a US quarter and
weighs 50 to the pound.

Historically (on earth), gold has a value 20 times that of silver by
weight.  However, gold also weighs twice as much as silver for the same
volume, so if the GC is only 10x the value of a SC, it must have 1/2 the
volume.  This produces a coin about the size of an American dime (16mm)
and twice as thick (2mm).  It also weighs 50/pound.

"Jingling Bags of Coin"
When players make a purchase or sale, most change returned will be in
the form of CC and BB.  Allow them 1SC for every 20CC worth of change
(i.e. A player sells something for 7GC value.  7GC=700CC, 700/20 = 35.
So they would get 35SC and 350CC from the merchant.

For gold the ratio is a bit better -- for every 15SC, 1 GC may be
gained.  In the above example, the player would actually get 2GC, 15SC
and 350CC -- a load of loot weighting in at almost 7.5 pounds!  Don't
let them get away with converting everything to portable gold -- it's
pretty rare stuff!

GC may only be gained from transactions in cities, SC only gained from
transactions in civilized lands.

"Trade with the barbarians"

Barbarian cultures that do not normally take coins will take payment in
gold or silver coin at a trade rate of 1 extra coin per 10, rounded up
(i.e. paying Joe Shaman 45SC for a load of trade goods means an extra
5SC must be paid for the "true value" of the metal.
They will RARELY take CC as payment, and the number of coins to be paid
will be DOUBLED.  They will not take BB.

The end result of these rules will make the players have a bit more
respect for how much swag they have to carry around, and makes jewels
and other more portable treasures that much more desirable -- even the
cheap ones.  It also opens up the market for moneychangers (including
the players doing the changing) and all the various plot complications
that can result from having the wrong type of coin for a task ("You want
to buy and ale and all you have is a GC?  Get outta my bar, funny guy!")
     -- Burton
Burton Choinski, Peritus Software Services Inc.
bchoinski at

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