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Jon_Dahl
2014-08-27, 07:22 AM
I was just thinking how moneychanger NPCs should be played.

For instance, if there are copper, silver, gold and platinum coins in the world, but no information of their availability, and if the general populace uses silver coins and almost never gold or platinum, does that mean that moneychangers would offer gold and platinum coins to the PCs at every turn or vice versa?
How should the moneychangers react to coins minted in other kingdoms?

Jay R
2014-08-27, 08:25 AM
I was just thinking how moneychanger NPCs should be played.

For instance, if there are copper, silver, gold and platinum coins in the world, but no information of their availability, and if the general populace uses silver coins and almost never gold or platinum, does that mean that moneychangers would offer gold and platinum coins to the PCs at every turn or vice versa?
How should the moneychangers react to coins minted in other kingdoms?

First of all, the general populace only has copper and silver because they rarely have as much as one gold piece worth of money. Nobody will offer gold coins to somebody with 4 silver and 17 copper pieces.

Moneychangers are extremely useful in a world in which one kingdom's coins contain different amounts of metal than another kingdom's. What's the exchange rate between pounds sterling and drachmas? But since D&D simplifies it all to the generic gold piece that is always ten silver pieces, there's no need.

You can introduce different values of money if you like, with varying exchange rates, if you like, and make moneychangers useful, but your players won't thank you for it.

Airk
2014-08-27, 08:54 AM
Moneychangers are extremely useful in a world in which one kingdom's coins contain different amounts of metal than another kingdom's. What's the exchange rate between pounds sterling and drachmas? But since D&D simplifies it all to the generic gold piece that is always ten silver pieces, there's no need.

You can introduce different values of money if you like, with varying exchange rates, if you like, and make moneychangers useful, but your players won't thank you for it.

This is pretty much spot on.

It's not even necessarily that coins have different purities (though they did!) but that they also had different WEIGHTS. And many merchants couldn't be arsed to traffic in foreign currency.

But in a world with "Gold Pieces" as the universal currency, it's really, really not worth it. I mean, have you even NAMED your currency? If you haven't, I suggest you ignore the idea of "moneychangers" entirely.

If you're just trying to give the PCs a way to convert the 13,764 copper pieces they got in the dungeon into something less irritating to carry, I suggest you just offer a service at like a 5% conversion fee and leave it at that.

Joe the Rat
2014-08-27, 09:12 AM
If you are going to play them, play them colorfully. These are the people who will have some of the best on-the-street information about coins, metal values, internal and international finance concerns, and possibly a little bit of numismatic trivia - that strange 7-sided electrum coin could be a plot hook to a lost kingdom or hidden elf village. If you don't already have banking as an established feature, these folks are the most likely money-lenders as well, though they may be hesitant to lend to someone who doesn't have a local address.

Something else to consider is that we are used to giving exact change and breaking platinums. Not every merchant is going to be able to do that, and not every common seller or hireling will want to be paid in high-denomination coins - ones that are hard to trade for common goods. You can actually do a lot by adding color to the usage of the coins. You see a lot of copper trading hands, with silvers for big items or overly priced purchases (like tavern food). Golds are the province of the wealthy, and may not be seen outside of nobles and highly paid professionals (blacksmiths and alchemists) or paraprofessionals (adventurers). In one game I played in, platinum pieces were used almost exclusively by merchants as a way to move large amounts of wealth in small packages. Other games have "coin-cut" gemstones in a similar role.

Thirdly, decide what they charge. This is a business, not a community service. Obviously any fractional exchanges go to their pockets, but you may also do a 1 coin per 10, 12, or 20 surcharge, including when you are trading up within-system (trading that mountain of copper - ah, Arik made that point already).

Note that this is part of the reason trade is done with goods. Move from low to high, trade for raw materials or what you can sell higher elsewhere, repeat. This can also be a good reason for caravan guards to be paid in part or entirely on arrival - that way you are getting local coin, and can spend you wages without fiddling about with money-men.

gom jabbarwocky
2014-08-27, 02:09 PM
I don't know about fantasy moneychangers, but I had my own players deal with currency exchange and barter problems in a Star Wars game I ran a while back. Instead of being paid with standard credits, sometimes they'd get paid in a provincial currency, or, on some real remote planets, paid in some form of barter. This certainly made things more interesting (e.g. getting paid for a job in a huge crate of drinking bird novelty toys (http://m5.img.dxcdn.com/CDDriver/img/sku_29233_102.gif)), and sometimes downright awful (e.g. getting paid for a job in actual slaves), but the plot of the game was about trading goods and smuggling stuff past Imperial customs to the Rebels, so I don't expect players to dig that kind of trick being pulled on them in a game that didn't revolve around commerce as a focus of gameplay.

Fouredged Sword
2014-08-28, 10:30 AM
Moneychangers also make for GREAT low level plot hooks. I once sent my level 2 party after a goblin gang that had stolen a cart full of coins on route to a bigger city. The party salavated about the idea of getting their hands on enough gold that a cart is needed to haul it...

Only the cart is full of COPPER pieces, and while still worth something, is only an appropriate amount of money for 2-3 CR 2 encounters.

Mark Hall
2014-08-28, 11:36 AM
How big a role do you want different types of money to play?

When I run FR, I tend to assume most "standard" currency is worth the face value... a GP is a GP is a GP, whether it's a lion, a danter or a dinar. However, FR also has some specialty currency... toals, Harbor Moons, Bella, steelpense, Gond bells and Shaar rings all have special rules for their use, which I tend to follow. So the Harbor Moon is 50gp within Waterdeep, but only 2gp outside it, unless you're dealing with someone who deals a lot with Waterdeep who might be willing to take it at closer to the Waterhavian value.

Cash is fluid, so players occasionally annoy people by spending tons of money in small coinage... but they've also gotten smart enough that they tend to use the small coins in other kinds of transactions... like giving a ton of copper to local beggars or churches.

DigoDragon
2014-08-28, 12:15 PM
like giving a ton of copper to local beggars or churches.

Literally in some cases.
PCs in one campaign owed a prince a lot of property back-taxes, so what they did was collect all those copper coins from their recent dragon raids. Once they had enough (the weight was somewhere around 1200 pounds) they flew their airship over the prince's castle and dropped it as one large crate onto his prized horse in the castle courtyard. Just to prove that A) random hoard generation tables are silly, and B) they hated paying taxes.

And that's how 'The Order of the Stick' became persona non grata in the capital city of Ivalice. :smallcool:

Mark Hall
2014-08-28, 08:00 PM
Literally in some cases.
PCs in one campaign owed a prince a lot of property back-taxes, so what they did was collect all those copper coins from their recent dragon raids. Once they had enough (the weight was somewhere around 1200 pounds) they flew their airship over the prince's castle and dropped it as one large crate onto his prized horse in the castle courtyard. Just to prove that A) random hoard generation tables are silly, and B) they hated paying taxes.

And that's how 'The Order of the Stick' became persona non grata in the capital city of Ivalice. :smallcool:

A penny saved is a penny earned, after all...

Brother Oni
2014-08-29, 02:41 AM
... like giving a ton of copper to local beggars or churches.

This also has some historical basis - Edo era Japan had the kan as a unit of currency, which was a pre-measured block of 1000 copper mon weighing 3.75kg.

Samurai were paid in koku (unit of rice equivalent to the amount required to feed a man for one year) which needed conversion to hard cash at harvest time - typically 1 koku = 1 ryo = 1 koban (1 gold piece). Usual exchange rate was 1 koban = 4 kan (not including fees) so with a fairly comfortable stipend of 250 koku, that's 3.75 tonnes of copper mon. :smalltongue:

Gnoman
2014-08-29, 03:06 AM
You can introduce different values of money if you like, with varying exchange rates, if you like, and make moneychangers useful, but your players won't thank you for it.

I've done this, and it didn't work out too badly. My sequel campaign just has everything abstracted to the SP standard, because it was just enough of a hassle to be worth dispensing with.

Jay R
2014-08-29, 07:59 AM
I've done this, and it didn't work out too badly. My sequel campaign just has everything abstracted to the SP standard, because it was just enough of a hassle to be worth dispensing with.

"just enough of a hassle to be worth dispensing with."

We're pretty much in agreement here.

Storm_Of_Snow
2014-08-29, 08:04 AM
Some thoughts:

A money changer's available funds will primarily reflect the surrounding environment - if it's the market town for an agricultural area, he may only have the equivalent of a couple of hundred gold available, with most of it in lower denominations, and travel around various towns on a rotation. If the PC's show up with several thousand copper, he'll be unable to help them, and they may be better off buying lightweight goods and items, or possibly livestock, that they can sell on at cost or a low loss in the nearest large town.

He could also make himself available (for a fee) as an independant party to resolve trade disagreements - say a farmer has sold his fruit crop, but the merchant's refusing to pay the agreed price because he says the ones at the bottom are rotten. Or as an assayer, making sure that the coins being passed are genuine. Or even just a facilitator - if the PCs want to buy horses and have only copper and silver to pay for them, the money changer may get involved to speed up the deal.

They could be a part of the local lord's treasury staff - making sure the market pays the appropriate fees, collecting sales taxes, possibly picking up annual taxation and so on as they pass through. In that case, they'll have an idea of the levels of the various denominations in circulation.

In a port, or the closest settlement to a border, where they're going to be involved in currency exchange, they might be part of a merchant house, or a branch office for a bank. Money available will be significant, as merchants may pass through in either direction and need to exchange their money for the appropriate one, and could be extended with gems or promissary notes, cashable in any other office of the merchant house/bank.

Some other organisations may cash promissary notes as well, but may take their own cut for the additional hassle of dealing with it.

If the PCs get to levels where they become famous, money changers and banks may start to approach them to handle their business for lower percentage fees.

tomandtish
2014-08-29, 10:51 AM
Others have hit on these points in various forms, but here's the breakdown.

There are three primary reasons for a money changer to be in business. These reasons may or may not interconnect depending on where they are located and the population size.

1) Changing coinage from one value to another (SP to GP, or vice versa).

2) Assessing the value of coinage. This is only relevant if you play with different values. Is a Gold piece from Sembia the same as one from Waterdeep? Does it contain more gold? Less? Has a coin been shaved? (This was a very common practice before milling became the norm). So your 50 Sembian silver pieces may be worth 6 Waterdeep GP, but only 4 Cormyrian GP.

3) Changing foreign coinage to local. This can be very important if there are currency restrictions in place. The Empire of Blood now has their own coinage. Want to spend in their territory? You must use their coins. Money changes will exchange for a 10% fee + a 10% state tax. What? You found a money changer who says he'll do it for 15% total? She's probably black market and not giving the Empire anything. Watch out for that 114% conviction rate if caught (plot hook).

Fees will be dependent on a lot of circumstances. How many money changers are there? Competition lowers prices. How much of a demand for the service is there? Is there a requirement for use? if #3 is in effect, then they can probably afford to charge a little more. Will they charge a flat fee or a graduated rate (percent goes down the larger the transaction)?



Some thoughts:

A money changer's available funds will primarily reflect the surrounding environment - if it's the market town for an agricultural area, he may only have the equivalent of a couple of hundred gold available, with most of it in lower denominations, and travel around various towns on a rotation. If the PC's show up with several thousand copper, he'll be unable to help them, and they may be better off buying lightweight goods and items, or possibly livestock, that they can sell on at cost or a low loss in the nearest large town.

Of course in large cities, if you have a huge amount of coinage, you might be better off converting to gems and jewelry. A reputable gem dealer can help with that.

Sith_Happens
2014-08-29, 12:23 PM
[Urge to find or create a system that can emulate Spice and Wolf intensifies]

TheCountAlucard
2014-08-29, 12:50 PM
[Urge to find or create a system that can emulate Spice and Wolf intensifies]Do it! Do it, man!

Gnoman
2014-08-29, 04:09 PM
"just enough of a hassle to be worth dispensing with."

We're pretty much in agreement here.

For the curious, this is what I used. "Generic" is the standard PP/GP/SP/CP D&D system. The various currencies were non-decimal, and I forget the denominations.


https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2068014/DND/Currency.jpg

QuickLyRaiNbow
2014-08-30, 12:39 AM
[Urge to find or create a system that can emulate Spice and Wolf intensifies]

Heavily modified E2 or similar 3.5 game that's basically all about the business rules in the DMG2, with the party restricted to Experts, Rogues, Aristocrats and similar?

Sith_Happens
2014-08-30, 02:16 AM
Heavily modified E2 or similar 3.5 game that's basically all about the business rules in the DMG2, with the party restricted to Experts, Rogues, Aristocrats and similar?

Most certainly not anything d20-based, doing the source material any justice means having a full-fledged social combat system.

Slipperychicken
2014-08-30, 11:10 PM
Heavily modified E2 or similar 3.5 game that's basically all about the business rules in the DMG2, with the party restricted to Experts, Rogues, Aristocrats and similar?

Wait, you really think 3.5 is going to be good at emulating anything even tangentially related to an economic system?


I don't know what "spice and wolf" is, but if it's low-fantasy setting item peddling, you could look into ACKS and its rules for merchant caravans and trading adventures. It's primarily a retroclone adventure-game, but has an economic system which works infinitely better than 3.5's could ever pretend to work, and it leads to a relatively balanced economy which works at all levels of play, and leaves room for merchant classes and all manner of occupations. You could also make all the PCs take the "Venturer" class (which is basically a merchant-adventurer with abilities revolving around trade).

Sith_Happens
2014-08-31, 12:10 AM
I don't know what "spice and wolf" is, but if it's low-fantasy setting item peddling, you could look into ACKS and its rules for merchant caravans and trading adventures. It's primarily a retroclone adventure-game, but has an economic system which works infinitely better than 3.5's could ever pretend to work, and it leads to a relatively balanced economy which works at all levels of play, and leaves room for merchant classes and all manner of occupations. You could also make all the PCs take the "Venturer" class (which is basically a merchant-adventurer with abilities revolving around trade).

This sounds promising.

Brother Oni
2014-08-31, 03:39 AM
Wait, you really think 3.5 is going to be good at emulating anything even tangentially related to an economic system?


I don't know what "spice and wolf" is, but if it's low-fantasy setting item peddling, you could look into ACKS and its rules for merchant caravans and trading adventures. It's primarily a retroclone adventure-game, but has an economic system which works infinitely better than 3.5's could ever pretend to work, and it leads to a relatively balanced economy which works at all levels of play, and leaves room for merchant classes and all manner of occupations. You could also make all the PCs take the "Venturer" class (which is basically a merchant-adventurer with abilities revolving around trade).

Spice and Wolf (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spice_and_Wolf).

It's set in a late Medieval/early Modern Age culture and there are two main plot elements: the co-existance of pagan and a Christian-like monotheistic religion (the character Holo, is the Wolf of the title and is a pagan wolf deity), and a stylised interpretation of economic theory (the other main character is a merchant and makes his living trading between towns and looking for business deals and investments).

I've seen most of the first season and among other things, it takes a too modern view of contract law (in my opinion) and completely ignores the usury laws that existed (hence the stylised interpretation). That said, the fact that it even attempts to turn economic theory into the basis for an anime makes it worth watching over the endless shonen protagonist series.

Slipperychicken
2014-08-31, 08:56 AM
I've seen most of the first season and among other things, it takes a too modern view of contract law (in my opinion) and completely ignores the usury laws that existed (hence the stylised interpretation). That said, the fact that it even attempts to turn economic theory into the basis for an anime makes it worth watching over the endless shonen protagonist series.

Does it involve a lot of flashy poses, forbidden/impossible market penetration techniques, and shouted speeches about market-share and positioning?

Ravens_cry
2014-08-31, 09:12 AM
It might be a nice way to add a little flavour to the world, and it can help cut down on player funds if you found you gave them a wee bit too much, money changers don't work free. Also, if, say, they killed a really old dragon, some of the coins might be worth more to a collector of curios and antiquities, if they spend the time finding the right buyer.

Mr.Moron
2014-08-31, 09:21 AM
Does it involve a lot of flashy poses, forbidden/impossible market penetration techniques, and shouted speeches about market-share and positioning?

No. It's quite a bit more subdued than that. In fact the meaty center of the whole series is just the main characters interacting, working with and playing off one another. The economic angle is a kind of framework to keep the plot moving forward so we can see how their relationship develops in different circumstances.

Brother Oni
2014-08-31, 09:28 AM
...forbidden/impossible market penetration techniques, and shouted speeches about market-share and positioning?

*Opens mouth to comment*

*Closes mouth as he remembers this forum is PG rated*


No. It's quite a bit more subdued than that. In fact the meaty center of the whole series is just the two characters interacting & playing off one another. The economic angle is kind of framework to keep the plot moving forward so we can see how their relationship develops in different circumstances.

Well that plus the monotheistic religion's persecution of the worship of a pagan animist deity.