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ZeroGear
2019-09-06, 12:24 AM
So, a strange thought that I had not too long ago:
One of the things that is kinda odd about D&D is that almost every single nation in every setting has a single type of currency: platinum, gold, silver, and copper coins.
While I fully understand that it's done for the sake of simplicity, that's not really how world economy works.
As such, for the sake of argument, let's assume that I wanted to flesh out a world, and to do that I established multiple nations.
As a base line, items would, in practice, cost the same amount as they do in the rule books, but each nation had its own form of currency. What would be the best way to handle keeping track of PC wealth in a system like this?

One thought that I had was that PCs could store most of their spoils as trade items that each nation recognized as an intermediate form of wealth, such as bars of precious metal or gemstones. When the PCs arrived in a nation, they would trade the goods for the local currency, do their standard shopping, then convert what is leftover back when they left. In this way, each nation would keep its currency within its borders, and the players wouldn't have to deal with keeping track of how much of each type of coin they had.

I know it seems a little convoluted, but how reasonable would a system like this be if done to make the world feel a little more believable? Or is there a better way to handle this?

Kaptin Keen
2019-09-06, 12:44 AM
Well ... they told me in school that before banking they would weigh the coins rather than count them. I mean, not always, obviously - you'd count your own currency. Mostly. Because then some kings would water down their own coins, reducing the gold content, or in the case of one famous danish king, simple cut off pieces of the coins.

I have to say the hassle of micro managing a dozen different currencies likely outweights the benefits. I'd just fluff it, and explain to the players how the merchants of Æhrengaard are distrustful of coins minted in Madripore, and always weigh them to make sure they're actually getting the amount of gold they need.

johnbragg
2019-09-06, 07:13 AM
So, a strange thought that I had not too long ago:
As such, for the sake of argument, let's assume that I wanted to flesh out a world, and to do that I established multiple nations.

I wouldn't do this just for Muh Realism. It's not worth it. But if you want to do it as a reason for PCs to adventure to different locales, and to put a brake on PC wealth/ give them a way to spend all that gold, then I have some things to throw at you.

EDIT: The point is, do this if you want "Well, that dragon horde has 11,000 Morian gold pieces, 35,000 Rivendell electrum crowns, 80,000 Gondorian silver, and as much Shire copper as you'd ever want. Are we heading to Rivendell, Moria or Gondor to try to spend it?" The idea is, you now have a huge supply of coins, which you need to travel (and adventure) to effectively spend.


As a base line, items would, in practice, cost the same amount as they do in the rule books, but each nation had its own form of currency.

First item: Everything is list price--in the locally acceptable currency. Which probably isn't what the PCs find in the ancient tomb. The outland raiders probably have a mix of locally-acceptable-currency, generally-acceptable-currency, and distant-lands-currency.


What would be the best way to handle keeping track of PC wealth in a system like this?

Wealth is abstract, so you just won't be able to effectively set WBL until you acquire system mastery of whatever Frankenstein currency system I advise you to set up.


One thought that I had was that PCs could store most of their spoils as trade items that each nation recognized as an intermediate form of wealth, such as bars of precious metal or gemstones. When the PCs arrived in a nation, they would trade the goods for the local currency, do their standard shopping, then convert what is leftover back when they left. In this way, each nation would keep its currency within its borders, and the players wouldn't have to deal with keeping track of how much of each type of coin they had.

That does a lot of the lifting.

What I'd like to do, using dimly recalled medieval Europe as a knowledge-base. The value of a currency varies, depending on how easy it is to trade that currency for its full value.
Divide currencies into four groups. Local, international, neighboring, distant.

Divide the campaign kingdom into segments, geographically and socially. How close is the buyer to international trade? How easily can they spend international currency, neighboring-kingdom currency, distant currency?

Everyone will take local currency. They can buy what they need in local currency.

Neighboring currency could trade at full value in border cities, at half-value elsewhere in the kingdom. But only to high-status types who would are plugged into trade networks.

Imagine you have a suitcase full of Mexican pesos in Texas. You probably can't buy lunch in Dallas, because it's not worth the restaurant's time to deal in pesos. You probably could buy a car for that suitcase full of pesos though, because for that kind of money, it's worth the car dealer's time to figure something out.

Imagine you have a suitcase full of euros in Texas. You can't buy anything in Dallas because nobody has a way to turn those euros into dollars.

(Please do not pick this apart for factual problems--yes credit cards make these examples trivial, yes you could go to the airport or a bank, yes a suitcase full of cash screams "shady person who will attract law enforcement to your door" yes yes yes. The point is to make the situation comprehensible why Dorian gold pieces in your campaign trade for 1/2 value in Corinth and 1/10 value in Troy or whatever.)

BWR
2019-09-06, 07:29 AM
I know it seems a little convoluted, but how reasonable would a system like this be if done to make the world feel a little more believable? Or is there a better way to handle this?

The easiest way to handle this is to assume that in universe there are a wealth of coins and weights and purities and possible economic weight behind them, different prices based on these, conversion issues, etc., but for ease of record keeping they are considered the basic PHB units.
So describe new currency when PCs come across it but use the basic gp system for prices and get on with the game.

RedMage125
2019-09-06, 09:30 AM
The easiest way to handle this is to assume that in universe there are a wealth of coins and weights and purities and possible economic weight behind them, different prices based on these, conversion issues, etc., but for ease of record keeping they are considered the basic PHB units.
So describe new currency when PCs come across it but use the basic gp system for prices and get on with the game.

This is something that I know has at least been mentioned in past editions.

The "gold piece" from one country may actually be made of silver, but larger than the "silver piece" from that same nation.

The idea that the OP espouses works great for flavor and realism, but there should be some transparency of equivalence with the currencies. Most merchants deal in wares that cross national boundries, so they can reasonably exchange foreign currency for what it's worth. If you want some kind of mechanical effect of these different coins, I would only suggest that smaller, more local businesses may only take their nation's local currency.

Mastikator
2019-09-06, 09:45 AM
Whether that's not "how world economy worlds" depends entirely which century you're basing your campaign setting on. The modern world economy is drastically different than just a couple of centuries ago, a millennia ago there basically was no "world economy". Using precious metals in an early dark age is perfectly reasonable but barter should also be the default, not currency. Even late renaissance (1794) France used livre which were coins which contained gold.

So yeah I take issue with the premise that using gold or silver is not realistic for a fantasy campaign setting based on a medieval European time period.

Edit- I just realized who the OP is. ZeroGear I'm honestly not just being contentious for the sake of arguments.

It also occurred to me that you might not be talking about classic fantasy since you mentioned nations, which is a fairly modern concept, so as a citizen of the European union and Sweden let me give you my experience with traveling abroad. This is pertinent because Sweden has not adopted the Euro, when I go shopping here in Sweden I pay with Swedish Kronor, but if I travel to Germany I can use my Swedish bank card to buy stuff or even extract Euros from an ATM. The fact that I have to live with two currencies (Euro and Swedish Kronor) actually doesn't affect me at all.
There are also currency exchanges everywhere where I could exchange basically any currency for the local one so even something like Yen or Dollars wouldn't really be a hindered.

My point is that YES it's absolutely realistic to have multiple currencies, and even in medieval ones have "pounds" or whatever (but those are still gold) but this should not offer the players or PCs any problems. The existence of multiple currencies all but guarantees services that make it a non-issue.

Edit2- I think it comes down to laziness. The reason many system just has "gold pieces" or "credits" or whatever is the same reason they have "Elven Lands™" instead of multiple kingdoms or something where elves live with real names. It's lazy to invent and easy for players to understand. The price you pay is immersion.

Lapak
2019-09-06, 10:48 AM
So yeah I take issue with the premise that using gold or silver is not realistic for a fantasy campaign setting based on a medieval European time period.
The OP is not objecting to gold pieces; they are questioning why Country A's gold piece is worth exactly the same as Country Z. And that is a legitimate question, not just between countries but within a country from ruler to ruler; go to a good numismatics museum that covers a European country's currency history and you will often see "[crowns/ducats/whatever] minted under King Economist were pure metal and valued well, but three kings later the economy was tanking and they were tied up in three wars so King Makeitwork debased the [coin] with lead and other countries started giving Country's money a side-eye in trading. Then fifty years later King FixThings came into power, opened a new silver mine, and the same [Coin] minted during his reign is 99% pure."

Which is a lot to manage in a game, so we do tend to elide a lot of the issues involved here for ease of play, but it is a fine thing to question.

Max_Killjoy
2019-09-06, 11:08 AM
The OP is not objecting to gold pieces; they are questioning why Country A's gold piece is worth exactly the same as Country Z. And that is a legitimate question, not just between countries but within a country from ruler to ruler; go to a good numismatics museum that covers a European country's currency history and you will often see "[crowns/ducats/whatever] minted under King Economist were pure metal and valued well, but three kings later the economy was tanking and they were tied up in three wars so King Makeitwork debased the [coin] with lead and other countries started giving Country's money a side-eye in trading. Then fifty years later King FixThings came into power, opened a new silver mine, and the same [Coin] minted during his reign is 99% pure."

Which is a lot to manage in a game, so we do tend to elide a lot of the issues involved here for ease of play, but it is a fine thing to question.


Yeah. I've been tempted to give treasures / hoards a "quality rating", and then when it comes up really low, and if a PC has the right skill(s) or background, tell them something like "The chest is full of gold coins, but as you examine them more closely, you recognize them as coins from Mesopopolois minted during the reign of King Cheapus, so they're cut with base metals and won't fool an educated eye like yours... they're worth half the normal rate unless you find a sucker".

ZeroGear
2019-09-06, 11:11 AM
Edit- I just realized who the OP is. ZeroGear I'm honestly not just being contentious for the sake of arguments.


I never hold things that happen in other threads against other people, you have nothing to worry about, and I truly value your insight.

jjordan
2019-09-06, 11:20 AM
As people have pointed out, gold pieces, silver pieces, copper pieces is just an abstract system for keeping track of wealth that assumes (mostly correctly) that players don't want to muck about with exchange rates and so on. If that's what you want, fine.

I, on the other hand, did my research on relative scarcity of precious metals during the Middle Ages and Renaissance and coin weights and relative values and had myself a grand old time diving down that rabbit hole. And when I came up for air I did this:

-Copper pennies 4cm diameter, 1 ounce. Thirty-two copper pennies make one silver penny.
-Silver penny 2cm diameter 1/12 ounce. Twelve pennies to the gold coin.
-Double weight silver penny 2.5cm diameter, same thickness, ⅙ ounce is worth two regular/thin silver pennies. Six double weight pennies to the gold coin.
-Gold coin 1cm diameter 1/12 ounce is usually about 90% gold and 10% silver

For modern reference:

1 gold coin = ~$100
1 double silver coin = $16
1 silver coin = $8
1 copper coin = $0.25
These values are approximate and provided for reference purposes.

In my setting coins are used in three states.
-Das Eisenreich puts the precious metals in the center of a thin iron band (similar to a Euro) because they hate elves.
-The Realm of the Three Ladies (the Lawless Isles to everyone else) uses coins made of pure metals. But they only use silver and it comes in three sizes. Copper and gold are used for jewelry and traded by weight.
-The Kingdom of Cerus doesn't use coins. Gold, silver, and raw or unset jewels are illegal to own without documentation. They use paper currency and will exchange it for the value of the precious items less a 10% fee. They will exchange worn money for new money at the same rate (less the 10% fee, of course). People are allowed to buy precious items for use the production of goods/artworks or to pay foreign traders.
-Bele'Ath uses a similar system to Cerus, but they use copper coins instead of paper. Bele'Ath also doesn't mint their own coins but uses coinage produced in the elven lands. Precious metals can be purchased from brokers without any limits, though brokers claim to not keep much on hand. Brokers also tend to be elvish.
-The elves don't actually use physical money. They operate on a system of debts of service and trade raw materials and finished goods. As custom and, in some places, law prevent non-elves from participating in the debt economy their halfling servants use gold and silver bars for foreign trade and their gray-market economies.
-Orcs barter raw materials and finished goods.

Mastikator
2019-09-06, 11:37 AM
The OP is not objecting to gold pieces; they are questioning why Country A's gold piece is worth exactly the same as Country Z. And that is a legitimate question, not just between countries but within a country from ruler to ruler; go to a good numismatics museum that covers a European country's currency history and you will often see "[crowns/ducats/whatever] minted under King Economist were pure metal and valued well, but three kings later the economy was tanking and they were tied up in three wars so King Makeitwork debased the [coin] with lead and other countries started giving Country's money a side-eye in trading. Then fifty years later King FixThings came into power, opened a new silver mine, and the same [Coin] minted during his reign is 99% pure."

Which is a lot to manage in a game, so we do tend to elide a lot of the issues involved here for ease of play, but it is a fine thing to question.

If you're just calling money "gold pieces" then it's not exactly obvious that you mean Livre or Gold Stags or whatever it may be. If you're saying "no these aren't gold pieces these are Marks which contain gold but they're not the same currency as our Pounds" then you immediately have to specify an exchange rate. If you're calling both "gold pieces" it implies they are actually the same. If you go further and say "in this here land we use kronor and what you have is just pure gold pieces" then obviously the gold should be usable as money provided you're using it in the correct context.

Lapak
2019-09-06, 11:53 AM
If you're just calling money "gold pieces" then it's not exactly obvious that you mean Livre or Gold Stags or whatever it may be. If you're saying "no these aren't gold pieces these are Marks which contain gold but they're not the same currency as our Pounds" then you immediately have to specify an exchange rate. If you're calling both "gold pieces" it implies they are actually the same. If you go further and say "in this here land we use kronor and what you have is just pure gold pieces" then obviously the gold should be usable as money provided you're using it in the correct context.
Was this in response to something I said?Because:
* Yes, that's the premise of the thread as I understand it and what they are looking for advice on, and
* I am not sure what part of my quoted post you are responding to?

Corneel
2019-09-06, 12:09 PM
Yeah. I've been tempted to give treasures / hoards a "quality rating", and then when it comes up really low, and if a PC has the right skill(s) or background, tell them something like "The chest is full of gold coins, but as you examine them more closely, you recognize them as coins from Mesopopolois minted during the reign of King Cheapus, so they're cut with base metals and won't fool an educated eye like yours... they're worth half the normal rate unless you find a sucker".
This.

Also, even though the coins might be similar across nations, domains and cities, people might trust their own coins better then those coming from far away (or from a long time ago) and there might be a mark up on prices if you pay with foreign or ancient gold. On the other hand some countries or cities might have such a good reputation of never debasing their coins that their coins are valued even higher than local coinage.

And then there is of course the fact that while a merchant might accept your Fauxrabian dinars instead of Fauxnetian ducats, he will do so while muttering some blessing over the gold and signaling you as an untrustworthy friend of those heathen camellovers to the local authorities later on.

johnbragg
2019-09-06, 12:55 PM
This thread has actually got me thinking in the opposite direction--making wealth entirely abstract, there are no GP SP CP, art, gems, etc. Everything the PCs are just going to sell for cash anyway is just cash with weight.

Is it really "fun" to pretend to haggle over selling art and gems, before you haggle to buy equipment/magic items? Or should we just go ahead and abstract that process as much as possible, just like we abstract exactly what food the PCs are ordering at the tavern?

Lord Torath
2019-09-06, 12:58 PM
I suppose a lot of it depends on where you want to focus your game. I personally don't really enjoy the haggling aspects, and prefer to make purchasing gear and such to be as painless as possible. To me, multiple currencies is just complication for the sake of complication.

Giving treasures/hoards a quality rating strikes me as whipping the reward right out of the party's hands:

Here's a cool, uber-powerful magic item! Whoops, you had to destroy it in order to escape. Such fun!
Look! A huge pile of treasure! Think of all the cool things you can do with it! Whoops, turns out it's only worth 10% of what you thought it'd be! Isn't this just the best?!?

It can lead to further adventures, but it can also lead to frustration as the party tromps back and forth across the continent desperately trying to find someone who will accept their coinage. Sometimes you just want a reward, you know?

I'm kind of reminded of the Red Fel quote The Glyphstone keeps in his signature.
"Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.Sometimes the treasure is just not worth the effort of redeeming it. Just leaves you feeling cheated.

---but I'm not bitter...

Max_Killjoy
2019-09-06, 01:12 PM
This thread has actually got me thinking in the opposite direction--making wealth entirely abstract, there are no GP SP CP, art, gems, etc. Everything the PCs are just going to sell for cash anyway is just cash with weight.

Is it really "fun" to pretend to haggle over selling art and gems, before you haggle to buy equipment/magic items? Or should we just go ahead and abstract that process as much as possible, just like we abstract exactly what food the PCs are ordering at the tavern?


I've never met an abstract wealth system I liked.

"Roll to see if you can afford that right now!" What?

johnbragg
2019-09-06, 01:29 PM
I've never met an abstract wealth system I liked.

"Roll to see if you can afford that right now!" What?

I misspoke. I just meant that instead of finding 12,000 cp 2300 sp 800 ep 1100 gp, 6x300 gp gems, 2 art objects worth 100 gp each, you just find ....3650 gp worth of "Treasure". So if they party splits the loot 5 ways, you each get 730 gp and go buy potions or maybe a wand in 3rd edition, or the party could pool the money and buy a 2000 gp magic item and one guy owes the party money.

If you're in a bag-of-holdings campaign anyway, why are we even worrying about coinage?

ZeroGear
2019-09-06, 03:20 PM
Hey, before this gets too out of hand, some clarification may be needed here:
While I do appreciate people talking about markets and relative value, I think you may be reading into this just a slight bit too much.

The thought that brought this about was that I imagined a character jumping from one world to another, but it made no sense to me how he would have money to buy meals in that world. Then I thought: “you know, gold bars always seem to have value, maybe he would convert one back and fourth every time he went to a different world”. Then it occurred to me that this concept could apply to adventurers:
If a group of “heroes” lived in a world full of different kingdoms that had their own currency, it would make more sense for them to carry and store their wealth in a form that’s universally accepted, such as in gold bars or gemstones, and just convert it to the currency of the kingdom they were in when they needed to go shopping. Then I wondered if this kind of a system would work on a larger scale.
Then I questioned wether or not something like this would be reasonable/practical and made the post.
I’ll fully admit that it’s mostly cosmetic and done for the sake of flavor, but it seemed like something that would make a world more believable. And I wanted peoples opinion on this.

sktarq
2019-09-06, 03:33 PM
As a base line, items would, in practice, cost the same amount as they do in the rule books, but each nation had its own form of currency. What would be the best way to handle keeping track of PC wealth in a system like this?
...
I know it seems a little convoluted, but how reasonable would a system like this be if done to make the world feel a little more believable? Or is there a better way to handle this?
Well the real question seems more like
"when would this add more fun and immersion to the game than the time cost of supporting it?"
and I could think of a few types of games where it could.

I)A very nationalist game. 90% of the time you are working with domestic currency (which will prolly match to classic coinage) and you use "outsider" coinage in part to play up ideas of "us vs outsiders"
II) a long distance trading game-maybe the players mostly act as trader guard most of the time and go on delves when the merchant sets up in town for a few weeks or has missions to find some rare things on their next trip and political/social/intrigue is at play etc. Or are just the most powerful people going through at the time in some smaller population centre and they don't have the wish/time/etc to take care of something themselves and offer to hire the players to solve some problem. Here the changing coinage is used to give the game a sense of movement and place. Somewhat more helpful if the players are going back a forth on a single trade route (so visit the same nations repeatedly)
III) delving into the past...the home region of the adventurers has seen several nations rise and fall on the same land over time. The different coinage is used to separate out treasures and ideas of the various eras which may otherwise all just blend together.

in each case I wouldn't really go above a small basket of currencies
as for using them-make sure currency traders charge a significant vig otherwise the players may just switch everything into one currency and ignore all your work. Which is also true of the gold bars idea too.

also I am pretty sure the 2e DMG actually has a section on this idea somewhere...may be worth looking at a PDF if you can find one.

I've never met an abstract wealth system I liked.

"Roll to see if you can afford that right now!" What?
Actually rolling does make a lot of sense in many per-industrial settings. Since in many cases it is a combination of haggling, having the barter items that the other side of the transactions wants/values, insider/outsider prices, credit, social norms of prices, ability to call on resources from a person higher up the social order, etc etc....all of which are various muddled rules that overall translate in a wealth check.

False God
2019-09-06, 03:48 PM
Typically, I have found multiple currencies to be burdensome, both on player and DM side. Exchange rates, annoying bankers, merchants who won't take your money, so on and so forth, it's just kinda tedious; taking up time that could be spent doing more adventure-related stuff.

I'm sure there's a party and a table for this. But it's never been any of mine.

Lapak
2019-09-06, 03:51 PM
I've never met an abstract wealth system I liked.

"Roll to see if you can afford that right now!" What?
The best abstract wealth systems I've seen don't involve rolling. They run more like:

Your character currently has Wealth Level [X]. This gives them a standard of living at level X, with associated benefits (or penalties.)

When you want to buy something, consult that item's Price Level.

If the Price is less than X, sure. You buy the thing (assuming it is available.)

If the Price equals X, you buy the thing, but cannot buy another thing at Price >= X for [Time Period.]

If the Price = X+1, you can buy the thing, but your character's Wealth drops to X-1 afterward as you've sunk so much of it into the thing. (Or in one system I saw, you incur a level of Debt to an organization or faction that might call it in later.)

Simple, straightforward, Wealth level shifts are difficult and only applied for drastic changes in circumstances (acquiring a huge treasure haul, having a business bankrupted, being promoted to an Earldom, etc.)

LordEntrails
2019-09-06, 04:10 PM
So, a strange thought that I had not too long ago:
One of the things that is kinda odd about D&D is that almost every single nation in every setting has a single type of currency: platinum, gold, silver, and copper coins.
While I fully understand that it's done for the sake of simplicity, that's not really how world economy works.
As such, for the sake of argument, let's assume that I wanted to flesh out a world, and to do that I established multiple nations.
As a base line, items would, in practice, cost the same amount as they do in the rule books, but each nation had its own form of currency. What would be the best way to handle keeping track of PC wealth in a system like this?
Sounds like a pain in the ass. Who wants to play Bankers and Bookkeepers? Anyone?


One thought that I had was that PCs could store most of their spoils as trade items that each nation recognized as an intermediate form of wealth, such as bars of precious metal or gemstones. When the PCs arrived in a nation, they would trade the goods for the local currency, do their standard shopping, then convert what is leftover back when they left. In this way, each nation would keep its currency within its borders, and the players wouldn't have to deal with keeping track of how much of each type of coin they had.
Have you asked your players if they want this? What's the point? Are you going to change the weight? Are you going to have currency conversion fees? I bet your players just care that they have 1,253 gold pieces worth of liquid assets. They don't care if its in salt, or gold, or gems or anything else.


I know it seems a little convoluted, but how reasonable would a system like this be if done to make the world feel a little more believable? Or is there a better way to handle this?
Most GMs have had this thought once or thrice when when building, and almost all of us over the decades have learned from our players, they don't care. The best way to handle this is to just track wealth as Gold Pieces and ignore the form that it takes. You're the only one that is going to care except maybe when you describe "You find a hoard of electrum pieces, investigation reveals that they were minted by a dwarven kingdom that fell 3 millennia ago." (And then you tell them it's worth 32,450gp.)

kieza
2019-09-06, 04:50 PM
The way I incorporated this into my setting is that there was a treaty between the major powers, requiring that they standardize the size and value of their gold, silver, and copper coinage. But, it doesn't say anything about other metals, so some nations mint iron, nickel, electrum, etc. coins in odd denominations. The treaty also isn't binding on the smaller nations, but a lot of them adopted it anyways because it eliminated a barrier to trade.

So, most of the time treasure is just gp, sp, and cp, but once in a while I throw in a hoard consisting exclusively of Waystone half-guinea electrum coins, worth exactly 3 gp, 1 sp, 5 cp each, and legal tender only in Waystone.

GloatingSwine
2019-09-06, 05:18 PM
Yeah. I've been tempted to give treasures / hoards a "quality rating", and then when it comes up really low, and if a PC has the right skill(s) or background, tell them something like "The chest is full of gold coins, but as you examine them more closely, you recognize them as coins from Mesopopolois minted during the reign of King Cheapus, so they're cut with base metals and won't fool an educated eye like yours... they're worth half the normal rate unless you find a sucker".

Question:

Are you ever not going to let them find a sucker?

Because if not you've just given them the normal amount but with extra steps, and not really interesting steps that challenge their characters, just ones that test their patience to keep trying.

And if so, just give them half the treasure and put up with them complaining there and then, not a session later when you're holding out on someone to give them something useful for their treasure.

Galithar
2019-09-06, 05:45 PM
Hey, before this gets too out of hand, some clarification may be needed here:
While I do appreciate people talking about markets and relative value, I think you may be reading into this just a slight bit too much.

The thought that brought this about was that I imagined a character jumping from one world to another, but it made no sense to me how he would have money to buy meals in that world. Then I thought: “you know, gold bars always seem to have value, maybe he would convert one back and fourth every time he went to a different world”. Then it occurred to me that this concept could apply to adventurers:
If a group of “heroes” lived in a world full of different kingdoms that had their own currency, it would make more sense for them to carry and store their wealth in a form that’s universally accepted, such as in gold bars or gemstones, and just convert it to the currency of the kingdom they were in when they needed to go shopping. Then I wondered if this kind of a system would work on a larger scale.
Then I questioned wether or not something like this would be reasonable/practical and made the post.
I’ll fully admit that it’s mostly cosmetic and done for the sake of flavor, but it seemed like something that would make a world more believable. And I wanted peoples opinion on this.

My suggestion to do this would be to follow the abstraction idea posted earlier. You tell them that everytime they go shopping they are first exchanging the "valuable thing" for local currency, but not actually play it out. Maybe mention it in passing each time to keep the idea of the exchange alive.

Example:
Player 1: I want to buy a "expensive thing" do I know where a store that would sell that is?
DM: You ask around and eventually find that "Shopkeep Bobby" sells "expensive thing". On your way to his shop you stop and exchange your "valuable thing" for "local currency" so you can pay for it.
Player 1: *Haggles with Bobby*
**Sometime later**
Player 2: Alright we're ready to head out to "plot location"
DM: On your way out of town you exchange your local currency for "valuable thing" and head West on the road towards....

This way you have the realism that you're looking for with multiple currencies, but don't have to add a bunch of bookkeeping that slows your game down. You could then occasionally add a haggling section for the exchange of you and your players enjoy that, but I wouldn't do it everytime, and I'd make sure that sometimes that actually get a better deal then expected. This would essentially just be tracking money in current rules (GP, SP, CP etc) and when you do an exchange haggle then their actual value would change up or down by the agreed amount. I wouldn't ever haggle the exchange rate in to AND out of local currency. One or the other.

King of Nowhere
2019-09-06, 05:58 PM
So, a strange thought that I had not too long ago:
One of the things that is kinda odd about D&D is that almost every single nation in every setting has a single type of currency: platinum, gold, silver, and copper coins.
While I fully understand that it's done for the sake of simplicity, that's not really how world economy works.
As such, for the sake of argument, let's assume that I wanted to flesh out a world, and to do that I established multiple nations.
As a base line, items would, in practice, cost the same amount as they do in the rule books, but each nation had its own form of currency. What would be the best way to handle keeping track of PC wealth in a system like this?

One thought that I had was that PCs could store most of their spoils as trade items that each nation recognized as an intermediate form of wealth, such as bars of precious metal or gemstones. When the PCs arrived in a nation, they would trade the goods for the local currency, do their standard shopping, then convert what is leftover back when they left. In this way, each nation would keep its currency within its borders, and the players wouldn't have to deal with keeping track of how much of each type of coin they had.

I know it seems a little convoluted, but how reasonable would a system like this be if done to make the world feel a little more believable? Or is there a better way to handle this?

the thing is, after roleplaying it the first time, it gets boring. and then you will just handwave it. happened something like that in our campaign, when at first we would have to go to each city and look for each shop and there would be a limit of gold that we could get and we would have to haggle...
and it got gradually reduced until now whenever we have a couple days of downtime we convert the loot to gold, assuming that we spent those days going to various shops and haggling. a single diplomacy check will change the total revenue by a few %.
because roleplaying shopping gets old.

So, I say try it. implement your way, and do it the first time to get a deeper sense of immersion. handwave it later. something like "since you are buying in this kingdom and you have money of that kingdom, you suffer a 2% mark-up for money-changing fee"

Gallowglass
2019-09-06, 06:17 PM
the thing is, after roleplaying it the first time, it gets boring. and then you will just handwave it. happened something like that in our campaign, when at first we would have to go to each city and look for each shop and there would be a limit of gold that we could get and we would have to haggle...
and it got gradually reduced until now whenever we have a couple days of downtime we convert the loot to gold, assuming that we spent those days going to various shops and haggling. a single diplomacy check will change the total revenue by a few %.
because roleplaying shopping gets old.

So, I say try it. implement your way, and do it the first time to get a deeper sense of immersion. handwave it later. something like "since you are buying in this kingdom and you have money of that kingdom, you suffer a 2% mark-up for money-changing fee"

This^

Much to my chagrin, I've found very few players who want to play "economic simulator" with me, not matter how much I enjoy the world building aspects of coming up with more realistic and detailed rules around economics or currency.

The parts of the game that are simplified are simplified for a reason.

For the last several years, no matter how detailed I make the treasure horde it still ends up like this:

"Okay, in the ogre's den you find *detailed descriptions of different coinage, gems with unique cuts, paintings, ornate rugs, artistic carvings, rare wines and cheeses*"

"How much is it all worth?"

"Sigh" *give GP value for all the treasure.*

"Great, thats 1237 gp for each of us with another share to the party coffer."

Max_Killjoy
2019-09-06, 08:03 PM
Yeah. I've been tempted to give treasures / hoards a "quality rating", and then when it comes up really low, and if a PC has the right skill(s) or background, tell them something like "The chest is full of gold coins, but as you examine them more closely, you recognize them as coins from Mesopopolois minted during the reign of King Cheapus, so they're cut with base metals and won't fool an educated eye like yours... they're worth half the normal rate unless you find a sucker".



Question:

Are you ever not going to let them find a sucker?

Because if not you've just given them the normal amount but with extra steps, and not really interesting steps that challenge their characters, just ones that test their patience to keep trying.

And if so, just give them half the treasure and put up with them complaining there and then, not a session later when you're holding out on someone to give them something useful for their treasure.


I've GMed for players who eat that sort of thing up, would see it as an irresistible plot hook, and would love the choice between X gold now or 2X gold with some effort.

It's not for everyone, some players I wouldn't bother with doing it -- but others love that kind of combination of setting depth and B-plot hook.

Beleriphon
2019-09-06, 10:34 PM
This is something that I know has at least been mentioned in past editions.

The "gold piece" from one country may actually be made of silver, but larger than the "silver piece" from that same nation.

The idea that the OP espouses works great for flavor and realism, but there should be some transparency of equivalence with the currencies. Most merchants deal in wares that cross national boundries, so they can reasonably exchange foreign currency for what it's worth. If you want some kind of mechanical effect of these different coins, I would only suggest that smaller, more local businesses may only take their nation's local currency.

Which is exactly what Forgotten Realms has. In Sembia they use square iron coins instead of the literal copper piece. In Waterdeep there is a local currency in the taol (worth 2GP in the city, worthless else where) and the harbor moon 50GP in Waterdeep, and some lesser amount in other places. The Cormyrian gold coin, locally stamped with a lion, is considered such high quality and purity that "golden lions" are a common name for gold coins well outside of Cormyr.

Another option is to use trade bars. Rather than a bag of loose coin worth X gold piece, you have a stack of silver bars worth the same and stamped with a mark from the issuer. That way they're worth their weight in silver quite literally.

King of Nowhere
2019-09-07, 06:45 AM
Now that I remember, I did something similar with hextor-dominated land using tin pieces and lead pieces (worth respectively 1/10th and 1/100th of a copper) to pay workers, because, well, suckering the working class is practically mandatory for the god of tiranny. prices of common goods were in line with those wages. the players showed gold in a seedy place, and half the peoople there tried to kill them for it.
actually, the gross pay is even higher than in most lands, but the workers are left with a few lead pieces after they pay all the taxes. which included the tax on sunlight, the tax on rainwater, the tax on breathable air, the tax on pauperty, the tax on internal organs, the tax to step on the ground, and so on.
it was played for laugh, though.

I did something similar more seriously by having some places more rich than others, with all prices in proportion. so a gold coin is the daily wage of an average worker in Mirna, but the monthly wage in Alorien. However, magic gear for advennturers had the same price (in the poor lands, they didn't have magic gear for sale), so it didn't impact the players.

Eldan
2019-09-07, 07:17 AM
I've actually done that before, but in a very limited fashion.

Basically: there were two main regions, let's call them A and B. A was loosely modelled on the HRE, with a lot of semi-independent states. Those states all minted their own coins, but they were roughly worth the same and stood in for silver. THere was also the Imperial Pound, issued by the Emperor, but rarely seen because it was ridiculously valuable. Those were platinum coins. WEll, actually, more like large gold goins. The neighboring region mostly used copper pennies for the common folk and gold... I forgot what they were called. Gold pieces, anyway. Alternatively, there were also letters of credit from the large banks.

So basically, they were still called copper, silver, gold and platinum, but each had a name and a bit of story behind it.

johnbragg
2019-09-07, 09:36 AM
I'm going back and forth on this thread, but it's clarifying my thinking.

The usual approach is fine, everyone is used to it. You have some "unnecessary bookkeeping" as the loot-keeper player diligently writes down quantities of a half-dozen valuables, then the party sells it all in town and buys whatever.

You could just skip the evocative-description part and tell the party "you find treasure worth XX,000 gp and put it in the Bag(s) of Holding."

Or you make treasures be adventure hooks in themselves. The statue of the ancient Dwarven King Tilgath Hammerfist is worth a fortune, but only to one of the current Dwarven Kings, and it's not easy to move.

The party could get word to one of the dwarven kings, collect a small (by kingly standards) reward, and let the king figure out the transportation logistics--possibly hiring the party as security and expert knowledge of the location.

Or the party could do the transporting themselves, and negotiate with various dwarven kings, for quite a kingly reward indeed.

EDIT: And with different currencies, a chest with 12,000 Silver Florins presents the same sort of decision. Sell it to a local merchant for 1200 gp (local), find a caravan that will pay 6000 gp, or take a trip to Florin City and go on a shopping spree.

fusilier
2019-09-07, 12:00 PM
I've run a lot of historical campaigns (in GURPS), which usually involving travel around the world, so I've had to deal with multiple currencies. Some players seem to like it: I've found detailed notes indicating the number and type of coins that the player's character has. Others just converted everything to one currency in their notes. If there were many currencies to deal with, I would usually pass out a conversion chart. That said, my campaigns didn't typically focus on the acquisition and spending of money, and I was always ready with the local conversion to tell the players how much something would cost in the currency they are most familiar with.

As others have pointed out, when your money is in metal, then usually it doesn't matter where you go, it will be accepted by weight. It doesn't matter what form the gold is in -- gold coins, gold bars, dust, jewelry -- it will have the same value by weight, and will usually be accepted as such. Most serious merchants will have scales and will accept just about anything, trying to bribe a street urchin with an unfamiliar foreign coin might not go so easily. But even then if it's silver, it's silver.

On the hand if the currency is fiat, or paper, then you will have other issues. Often it will need to be exchanged, and then it will typically be discounted depending upon how far the merchant would have to travel to have it exchanged. Sometimes it may be rejected outright.

I think it could make things more interesting if currencies from different places had different names and values. As long as conversion is just mathematical it's not much of an issue. Occasionally having a town or country that doesn't accept foreign currency (or does so at a discount) might prove interesting, but if it happened everywhere it would probably get frustrating.

You should try designing a system and talking to your players about it. If they're on board then give it a try.

Kraynic
2019-09-07, 01:07 PM
One thing I have done before that may be applicable to this thread is antique/unique currency. For ease of use, most currency in the games I run is pretty much based on the weight of the precious metals involved. If you amass a lot of money, then converting some of it to gemstones cuts down on transportation weight, and I tend to treat them as currency if group wealth has grown that high. But adventurers tend to end up dealing with ruins of past civilizations, and may end up with coin that is made of the right metals, may or may not be of similar weights/shapes/sizes to whatever is current in the campaign's day, and may or may not have a stamp design that could include gemstone(s).

I tend to use this sort of thing as if it can be spent right away for the base value of the metal, with maybe a little allowance for gems if any, because the tinker who is banging your cooking gear back into shape after that accident with the pack mule really isn't interested in debating the historical value of your coin. On the other hand, if you can get it into the hands of some sort of broker somewhere that knows various parties interested in rare collectibles and historical items, then you can get more for it. Basically, instead of "your haul from that last outing is worth X gold", it changes to "your haul from that last outing is worth X gold if spent now, but worth Y gold if allowed to be traded over time". The amount of value increase obviously would be up to the DM and could depend on the availability of divination magic that could use the coin/treasure to look back and get glimpses of the civilization that created it. If your world does, it makes for an obvious adventure if someone wants guided back to where you found this stuff as a scholarly/research expedition.

Another thing I have thought about doing, but haven't (due to laziness) is to map out trade routes, and figure out a rough schedule of various traders. My thought behind this being that the traders prefer guards that have some coin to invest in goods to be traded along the route (with advice from the traders so they don't buy the wrong type/amount of trade goods), so that those guarding actually have a small interest in getting everything to it's destination. That would mean that unless they were traveling totally on their own, they always have raw goods (cloth, leather, spices, etc.) that can be traded for local finished goods or coin. But this is another thing that would take the right group, and wouldn't work for long if you are playing in a world where adventurers can teleport everywhere.

Faily
2019-09-07, 01:41 PM
This^

Much to my chagrin, I've found very few players who want to play "economic simulator" with me, not matter how much I enjoy the world building aspects of coming up with more realistic and detailed rules around economics or currency.

The parts of the game that are simplified are simplified for a reason.

For the last several years, no matter how detailed I make the treasure horde it still ends up like this:

"Okay, in the ogre's den you find *detailed descriptions of different coinage, gems with unique cuts, paintings, ornate rugs, artistic carvings, rare wines and cheeses*"

"How much is it all worth?"

"Sigh" *give GP value for all the treasure.*

"Great, thats 1237 gp for each of us with another share to the party coffer."


Well, that's not so much as economic simulator as the PCs might not have a vested interest in what the treasure is other than its value because they might be spending a lot of time travelling and adventuring? PCs need to be able to have a place where they might want to hang up those paintings, with rooms to have ornate rugs in. If they're just travelling around...? No one wants to carry around framed paintings and ornate rugs on the road. :smallwink:

One of our campaigns did get about 8 pages worth of fancy loot at some point (yes there was gold and magic items too, but these pages were all things like clothes, furniture, decorations, statues, artwork, etc), and since all of those PCs have domains and homes that they spend a lot of time in, we actually spent time outside of the game session and about a session of gaming as well to divide up the loot. Some of the artwork was given as gifts to NPCs and things like that later. Not only is this group huge sucker for "spending time on decorating my fictional character and home"-type of players though, but again, the key component was that all the PCs had time and opportunity to bring these treasures to a home.

Psyren
2019-09-07, 01:59 PM
While I fully understand that it's done for the sake of simplicity, that's not really how world economy works.


The OP is not objecting to gold pieces; they are questioning why Country A's gold piece is worth exactly the same as Country Z. And that is a legitimate question, not just between countries but within a country from ruler to ruler; go to a good numismatics museum that covers a European country's currency history and you will often see "[crowns/ducats/whatever] minted under King Economist were pure metal and valued well, but three kings later the economy was tanking and they were tied up in three wars so King Makeitwork debased the [coin] with lead and other countries started giving Country's money a side-eye in trading. Then fifty years later King FixThings came into power, opened a new silver mine, and the same [Coin] minted during his reign is 99% pure."

Which is a lot to manage in a game, so we do tend to elide a lot of the issues involved here for ease of play, but it is a fine thing to question.

It's a fine question but the in-universe answer is extremely simple - D&D settings have pretty powerful gods whose literal lifeblood depends on ease of trade and commerce. The fewer barriers in the way of that, the better for their existence. When you've got heavy-hitters like Abadar, Waukeen, and Shinare who are welcome in just about every nation and whose primary mandate to their respective churches is to keep currency moving, standardization of currency and pricing across those nations becomes at once much more feasible and much more credible.

sktarq
2019-09-07, 03:31 PM
Well, that's not so much as economic simulator as the PCs might not have a vested interest in what the treasure is other than its value because they might be spending a lot of time travelling and adventuring?.[SNIP].....-type of players though, but again, the key component was that all the PCs had time and opportunity to bring these treasures to a home.

Yeah I'm just quoting this for truth....the more the players have time/places to show off their weird loot the more they will and the more weird loot they will want. Toss out the stronghold builders guide to keep players with free hands busy during other people's rounds to see them starting to dream stuff up. So in a similar vein if you can give a good reason WHY the characters would value having a bunch of different currencies (wants a trading coaster? wants to gets a ton o cash and will set up a new Rothchild's multi-city bank with each PC running a branch? wants to become the grand money-changer of Waukeen?) then your players will make it worth your time.

Morty
2019-09-07, 04:39 PM
Multiple currencies are very much the kind of thing where I'm willing to firmly hold onto my suspension of disbelief. I generally prefer abstract wealth systems (like Storyteller's resource dots) to counting every coin. But even if I am counting every coin, I'm entirely fine with them mysteriously having the same value everywhere I go. I just don't see it particularly enriching the game, other than adding more numbers to crunch. I find dealing with resources and equipment annoying enough to begin with.

BWR
2019-09-07, 05:26 PM
One of our campaigns did get about 8 pages worth of fancy loot at some point (yes there was gold and magic items too, but these pages were all things like clothes, furniture, decorations, statues, artwork, etc), and since all of those PCs have domains and homes that they spend a lot of time in, we actually spent time outside of the game session and about a session of gaming as well to divide up the loot. Some of the artwork was given as gifts to NPCs and things like that later. Not only is this group huge sucker for "spending time on decorating my fictional character and home"-type of players though, but again, the key component was that all the PCs had time and opportunity to bring these treasures to a home.

Another important part of this is to not just say "jewelry worth X, artwork worth y" but to detail it. It's not just a 200 gp painting, it's "portrait of a noble woman with A type clothes, from painter B of region C from D years ago' . They aren't just a set of goblets worth 1000 gp, they are 'silver goblets with ivy filigree around the rim and base, with 4 small emeralds set around a coat of arms that looks like E'.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-09-07, 05:54 PM
I'm currently running a campaign where there's another currency in play: Trade Bars.

That's because the economy of this one little area is dominated by a group who controls basically all the food production and manufacturing (in a ruined city). They'll trade TB for gold at a 1:1 rate, but only so much per week. And they'll only sell food/items for TB. These TB are worthless, except that they're stamped so you can buy stuff from the Khaimal with them. Most neutral factions deal mostly in TB when they need currency, as it's guaranteed to be accepted.

The in-universe intent is to suppress the efforts of anyone else in the city to organize and to monopolize trade, keeping everyone dependent on the Khaimal (until they wipe out/enslave/eject everyone else).

The party knows they're only there for a while, so they have to decide. Trade in the gold and treasure found in the city for TB that may not be useful later, or keep it for later (but not be able to buy anything major).

I wouldn't want to do it more than this one area...it's too much of a pain. But it works in general.

The other nations where the party is from have made a trade pact to accept each other's currency (as well as the older currency of the previous nations) at weight, at least from adventurers. They're part of an international group that backstops the exchanges. It's also why adventurers have fixed prices--it's part of the deal. The merchants sell/buy at the fixed rate and the shortfall (if any) is made up by the Guild.

johnbragg
2019-09-07, 05:54 PM
Another important part of this is to not just say "jewelry worth X, artwork worth y" but to detail it. It's not just a 200 gp painting, it's "portrait of a noble woman with A type clothes, from painter B of region C from D years ago' . They aren't just a set of goblets worth 1000 gp, they are 'silver goblets with ivy filigree around the rim and base, with 4 small emeralds set around a coat of arms that looks like E'.

Except--why do the characters care, in character? Why do the players care?

The answer is usually, because they can turn the "'silver goblets with ivy filigree around the rim and base, with 4 small emeralds set around a coat of arms that looks like E" into equipment upgrades, or consumables. Less often, it's a clue object about a plot-relevant family with a coat of arms that looks like E.

In the real world, luxury items like that lose value at a rapid pace. Set yourself a google news alert for "star sells mansion", and they're selling at a loss because even if Ariana Grande wants Paula Abdul's old mansion, she doesn't want expensive tilework with PA monograms everywhere.

*Maybe* you have the spellbinding storytelling chops to entrance your players with a rich description of a luxury good, to the point where they vicariously experience the luxury. But probably not.

It's either loot, with a GP value to be discovered.* Or it's a plot hook, like the goblets with the fabulously rich family's crest on them.

* Discovered, or determined through negotiation. Those 1000 gp goblets are worth maybe 100 gp to put on a shelf and class up a tavern, but 10,000 gp to the family with the E crest. There may not be anyone in the campaign world itching to pay full price for some other family's monogrammed goblets.

Vaern
2019-09-07, 06:13 PM
So, a strange thought that I had not too long ago:
One of the things that is kinda odd about D&D is that almost every single nation in every setting has a single type of currency: platinum, gold, silver, and copper coins

One thought that I had was that PCs could store most of their spoils as trade items that each nation recognized as an intermediate form of wealth, such as bars of precious metal or gemstones.
The reason platinum, gold, silver, and copper are used as currency is that they are precious metals and thus have intrinsic value. Coins are supposed to be weighted so that 50 gold pieces weigh 1 pound, and the value of 1 pound of gold is set at 50 gold pieces. The same rule applies for copper, silver, and platinum, of course.
Say a player has 1200 gold pieces and exchanges or for solid gold before going traveling, then exchanges it for gold coins minted in the next nation. Essentially, that player is trading 24 pounds of gold for 24 pounds of gold to take on the road, then trading that 24 pounds of gold for 24 pounds of gold to take to the market. There is no need for an intermediate form of wealth because it would essentially be identical to the money itself.
When you kill a dragon and loot its hoard it's likely that it'll have different forms of coins. Different styles and different designs from different places and different times. That's all well and good for flavor and worldbuilding. But it's unlikely that one nation will decline another nation's currency using these materials because, at the end of the day, those coins are still made of precious metals and are still quite literally worth their weight in gold... Or silver, or copper, or platinum, as it were. Nations having their own unique forms of currency shouldn't result in a major mechanical impact on the game.

ZeroGear
2019-09-07, 09:26 PM
Once more, thank you for your input on this topic, especially those that mentioned PCs having permanent homes where they could hang their spoils, as that hadn't actually crossed my mind.
While I in no way intended to make this a discussion about economics on more than a cosmetic/lore/worldbuilding level, there is one small wrinkle that only just occurred to me, and that isn't being discussed: nations inhabited by tribals.
Now, I in no way mean this as a bad thing, however there are worlds where portions of the map are inhabited by civilizations that do have a less advanced level of technology than the kingdom that's been standing for a thousand years. Wild portions of the map existed well into the 20th century, and still do, in our world, and all things considered, there is no feasible way the war chief is going to accept precious metals as a payment.
As such, if the group intends to venture into these lands for an extended period of time, it would be perfectly reasonable to convert some wealth into a more acceptable form of payment, such as livestock or spices, in order to function within this region.
It would probably be fully within reason to exchange several bars of gold for bricks of salt, pigs, tanned hides, or even living pigs when dealing with groups that don't have an established economy based on gold and silver.
I'm fully aware these situations are rare, but they do happen. Similarly, underwater nations would probably have a different currency made of something that doesn't corrode, such as pearls or seashells, in order to fit the environment.

It's just a small point worth considering.

Tvtyrant
2019-09-07, 09:27 PM
This thread has actually got me thinking in the opposite direction--making wealth entirely abstract, there are no GP SP CP, art, gems, etc. Everything the PCs are just going to sell for cash anyway is just cash with weight.

Is it really "fun" to pretend to haggle over selling art and gems, before you haggle to buy equipment/magic items? Or should we just go ahead and abstract that process as much as possible, just like we abstract exactly what food the PCs are ordering at the tavern?

I like wealth checks more then money for this reason. It includes things like people giving access to rare items due to fame, loans, etc. "Killing the dragon gave you a large increase in wealth and prestige. Gain +5 to your wealth score and +10 on your first purchase."

fusilier
2019-09-07, 11:26 PM
Now, I in no way mean this as a bad thing, however there are worlds where portions of the map are inhabited by civilizations that do have a less advanced level of technology than the kingdom that's been standing for a thousand years. Wild portions of the map existed well into the 20th century, and still do, in our world, and all things considered, there is no feasible way the war chief is going to accept precious metals as a payment.
As such, if the group intends to venture into these lands for an extended period of time, it would be perfectly reasonable to convert some wealth into a more acceptable form of payment, such as livestock or spices, in order to function within this region.

Depends upon how much trading they do with cultures that use/value currency, and wether or not their culture values certain materials. Columbus found many of the indigenous peoples he encountered wearing gold jewelry, even though those islands were relatively poor in gold. Gold was still considered valuable by their societies, even if it wasn't currency, and I'm sure you could certainly trade for it.

Only if the "barbarians" are very isolated from the "civilized" world will they not find money useful, and even then they *may* value the base material. However, cultural significance can lead societies to placing higher value on materials that others do not value so much (like jade for example).

Satinavian
2019-09-08, 12:00 AM
Once more, thank you for your input on this topic, especially those that mentioned PCs having permanent homes where they could hang their spoils, as that hadn't actually crossed my mind.
While I in no way intended to make this a discussion about economics on more than a cosmetic/lore/worldbuilding level, there is one small wrinkle that only just occurred to me, and that isn't being discussed: nations inhabited by tribals.
Now, I in no way mean this as a bad thing, however there are worlds where portions of the map are inhabited by civilizations that do have a less advanced level of technology than the kingdom that's been standing for a thousand years. Wild portions of the map existed well into the 20th century, and still do, in our world, and all things considered, there is no feasible way the war chief is going to accept precious metals as a payment.
As such, if the group intends to venture into these lands for an extended period of time, it would be perfectly reasonable to convert some wealth into a more acceptable form of payment, such as livestock or spices, in order to function within this region.
It would probably be fully within reason to exchange several bars of gold for bricks of salt, pigs, tanned hides, or even living pigs when dealing with groups that don't have an established economy based on gold and silver.
I'm fully aware these situations are rare, but they do happen. Similarly, underwater nations would probably have a different currency made of something that doesn't corrode, such as pearls or seashells, in order to fit the environment.

It's just a small point worth considering.Precious metals have become currency in most of the world at some point. Because they are at least somewhat rare everywhere. Because they are easily to identify. Because they don't spoil and thus can be stockpiled. Because you can still convert them into useful things like jewelry or silverware and convert them back. And because they are easy to move given the value the rarity implies.
This is why nearly every civilisation that traded with another using them adopted them as well. They do make very good currencies.

In standard fantasy i would assume that everyone that has enough contact to understand Common has enough trade to use gold and silver.

Also they are called noble metals for a reason. Gold does not corrode and even corrosion of silver and copper is somewhat limited. All those are exactly the kind of metals an underwater nation could use.

BWR
2019-09-08, 12:16 AM
Except--why do the characters care, in character? Why do the players care?

The answer is usually, because they can turn the "'silver goblets with ivy filigree around the rim and base, with 4 small emeralds set around a coat of arms that looks like E" into equipment upgrades, or consumables. Less often, it's a clue object about a plot-relevant family with a coat of arms that looks like E.


Or maybe they just like shiny stuff. You know, like lots of real world people.





*Maybe* you have the spellbinding storytelling chops to entrance your players with a rich description of a luxury good, to the point where they vicariously experience the luxury. But probably not.

Except, experience tells me otherwise. If PCs have a place to hoard stuff, then they tend to hoard. Heck, I've had players who draw floor plans of their houses and list what is where in which room.
Some players are indeed interested in nothing but turning treasure into usable magic items, but once you give PCs a home and a reason to be interested in something beyond combat power most players I know will start collecting treasure and playing Pimp my Imaginary Crib

Karl Aegis
2019-09-08, 12:26 AM
It gets more fun where exchange rates are arbitrarily unequal for chances at arbitrage. If you can exchange 14 of Coin A for 17 Coin B or 5 Coin C, but can exchange 5 of Coin C for 14 Coin A or 18 Coin B, you have a chance to make money if you buy 5 of Coin C to buy Coin B with instead of buying Coin B with Coin A. It's like playing Math: The Game while you play Math: the Game, but the DM doesn't have to do any actual work.

Psyren
2019-09-08, 04:07 PM
In the real world, luxury items like that lose value at a rapid pace.

Pretty sure artwork generally gains value over time.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-09-08, 04:41 PM
Pretty sure artwork generally gains value over time.

Most artwork loses value (or has none to begin with). Artwork from famous artists can gain value, but only in inconsistent and faddish ways.

johnbragg
2019-09-08, 07:33 PM
Except, experience tells me otherwise. If PCs have a place to hoard stuff, then they tend to hoard. Heck, I've had players who draw floor plans of their houses and list what is where in which room.
Some players are indeed interested in nothing but turning treasure into usable magic items, but once you give PCs a home and a reason to be interested in something beyond combat power most players I know will start collecting treasure and playing Pimp my Imaginary Crib

I like these discussions because they help me clarify thinking sometimes. What you're describing isn't so much "treasure" as "trophies." That dwarvencraft barrel made of darkoak isn't important to the PCs because it's a store of wealth, it's important because it's a trophy from the PCs adventure in Moria and triumph over the Witch-King of Angar. If they came across one in a marketplace, they probably wouldn't be interested--unless of course the player is a dwarf with a brewing background or ancestry etc.


Pretty sure artwork generally gains value over time.


Most artwork loses value (or has none to begin with). Artwork from famous artists can gain value, but only in inconsistent and faddish ways.

Mostly what PhoenixPhyre said--most artwork loses value. To be specific, most finely-crafted items lose value. They have the most value to the person or persons who commissioned them in the first place, paying large sums of money to have the precious thing they want in exactly the way they want.

The secondary market for such items is pretty brutal. The people with the money for those sorts of things commission new ones. The only ones with any residual value are ones with pedigree value. You can get used diamond rings for pretty reasonable prices--but ahh, THIS diamond ring was worn by Marilyn Monroe and is worth a fortune.

Similarly, artwork gains value if it has pedigree. An Andy Warhol original is worth a lot. An exact duplicate by one of his students is worth less than the glass frame it's in.

Art objects from the Elven Ashwood Empire period have value if the Ashwood Empire's artistic reputation is having a revival, and there are avid Ashwood collectors out there in the campaign world.

ZeroGear
2019-09-08, 08:27 PM
Snip

That is, unless, these are relics form hundreds of years ago, in which case they could be considered relics or artifacts and are sought after by museums (doesn't always apply to most game worlds, but it's worth mentioning).

Kraynic
2019-09-08, 08:59 PM
That is, unless, these are relics form hundreds of years ago, in which case they could be considered relics or artifacts and are sought after by museums (doesn't always apply to most game worlds, but it's worth mentioning).
Or even scholars depending on what types of divination magics might be available in the game.

Algeh
2019-09-08, 11:25 PM
That is, unless, these are relics form hundreds of years ago, in which case they could be considered relics or artifacts and are sought after by museums (doesn't always apply to most game worlds, but it's worth mentioning).


Or even scholars depending on what types of divination magics might be available in the game.

Or nobles/other wealthy folks, if that particular type of relic from that particular period is considered fashionable.

BWR
2019-09-09, 12:45 AM
I like these discussions because they help me clarify thinking sometimes. What you're describing isn't so much "treasure" as "trophies." That dwarvencraft barrel made of darkoak isn't important to the PCs because it's a store of wealth, it's important because it's a trophy from the PCs adventure in Moria and triumph over the Witch-King of Angar. If they came across one in a marketplace, they probably wouldn't be interested--unless of course the player is a dwarf with a brewing background or ancestry etc.



To an extent but don't underestimate the appeal of bling. People in general like pretty things, and having tons of pretty things around is pleasing. The height of expensive luxury is rarely because of it is a trophy, it's because people like pretty stuff and want to flaunt their wealth. Most players I've come across fall prey to this to one degree or another, and some PCs certainly do.

Silent Wrangler
2019-09-09, 05:30 AM
My two cents: Including multiple currencies is only needed in two cases:
1. Your players love financial scheming, and genuinely enjoy haggling with NPCs, breaking out calculators and scamming their way to wealth.
2. The difference in coins plays a significant role in the story.
If neither is present, then introducing it as a mechanic is unnecessary bookkeeping, and introducing it as a handwave "As you arrive, you exchange your money" is not actually introducing it.

Eldan
2019-09-09, 05:55 AM
I could see currency playing a role in a campaign. Merchant approaches the party. "Prince X is trying to fight the terrible financial situation his state is in by issuing new coins of higher purity. I need you to go to these six banks and buy up all the silver ingots they have by tonight, without anyone realizing you are doing it." or "We are going to water down this nation's currency to ruin them. What I need you to do is break into the mint and swap all their gold bars for this gilded lead, without being seen."

Gallowglass
2019-09-09, 05:39 PM
You know, I actually used something like that in a campaign once.

There was a wasteland of an orc nation next to a human nation. One of the plotlines that the party investigated was the rumor of a fortune in a witch-haunted woods. The basis of the fortune was this: a thousand years ago, the Orcs (who used mostly a trade economy) were starting to emerge as an economy and trading with the human nations. So they realized they would need coins to be able to interact with the human markets. But they didn't understand that the human "gold piece" was mostly lesser metals with a small amount of gold mixed in. So they minted their own coins that were pure gold. So each Orcan gold piece was actually worth like 100 gp from pure gold content.

After minting a bunch of the coins, the orcs had shipped the coins under heavy guard to the human lands where their embassy was only the caravan was lost in the witch haunted woods. So the players went looking for the lost treasure.

Mark Hall
2019-09-09, 06:35 PM
Which is exactly what Forgotten Realms has. In Sembia they use square iron coins instead of the literal copper piece. In Waterdeep there is a local currency in the taol (worth 2GP in the city, worthless else where) and the harbor moon 50GP in Waterdeep, and some lesser amount in other places. The Cormyrian gold coin, locally stamped with a lion, is considered such high quality and purity that "golden lions" are a common name for gold coins well outside of Cormyr.

Another option is to use trade bars. Rather than a bag of loose coin worth X gold piece, you have a stack of silver bars worth the same and stamped with a mark from the issuer. That way they're worth their weight in silver quite literally.

Forgotten Realms Adventures (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/16797/Forgotten-Realms-Adventures-2e?affiliate_id=315505) goes into this a lot, and it's kinda fun and weird.

Like, the Sembian steelpense? It was supposed to replace silver, which Sembia would then hoard. But they overproduced it, so it was watered down to being worth a copper.

Somewhere produced paper notes, called Bela, that were supposed to serve as currency, but aren't accepted widely enough to be useful, so "trading steelpense for bela" is something people will say to note you're being stupid with money.

The Gond church? It has a special currency which is a bell.

They talk about coins which have so badly degraded they're only worth their metal value.

Jay R
2019-09-11, 09:20 PM
While I fully understand that it's done for the sake of simplicity, that's not really how world economy works.

I first heard this idea in 1975. It sounded cool to me then. It still sounds cool.

Yes, you're right. It would be more authentic.

But breaking it down to its actual effect, you're adding complexity for no increase in fun.

The best possible result is that the players quickly learn how to convert each kind of currency into some universal system, which they will probably call gold pieces, silver pieces, and copper pieces. Any other result will be additional bookkeeping which will slow down the action and annoy the players.

Don't aim at making things more authentic. Aim at making them more fun.

Telok
2019-09-12, 01:07 AM
I can recall several games in D&D where +1 rings of protection became a sort of secondary currency. The party didn't make them, it was faster to kill people and swap stuff for them. The hyperinflation of going up levels and the sillyness of lugging 1,500+ pounds of metal around to pay for a small +5 dagger eventually got to us.

One thing I'll note is that I find players more willing to do more stuff with wealth when wealth isn't directly linked with character survival. When the wealth-survival link is a Red Queen's Race situation all the money goes towards survival, usually armor, weapons, and sources of healing. It's when character survival isn't predicated on always buying better and better murder tools that most players start to consider other options.

Knaight
2019-09-12, 02:47 AM
As a general rule it's not worth the headache of dealing with multiple currencies - unless there's something specific in play which makes it worth it. If you're setting a game in an area where the currency is about to go janky (e.g. the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe in certain periods for a historical game, basically any gold boom), if currency speculation and/or manipulation are likely to be significant activities for whatever reason, if you're really emphasizing the grind of small tedious tasks it might well be worth it, if you've got currencies that translate exceptionally poorly (Confederate dollars in the Union is an obvious historical example) you probably want to keep that, etc.

If they're basically descriptive flavor for treasure given a value there's a fair bit more leeway. That's color and texture to a campaign, which is generally worth doing provided you steer clear of purple prose or tedious listing. This works especially well when there's relatively little loot in a campaign; if you're playing D&D and doing multiple fights per session which all have loot attached it's probably worth cutting down a fair bit.

Kaptin Keen
2019-09-12, 06:39 AM
It occurres to me - just now - that I had a campaign with at least two currencies. One was your average, garden variety gold piece. But the other was soul gems, a common form of exchange among outer plane denizens, primarily the evil or neutral ones. But then, I try to avoid any form of GP equivalent economy, and trade only in favors, songs, stories and the like.

I actually have no idea whether that's even relevant to the discussion =)

Mark Hall
2019-09-12, 10:12 AM
My high school DM went all-in on the various kinds of currency, and expected us to keep track of them... how many did you have Cormyrean, or Sembian, or Waterdeep? It was OK, but I also don't recall much effect from spending the "wrong" kind of silver or whatever... Cormyrean cash was accepted pretty much everywhere, and you could usually find a Sembian to take Sembian coins.

Ventruenox
2019-09-12, 03:00 PM
I plan to DM an upcoming Spelljammer campaign, so this topic is quite relevant to my plans. As the group I roll with typically enjoys the social aspect over the combat one, and since standard wealth has a tendency to become obsolete after a few levels, I want a way to keep finances novel and retain pertinence throughout the campaign.

Resources and art will have differing values depending on the culture they require goods and services from, and I'm hoping they will adapt to a Firefly style adventuring career. Rewards will end up taking the form of raw materials and oddities after one or two "You call this money?! Get out of my tavern!" encounters. They can be hailed as saviors for bringing a life sustaining resource, reviled for unleashing plagues or heathen ideals, or find themselves sitting on a pile of junk they can't peddle on this planet.

If anyone has run successful games like this before, I would be curious to know how your players responded.