Revamping the D&D monetary system

14 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hey, I'm revamping the monetary system in D&D for a homebrew campaign to make it more realistic, and I was wondering if anyone had any good online resources they'd like to share with regards to prices? 

What on Earth happened here!? Did all the replies disappear?!

Every so often they make a biiger mess of things,Usually when a new edition is coming up or they switch to a new server. Wait till next week and it will stabilize , you'll lose about 10% of the people you used to hear from. Makes me want to reason with them with an ax handle.

I will immediately report any Phishers or Lonely Hearts Scam Artists.

taradusis wrote:

Every so often they make a biiger mess of things,Usually when a new edition is coming up or they switch to a new server. Wait till next week and it will stabilize , you'll lose about 10% of the people you used to hear from. Makes me want to reason with them with an ax handle.



I remember them doing it during the Gleemax move - that's why I left originally. Oh well. 

Now, have you ever wondered whether Rome was a Lawful Evil or Lawful Good society? I mean Rome was lawful Evil because it was a slave empire with brutal gladitorial games. But,rome gave us much of our laws and culture and this could be constured as Lawful Good. There are three main races that could create a roman world, Human, Dwarf and Hobgoblin. Suppose you created a world where all three races created a version of Rome and considered the others to be travesties or pale imitations?

I will immediately report any Phishers or Lonely Hearts Scam Artists.

taradusis wrote:

Now, have you ever wondered whether Rome was a Lawful Evil or Lawful Good society? I mean Rome was lawful Evil because it was a slave empire with brutal gladitorial games. But,rome gave us much of our laws and culture and this could be constured as Lawful Good. There are three main races that could create a roman world, Human, Dwarf and Hobgoblin. Suppose you created a world where all three races created a version of Rome and considered the others to be travesties or pale imitations?

I don't really bother too much with alignments. If you are basing them as evil because they had slaves, there wasn't a good nation until around the early 19th century. The alignment system is a broken - depending on what you perceive as good changes the entire thing because morals are abstract and generally don't translate well into single actions. Just look at the current example of Syria - some people say the good thing to do is to bomb Assad, some say it's to support Assad. Everybody has their own concept of good and evil. 

My world uses a mix of Conan, Roman Republic, Viking Age and their mythology, and the Lord of the Rings. To this end, the only player race is human. Other races exist, e.g. elves, dark elves, dwarfs, orcs, a homebrew form of yuan-ti, daemons, jotuns (trolls, giants etc), the æsir, vanir, and various forms of undead, but they are not player races. All nations are human nations, with small holdouts of other races existing, such as dwarf cities, elf mansions etc. As I wanted a somewhat realistic pricing system and monetary system, I decided looking up historical prices would be the best way to build the foundation for the system.

probably a good start. I'd go with the Roman system or the Napoleonic system (which you know as the British system of pennies and shillings) which are both quite logical. Or make something that looks a bit like the Euro system, all based on tens and whatnot. Tolkien never specified any monetary system and the Vikings had a confusing rag-tag system integrating different bits and pieces of the Roman, Germanic and other systems. if you want to make it realistic of course, prices would fluctuate, preferably in response to player actions (this gives even evil characters a reason to not just ****, pillage and burn everything). I'd pick a commodity, and use it as the base: in the generic D&D system they used a bushel of grain. This is what the monetary system is tied to. You might tie it directly to the metal used in the coins (as they did in the Ancient world), or you might tie it to a product like grain or fish. In the first case, a barter system would exist alongside the monetary system: because many basic products had not monetary value. In the second case it would be entirely a cash economy, more like the ones we are familiar with. The second type of monetary system is more typical of medieval Europe, which D&D was originally intended to model, but if you want to model a world that isn't like medieval Europe then the other system might be more useful. 

Arasiel wrote:

probably a good start. I'd go with the Roman system or the Napoleonic system (which you know as the British system of pennies and shillings) which are both quite logical. Or make something that looks a bit like the Euro system, all based on tens and whatnot. Tolkien never specified any monetary system and the Vikings had a confusing rag-tag system integrating different bits and pieces of the Roman, Germanic and other systems. if you want to make it realistic of course, prices would fluctuate, preferably in response to player actions (this gives even evil characters a reason to not just ****, pillage and burn everything). I'd pick a commodity, and use it as the base: in the generic D&D system they used a bushel of grain. This is what the monetary system is tied to. You might tie it directly to the metal used in the coins (as they did in the Ancient world), or you might tie it to a product like grain or fish. In the first case, a barter system would exist alongside the monetary system: because many basic products had not monetary value. In the second case it would be entirely a cash economy, more like the ones we are familiar with. The second type of monetary system is more typical of medieval Europe, which D&D was originally intended to model, but if you want to model a world that isn't like medieval Europe then the other system might be more useful. 



My system is gonna be 2-4-6-8-10 grams of precious metal per coin, with the silver-gold exchange rate being 10 or 20 to 1, depending on the region, with barter also a possible way of exchanging goods, e.g. a gem for a sword. The problem is finding out what a somewhat realistic price would be for a given product. 

Also, using the metal in coins as the value (known as money) is what humans have mostly done for 2500 years. It was only in 1971 that Nixon took the world entirely off the gold standard. 

There have been plenty of other insane decisions. Nero added base metals but insisted that people act as if the coins weren't debased. When the roman empire split in two some emperors insisted that one of their coins  were worth ten byzantiums coins. In D+D old coins are supposed to be exchanged  at the moneychanger. Jesus was angry with the Sanhedrin becuse all male jews were supposed to donate a coin that no longer existed , the temple would set up moneychangers who charged 8 modern coins for 1 antique one. So, there's a lot more to consider than the weight of the metal if some one is going to melt the foreign currency and pour it down your throat.

I will immediately report any Phishers or Lonely Hearts Scam Artists.

taradusis wrote:

There have been plenty of other insane decisions. Nero added base metals but insisted that people act as if the coins weren't debased. When the roman empire split in two some emperors insisted that one of their coins  were worth ten byzantiums coins. In D+D old coins are supposed to be exchanged  at the moneychanger. Jesus was angry with the Sanhedrin becuse all male jews were supposed to donate a coin that no longer existed , the temple would set up moneychangers who charged 8 modern coins for 1 antique one. So, there's a lot more to consider than the weight of the metal if some one is going to melt the foreign currency and pour it down your throat.



It's the weight of gold or silver I'm interested in. Due to gold and silver's weight, colour and sound when struck, it's very difficult to counterfeit them. 

The debasement of currency was the result, not of the reduction of gold and silver content per se, but because the emperors minted more coins (which they could afford to do with reduced precious metals in each coin, sort of like what Germany did after WW1).  The expansion of the empire also brought more gold into Rome disproportionate to the increase in other commodities like grain, so there was inflationary pressure even before the precious metla content was reduced.  Increase in money supply without increasing the commodity supply = inflation.  The fact that counterfeighting was now affordable did not help.  Also, the government that was minting smaller coins was also insiting that taxes be paid in pure gold or silver.

 

If you want to keep the coins as pure as local technology allows (which most fantasy settings assume), the original denarii (c. 211 B.C.) was 4.5 grams or 1/72 lbs of silver.  One denarius was equal to 4 setertii, also a silver coin, or 10 ases, a bronze coin which was later made of copper.  I'm unsure of the weight of an as at that time, but later on they were 3-4 grams.  A denarius was also equal to 1/25 of a aureus, a gold coin of about 8 grams.  By my math, that means gold was worth about 14 times more than silver by weight.  The later solidus was worth 12 denarii and weiged about 4.5 grams, but the denarii at that time were smaller.

 

1 aureus = 25 denarii = 100 sestertii = 250 early bronze ases = 400 later copper ases.

 

Of course, even though the original denarii was 4.5 grams of silver, it was valued at 10 grams, so  pretty much from the beginning the coinage was really just representational.  The math is a lot simpler if you ignore the messiness of the real world.

 

 

 

Beoric wrote:

The debasement of currency was the result, not of the reduction of gold and silver content per se, but because the emperors minted more coins (which they could afford to do with reduced precious metals in each coin, sort of like what Germany did after WW1).  The expansion of the empire also brought more gold into Rome disproportionate to the increase in other commodities like grain, so there was inflationary pressure even before the precious metla content was reduced.  Increase in money supply without increasing the commodity supply = inflation.  The fact that counterfeighting was now affordable did not help.  Also, the government that was minting smaller coins was also insiting that taxes be paid in pure gold or silver.

 

If you want to keep the coins as pure as local technology allows (which most fantasy settings assume), the original denarii (c. 211 B.C.) was 4.5 grams or 1/72 lbs of silver.  One denarius was equal to 4 setertii, also a silver coin, or 10 ases, a bronze coin which was later made of copper.  I'm unsure of the weight of an as at that time, but later on they were 3-4 grams.  A denarius was also equal to 1/25 of a aureus, a gold coin of about 8 grams.  By my math, that means gold was worth about 14 times more than silver by weight.  The later solidus was worth 12 denarii and weiged about 4.5 grams, but the denarii at that time were smaller.

 

1 aureus = 25 denarii = 100 sestertii = 250 early bronze ases = 400 later copper ases.

 

Of course, even though the original denarii was 4.5 grams of silver, it was valued at 10 grams, so  pretty much from the beginning the coinage was really just representational.  The math is a lot simpler if you ignore the messiness of the real world.


Not sure if we're disagreeing, but the Romans reduced the amount of precious metals in their coins to pay for wars and public services. However, as they increased their money supply, inflation took off, resulting in the Edict of Diocletian; one of the first attempts at state-mandated price fixing, which had the same effects it always had. By weight, it varied from region to region, which is why a bitemtal standard with fixed exchange rates never worked properly and was never fixed at any specific rate, but rather fluctuated between 10 and 20.

What the Romans did and the Weimar Republic did was exactly the same, bar that Weimar were able to do it on a much larger scale due to paper.

 

I don't think we disagree.

 

I note that a lot of the 2e supplements have price lists expressed in historical currencies, which are pretty easy to use with the equipment lists in the 2e PH.  The currencies are not too difficult to convert to a 3e or 4e standard, since many items have been the same pice for 3 or 4 editions.  I am thinking particulary of the Viking Campaign Sourcebook, and the Celts Campaign Source book, both of which have prices set by weight of silver, Charlemagne's Paladins which has Carolingian currency, and A Mighty Fortress which uses currencies from Europe during the Elzabethan period (and includes monlthly expenses by social class).