D&D General Does anyone else use a silver standard in their DND game?

Jmarso

Adventurer
I've gone to a 'silver standard' in my home campaign. I feel a silver standard gives 'weight', for lack of a better term, to copper and silver currency.

In basic terms, any standard (non-magical) item with a price listed in GP is changed to SP, any price in SP is changed to CP, and any price in CP is changed to 'copper bits,' which I'll elaborate on below. Gem values are converted the same. A 10 GP gem in the rulebooks is a 10 SP gem in my campaign.

There are two basic sizes of coin: the 'standard' coin, roughly the size and weight of a U.S. quarter dollar, and they weigh 80 coins per pound. The second is the 'penny' coin, roughly the size and weight of the U.S. dime (10 cents), and weighing 200 coins per pound.

With that in mind, the values break down as follows, with the SP (silver standard coin) forming the 'base coin' the way the GP does in regular DND. As a rule, the 'penny' coins carry 40% of the value of the 'standard' coins. (I may make this a straight 50% conversion later, for ease of math) Electrum has been done away with in this system- as a mix of gold and silver, it never made much sense to me because verifying the gold content would be almost impossible by non-magical means, making the alloy an untrustworthy form of currency.

1 PP = 5 GP = 250 SP= 5000 CP
1 GP = 50 SP = 1000 CP
1 SP = 20 CP
1 CP = 2.5 Copper Bits (Rounded up or down by merchants depending on the product and the haggle)

1 Gold Penny = 20 SP or 50 Silver Pennies, or 400 CP, or 1000 Copper Bits
1 Silver Penny = 8 CP, or 20 Copper Bits

The system has a couple of advantages, in my mind. Even in a fantasy setting, in the standard game's system of 50 coins per pound, something like a two-handed sword (not even masterwork!) would cost something like almost TWO POUNDS of GOLD! That seems disproportionate to me and always has, especially in a medieval economy where barter vs. specie is the rule. Plus, carrying around a fortune is almost impossible without using sacks of gold or a portable hole. (Or converting your wealth to gems.)

With this system, players could carry one pound of gold pennies (200 coins), which would equate to 4000 SP in value, which in spending power equates to 4000 GP in a 'standard' game. That's a LOT of spending power. Of course, the trick is that gold is the coin of nobles, high level monsters, and the ridiculously rich. My players are getting to be 4th level and they've only just found a smattering of gold pennies as treasure, to say nothing of standard-sized gold pieces.

Anyway, we've been having fun with this system, and it makes copper and silver worth something as money, especially at lower levels. Anyone else tried anything similar?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Oofta

Legend
I don't use the silver standard because I'm not overly concerned about D&D being particularly realistic. I understand why you want to do this, I've just never bothered.

The way I think of it is just that gold is not as rare as it is in a fantasy realm. People really can transmute lead to gold for instance, it's just that the process is not free. So a gold coin (which is generally about the size of a dime in my campaign world) and roughly the equivalent of a 20 dollar bill. A well made two-handed sword costing a $1,000 is a lot for a sword, but nobody said the prices in the PHB were particularly realistic. I use it more as a general guide for things like miscellaneous expenses.

I agree that silver probably should be the standard, so if it fits the style and theme of your game go for it!
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Yep. I do similar with the silver standard, convinced in part by folks like Delta (Dan Collins) and his blog articles on the subject. It just adds to the verisimilitude of my worlds without requiring much work.

Bronze Bits (in a nod to old Greyhawk) are my usual new bottom rung coinage for lowest end non-barter transactions, or if I want a big treasure pile that's a pain to transport.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The system has a couple of advantages, in my mind. Even in a fantasy setting, in the standard game's system of 50 coins per pound, something like a two-handed sword (not even masterwork!) would cost something like almost TWO POUNDS of GOLD! That seems disproportionate to me and always has, especially in a medieval economy where barter vs. specie is the rule.

Yes, well, if you are tyring to compare to real life... nobody makes everyday coins out of pure precious metals. So, it costs two pounds of coins, only some fraction of each coin is actually gold.
 

Horwath

Hero
1 PP = 5 GP = 250 SP= 5000 CP
1 GP = 50 SP = 1000 CP
1 SP = 20 CP
1 CP = 2.5 Copper Bits (Rounded up or down by merchants depending on the product and the haggle)

1 Gold Penny = 20 SP or 50 Silver Pennies, or 400 CP, or 1000 Copper Bits
1 Silver Penny = 8 CP, or 20 Copper Bits
We use silver standard, but why did you make simple system more complicated?
We just turned multiplication of 10× to 100×

1 PP = 1oo GP = 10,000 SP = 1,000,000 CP
1 GP = 100 SP = 10,000 CP
1 SP = 100 CP

Prices in CPs are the same, prices in GP are now in SP.
Platinum is now extremely rare element and it is used in enchanting items and powerful wards.

this way, most everyday shopping is made in CPs, sometimes SP, weapons and armors as bought in SPs, rarely GPs.
common folk might not see a GP for months or years, and Platinum is next to unheard of for commoners and low level adventurers.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I'm currently converting my gear lists to silver for two reasons:

1) starting characters with 200 gold sound poor, but starting with 2,000 silver sounds like riches,
2) gold is what kingdoms use to bribe other kingdoms, not what merchants trade daily.

I still prefer the fabulously wealthy golem to be a "goldman" though. "Silverman" doesn't have the same ring.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I wrote something up for 4e a while ago.

The core is:

The currency units in this version are as follows:

A Copper Piece is the size of a quarter. 100 weigh 1 lb.

100 Copper Pieces = 1 Silver Piece. A SP is the size of a quarter. 100 weigh 1 lb.

100 Silver Pieces = 1 Gold Piece. A GP is the size of a Penny. 100 weigh 1 lb.

1000 Gold Pieces = 1 Mithril Piece. A MP is the size of a Penny. ~3000 weigh 1 lb. Mithril pieces float in salt water, and sink in fresh water.

1000 Mithril Pieces = 1 Astral Diamond. Astral Diamonds are naturally crystallized residuum. Each is about 2 mm in diameter, or 1/16th of an inch, and have variable weight. (Really. Weigh them twice, and you get different results.)

The silver standard is used; prices for non-magical items are translated where 1 GP becomes either 1 SP or 2 SP.

Rarer currencies:
100 GP =~ 1 Platinum Imperial. A PI is the size of a quarter, but thicker. 100 weigh ~3 lbs.
Gold Imperial = size of a quarter, but thicker =~ 3 GP. 100 weigh ~3 lbs.
Mithril Imperial. Also the size of the quarter, but thicker. 1000 weigh ~1 lbs, each are worth about 3 and 1/3 standard MP each.

These provide texture. The "Imperals" refer to an older culture with a larger coinage that people today don't use. The size of a SP matches the old imperial coin, but it is thinner and made out of silver not gold.

Copper bits are 3 to a CP, and silver bits are 3 to a SP.

CP, SP and GP all have the same weight -- a coinweight is standard, and merchants can use CP to weight GP to know if they are the right weight.

---

I wouldn't use this in a game where magic item prices are followed slavishly.

The goal was to have an economic system where there is a dragon sitting on a literal hill of gold.

1 single MP is worth the same as 10 pounds of gold, and 1 astral diamond is worth 5 tonnes of gold; for MP/AD to be real currency, the material plane needs to be an impoverished slum.
 

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
1 Tin - Copper 10 - Silver 100 - Gold 1000.

iu
 

Yora

Legend
In my campaign, the standard coin is a silver piece. Gold coins are worth 10 silver coins.
The setting also always has a large demand for bronze, which being highly corrosion resistant can be found in large amounts in ancient ruins. Bronze goes by a tenth its weight in silver.

(It's an easy conversion, and historically plain copper has been more 1:30 in vale to silver.)

1 Tin - Copper 10 - Silver 100 - Gold 1000.
Tin is really way more expensive than copper.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I prefer a silver standard, but I don’t want to do a ton of extra work to make it happen, so my breakdown is:

1 gp = 2 ep = 10 sp = 20 op = 1,000 cp

Any time a rule book or module mentions an amount if cp, it remains unchanged. sp gets multiplied by 10 and changed to cp (so for example a waterskin costs 20 cp instead of 2 sp). ep becomes op, pp becomes gp, and my new ep is worth 10x an old ep/my op.

op, by the way, is an orichalcum piece, which in my world is a copper/gold alloy, rather than a magical metal. I have considered bumping cp up to 1/10 sp to replace standard sp and making another denomination (probable bp for bronze pieces) to replace cp. The main reason I haven’t is because character sheets have 5 boxes for coins, so adding a 6th would make it a bigger hassle than it’s probably worth.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Based on that peerless source of unimpeachable truth, research by an Internet rando, the gold/silver price ratio in ancient and medieval economies (before the influx of silver from the New World) tended to hover between 8-to-1 and 12-to-1. The PHB's choice of 10-to-1 is dead in the middle of that range, and has the great virtue of simplicity on top of that.

This other Internet rando's research suggests silver/copper ratios ranging from 40-to-1 to 100-to-1. The PHB's choice of 10-to-1 is not completely out of the ballpark, but it's pushing the limit. If I were designing a currency system and trying to inject some realism, while maintaining ease of use at the table, I'd pick 100-to-1: 1 gp = 10 sp = 1,000 cp.

To the original question of "Should D&D be converted to a silver standard?"--I would like it if it were, and I'd happily play in a campaign where that was the case. However, from a DM perspective, it fails my test of "Is this important enough to make my players remember a house rule?"
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I used a silver standard in my old homebrew Aquerra for like 27 years. But I made it even simpler.

Prices in the book listed in gold were now the same amount in silver, that listed as silver cost that amount in copper, and anything listed as copper, cost double copper.

Other than that, the breakdown of 10 of a lesser coin equals 1 of the next coin up was maintained. Some countries had "bronze pennies" of different sizes that some people didn't want to take as "foreign money" and others would take it at 10 to 50 BP to a CP.

I also kept electrum as a form of foreign currency.

EDIT: Now that I think about it, I may not have done it as listed above. I think I kept gold as silver, but doubled the price of things listed in silver as that amount of copper and left things listed as costing coppers the same.
 
Last edited:

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Based on that peerless source of unimpeachable truth, research by an Internet rando, the gold/silver price ratio in ancient and medieval economies (before the influx of silver from the New World) tended to hover between 8-to-1 and 12-to-1. The PHB's choice of 10-to-1 is dead in the middle of that range, and has the great virtue of simplicity on top of that.

This other Internet rando's research suggests silver/copper ratios ranging from 40-to-1 to 100-to-1. The PHB's choice of 10-to-1 is not completely out of the ballpark, but it's pushing the limit. If I were designing a currency system and trying to inject some realism, while maintaining ease of use at the table, I'd pick 100-to-1: 1 gp = 10 sp = 1,000 cp.

To the original question of "Should D&D be converted to a silver standard?"--I would like it if it were, and I'd happily play in a campaign where that was the case. However, from a DM perspective, it fails my test of "Is this important enough to make my players remember a house rule?"
The thing is, ratios of any precious metals’ relative values are and have always been in constant flux. They were more stable before the industrial revolution, but they were always volatile enough that governments were constantly trying to fight the problem of people exploiting the exchange rates.

Moreover, even if we could get a historically accurate average ratio, there’s no reason to assume that would hold true in a D&D world. Maybe gold and silver have such little buying power because dwarves mined so much of them, they just aren’t very rare any more. Or alchemists inflated the currency to an absurd degree by transmuting tons of other metals to gold and silver.

Personally, I like the silver standard not for any realism reasons, but because the gold standard makes copper coins basically pointless. I like having each coin denomination have a practical use. Plus, it allows PCs to carry more buying power with them at a time.
 

For costs, I didn't change the value, but do express it in SP, so something that costs 20GP I now say costs 200SP. When giving out treasure from prewritten modules, I step whatever the currency down one value, so if it says the monster was carrying 20GP, I say they were carrying 20SP. Also, I never actually use the terms SP or GP in game, but refer to them by the local name currency in the game setting, wherever the players happen to be. And if they have the wrong coinage, they have to go to a moneychanger...
 



Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I've always liked the gold-piece standard, in that it truly separates the elites from the commons.

I've also never liked "metrification" of coinage systems, i.e. everything neatly divides by ten, because boring.

So, I use a variant of the old British system: 12 cp (pennies) to the sp (shilling), 20 sp to the gp (pound), with pp being 5 gp and electrum being half a gp. These are the coin types commonly found by adventurers.

I also, for the common folk, have farthings (bronze pieces; 4 to the penny), ha-pennies (2 to the penny), thrupenny bits (worth 3 cp) and sixpences (worth 6 cp); but these are rarely found in adventures.
 



Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top