Level Up (A5E) How many coins is 1 bulky item & the real value of gems/trade goods

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
At some point many kids are offered the exciting chance of rolling all of the coins in their parent's jar of everfilling loose pocket change back before those self sorting coinstar machines started being a common thing & that gives most people an idea of just how time consuming it can be to organize even a small pile of awkward to carry coins dumped on the floor for them but that awkward pile isn't a thing in d&d because 50coins =1 pound sorted or not & 1 pound is insignificant given PC carrying capacities. I was watching a video
At about the 18 min mark where the video is pegged Shad mentions a chest of gold & talks a bit on the logistics about lots of coins D&D has 5 different 10x /q 10th stepping coin denominations plus trade goods & things like easily portable gems/artwork but with carrying capacities 50coins=1 pound ensures that the party won't really need to think much even if the gm gives them a huge pile of copper & silver. If you've ever handled money in retail or similar you probably know just how heavy & awkward that a 10 3/8" x 5" x 3 1/4" 500$ box of quarters filor similar can be at around 25 pounds when filled with 50 painstakingly rolled up rolls of quarters . Using the standard 50 coins =1 pound it would be 40 pounds for that box of 2000 quarters, but2000gp is nothing really & even if the party found a significant sum like 50,000gp that only works out to around 250 pounds across a party of 4 & tha's not a significant amount of weight even if the party is already carrying their gear & such. Sure the GM can use a larger pile of copper or silver, but that tends to just invoke " that's only like a couple thousand gold... does anyone care that much or should we just leave it?" unless it just leaps into completely credibility straining mountain sized piles of coins where the players couldn't really do anything on their own with it beyond sell a map to it or something.

If some number of unsorted unstacked or unrolled coins amounts to one bulky item though it would solve a lot of trouble. Adding a simple difficult choice like deciding if this gold vrs ditching rations(not to mention that ###gp mug) or spending a huge amount of time sorting it into stacks/rolls/etc can change how players value those not so valuable trade goods gems/art/etc. Alternately it could introduce real value in having henchmen & a donkey or something to carry & sort this kinda stuff

With the followers/henchmen/= type things it becomes even more important to have some kind of xxx unstacked coins=1 bulky item. If even 1-2 players have a follower or two that dramatically ups the size of a pile that is trivial to manage. Sure a GM could say "no your followers refuse to carry coins becausre they are cooks & pack animal handlers" or something but at a certain point the players can just offer too large a percentage of the pile they would otherwise leave behind for that to seem credible. I may never have had a job unloading armored trucks, but if my boss rolled up with a moving van of quarters & offers me half of everything I can carry to the bank I could probably carry a whole heck of a lot quite happily not caring that's not my job & probably not that unusual in that regard.
 

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Fallen star

Explorer
in my game I standardized gem values. Now 1000 gp topazes and 5000 gp rubies can be used as currency. As a related note, why do copper pieces even exist? Even 10,000 copper is a meager treasure for a 1st level party.
 


Stalker0

Legend
It seems the simplest way to do this is to give supply a base weight or bulk factor. Then for parties that give a lot of credence to weight they may do things like consider dropping coins in favor of supply, etc.

and that ways parties that practically handwave weight will continue to handwave
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
It seems the simplest way to do this is to give supply a base weight or bulk factor. Then for parties that give a lot of credence to weight they may do things like consider dropping coins in favor of supply, etc.

and that ways parties that practically handwave weight will continue to handwave
That's pretty much the point yea. A pile of coins is awkward as hell far beyond the weight alone. Since I'm pretty sure it's been said that things like a wealth by level chart is planned it makes sense for a given number of coins to have a bulky item value or even range like x-y unsorted coins= N bulky items that removes the pile from the completely fungible realm of counting pounds
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
I would like this. I played with encumbrance as a young man, and I like details like that, but lately I haven't bothered (not even with tracking ammo or food) because it's just too fiddly. I would probably implement it again if the system were simple enough. (I look forward to using supply).
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
It seems the simplest way to do this is to give supply a base weight or bulk factor. Then for parties that give a lot of credence to weight they may do things like consider dropping coins in favor of supply, etc.
Wouldn't that have the same problem, though? A 1 Bulk's worth of gold coins is still going to be worth more than a 1 Bulk's worth of of copper coins?

or write a cantrip that converts 10 coins into 1 higher value coin.
As long as it can also do the reverse. "This is a tiny village with 20 people living in it. We can't make change for platinum coins!"
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Wouldn't that have the same problem, though? A 1 Bulk's worth of gold coins is still going to be worth more than a 1 Bulk's worth of of copper coins?


As long as it can also do the reverse. "This is a tiny village with 20 people living in it. We can't make change for platinum coins!"
I don't think so. We don't know what kind of bulky item capacity players will have but lets assume 5-10 bulk is a huge amount. Players aren't going to be running around leaving town to go adventuring with five or ten bulk worth of coins on them under those conditionss Instead they are going to leave town with those coins converted to nonbulky trade goods like 1 pound of salt/saffron or a first edition signed copy of that clasic romance novel Romancing the Rogue since they all come in far under one bulk if they aren't doing things like storing it in a kundarak vault or their keeps. If the party finds a giant pile of coins totaling some significant amount while attacking the bbeg's cliche stronghold they need to make some quick decisions
  • The guards are on alert, do we take that three boxes each wwith a good amount of sorted copper silver & gold coins tat are barely a fraction of the piles on the shelves or do we dump this stuff we are probably going to regret dumping in order to grab some tiny fraction of the pile?
  • Do we retreat & try to sneak back in so we can grab more of it by hoping we don't get noticed sorting it into coin boxes or whatever?
  • Do we have the muscle & stamina to murder the bbeg along with everyone else in here so we can take this huge pile at our leasure when we just came to steal the macguffin?
  • etc.
The value of 1 bulk worth of coins only matters for what the players will be willing to consider doing for it if the pile is inconvenient. That's why the GM can't just use a giant pile of low value coins to create a dilemma in taking it home. If the bad guys each have 3sp 2cp on them the party will probably take it without thinking but not so much if the vault has 100,000cp (2k pounds by 50 coins=1lb) since that only adds up to 1000gp. Maybe players can carry a reasonable amount of coins (ie 50-100) free just to avoid the kind of hassles that make tracking it in 5e kind of a pointless timesink while adventuring but then every Y unsorted coins equals one bulk.

I think the cantrip would defeat the purpose to a degree unless it was like a 10 minute ritual thing or something
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
While I agree with what you're saying, @tetrasodium, I also don't think you're understanding what I'm talking about.

First off... @Morrus, any chance we can get a definition for Bulk? Is it a certain weight, and anything that weighs that much is 1 Bulk? Or are items declared Bulky due to size and shape and weight is only partially a factor here, so a box of coins isn't Bulky because it's compact, but a chair or a rolled-up tapestry is because it's unwieldy?

But, assume that Bulk equals a specific weight. For the sake of this post, let's say 40 pounds. The size of a large bag of cat litter. 1 Bulk = 40 pounds.

So what I was saying is, 1 Bulk of gold coins is going to be worth more than 1 Bulk of copper coins, unless you've decided that the coins are all different sizes so that 40 pounds of gold coins is actually the same value as 40 pounds of copper coins. And in either case, 40 pounds of mixed coins is going to be worth a varying amount.

The fact that players aren't likely to be carrying around 40 pounds of gold, unless they've just sacked a monster's hoard, isn't relevant.
 

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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
While I agree with what you're saying, @tetrasodium, I also don't think you're understanding what I'm talking about.

First off... @Morrus, any chance we can get a definition for Bulk? Is it a certain weight, and anything that weighs that much is 1 Bulk? Or are items declared Bulky due to size and shape and weight is only partially a factor here, so a box of coins isn't Bulky because it's compact, but a chair or a rolled-up tapestry is because it's unwieldy?

But, assume that Bulk equals a specific weight. For the sake of this post, let's say 40 pounds. The size of a large bag of cat litter. 1 Bulk = 40 pounds.

So what I was saying is, 1 Bulk of gold coins is going to be worth more than 1 Bulk of copper coins, unless you've decided that the coins are all different sizes so that 40 pounds of gold coins is actually the same value as 40 pounds of copper coins. And in either case, 40 pounds of mixed coins is going to be worth a varying amount.

The fact that players aren't likely to be carrying around 40 pounds of gold, unless they've just sacked a monster's hoard, isn't relevant.
If you look at the bottom of page3 on the sheet but first it's worth noting that the maximum bulky items box doesn't seem to fit a 10 right without clipping but a single digit fits fine & is centered.
@Morrus this may reveal some sheet form field revision needs or deliberate limitations being hit by trying to use bad examples
1619464206229.png
it seems pretty likely that "bulky items", "equipment" & "treasure" are intended to be different things & that at least some are intended to be measured different or there would be no point in splitting wt/bulky items. With that assumption Ye-olde gem encrusted pimp cup worth 75gp could plop over in treasure because the size/weight is negligible & it doesn't need much special care to safely carry without destroying it. 10 pounds of saffron with a 5e phbvalue

I think bulk i probably some nebulous combination of size/shape/fragility where weight may or may not factor inrather than just weight. Take a box of glass bottle beers, I could confidentally run in the rain to the car with a dozen boxed up in a bag but think 2-3 without moving slowly with a carefully balanced platter is probably close to my limit if they are loose.
 


tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
paragraphs. can't parse.
The post I tagged you on was because I thought I may have found some issues with the sheet but you confirmed "bulky items will always be single digit" so it sounds unlikely that "maximum bulky items" box will ever be a weirdly fitting 2 digit number like the screengrab shows.

For the rest...

In the states we refer to putting coins in the little paper tubes as rolling loose change. Loose change is far more unwieldy than a solid object of equal weight because they slosh around. That's not true in d&d where they are easier than trade goods due to 50 coins=1 pound to make them even easier to efficiently spread across the group than something like a 10 pound bag of pepper or a 10 lb/10yd silk skein. The "bulky items" count could allow inverting that so trade goods are more portable than a pile of loose coins

The apparent split between equipment by weight, bulky items, & whatever unit of measurement is used by the treasure/treasure2 fields on the sheet allows trade goods to be the convenient smash & grab type wealth over spending minutes or even hours carefully sorting a pile of coins into boxes If instead of 50 coins=1 pound it were more like the first 100(or whatever) on a pc are baked in to the allocation but everything beyond that is 1 bulky item per whatever number of loose coins with sorted or boxed coins going back to a more reasonable weight like 5-10pound per 500 coin box.

With the bulky item loose coins & 5-10pound coin box split across items by weight & far less convenient bulky items it changes the nature of a large pile of coins from changing coin count numbers on everyone's sheet to a logistical problem that takes time and/or planning in order for the group to safely get out & back home with a huge pile of coins. Anyone who has ever sorted coins into rolls or even tried to feed a huge container of loose change into those coin counting coinstar machines knows just how awkward the loose change is compared to neat orderly rolls & boxes of rolled coins.
 

Horwath

Hero
Best solution would also be return to silver standard or

1 GP = 100 SP = 10.000 CP

that turns 1500 GP full plate into 15 GP only to carry.
Copper and silver would be for everyday purchases and gold only for expensive items; best armors, magic items, houses, best quality horses, etc...
 

hopeless

Adventurer
Deleted.
Thought this was about encumbrance and not what its actually about thus why I deleted my comment.
 
Last edited:

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
in my game I standardized gem values. Now 1000 gp topazes and 5000 gp rubies can be used as currency. As a related note, why do copper pieces even exist? Even 10,000 copper is a meager treasure for a 1st level party.
Just as a side note, gems are very heavy. They are formed under great pressure usually and are pretty dense. Their main advantage is that small gems can still hold great value. The largest gem quality aquamarine was found in 1910. It was 18 inches long and 15.5 inches in diameter. It weighed 243 pounds. That sack full of gems that you find can weight a whole lot. :)
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I'm going to -guess- that bulky items are big unwieldy objects rather than just "Heavy Things".

Carrying 9 bed pillows in a stack might not encumber you too badly, but they're bulky and hard to keep in that piled while moving it.

I also don't think 15,000 gold coins will be "Bulky" so long as you have enough pouches or other containers to put them all in. But a chest containing all those coins would absolutely be Bulky.

... I wonder if the Bulk Items rule will have something to do with gaining Disadvantage or Minor Disadvantage based on how many bulk items you're carrying relative to your strength, dexterity, proficiency bonus, or something similar?
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I'm going to -guess- that bulky items are big unwieldy objects rather than just "Heavy Things".

Carrying 9 bed pillows in a stack might not encumber you too badly, but they're bulky and hard to keep in that piled while moving it.

I also don't think 15,000 gold coins will be "Bulky" so long as you have enough pouches or other containers to put them all in. But a chest containing all those coins would absolutely be Bulky.

... I wonder if the Bulk Items rule will have something to do with gaining Disadvantage or Minor Disadvantage based on how many bulk items you're carrying relative to your strength, dexterity, proficiency bonus, or something similar?
thats the problem. Getting it in those pouches would take a while . A sack at max capacity with that same 30 pound pile of 1500 coins probably not so much.
Weight in pounds treats everything up to capacity break points for encumbered as if efficiently distributed across your body for ease of load bearing with no load shifting issues since coins can be trivially split into 1pound 50 coin units the result us that they are more convenient than mimmany trade goods. Allowing the 50:1 for sorted/boxed coins while forcing the more valuable bulky item slot for up to 500 coins puts the efficiency back in the right order again.

I only picked 500 for a box size because it was a good number to scale with coins per pound with a resulting ten pound large brick sized box that would scale well across levels and coin types. 500 copper/silver way low levels isn't bad if you have capacity & 500 gold/platinum is great even at higher levels. Jumping to 2k like the box of quarters is 40 pounds using that 50:1 weight so starts going from large brick to cinderblock territory if you assume slightly larger/thicker coins than quarters.

Of course there is a lot we don't know about bulky items and we are mostly just making guesses equipped only slightly better to guess than the people of plato's cave with our certainty that bulky items will always be a single digit. So we could wind up with this whole thread a laughably bad guess based on completely wrong assumptions
 

Horwath

Hero
Just as a side note, gems are very heavy. They are formed under great pressure usually and are pretty dense. Their main advantage is that small gems can still hold great value. The largest gem quality aquamarine was found in 1910. It was 18 inches long and 15.5 inches in diameter. It weighed 243 pounds. That sack full of gems that you find can weight a whole lot. :)
densest gemstones have a density of 4,8. Gold has 19,3. So any volume of gold vs gemstones will be at least 4 times as dense. Good thing that gemstones have better value per mass.
 

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