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In which I ramble about coins and making treasure cool.

Imperialus

Explorer
One thing I've always enjoyed doing is mucking about with coins in my campaigns. They are something that every PC uses, but very little thought is given to them other than a number on the character sheet. Coins and money in general mean a lot to a society and it's always felt like something D&D has kinda overlooked. I mean in the world today the USD is the dominant global currency because the USA is the dominant economic nation. In late medieval Europe it was the Florin, but the Ducat, the Doubloon, the Hyperpyron, and the Denarius all have their own character and bring to mind the society that created them. I mean the British abbreviation for Pence remained d for Denarius until they decimalized and a lot of middle eastern currencies are still called Dinar after the same. In a game where the players are plundering ancient treasure hordes, finding long lost artifacts, and all sorts of things like that it's a bit of a pity that a gold piece is just a gold piece, and every goldpeice is worth just that regardless of if you've gotten it as change for the shortsword you just bought or if you just dragged it up from the tomb of some long dead dwarf lord.

One thing I enjoy doing with coinage is including old mintage coins that are worth significantly more to the right buyer than the common coins in use. It adds a lot of flavour IMO and provides some roleplaying opportunities without creating a huge amount of bookwork. The key is just to figure out what your 'baseline' is (typically based on the book prices) and modify up and down from there.

For example in the Dwimmermount campaign I'm running as a PbP game here the baseline "GP" is produced in the citystate of Adamas. They are however heavily debased and actually only contain around 10% or so of whatever precious metal they are made of. Now prior to the era of the city states there was the Termaxian Empire. Their coins were also debased but to a lesser extent containing about 50% precious metal. These coins aren't terribly uncommon as the Termaxian empire only fell about 200 years previously (and tends to be a period of history most people want to forget), so unless there is something significant about the coin itself they are usually just melted down and restruck as Adamasian coins. Rarer still are the Thulian coins. These coins were pure (or pretty darn close to it) precious metal.

So just in terms of precious metal content a Termaxian GP is worth 5 times that of an Adamasian GP while a Thulian GP is worth 10 times it's Adamasian equivalent. The same holds true for Copper and Silver as well, so an Termaxian SP is of equivalent value to an Adamasian GP. Nearly every merchant is going to have scales and touchstones to ensure that they aren't being ripped off, and dwarves can figure out a metal's purity and weight almost instinctively by holding and tasting it but most adventurers would be advised to have their own set of scales as well. Thieves and the like can make some extra coin too by using various methods of debasing, clipping or otherwise altering coins themselves.

Now in addition to their higher precious metal content, the Thulian coins at least are also highly sought after by wealthy members of society and merchants to use in large purchases. Combined with their rarity, this actually inflates their value beyond their metal content alone. I mean if you go to a tavern and slap down an Thulian gold coin for a room the innkeeper will likely value it based on its metal content alone, but if you were to put the extra effort into bringing it to a moneychanger then you'll likely get a premium on it because the coin itself has fiat value in addition to its precious metal content.
 

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I made a coin generator in OGRE here on EN World.. I think it's pretty nifty!

http://www.enworld.org/forum/dnd_view_block.php?id=914

It gives you a description of the coin (size, shape, metal, engravings, images, words, etc). For example:

a flimsy gold rectangle coin of elven origin, engraved with a eagle; this coin is dated 364 years ago and has an image of a god of storytellers on the reverse side [uncommon; 60gp]
 

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