Review of They Shall Be Paid In Coin of the Realm by Taurus Twelve

"... the local press showed up... I was away... one of the freshmen... providing the reporter with her version... a number of painful gaffs... the “essence of role-playing” was “finding monsters, killing them, and taking their gold.”"

I am a news photographer and I can tell you that it is very, very important to designate someone to handle PR and have them do it no matter what.
 

Neuroglyph

First Post
When I was in college, I belonged to the campus gaming club, as you can well imagine, and every year we put on a gaming convention for the local community. In fact, BASHCON is still going strong at the University of Toledo in Ohio, and is celebrating its 27th year. Back in my college days, I not only participated in the convention, but also helped run it a couple of years, and I have mostly fond memories of a frantic three-day weekend, and trying to organize hundreds of gamers and scores of staffers.

One year, the local press showed up to interview the convention coordinator, and unfortunately, I was away dealing with angry wargamers pushing out roleplaying tables to get more space. So one of the freshman on the con staff tried to assist by jumping in and providing the reporter with her version of what was going on that weekend. Aside from a number of painful gaffs about RP gaming in general, the report also learned, and later printed, that the “essence of role-playing” was “finding monsters, killing them, and taking their gold.”

Needless to say, that was not the most auspicious way to sum up so many gamers’ favorite past-time.

But there is something to be said about the fact that one of the main forces which drive a fantasy role-playing campaign is the acquiring and spending of vast sums of wealth by the heroes. Whether from a dragon’s hoard or looted from an ancient tomb full of undead, heroes in fantasy novels, in fantasy role-playing games, and even MMOs, spend a considerable amount of time hovering up piles of coins, gems, and treasure in order to perpetuate their adventuring careers.

But one of the most commonplace elements of treasure in fantasy role-playing games is the coinage, which is treated quite generically. In fantasy novels, the author might have heroes remark about the antiquity or origin of coins, but in role-playing games, coins are generally treated as just a number to be tallied and marked on a character sheet.

But recently, Taurus Twelve has released a supplement to expand the role of coins in role-playing games. In They Shall Be Paid In Coin of the Realm, Taurus Twelve offers a wide range of methods and tables to try and coinage unique and different no matter what fantasy role-playing game you enjoy.

They Shall Be Paid In Coin of the Realm

  • Author: Jarrod Camiré
  • Cover Illustrator: Dreamstime.com
  • Publisher: Taurus Twelve
  • Year: 2011
  • Media: PDF (98 pages)
  • Retail Cost: $2.95 (available RPGNow)
They Shall Be Paid In Coin of the Realm is a game supplement designed to create a wide range of coinage and for campaign settings in fantasy role-playing games. The supplement is system-neutral, but ostensibly made for use with D&D 4E and Pathfinder RPG in order to create coinage systems and rare coins for treasures found by adventurers. The author provides a variety of random tables to create unique coin objects, ranging from shape and material, to symbols and origins. In addition, there is a table of one-hundred rare coins, fully detailed, as well as examples of coin collections which heroes could acquire that are worth far more than the sum of their coinage.


Production Quality

The productions quality of They Shall Be Paid In Coin of the Realm is fair at best, with a layout which made it not only difficult to read, but even more confusing to use. The double column, double-spaced format, along with haphazardly sized tables made going through the material a chore. And the plethora of tables are organized in a table of contents that is SEVEN pages long, but with no bookmarks to navigation through the PDF, making rolling up a new rare coin an almost odious task.

The illustrations in the book are drawn from a wide range of public domain images and clip-art, and are completely unremarkable. Most of the illustrations are really throw-away filler, doing little to enhance the enjoyment of reading the material, or providing any real enhancement to the supplement.


Making Money

The main purpose of this book is to allow DMs to create unique coin systems for use in D&D 4E and Pathfinder, by offering a series of table to randomize a coin or currency line. In order to accomplish this, the author has created over 50 tables to randomize various elements of a coin or currency object, such as origin, the race that made it, its shape, the metals used, and what symbols are stamped on it. While this might seem interesting at first, the sheer volume of tables makes rolling up a coin an almost Herculean effort. And many of the symbols and name tables are drawn from ancient references to Earth, such as greek and norse symbols, constellations and minor planets, and other iconography which would have no meaning to someone from the campaign settings of D&D 4E or Pathfinder.

In essence, the first 54 pages of this book consist of names and symbols grouped together onto random tables, all of which can be commonly found on Wikipedia.com with a few search words. They have little to do with fantasy role-playing, unless one is playing Pathfinder or D&D 4E using the old Man, Myth, and Magic RPG setting of heroic exploits in the ancient world of Earth.

[Author’s Note: Actually, having just typed this, I need to pull out my dusty old MM&M box set, and consider sending my Forgotten Realms campaign on a cross-dimensional trip to ancient Egypt just to mess with my players’ minds!]

The second section of the book, The Numismatist’s Treasure-Trove is actually a moment of redemption for this poorly edited supplement. It provides a list of 100 richly-detailed ultra-rare coins that can be found as part of a treasure trove. While to most denizens of the fantasy world, these coins would just be another gold piece or electrum ducat, but to a numismatist (ie. a coin collector or sage) these coins are worth tens and sometimes hundreds of times their metal value, and provide a new type of object d’art for adventurers to find in a treasure chest. Here the author creates a wide range of strange and rare coinage, most of which can be fit into any fantasy campaign setting with a few minor edits, and create a moment of “oohs and ahhs” when the heroes realize what an amazing discovery they have made, even though it might look like a bizarrely shaped copper piece.

The third section of the book is an appendix which plays off of The Numismatist’s Treasure-Trove, and provides details on coin collections which can make adventurers wealthy indeed. The author detail five coin collections that heroes can begin to assemble, and expect an amazing pay day should they assemble one of each of the rare coins in the collection – far more than the individual coins sold separately! The idea of heroes seeking out maps to lost hordes of coinage can be used to jumpstart any number of adventures, including hooks to have wealthy patrons sending them hither and yon in search of one rare coin, such as hiring them to search through a whole dragon’s horde for one rare copper – after killing the dragon, one would presume!

Overall Score: 2.7 out of 5.0

Conclusions

They Shall Be Paid In Coin of the Realm had the potential to be a pretty nifty supplement, but it fell short by trying too hard to add content, and not trying hard enough to present the content in a useful fashion. While some might find the idea of rolling random coins fun, have more than 50 tables spread across as many pages to complete the task almost guarantees that it will random coin making will only be tried once by most DMs. Most players I’ve gamed with over the years hate the idea of dealing with coins from different areas, with different values, and having all these tables set up just to create a few rare singular coins seems like a colossal waste of pages. However, the authors tables of pre-generated rare coin/art objects/collectibles were nicely done, and I could see myself using something like them now and then as a “cool thing” to toss onto a treasure pile.

But overall, They Shall Be Paid In Coin of the Realm just fails to impress, and comes off more as a quickly produced RPG product to turn a fast buck, than as a supplement that will add value to a D&D 4E or Pathfinder campaign.

So until next review… I wish you Happy Gaming!

Author’s Note: This author received a complimentary advanced copy of this product for use in writing the review above.

Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)

  • Presentation: 1.75
  • - Design: 2.0 (Difficult to read and almost impossible to utilize the tables; very derivative information)
  • - Illustrations: 1.5 (Nice enough, but available online from any public domain clip art site)
  • Content: 2.75
  • - Crunch: 2.5 (The ready-made coins were nifty, but the table were a mess)
  • - Fluff: 3.0 (Great details on the coins, but will require editing to make them campaign setting specific)
  • Value: 3.5
 
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Neuroglyph

First Post
I am a news photographer and I can tell you that it is very, very important to designate someone to handle PR and have them do it no matter what.

Yea, definitely one of those real-world "learning moments" that you get in college. Then again, stopping a potential fist-fight between a posse of role-players and a pack of miniatures wargamers probably saved an even worse press-day. Never underestimate the power of nerd-rage!
 

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