Sunday, April 25, 2010

On Coins & Coinage

In a previous post I went over the concept of huge coins and how they aren't completely unrealistic. Nonetheless, I use 100 coins to the pound in my games, primarily because the challenge of logistics isn't something my players were into.

The other way that coinage in Nod differs from the core rules is in the different types of coins I use. To the standard gold - silver - copper I added the platinum and electrum of my youth. To whit ...

Platinum Piece (pp)
Platinum is difficult to work and thus fairly uncommon in coinage or art. Most platinum pieces in circulation were minted to commemorate special events (coronations, conquests, etc), and thus should carry some history with them.

1 pp = 10 gp, 20 ep, 100 sp and 1,000 cp

Gold Piece (gp)
Gold pieces are less common than silver, and often used for large transactions. They are the most common coinage carried by adventurers, whose wealth often rival that of the great merchant houses and minor nobility.

1 gp = 1/10 pp, 2 ep, 10 sp and 100 cp

Electrum Piece (ep)
Electrum is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. For a brief time it was a common material for coinage, but the inability to determine the proportion of gold to silver caused it to fall out of favor. Most electrum coins found in hordes are, therefore, of ancient manufacture.

1 ep = 1/20 pp, 1/2 gp, 5 sp and 50 cp

Silver Piece (sp)
The most common coins in circulation and the basis for all economies. Adventurers prefer gold, of course, to lighten their loads, but the vast majority of non-player characters in Nod carry silver coins.

Orichalcum: Orichalcum is an alloy of bronze and gold, and thus in fantasy terms about as valuable as silver. A Referee might want to have his adventurers find a horde of orichalcum coinage in order to fool them into thinking their toting around gold coins (or maybe fool them into thinking they are just copper coins).

1 sp = 1/100 pp, 1/10 gp, 1/5 ep and 10 cp

Copper Piece (cp)
Coins were rarely minted from copper. Most of the copper pieces in the game would actually have been made of bronze, brass, billon or potin. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin (80:20). Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc (90:10). Billon is an alloy of copper and silver, with copper making up more than 50% of the of the alloy. Potin was an alloy of copper, lead, tin and zinc. Coppers are carried by the peasantry, who prefer barter to coinage.

1 cp = 1/1000 pp, 1/100 gp, 1/50 ep and 1/10 sp

Other Materials
Coins have also been minted from less valuable materials, including lead, iron, tin, shells and wood. In general, I would count these items as one tenth as valuable as copper, though the folks using them might value them more highly.


  1. I also use a conversion rate of 100 pieces = 1# of encumbrance;
    otherwise, each gold piece has a ridiculous rate of exchange.
    (It takes three pounds of gold to buy a short bow?)

    In my world a COIN is eight times the size of a PIECE
    (2 bits = 1 quarter, 4 quarters = 1 dollar)
    one gold royal or silver dollar weights about 38 grams.
    There are 12 troy ounces to a pound (1#).

    This works out fine since the value of a coin is roughly equal to the weight of its metal.

  2. I like that idea - pieces and coins. Very nice.

  3. I'm with you on the GP, to the Abyss with the EP and PP I say! Can't even be bothered for the small extra flavor..

  4. I figured lots of folks would just want to use the big three, so it made sense to give my conversion rates so those folks could removed them from treasure hordes.


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