Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Discussion: Currency In Your Games

After a busy week, we come to Friday, when a goodly portion of the blogosphere decides to pack it in. But here at RPG Blog 2, we keep the fires burning into the weekend with something called Friday Discussion. Nothing too heavy, nothing too serious, just gamers talking about the hobby they love.

Today’s question is burning a hole in my pocket:

What currency system do you use in your game? The normal 100 coppers=10 silver=1 gold piece? Or do you go for something more exotic? Perhaps you only use something like Resource or Wealth levels?

A couple of campaigns ago, I did the 100 coppers=1 silver=1 gold exchange rate, but with a basic twist: TradeCoin, coinage minted in the north of the land, was worth approximately twice as much as SouthCoin, due to southern coins being debased somewhat. Players had to check whether the coin in question was TradeCoin or SouthCoin, as it definitely made a difference during haggling—and not agreeing to a deal in a certain kind of currency could see you shortchanged! It was a quick way to add some diversity to the coinage system without worrying too much about math and memorization.

I’m curious how everyone else treats coinage in their home campaigns! Have a great weekend, and Fight On!


Rob Lang said...

In Icar, it's all Imperial Credits. One system. Most Sci Fi games take this sort of approach I think.

Of course, with the evil that are my players, it's not normally a case of buying things - a trade is normally made. "You give us the stuff and we will let you keep your face."

Gleichman said...

The coin exchanges ICE used in their Middle Earth supplements of course. The actual coins (and value) varied depending upon the Kingdom, but the silver penny was the same everywhere and generally it was a base 10 system with some exceptions.

For example, Gondor:

Copper Bit
Coppy penny = 10 copper bit
Bronze penny = 10 copper penny
Silver Royal = 10 bronze penny
Silver Tree = 4 Silver Penny
Gold Crown = 20 Silver Penny
Gold Hundredpiece = 20 Gold Crowns

In Shadowrun, I use the modern US curreny (not the Yen, I replaced much of the setting's backup) and various Company Scripts based upon it.

Zzarchov said...

Every coin I give is its own flavour based on local make. I always give it a material and a "dollar value" based on the characters home culture.

one might see a copper farthing and go "thats $1", a silver drachma "that's $10" and a gold dubloon, "thats $100" (to keep common exchanges).

Then they go to ancient egypt and silver is worth 12 times as much, or to medieval egypt after Mansa Musa went through on his haj and all of a sudden gold is at half value. If they take a dubloon to another region, it might only be at .80c on the dollar. It makes players either ebenezer moneycounter McScrooge, or take the rational advise and buy a castle and a few flocks and worry less about cash.

clash bowley said...

I have pretty much gone to wealth systems all over, but then I don't play Fantasy games much at all. Theoretically, my StarCluster games use the Credit, but the game uses wealth now.


Swordgleam said...

In my current game, everything is done on the barter system. Well, not even that - there's only one tiny village, and everyone brings their supplies to a central authority, who then distributes them as needed. The players actually consider the woman in charge of this distribution to be their main villain, since she thinks adventuring is a reckless waste of supplies and it's difficult to persuade her otherwise when they keep coming back with ruined gear. They now go out of their way to loot stuff that /she'll/ like, in the hopes of convincing her to give them better gear their next time out.

Rob Conley said...

I found players like it when you have a standard regular coin and a really valuable larger denomination.

I use Harn's system. Which basically consists of

1 silver penny abbreviated as d as in 20d
(d for denarius the roman silver coin)

1 gold crown which is worth 320d.

The ratio of gold to silver is 20 to 1. I could have a gold penny of 20d but I never use it.

250 silver penny weighs 1 lb.
16 gold crowns weighs 1 lb.

Using this system means nobody sneers at a gold piece.

As it turns out for Swords & Wizardry and many of the retro-clone 1 D&D silver piece roughly equals a Harn silver. Which made conversion easy.

If using GURPS $4 equals a 1 silver penny.

Badelaire said...

In the Tankards & Broadswords RPG, money at the Game level is handled through Treasure Tokens. You roll at the beginning of each new episodic adventure to see how many Tokens you've got, adjusted by the character's Wealth, and you consult the campaign's equipment list to see what you can buy with 'em. Any Tokens you don't use to buy gear are considered to be your character's spending money; every campaign setting has an exchange rate of Tokens to money.

At the setting level, I just stick with Gold, and list amounts as X Gold, regardless of what the coinage actually is - 100 GP might be a pile of gold, silver, copper, and other types of coinage, but it all gets listed in terms of GP.

I am very very much against bean-counting in adventure gaming. Characters have money and spend it and run out of it and go out there and get more of it. I may pause and do a little mental math and tell a player his PC has spent too much of that coinage on feasting and whores and gambling, and they can't buy that new axe, but I abhor the idea of tracking every gold and copper.

d6plus4 said...

In my own system and world, 7th, I use different currencies depending on where you are. In the mostly visited city, Houndsend, there is no currency at all, not even trade, and it is very interesting to see how players approach it when they first discover it.

So far it has worked really well but I hope that future adventurers can challenge the system further.

Andreas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seaofstarsrpg said...

In my Sea of Stars campaign, Imperial coinage is the standard all others are measures against. If you get an Imperial coin, you know that it is not debased. Imperial currency is decimal with the silver coin being the primary unit of exchange (I like gold being valuable).

Other kingdoms use other coinage systems which are fun to write up. Have not had to worry too much about exchange rates but it could make a fun complication at some point.

Jenny Snyder / Level 30 Yinzer said...

We generally use the standard fantasy gold/platinum/silver etc, except that we had to change coppers to stone. Homebrew world where copper is a scarcity, and utilized for magic rituals mostly, so we made a slight flavor adjustment for that.

Although, we don't really deal in money at all-mostly gems and other valuables that they can "sell" (which we mostly hand-wave).

Enchelion said...

My homebrew world (currently playng the 4E ruleset) uses an expanded base 10 moneyset. The world is currently in it's 'High' age before the fall of civilization, so money is standardized between trading cultures, with writ's of promise being just as valuable to large cities.

Copper x1
Nickle x5
Silver x10
Gold x100
Electrum x500
Platinum x1000

Having this many pieces of currency has made money changers a common sight at the gates of cities, since merchants and adventurers don't want to carry huge bags of lesser denominations. Thus when paying inside cities you are actually more likely to find large volumes of small coin, whereas any trade done in the wilderness will likely result in large denominations, or barter.

Jeff Carlsen | Apathy Games said...

Normally I just use whatever system is presented to me, though I have always had a fondness for the Iron Kingdoms coins.

That said, I recently ran a D&D 3.5 game where I used the standard coins, but dropped a zero off the price of all magic items and off all treasure I gave. This made silver and copper actually matter, and mundane items were still worth something.

My players and I really liked the way it felt.

Aaron said...

I use a silver standard with Guilders as the primary coin, with 100 copper Farthings to the Guilder. I basically treat Guilders coins as if they were dollars, and don't worry about the rest. So rather than tracking each Guilder, Crown, Penny, Mark or Farthing that a character might possess, they simply track the total value in Guilders and Farthings, just like modern currency, where you deposit cash in the bank by overall value, rather than keeping track of each coin.

I understand the old system, which had its genesis in games where coins were both heavy and relatively valueless (6 POUNDS of gold coins for a Longbow?), but with a Guilder being only a tenth of an ounce (they're the size of a modern dime), carting around a King's ransom is possible with some work.

Back when I was in college, I gamed with a professional coin collector, and he worked out unique coinage systems for every nation in our shared setting. It was really cool, but the exchange rates always killed us.

Stuffer Shack said...

But alas, my group has always preferred to say, "Are you serious? We have to pay for things like ale and backpacks? My gold is for magic items!"


Referee said...

Metric all the the beginning. Then as a game gets more complex start introducing different currencies for different countries...for instance, in Iuz's kingdom miniature shrunken skulls coated in platinum are are PP which obviously have more value than the Nyrodian kroner in the Horned Society where the local currency is composed of triangular coins not accepted anywhere else in the Flanness as due to blood red glint in them (when looked at under magic seeing)...devil's coins, you see...

Referee said...

I also have run campaigns were I made all coinage one level say an adventure says the adventures find 100gp, I change that to 100sp and keep all the prices for goods & services in gp...quick way to impoverish our PCs...

Greyaxe said...

I have a number of different currencies, some of which are accepted outside their parent nation others are not. Some have minted coins, made out of tin, others have mint in the material they are valued at. Some materials are worthless in some nations others use barter only. It gets complicated sometimes but it makes for great role playing when a PC drags a chest of gold across a desert and gives it up for a glass of water.