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Belteshazzar
2007-07-30, 05:32 PM
One thing that has bothered me for a while about most rpgs is the strict adherence to the gold standard. While this may make sense in a unified world or trade between large empires (Rome) it makes little sense in a parts of the world that lack banking or even basic economics.

If you are going to the dark heart of the jungle for example you don't bring gold. Those guy are either picking it out of their laundry from the nuggets washed downstream or they have no clue what it is aside from to being yellow and too damn heavy. Show them glass beads, mirrors or steel knifes however, and they will trade you the best booze, spice, and cattle available.

All I am saying is that trade goods seem much more likely to be useful in an ancient, medieval, or even renaissance styled world. Has anyone tried to employ different methods of trade aside from the good old GP?

Saph
2007-07-30, 05:40 PM
Never tried it, but that's partly because I'm not interested enough in economics to work out the details. :)

It's one of the simplifications of D&D, like the existence of a 'Common' language that just about everyone speaks, even people on the other side of the world. Everyone knows it's unrealistic, but most people can't be bothered to do the legwork of different currencies and language systems.

It'd be a good thing to include once in a while to throw players for a loop, though.

- Saph

Wardog
2007-07-30, 05:52 PM
Gold (and/or silver) was pretty much a uniform currency in the ancient/medieval/renascence world though.

The Pound was originally defined as the value of a pound of silver. Many European countries had an equivalent (lire/livre/libre), taking its name from the Latin for pound (weight).

Coinage was simply a way of ensuring the gold was a sufficient purity that people knew what they were getting. (Rather than counting coins, you could value gold silver by weight, assuming you knew its purity).

That said, in really primitive societies, trade goods, or other forms of currency (the Celts used iron bars, I do believe) may take precedence.

But even then, the reasons gold tends to be valued are simply:
* Its shiny
* It can easily be worked
* It doesn't rust
* Its rare

The first things mean it is good for making jewelery or ornaments, while the latter means that only the rich/powerful can have them, so gold or gold items could still be valued a a status symbol even there.

sktarq
2007-07-30, 06:35 PM
Now i have used the whole trade goods idea....One major problem I found...few players think about trading glass beads, good steel knives, and furs as much fun as just throwing them a few gold and being done with it. Admittedly more find it fun to dig around and see what strnage valueables I put in an adventure in terms of commodities and other non-obvious treasure.

Now for those people who do find it fun-It's a blast.

One thing histoically though gold was a pretty sure fire thing to trade for in more civilized areas.

Citizen Joe
2007-07-30, 08:33 PM
Its accounted for already go here (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/equipment/wealthAndMoney.htm#wealthOtherThanCoins)

Aquillion
2007-07-30, 10:10 PM
We've basically had this discussion before. What it comes down to is that the game is "Dungeons and Dragons", not "Dungeons and International Currency Speculators." Sure, the players can encounter creatures that want to barter instead of accepting gold, but putting too much effort into giving D&D an accurate economic system would detract from its core focus (most people wouldn't want to have to roll for market fluctuations or haggle over the actual value of various types of foreign coin every time they go to buy a healing potion.)

bugsysservant
2007-07-30, 10:19 PM
One of the differences I see, between D&D worlds and our own, would be the ease and availabilty of transportation. It could take months, or even years, for explorers in the age of exploration (I can't recall much European exploration in the Middle Ages) to reach the most remote areas on the planet, so they were pretty isolated, and could develop their own monetary system without exterior influence. But when someone can teleport the distance in a few seconds, rather than traveling years, trade becomes much easier, and universal standards emerge. The basic language is a bit of a stretch, because even geographically close regions today speak different languages, but the logic is still their.

CasESenSITItiVE
2007-07-31, 12:48 AM
using coins and the like as a form of currency goes back for a very long time, where as banks were only introduced during the renaissance, and they weren't very accessable. people normally kept thier gold in thier homes, an option not wise for those who travel like adventurers do

Tor the Fallen
2007-07-31, 12:51 AM
One thing that has bothered me for a while about most rpgs is the strict adherence to the gold standard. While this may make sense in a unified world or trade between large empires (Rome) it makes little sense in a parts of the world that lack banking or even basic economics.

If you are going to the dark heart of the jungle for example you don't bring gold. Those guy are either picking it out of their laundry from the nuggets washed downstream or they have no clue what it is aside from to being yellow and too damn heavy. Show them glass beads, mirrors or steel knifes however, and they will trade you the best booze, spice, and cattle available.

All I am saying is that trade goods seem much more likely to be useful in an ancient, medieval, or even renaissance styled world. Has anyone tried to employ different methods of trade aside from the good old GP?

Actually, in the West, which D&D's pseudo-medieval fantasy settting is based on, gold has been a valuable commodity for probably 5,000 years.

Swooper
2007-07-31, 04:59 AM
The Pound was originally defined as the value of a pound of silver. Many European countries had an equivalent (lire/livre/libre), taking its name from the Latin for pound (weight).
Thank you. Finally, the abbreviation "lbs" makes sense to me. :smallredface:

mostlyharmful
2007-07-31, 05:48 AM
Gold standerd weight might have been used in large deals between merchants, I can even get behind the idea of the coined silver used throughout the dark and middle ages being more widely used by the lower orders of a DnD world, what makes no sense is the copper piece. When you get down to the level of handicraft peasentry and buying a sheep or an apple then they really shouldn't be using coinage, barter and an obligation system was the norm below a certain grade because it's what made sense. Adventures shouldn't find three tons of copper pieces as part of the dragons horde because there simply shouldn't be that many coins in circulation, before a mechanised mint each one hand to be stamped by hand by a VEEEEERRY trusted craftsman.

Nebnezz
2007-07-31, 06:16 AM
There are trade goods mentioned in the PHB, not many, but they're still there. They account for some of the basic non-mint currency used commonly for trade that many merchants would respect. The availability of goods can range wildly based on regional and societal influences but running the world is the DM's job and as a DM i, so far, have had little difficulty placing common trade goods in areas where they may well be as treasure for adventures where it was appropriate.

For example, when my pc's reach the farmhouse they are coming up upon (still low level) they will have some mighty and perilous combat to visit upon the bandits who usurped it for their own ill gotten purposes. Recent events in the area have led many to suspect that less wealthy merchants and lone or small groups of travelers have been beset upon my goblin raids, common goblin weapons and bodies found at conflict sites with carts overturned, burned, empty boxes and valuables missing, obvious signs of pillage. Classic goblinoid behavior, at least to the mind of a simpleton, which is what matters in the world of gossip and rumor.

The real banditos have been using bullied or otherwise manipulated goblin tribes from miles around to raid and pillage for them, in an effort to disrupt trade and travel in the scardale (FR campaign, thank goodness we're still so new to FR no is bored of the good old classics :) ) The raids on the trade routes in scaredale are easier since the plague hit scardale town, few really want to deal with the dale as a whole and those that do travel the river rather than walk or ride, which makes those who have to easy pickins. this does, however, make the goods they steal less than the D&D standard gold piece. Common area trade goods are the majority of the treasure should the pc's actually overcome the ridiculous challenge that awaits them. its the only thing that really makes sense actually.

Some things to look out for would be where they will be selling the goods they find. Most in city merchants dealing in common import/export trade goods would normally accept things like silks and wools and livestock (assuming they have a place to put them) spices, needles, threads, inks, paper, just about anything people need to get along, the more rare the item, the more valuable, which can be easier to decide that it may seem. Of course for my pc's, trying to sell goods of these types in these ammounts may result in getting arrested for banditry, so we'll see what they do :). In this same game, i decided that large and mysterious storms on the sea of fallen stars had disrupted trade across it, screwing Impiltur, a neighboring country, out of its main export, iron, which in neighboring countries, like scardale, resulted in a sharp decrease in price due to abundance of iron. The same country imported salt and glass from across the sea, so i reasoned scardale probably bought a lot of the same from impiltur, raising the prices of both, making traveling rations more expensive (since drying and curing meat without salt is.....difficult) None of this took long to plan; a look at trade routes in the FR setting told me what i could jack with and i ran with it. more than that, i dont even have to elaborate on the storm or anything else really, bad weather can mess with all kinds of things and theres no telling if it was powerful thayvian wizards screwing with Aglarond, some kind of oops-i-forgot-to-check-for-traps-in-the-lost-ruins-where-ever-we-are, or even plain old deific behavior. I only need to elaborate if it comes up and level 2 pc's arent likely to have the resources to find out anyway.

Lastly (yawn...thank God he'll shut up soon...) none of this has to be ultra accurate in real world terms, its a fantasy game, and the dm can be as basic or elaborate as he/she chooses. As for my pc's, they are easily fooled by a world they arent used to, nor understand very well. They have no idea what a wainwright is nor would they have to unless they were playing this game. I try to open possibilities for them, but in general, dm's might want to brush up on the basics of trade in the area their pcs will be in, or in the case of high level teleport-castin' pc's, where you know they will be in at least, that way the "I want to sell 31'000 masterwork daggers i made with fabricate and iron wall" doesnt catch you too off guard :)

Dervag
2007-07-31, 06:39 AM
Gold standerd weight might have been used in large deals between merchants, I can even get behind the idea of the coined silver used throughout the dark and middle ages being more widely used by the lower orders of a DnD world, what makes no sense is the copper piece. When you get down to the level of handicraft peasentry and buying a sheep or an apple then they really shouldn't be using coinage, barter and an obligation system was the norm below a certain grade because it's what made sense. Adventures shouldn't find three tons of copper pieces as part of the dragons horde because there simply shouldn't be that many coins in circulation, before a mechanised mint each one hand to be stamped by hand by a VEEEEERRY trusted craftsman.In and of itself the idea of copper pieces is not unreasonable, I think. At the high end of the currency economy you have merchants trading in gold with each other, but at the low end you have individual shopkeepers who are doing business with peasants. Those shopkeepers aren't going to want to store a bushel of grain as payment, and they are spending most of their money in transactions with people higher up the economic ladder, such as wholesale suppliers and the government's tax collecters.

So they'll want to be paid in coin. The problem is that each silver piece represents a hefty sum of money from the point of view of the people on the bottom of the economic ladder. It's a large fraction of their daily income. So having a purely gold/silver currency in D&D would present problems for the commoners. Imagine having an economy in the contemporary US where the smallest unit of currency was the 10$ bill, and you'll see what I mean. There are things that nobody would buy for 10$ if they had any choice, but which would sell very fast for 5$ or 1$.

Now, barter can cover a lot of that. But barter has its limits, especially in urban areas where storage space for bulk goods is limited. So in the cities (which is where you'd expect a currency economy to be strongest anyway), you have a sort of petit-bourgeoisie class of shopkeepers and such who have a real interest in making units of currency small enough that an ordinary person can afford to spend a few of them without feeling the pinch.

The practical problems with copper pieces are more serious. As you point out, they'd have to be present in vast quantities, which makes stamping them a problem.

mostlyharmful
2007-07-31, 06:56 AM
Once you start having a village shop in every good sized then you've progressed well beyound medeval level of development, while it would hold that in the cities the lower middle classes (which would be a tiny percentage of the population as a whole) would need low denomination transferable currency that's what money-lenders written statements of credit, the start of paper money was just this sort of IOUs written by local rich gits.

the local tavern/grocers really would rather take small currency transactions in trade or favours, if you have a slate with them (and since this is the only shop for 20+ miles why wouldn't you) then you don't need to trade bushels of apples for everything, "I'll supply you with firewood all winter if you run me a line of credit to cover my seed grain and shoe repair", sort of thing.

Edit: If we assume that only 1 person in 15 or 16 would actually live in a city or urban environment, and only one in 20 of those would be what we would consider a petit bourgouze, and then you add in the factor of only needing currency to deal with those you don't deal with on a regular basis and don't have an account with then the pool of people that would need to use copper is really small.

Belteshazzar
2007-07-31, 11:39 AM
While coin may have been useful for thousands of years here it wasn't universal. It gets even more unusual when you consider other races and their own cultures. Its not likely that arial or aquatic races would use coinage or hoard it for any reason. Dragons get a pass for being historical representations of human greed, but what are giants or trolls going to do with such tiny coins.

I am not suggesting that it's a bad idea to have prices in the PHB given in gold (it would be infeasible to list trade values of everything) but, I find it is easier to fit more wealth into encounters and dungeons without my logic meter asking me why a bunch of inbred goblins and orcs had 500 gold pieces in their pockets.

Wardog
2007-08-01, 12:56 PM
why a bunch of inbred goblins and orcs had 500 gold pieces in their pockets.

Plunder?

And aren't goblins quite good miners as well?

Collin152
2007-08-01, 01:50 PM
The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things!
Of Shoes, and ships, and sealing wax, of Cabbages and Kings!
And why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.

I suppose that in a world where monsters are always killing peasents and hoarding their loot in the most random places, it would only be a matter of time before a nations currency is thrown into the world economy (what with all these adventureers running about and all). So eventually, you'd think that at the very least, the civilized nations would adopt a common currency.

Rockphed
2007-08-02, 02:54 AM
I find it is easier to fit more wealth into encounters and dungeons without my logic meter asking me why a bunch of inbred goblins and orcs had 500 gold pieces in their pockets.

Because they are too stupid to actually buy anything worth owning. And having the loot for killing goblins be 3 tons of grain that is in great demand is not as much fun.

Golthur
2007-08-02, 10:24 AM
Because they have a cultural taboo (http://goblinscomic.com/d/20050704.html) against actually using the treasure, of course :wink:

Fishy
2007-08-02, 11:17 AM
Adventures shouldn't find three tons of copper pieces as part of the dragons horde because there simply shouldn't be that many coins in circulation, before a mechanised mint each one hand to be stamped by hand by a VEEEEERRY trusted craftsman.

If only there were some way to, I don't know, 'fabricate' (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/fabricate.htm) a large volume of finished goods from raw materials...

mostlyharmful
2007-08-02, 12:01 PM
That'd stretch the definition of 'a product' beyond all recognition, a bridge ok, a pile of a thousand coppers? And if you do this on a production line with fewer coins it would work out even more expensive than having a trained expert or two and not much faster.

Person_Man
2007-08-02, 01:10 PM
Experience and progression are directly tied to wealth by level guidelines. In order for there to be some semblance of balance of power between full casters and non-full casters, its generally accepted practice to follow wealth by level guidelines. By mid levels, casters have enough spells to spend almost every round of 3-6 encounters casting powerful spells. But non-casters are more likely to be on the front line of combat - thus needing expensive magic armor - and will almost always be making attack rolls every turn - thus needing an even more expensive magic weapon(s). If you screw with this classic balance mechanism, you risk making non-casters far more or less powerful.

Also, D&D isn't an economics class. Players should be free to focus on adventuring, not wealth accumulation.

Having said that, if you want to play around with the economics in your game world, go ahead. Mistakes are easily fixed by giving PCs more or less treasure on their next encounter.

Matthew
2007-08-02, 09:22 PM
Outside of D&D RAW I love playing around with 'real world' details, dumping 'Common' and other such things that sometimes strain suspension of disbelief. D&D economics are a fun area to play around with. I tend to use a mainly Silver based economy, so when the Player Characters show up with large numbers of Gold Coinage with ancient markings, it gets noticed. Certainly trading can make for some entertaining roleplaying scenarios.

Note: It's worth knowing that precious metals were, and still are, weighed on the Trojan Pound, which is about 2/3 of an Imperial Pound. Therefore, the Silver Pound was actually more like 300g than 450g. What that works out to is something like 1.25g per Silver Coin [i.e. 1 lb = 20 Shillings = 240 Pennies].

I usually think of the Silver Coin being equivalent to 1 (maybe $2?).

[Edit]
Whoops, misremembering. The Trojan Pound is actually more like 375g or 5/6 of an Imperial Pound, which would put a Silver Coin at about 1.5g. As a sidenote, Gold Coins often weighed in at around 4-4.5g.

Tor the Fallen
2007-08-02, 09:25 PM
Gold standerd weight might have been used in large deals between merchants, I can even get behind the idea of the coined silver used throughout the dark and middle ages being more widely used by the lower orders of a DnD world, what makes no sense is the copper piece. When you get down to the level of handicraft peasentry and buying a sheep or an apple then they really shouldn't be using coinage, barter and an obligation system was the norm below a certain grade because it's what made sense. Adventures shouldn't find three tons of copper pieces as part of the dragons horde because there simply shouldn't be that many coins in circulation, before a mechanised mint each one hand to be stamped by hand by a VEEEEERRY trusted craftsman.

But a singular dragon can often be old enough to have seen the rise and fall of multiple empires. Dragons also can roam far and wide- they have big wings and can cast teleport.