Coins and Money Units Used In The Central Dreamlands
Have a look at this interesting presentation of the portability and encumbrance imposed by coins.
Some explanations of money portability, standards of exchange and measurament.
It’s common for people in the Kingdom to carry small amounts of money here and fro, but since transports of voluminous amounts of coinage attract attention, these are routinely done through aerial transports, or on the surface under extreme military protection. In fact, the King has established a loose and fast rule where movements of coins cannot fall in the hands of ‘the criminal element’ and must be accompanied, always. To not protect money (or other fungible units of value, such as Elixer Vitae) with ample security is a crime. This works as a deflationary component to hauling around money and valuables, and it has led to very secure banking arrangements hitherto the Kingdom. Since magic allows relatively easy falsification of value units (i.e. paper money or the like) but not coins, banks and vaults are the norm i terms of value retention and to store money there costs money. A safe way to make money is to build a store of money, i.e. a vault. Since having that money stolen is literally a crime severely punishable, only nobility or magical guilds or the most powerful commerdcial entities with standing armies are involved in banking.
There’ a banking standard reinforced steel chest for keeping coins about as big as a lunchbox. These objects are very iconic . If it’s filled with coins, these boxes (each marked for whatever typical coin they contain, i.e. wrough iron penny boxes, reinforced steel dukat boxes, etc.) a standard of ‘about’ hexagonally stacked 10.000 coins, weighing about 50 kilo. That is a sturdy chest that doesn’t slit apart if dropped. There is an equivalent chest for 50.000 coins, and that’s a steel barred monstrosity that when filled in stacked hexagonals weighs about a ton, or 1000 kilo. The reinforced chest (that doesn’t split if the chest drops) is especially heavy.
Typical annual tax revenue per single censused civilian (after settling our bread-for-coin equalization) is less than a pound for a poor duchy, to 10 pounds for a rich duchy. Assuming for a poor, measly populated Duchy this would mean “something like” 10000 silver pound annual revenue, to several million pound for the more populated and affluent duchies. Note that Dukes make money through means other than taxation as well, so a Duke “having to haul about” several steel chests loaded with coins monthly is not uncommon. The magistrate of the King can force a Duke to exchange coins per region, in order to make sure there aren’t any major devaluations or overvaluations of coins regionally – which would otherwise cause major societal distress and famine.
Galleons are larger and thicker Dukats, and are rarely encountered. A Galleon weighs in excess of 12 gram. They are “loosely” associated with Yanyuk (dwarves) but will be traded fairly easily. A Galleon is a very old coin and used to circulate under other names.
A Galleon is worth 1,5 Dukat, OR
The Sovereign is a 15 gram gold coin uncommon in the Kingdom, but more common in seatravel to the east and north of the Kingdom, originating from Celephais. The above value fluctuates seasonally. It is unclear of what metal it is crafted and the metal is referred to suverinite.
A Sovereign is “typically” worth 4 Pound (OR)
The King’s Solar is a small wheel of gold embedded in steel weighing in excess of 20 gram. Very few people see a Solar in a lifetime, and owning them is effectively illegal for anyone but nobility (and can be a capital crime!). They are used in interstate commerce, large transitions, taxation payments.
A Solar is typically worth =6 Crowns OR 72 Dubloons OR 216 Ducats OR <2000 pounds OR 6000 Shillings OR 25000 white Sequins OR 100.000 pennies
A Crown is a firm gold blended coin embedded in a steel ring weiging about 12 gram. They are rarely seen by commoners, and an excrutiatingly valuable means of payment. You don’t pay at local markets with a Crown, they are the exchange value between mercenary armies, jewelers, guild masters, wizards and such.
A Crown is worth 12 Dubloons OR 36 Ducats OR <300 pounds OR <1200 Shillings OR <4200 Sequins OR 20.000 pennies.
Dubloons are essentially elven metal and gold remelted in to a smaller version of the King’s coin weiging about 10 gram. 90% of gold coinage in Shyskabyl is Dubloons, and iun the general Kingdom this is reversed. The dubloon is a fairly standard means of high value transactions. Citizen year taxes are generally expected to be paid in dubloons, and taxators can refuse large quantities of Silver coin. Thus around tax times the value of Dubloons may be ‘a bit higher’ than normal.
A Dubloon is typically worth 3 Ducats, OR 30 Pounds OR 100 Shilligs OR 300 Sequins OR 1000 Pennies
Ducats are an alloy coin containing gold and silver, plus some hardening agents weiging 10 gram. They come in many shapes, the most common being a 5-sided pentagon slightly larger and flatter than a King’s crown. Ducats are coins used in the southwest of the Kingdom, originate historically from Dylath Leeen but are used universally in the Kingdom, especially in water or river related trade.
A Ducat is typically worth 10 Pounds, OR 40 Shillings OR 120 Sequins OR <<7200 Pencelver Pounds
Day to day transaction of some value are conducted in silver coins or pounds. They are highly standardized but come in various local and royal mintage. Moneycounters and bankers uses intricate means to guard against falsification. Coins that approach silver value are taken out of transaction and in some cases confiscated and returned as more generics silver coins – and remelted.
A Pound is worth 4 Shillings OR 12 Sequins OR <7 pennies
Shillings are much large copper coins weighing less than 6 gram
A Shilling is worth about 3 white sequins, OR 18 pennies
A Sequin is a larger copper coin holding the cheapest of Laelith “sequin” white gems. A sequin is a relatively ‘hard’ currency because of its speculative value. “Higher” color Sequins are uncommon in the central Kingdom but when encountered more valuable than the actual value of the clear sequins embedded relative to local Laelith sequins. Sequins contain a quantum quantity of Uranium-containing “chrysospine”. They are all the same size as they grow from a fungus in highly predictable quantum amounts underground. Laelith Sequins come in discrete colors Purple, Blue, Green, Yellow, Red or Clear (white) which determine the relative values. Sequins than the white containing coppers are found exceedingsly rarely in the Kingdom (except in the coffers of speculators) where they can be worth up to three times the local Laelith value – since Laelith offers goods and services otherwise not available in the Kingdom. A Red Sequin is ‘typically’ five white/clear sequins. Some red sequins are orange, and worth ‘a bit more’. There are no Kingdom copper sequins containing other than clear or white laelith sequins.
A White (sard) Sequin is typically worth 6 pennies and weighs 5 Gram
A small copper coin weighing 2,5 gram minted in local minteries and thus having only local value, or maybe some value in adjacent villages. Pennies from distant locations are associated with interborder illegal trade or smuggling and may be confiscated thus. Pennies come in many shapes and sizes but the King’s copper contains a set weight in copper mixed with hardening metals. Pennies quite often (but not all) are round with a hexagon hole inside set with iron. They are kept on strings or on a moneytraders hexagon shaped needle or string.
An Anecdote About a Dragon’s Hoard
Somewhere in the i980s I ran a Dungeons & Dragons adventure where one of my players encountered a Dragon Hoard of a Maroon (or Orange) Dragon – a horrendously evil elemental monstrosity which jets a caustic flammable metallic ichor. As Dragon’s go, Dragons are crucial economic drivers. Not having Dragons in a land lowers land value, and having Dragons is incremental in the “bubbling up” of rare metals from the under-earth, or the fertillity of crops, or the growth of forests. For instance, having a three elephant sized Green Dragon in a forest makes the forest grow ten times as fast, and typically three times as rich, in a region about 30 by 30 kilometers, easily. Oak saplings grow into thick veiny oak trees in a mere decade. This Dragon was of impure birth and kept being pushed out of existing territories, and started predating on human settlements in relative secrecy. One player found it, and threw mercenaries at the Dagon until it died – a very costly affair. To my players surprise the Dragon was lying on a bed of coins, of which was a sizeable percentage taken from bandits and pirates over decades. Sadly this was about seven large chests of pennies, or 100.000 pennies per chest (pennies are small). That nonetheless ‘was worth no more’ than 50 King’s Crowns in theoretical monetary value, and in practice less than half that, because, which money trader will take the deflation of exchanging that many coins?
But having read the Irilian articles on economy I had before discussed this with some people the logistics and consequences. You guys will be laughing. Note that I didn’t have anything like bags of holding. What also worked at some point was animated undead. They can carry a LOT and relatively safely. 1 – to get it out of the caverns it took a bunch of menial porters/labourers a full day. The labourers were menial poor types, overcome with greed try to steal every copper they could. One need emergency surgery having swallowed coins.
Later on it literally became a thing to have a low level necromancer ready (I didnt do alignments) that could animate humanoids, because these proved indispensable in getting treasure out of dungeons.
2 – The weight was so much it would crack apart a typical wooden chest, so it had to be put in metal reinforced oaken chests, and even then all of it couldn’t be moved to civilization in one go. He had to leave a lot of the coins behind, in particular the copper coins that were in foreign denomination and effectively worthless in these quantities (see later).
3 – The character that took it out needed a heavy reinforced war chariot to move two chests, and then had to ride slowly with four warboars. The trip had to wind on the even paved roads around the land and took days.
4 – The character needed about a third of the copper in security, but he had to vouch for that money since the mercenaries only accepted silver or gold. This was an arduous mess of negotiations in itself that took half a session.
5 – Having arrived in civilization the cities moneylenders immediately organized upon hearing rumors of this grotesque quantity of copper coinage, and agreed to take the coppers only at a sharply reduced rate. I don’t remember how much it was, but probably something like one in ten. The city had 250K people, so that would be a massive inflation in terms of coinage. But since these somehow were officially recognized and minted previous dynasty coins, they could still have buying power. The authorities then freaked out, since they didn’t want to price or copper suddenly locally reduced in value, as to trigger copper inflation. Since the city guaranteed a bread price to a copper penny that would have triggered weeks of food instability.
6 – the character was so furious with all this that he rode around the city south gate and said F*** t*** S**t with his war chariot and two giant steel chests full of copper and started throwing it from the coffins. This caused the great copper riots of 1014. It was a true bloodbath. The whole city empties of people who had heard some adventurer was throwing out money. From all parts of the city civilians, soldiers, mercenaries, labourers closed business and went running half mad to the spot where the money was being thrown around. Emptying a large chest of coins apparently takes the better part of a day, so he started in the morning. City guards tried to stop him frantically and were nearly lynched, several guards nearly died. The crowd was insane with bloodluist and greed, and carried bags and bags of coins, were attacked by people coming late. It was a full on riot that lasted to the next days. Nearby outwall houses caught fire and burned down. The king’s legions were called in days later to restore order. The tidal wave of cheap copper caused massive disruption lasting months in the city, rippling back and forth in waves. It triggered halfconsidered emergency regulation that made the problem worse. Women, families, widows and orphans went hungry for weeks.
7 – the character, being an illusionist, had donned the face of a romantic rival in doling out the coins, sensing he might be causing some problems in his actions. That rival was declared a criminal and in absentu sentences to the gallows and it was half a year before that guy could collect proper evidence he was elsewhere. Still dozens of irate local hedge wizards and shamans cast minor curses on figurines (labelled “the copper fiend”) wrought in the image of that otherwise innocent rival, and the compound effect of these otherwise trival curses proved quite an annoyance and triggered a whole arms race of professional cursecasters and players realized the potential of mass casting minor curses on select enemies by the anonymous hordes of minor backalley cursecasters. This over time turned into a cottage industry of “bad karmaists”.