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Old 04-28-2021, 12:44 PM   #21
ericthered
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

I've seen my players do extensive bartering with grain... but in that game they controlled the granary, and they were literally trading the grain without using an intermediary script.



Money can be used to add local color, but conversion rates are often a pain. Usually its a good run of currency if the main currency actually gets used by players, as opposed to referring to everything in gurps bucks, and those usually need a simple divisor or multiplier.
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Old 04-28-2021, 12:55 PM   #22
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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That and its time limited - if you don't spend it today, you can't come back next year and spend it then on your next trip through.
Of course, the time when it's worth the most - right after harvest - is also when you're going to have a lot more goods and services available than is typical for a farming town, thanks to all the merchants that are going to come for the post-harvest markets.

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I'm also not sure if it's a system thing or a cultural one - there's an old quote that says that in D&D five barrels of tallow is set dressing, whilst in Harnmaster it's the treasure...
Clever players of the former can often treat it like the latter, resulting in much more monetary gain from a quest than the GM (or module designer) intended. The famous story is about doors made of an incredibly resilient and/or magic-proof material to force characters to get in the way the module designer wants them to, and the PC's opting (once they find a way in, probably still in a manner the designer didn't anticipate) to remove the doors and take them back to town, selling them for more than the dungeon's treasure was worth.

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Not necessarily. They can vote with their feet and go to a locality with better money. PC groups usually possess exceptional mobility compared to common peasants.
Depends on the scope of the campaign. In a full-on sandbox setting, PC's can probably restrict themselves to dealing exclusively with communities who use the type of currency the PC's prefer (although they may need to actively reject work - "Yes, I know you've traveled far from home looking for heroes to deal with your goblin problem, and I know you're willing to pay handsomely, but your people don't use real money. Find someone else"). For something more plot-driven, characters will have to deal with the economic realities of wherever the plot takes them. Of course, unless you already know your players would enjoy such a diversion, it's best to talk to them before putting something like this into play - it would be rather annoying to spend time developing such an economic system only to have the PC's completely bypass it, and arguably worse if you force your players to slog through a system they hate.
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Old 04-28-2021, 08:17 PM   #23
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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Of course, the time when it's worth the most - right after harvest - is also - "Yes, I know you've traveled far from home looking for heroes to deal with your goblin problem, and I know you're willing to pay handsomely, ").
The thing is there is no such thing as "handsome" payment in a medium that's poor in exchangeability, durabiity and portability. You could be paid more in grain than you could carry, comsume or that would last through the winter but what good is that to your PC?

No PC wouldd o this because grain money is as good as gold money. It plainly isn't. PCs who rescue the villagers in exchange for low level room and board and being paladin-like and not satisfying theri greed.
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Old 04-28-2021, 09:46 PM   #24
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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The thing is there is no such thing as "handsome" payment in a medium that's poor in exchangeability, durabiity and portability.
Sure there is. If you, say, own a riverboat, getting ten tons of grain that you can take down river and sell is perfectly valuable. Most PCs don't have a real way of making use of large amounts of trade goods, though.
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Old 04-28-2021, 09:54 PM   #25
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Sure there is. If you, say, own a riverboat, getting ten tons of grain that you can take down river and sell is perfectly valuable. .
Notice how you made the commodity more portable?

You might be overestimating medival grain prices too.
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Old 04-29-2021, 12:14 AM   #26
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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. Of course, unless you already know your players would enjoy such a diversion, it's best to talk to them before putting something like this into play - it would be rather annoying to spend time developing such an economic system only to have the PC's completely bypass it, and arguably worse if you force your players to slog through a system they hate.
That's what I meant when I wrote that I, the GM, wouldn't railroad the group into this. I will consider what my players prefer.

Sure, the PCs can't choose what money is in their world; but I, the GM, can. And our real world evolution of what money is seems a good indication of what my players will prefer.
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Old 04-29-2021, 06:01 AM   #27
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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Depends on the scope of the campaign. In a full-on sandbox setting, PC's can probably restrict themselves to dealing exclusively with communities who use the type of currency the PC's prefer (although they may need to actively reject work - "Yes, I know you've traveled far from home looking for heroes to deal with your goblin problem, and I know you're willing to pay handsomely, but your people don't use real money. Find someone else").
In my experience, PCs don't need to refuse to deal with people who only have coinage of dubious value, due to adulteration. They just treat such coins as commodities, not currency, and offer to purchase them at discounted prices to account for the risk of adulteration.

Anything that contains precious metals is potentially valuable, it's just not necessarily trusted enough to be accepted as currency anywhere that the ruler's writ doesn't run.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:28 AM   #28
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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In my experience, PCs don't need to refuse to deal with people who only have coinage of dubious value, due to adulteration. They just treat such coins as commodities, not currency, and offer to purchase them at discounted prices to account for the risk of adulteration.

Anything that contains precious metals is potentially valuable, it's just not necessarily trusted enough to be accepted as currency anywhere that the ruler's writ doesn't run.
Yeah, I don't expect many players to seriously have their characters reject a quest just because it pays out in a marginally-less-convenient form. Grain scrip is different from precious metal coinage, however - where a pound of silver coins from Whereverland is worth less in Someplaceelse, a pile of Grain Notes from the Free City of Farmersrule may well be worth nothing in both of the previous nations. At best, you might be able to find a merchant who is going to be traveling to Farmersrule soon, but he probably isn't going to give you a very good exchange rate. That said, you can probably find plenty of things in Farmersrule to buy with that scrip, between the goods and services already available and from trading with the merchants there for the post-harvest markets. I certainly could see the characters negotiating for a higher reward to make up for the inconvenience, however, or even accept a bit less of a reward if they can get it in a more convenient form ("This kinda job, now, it would usually run you about 5 Someplaceelse Sovereign gold pieces. The problem is, you're paying in Farmersrule Grain Scrip, and that ain't so easy to trade for us adventurers. I checked with the merchants here, and it looks like your scrip's currently trading for about 20 notes for a Sovereign worth of grain, so this job'll cost you 130 notes. If you can get ahold of some Sovereigns, though, I'll give you a discount - 30 notes off the price for each Sovereign").
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Old 04-29-2021, 04:49 PM   #29
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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The famous story is about doors made of an incredibly resilient and/or magic-proof material to force characters to get in the way the module designer wants them to, and the PC's opting (once they find a way in, probably still in a manner the designer didn't anticipate) to remove the doors and take them back to town, selling them for more than the dungeon's treasure was worth.
I've done that. I'm sure it wasn't the only case, but it was fun.

One that was even more amusing was an AD&D game where a vast treasure was all in copper coins. This was intended to annoy us, and it did, but we removed it anyway, and then kept quiet about it for a while. Then we sold it as bulk refined copper, by weight, and got about twice the coinage value, because that DM didn't check his arithmetic.
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Old 04-29-2021, 05:00 PM   #30
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

Mind you, those of us who are both grogs (or just like old movies) and Kurosawa fans (might be the same thing these days) will recall that the Seven Samurai were paid in actual rice... and come to think of it, people taking advantage of "heroes" by paying them with something less than convenient is a trope as well isn't it?
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