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Old 04-26-2021, 06:31 PM   #11
dcarson
 
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

In one edition at least of Chivalry & Sorcery the money was based on peasant income. A copper was a day, silver a month, gold a year. Helped make class differences easy to see and show just how expensive things like magic were.
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Old 04-27-2021, 08:44 PM   #12
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
It's certainly an interesting concept, a step removed from barter. It ultimately means that, if the party does work for or otherwise engages in trade with such a community, they basically have their payment be in the form of goods and services rather than cash. The advantage (in terms of roleplaying) of such a system over more typical cash economies is the characters need to be clever about what they ultimately leave with - general-use money isn't an option. The advantage over a bartering economy is they don't have to play a fetch-quest to get what they want - the shepherd gives you local currency you can use to buy whatever it is you need (or whatever is more generally fungible in the world at large, if the town doesn't have anything you need), rather than needing to trade the bale of wool he gives you for a crate of eggs that you then trade for a carpenter's services, which you then trade for the armorer to repair your weapons.
This, to my mind, is the main problem with it for standard fRGPs - the same degree of realism that would bring this sort of currency into the game, would tend to imply that there's very little in the community that a passing adventurer would want: any community likely to be host to armourers, swordsmiths and the like is almost certainly at the city level or above and unlikely to be receptive to a local grains scrip.
Also, does anyone else find that there's a feeling of push-back against even as much realism as national currencies in the RPG scene at the moment? Like languages and encumbrance, I get the feeling that immersive currency is being downrated as "not fun"...
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Old 04-28-2021, 04:32 AM   #13
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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Also, does anyone else find that there's a feeling of push-back against even as much realism as national currencies in the RPG scene at the moment? Like languages and encumbrance, I get the feeling that immersive currency is being downrated as "not fun"...
Many settings I've played in go to some effort to avoid the need for players to deal with national currencies. They often have one economically dominant state, and other states that mint to the same standards. Variations I've encountered include:

An empire where copper is unholy. They require you to turn in copper coinage at the border and exchange it for their non-rusting iron. They won't change it back when you leave, but they're happy for you to take their iron coins away, so they circulate in neighbouring countries at parity with copper.

A world where the Church of Mammon effectively controls currency standards. They're in favour of free trade, so all the countries use compatible standards.

Yes, all of these worlds ignore the idea of adulteration of the currency. That's a small thing compared with active gods, magic, and monsters that defy the laws of physics, biology and frequently chemistry.
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Old 04-28-2021, 06:25 AM   #14
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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Yes, all of these worlds ignore the idea of adulteration of the currency. That's a small thing compared with active gods, magic, and monsters that defy the laws of physics, biology and frequently chemistry.
There are countries with adulterated currency in the Forgotten Realms setting, but those are mostly isolationist and backward places whose currency is heavily discounted anywhere else.

Any kingdom or other polity with ambitions of economic power must use currency that temples can certify as containing exactly as much copper, silver and gold as the denomination requires. Otherwise, everyone would refuse to accept payment in their currency.

Of course, the fact that copper, silver and gold are among the materials that are used for magical purposes and that interplanar expeditions can be financed to secure more of them means that their value is fairly stable, as if the price drops anywhere, those who use it for magical purposes will buy it there.
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Old 04-28-2021, 07:16 AM   #15
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

Several times I've run settings with currencies and exchange rates and such like things. I have never had any player enthusiasm for engaging with it the closest I've seen is the arbitrage of the Traveller trade system, and even then the players didn't want to do more than buy low sell high and use that as an excuse to go to the planet where the danger would happen.

Of course, having a single authoritative price list that you can look at during character generation does also make that initial shopping a lot simpler.
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Old 04-28-2021, 07:32 AM   #16
Michele
 
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

Having some commodity money, or representative money covered by commodities, has been common throughout of history - yet the preference seems clear for materials and items that don't spoil that easily. Metals, of course. But also salt, stone, wampums, arrow heads, beaver pelts. Tobacco was the commodity covering some scrips, but it's easier to preserve than grain. And, finally, there were systems in which the representative money was covered by rice or barley - but not necessarily the rice or barley of this year in this small place. On the one hand, the latter variation introduces, in a certain sense, commodity futures... but on the other hand, it protects you from a fire destroying this year's harvest in this one village's granary.

If the trend throughout history has been away from grain-based local currencies, I suspect that there must be good reasons for which the alternative is preferable - so we can't really railroad players into accepting the grain, or the grain-covered scrip.
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Old 04-28-2021, 10:31 AM   #17
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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If the trend throughout history has been away from grain-based local currencies, I suspect that there must be good reasons for which the alternative is preferable - so we can't really railroad players into accepting the grain, or the grain-covered scrip.
Unless the characters control to local economy, they have to play by its rules. Sure, scrip that can be exchanged for - or even coins outright made out of - some desirable, resilient metal might be a better option than scrip that trades for some quantity - or proportion - of grain, but if the place their at deals in the latter, the characters will have to as well.

Of course, if we're going off of history, it appears currencies that base their worth on nothing other than what people decide they're worth (that is, fiat money) are superior to the former options.
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Old 04-28-2021, 11:04 AM   #18
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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If the trend throughout history has been away from grain-based local currencies, I suspect that there must be good reasons for which the alternative is preferable - so we can't really railroad players into accepting the grain, or the grain-covered scrip.
Eh, the problem for PCs isn't that it's grain-backed, the problem for PCs is that it's currency that's really only valid in a small region, so typical mobile PCs will need to either spend it before they leave or convert it into something more transportable (jewelry is a popular option for the latter).
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Old 04-28-2021, 11:18 AM   #19
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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Eh, the problem for PCs isn't that it's grain-backed, the problem for PCs is that it's currency that's really only valid in a small region, so typical mobile PCs will need to either spend it before they leave or convert it into something more transportable (jewelry is a popular option for the latter).
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.

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Many settings I've played in go to some effort to avoid the need for players to deal with national currencies. They often have one economically dominant state, and other states that mint to the same standards. Variations I've encountered include:

An empire where copper is unholy. They require you to turn in copper coinage at the border and exchange it for their non-rusting iron. They won't change it back when you leave, but they're happy for you to take their iron coins away, so they circulate in neighbouring countries at parity with copper.
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...

Last edited by The Colonel; 04-28-2021 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 04-28-2021, 11:58 AM   #20
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Grain-based local currencies in medieval fantasy games

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Unless the characters control to local economy, they have to play by its rules.
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.
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