Thursday, January 21, 2010


Campaigns need money. Some sort of standard coin that can be traded goods. You have the old standard copper, silver and gold. If you have played AD&D you will have experienced the dreaded electrum pieces. Then throw in some platinum as the high end coin. I know there were games with brass bits as a level below the copper. Including them in a campaign brings it down to a dirt and scrounging type of world. Which I always like. Being a huge fan of the books of Thieves World anthologies, I always appreciated the squallier of the earlier books (before the Bysib? fish people came in and infused Sanctuary with coins) when dear old Hakiem the Storyteller was peddling his tales for a single copper and being thrilled he could drink for a day when a silver coin fell his way.

Does this make for good adventures? I guess it depends on how you run your campaign, but I always liked the idea of character appreciating a single silver coin. But that is not the kind of campaign I plan to run. Since I purchased a gazillion HackMaster books before the end of last year and all of my gaming group did the same I am running a gonzo style 1st edition Hackmaster campaign with roid rage and a 2 liter and hour addiction to Red Bull. Oh there will be coins. Lots of them. But everything will cost them players also. Oh yes, they will pay.

Still I need to make a comprehensive currency system. Even though the adventuring style will be gonzo the nobility won't like it if you mess up their monetary system. Unless the players want to bring down the wrath of Baron St. Kick Butt upon their heads they better tow the line. Here is what I came up with. I think it's simple and playable.

There are 4 coin types, the copper farthing (CF), the silver penny (SP), gold penny (GP), and gold crown (GC). The common coin is the silver penny. This money system is based off of the one Rob Conley uses.

1/4 SP = 1 CP
32 SP = 1 GP
320 SP = 1 GC
*I had a table here but it got all messed up in translation.

The copper and silver coins are minted by local nobility while all gold coins are created by the royal mint. The weight of all coins is monitored by the royal tax collectors. This monitoring is completed once per year during the royal tax collection.

It is illegal to exchange unsanctioned monies. Coins from other kingdoms or raw precious metals must be turned into sanctioned money changer to be exchanged for official coinage. These sanctioned money changers are permitted to set their own rates, but may not exceed 20%.

Non Sanctioned Monies
• If someone is caught non sanctioned monies, the person will be escorted to the money changer and have all coinage and precious metals exchanged. Then a fine will be determined local magistrate.
• A second offense, all illegal coinage and precious metals on the person will be confiscated. On top of this they will have to stand before the local magistrate for a fine to be determined and the possibility of being placed in the stockade.
• A third offense the person will be immediately jailed for a period determined by the magistrate. All possessions and properties will be forfeited. At the end of the person's incarceration they will be branded as a criminal and released.

• This is a serious offense. The first offense the person will have his right arm cut off at the elbow. All possessions and properties are forfeit. And the person will be branded as a criminal.
• The punishment for a second offense is hanging.

• A person caught shaving coins will be fined 10x the number of coins shaved.
• The second offense will be increased to 20x the number of coins shaved and be branded as a criminal.

Please feel free to let me know who you do your money system. This is somethign I whipped up last night and thought I would throw it out there for comments. I am sure there are things I've forgotten or that someone has a killer idea I could use.


  1. Ha ha ha. I am importing Rob's system of coinage as well into my Isles of Emmon Castles & Crusades campaign.

  2. I love wacky currency systems thought the primary one I use in my campaign is decimal, some of the countries use variants. Have fun with it!

  3. How would you handle it if the PCs found some old coins that were valuable to a collector? Is selling him the antique coins going to get them in trouble?

    Or is this strictly for using the coins as money rather than as objects?

    It seems like a draconian and insane thing to say that possession of a French coin in England, for example, would merit seizure of all precious metals.

    If these are in, you might want to add a penalty for bringing valuable metals out of the country. Either a fine, or a tax, or make it illegal like smuggling.

    And of course historically and today the King views all treasure found in lands he claims to be owned by the Crown. The treasure finder may get paid a small reward, but the treasure itself goes to the government.

    Beware putting in laws that the players will need to break just to play the game, though, unless you want them to break other laws just because it can't get any worse for them!

  4. Outdated now but I wrote Gold & Monetary systems.

    One of the best "tricks" I've picked up is to provide a (fairly) simple exchange rate to modern currency. Which makes it easy to reason about values of things and price things on the fly.