On Gold Piece Sizes

Here’s a fun post with links to historical coins, some of which are almost as big as 1/10ths of a pound, some of which are even larger: http://lurkerablog.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/to-haters-of-dds-ridiculous-big-gold-pieces/
Which do y’all value more?

I noticed an earlier post about the issue of weight of coins and that the ratio of the rules of 1/10 lb. was off from historical which would suggest 1/100 lb.
Is this a case where the secret ratio of 1/33 could be applied as a balance between game mechanic and historical basis?

This is an encumbrance question. If in the price list and xp charts 1g whether is 1 gold piece, one silver piece, or one goat is immaterial. Until you get coins to a safe place, it is just another form of treasure. And after it is in a safe place it becomes the standard coin of the realm, whatever that is.
For instance, you could have an empire that is on the silver standard, but but built on the ruins of an older empire that used 1/10 lb. gold coins. those large old coins would be worth x silver pennies if you get it back to a money changer, (depending on the coin’s exact weight, and the money changer’s reaction roll) who will melt it down to make buillon… Once it is in silver, it becomes regular currency and also becomes XP.
I think my ramble is getting at the idea that having big difficult coins is interesting when getting it out of a dungeon, but once you are back in the civilization’s economy clunky currency like that stops being interesting, and is instead just odd.

I started a poll at The Mule Abides: http://muleabides.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/gold-pieces-are-absurdly-huge-do-you-like-it-that-way/
So far folks favor historicity over compatibility in the poll, with a range of solutions in comments.

I dont favor historicity at all. Monopoly would not be a better game if the rules on money read like an actual accountants ledger. I want this game to work with D&D. If the game goes to a silver standard, then XP should be on a silver standard! What ‘historical’ standard is conan’s hyperborea? D&D is closer to a mythical pre-iceage europe, than anything else. Neanderthals, direwolves, and mammoths werent in florentine italy.

I commented on the post on The Mule Abides. The short version is that I don’t care about historicity, but that huge god-sized coins are a little too weird for me to accept them as the standard.

But (1lb/100gp) does mean adventurers are walking out of dungeons with a sack of gold instead of a cart. Thats a little less awesome. An average dragons treasure hoard (30,000gp) weighs 300 lbs. You can haul smaugs thousands of years of accumulated treasure out on a donkey. Just sayin’. Of course if smaug is only 25’ from head to tail, then it works i suppose. The 0d&d dragon is something st. George would have recognized and not the godzilla gamers have come to expect.

Hmm. You put it that way and I might be convinced.

I tend towards historicity in a heavily economically researched game. Or, if carts of treasure are important, use the same prices but make actual gold coins rarer–if most treasure is in the form of one unit lower than expected, the volume of treasure stays the same.
Examples: In other OSR games, an orc chieftain has a bag of 100 gp, weighing 10 pounds. If we want to make coins weigh 100 to the pound, then just give him a bag of 1000 sp, weighing the same 10 pounds.
In other OSR games, the dragon has a hoard of 100 pp, 5000 gp, and 5000 sp, weighing 1010 pounds. For 100 coins to the pound, give the same dragon 500 gp, 50,000 sp, and 50,000 cp, weighing 1005 pounds (I don’t think we need to worry about the last 5 pounds).
Moreover, I find the frequent use of the encumbrance of coins to be pretty lame. The occasional dragon hoard with logistical issues is fun and interesting. And the logistical challenges of getting out the valuable but heavy and awkward marble statue is perfectly standard, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I just don’t see the fun or interest in "every medium big treasure haul has major encumbrance values).
That said, I don’t care much one way or the other–huge god-sized coins are a little weird, but actually only if they’re emphasized. Otherwise, it just becomes a funny thing when someone points it out that’s not actually disruptive to the play experience. And unlike making all of the costs make sense, there aren’t second-order weirdnesses created–you don’t get questions like “how do armorers make a living with these item costs?” So I don’t really have a problem with “we presume a game world that’s vastly more gold-rich than the real world, or at least than real Europe, and so the value of gold is vastly lower, because gold’s value is directly tied to scarcity.”

I value verisimilitude, which doesn’t have to be strictly historical. One hundred coins to a pound seems like very small coins. Moldvay Basic says coins weigh about the same as an American half-dollar (yes, the books gives two different weights), which are about 40 to a pound.
I don’t see how strangely-clunky coins makes hauling heavy coin hordes out of a dungeon more fun or interesting.

Well, as I said the size of coins, and the material they are made of is fluff, and the only aspect of that that really affects gameplay is their weight, and even then only if the DM is using the encumbrance rules.
Tangent: What I would like to be made available is a master price list to be in a single standard coin denomination. Ideally one that does not indicate its composition. for instance for argument’s sake call it the groat. Whatever a groat is, it is worth 1xp.
So it would list a bundle of 6 torches costs .1 groat. a sword costs 50 groats, and citadel costs 1,500,000 groats, etc… This means that in my campaign I can say that a groat is a silver penny, and each silver penny is worth 1 xp. But someone else can say that a groat is slang for a fat gold coin, and is worth 1 xp. And if I want to introduce shillings or guilders as coins in my game, its on me to do the math and the conversion. And also if I am using a published adventure that specifically calls out a chest of 1,000 gold coins, it will be on me to remember to convert it to fewer coins, or silver coins, or accidentally give my players too much XP when they convert them into groats.
But… this can be an appendix or a download. For compatibility sake, the price list in the player’s section in the prices already given (cp,sp,gp,ep,pp) makes the most sense.

Actually this thread question is quite philosophical…
“What is the weight of one experience point?”

In creating a usable, standardized system, you kind of have to go for what is the most basic and can be easily molded to a variety of settings. Having huge gold coins as treasures minted by the gods is a cool concept, and might fit well within the default setting (the Auran Empire), but it’s not generalized enough to make the system work as a whole. You’re kind of stuck with god-like coins that are a real pain to move around.
I think the silver standard is realistic, has elements of historicity, and provides a balance of exchange. Also, gold “pieces” do not have to be minted coins, but can be nuggets of varying shape. In one campaign I played the DM made a clear distinction between minted coins and precious metal “pieces.” Minted coins were of varying sizes, with copper coins being about the size of a US dime, gold coins being the size of a US half-dollar, and platinum coins that same size but twice as thick. Coins other than silver or copper were extremely difficult to come by, but everyone wanted to get their hands on precious metals, which were scarce but could be found in many dungeons. Each of the varying metals had their own weight, copper being the heaviest and platinum the lightest.
With this system I described (or similar ideas about the weights and uses of metals in a realistic historical worldview), currency and as a precious commodity “pieces” of metal in and of themselves, I find 1lb./100gp to be too wide a gap. As far as an encumbrance issue, I appreciate wide gaps in the gaming world as a type of standardization technique, but game play tends to be less immersive in the role (and thus more mechanical) when the PC can reach into a coin purse and retrieve 20,000 gold coins.

I vote for compatibility, and I support ahstrongmorse post (if you want a bigger treasure let them find silver coins… :slight_smile:

Despite my earlier stridency, I am somewhat agnostic, but I stuggle to find the point. What true benefit is gained? Instead of 10gp=1lb=1xp we have 100sp=1lb=1xp.
No change in the xp:weight ratio, merely an extra zero in my book keeping. It’s like a JRPG where people have 1000 hit points and a sword does 100 damage…
Am I missing something? For the sake of historicity, I have to count 325,765 copper peices? If players are always finding stashes of 50,000sp, just skip a needless level of math and write the XP tables in silver–we don’t, because eveeyone tacetly agrees that adding a needless zero to the arithmatic isn’t fun…it’s why I don’t like platinum–needless arithmatic. Nobody want’s to read about a gem worth 33,000 silver–because they’re going to go, “ok, it’s really worth 3300gp”
10gp = 1lb
100sp = 1lb
1000cp = 1lb
Is fine by me. People can run a silver game of small silver coins that doesnt effect, at all, the xp:weight ratio. In fact, adventurer writers can simply say that an orc chieftain has 1000gp worth of treasure and whatever a referee decides to do, however he splits the coins the weight is constant, then it actually doesnt matter what the currency is–players who like heavy detail and book keeping can make spreadsheets of their silver and electrum peices, and players who want a “lite” game can just call the whole treasure pile “gold” and move on.
To me its like the “average profit” ACKs has with merchant ships, those who want to play with fine detail can, and those who just want to know that if I buy a ship, my PC gets 700gp per month in profit can as well. “zooming in” and “zooming out” with respect to level of detail doesnt effect the game.

I agree with Bargle…
The in-game prices are already roughly based on the idea that 1 English silver penny = 1 ACKS silver piece, so converting to a silver standard is fairly easy.

  1. Set the weight of coins at 100 coins = 1lb
  2. Convert all prices into silver at 1:10. For example, a sword costs 10gp. Translate that into 100sp. A peasant’s wage is 3gp per month. Translate that into 30sp per month, or about 1sp per day.
  3. When you give out treasure, do the following:
    a) For each gold piece, give out 10 silver pieces
    b) For each silver piece, give out 10 copper pieces
    c) For each copper piece, give out 10 lead pieces
    d) For each platinum piece, give out 5 gold pieces.
    e) For each electrum piece, give out 5 silver pieces (or use electrum as a weird big coin)

I agree with Bargle, in that a standardized system makes for the easiest way for people to run their own level of detail with regards to economic exchange and experience. People can run their silver standard, just add the extra zero. GMs can dole out XP by pounds of treasure.
Issues like this always make me think of this: TOTALly awesome
EDIT: I posted before seeing Alex’s response. It makes sense to set weight to coin ratio as constant and do the math. It’s an elegant and easy way to handle the xp and encumbrance while avoiding logistical issues about the different weight of metals.

I’m not sure you guys are in total agreement with crux of my argument. I’m proposing that silver coins be roughly 1/10th the size of gold coins. So, 10gp of gold weighs a pound and 10gp of silver (100 silver) also weighs 1 pound. Otherwise no one would ever take copper out of a dungeon!
Why does a peice of silver have to be the same size as a gp? The price of a statue is not determined by its weight in gold any more tha a 10,000gp diamond must weigh 1000lbs! A copper statue and gold statue likewise are not granted worth by weight.
If all coin is 1/100 then the referee who has a fetish for silver penalizes his players as the encumberance:XP ratio is changed, with a constant enc:xp ratio, whatevee ratio ACKs decides upon, then is neutral to the treasure composition and “difficult” treasure is already accounted for in statues, casks of wine, and other “goods” as treasure–for DM’s attempting to challenge their players with resource management of getting 50,000gp of wine out of a crypt (remember goods taken as treasure count as xp), there is no need to make silver and copper difficult as well. Afterall, the penny is smaller than a quarter!

It is my understanding that “worth its weight in gold” is quite literally what is at issue here. When you say that a silver coin is 1/10 the size of a gold coin, you take care of the weight issue (by making weight your constant), but impose a staggering size issue. In this standard, copper pieces are 1/10,000 the size of a platinum piece. That’s pretty impossible, let alone how big the gold piece has to be.
You might be able to wiggle out of that logistic by considering a difference between “pieces” and “coins” (as I’ve seen done before), but that is less generalized and friendly from game to game.
I get what you’re saying about Xgp worth of [treasure], but Alex’s solution (making weight to coin ratio the standard) is a good fix (even if that is a lot of coin to make 1 lb.) because you aren’t bogged down by trying to figure out the discrepancy of sizes. My notion of how a gold statue and copper statue of the same size would be too far off skew in weight would be the result of piece=pound. A penny may be smaller than a quarter, but it’s not 1/10 the weight, or size.

I see your point about copper to platinum, but a copper statue made by a macedonian artisan that we know was presemted to alexander the great (not to be confused with alexander of acks) has a higher “gp” worth than a gold statue of ronald mcdonald made last by some performance artist in new york.