Precious Metal Ingots

I'm way in the weeds on this one, for which I apologize in advance. I'm working out some stuff vis-a-vis metal, mining, and relative values, and I started looking at ingots, and wondering about their price.

So, precious metal ingots - a load is 2 ingots, 4 stone, 600 GP in value.

A "precious metal ingot", then, is 2 stone (20 lbs), 300 GP in value.

I'm relatively confident Roman ingots were of a good quality, from light research.

Taking the example of a gold ingot, if gold coins were just as pure as the ingots, 20 pounds of them would be 2000 coins, and therefore 2000 GP, more or less - to get an ingot of that weight to value less than the equivalent weight in coins, the ingot itself must be less pure than the coinage.

If 300 GP is an average value for the precious metals (and I'm including copper to drive down the average) the ingots must be around 8.5 times less pure than the coinage.

So I'm confuddled by that - and like I said, I'm way out in the weeds.

what counts as "Precious?"


If it's just gold and silver, a gold ingot would be worth 2000gp and a silver ingot would be worth 200gp.  If we assume that a given precious metal ingot will be silver 17 times for every 1 gold ingot then, on average, a precious metal ingot will be worth about 300gp.


If you add in copper, worth 20gp, the ratio would change further and have a couple possible permutations.  As long as (2000x+200y+20z)/(x+y+z) = 300, you'd have a valid mix.


what counts as "Precious?"


Just this little gold ring I found....why are you asking? ...eyes Jard suspiciously..

Pretty sure it's just the coin metals, with the exception of copper, maybe. I'd expect anything like mithril or adamant or whatever to deserve a new entry. Electrum may be a special case; I believe it's supposed to be an alloy of silver and gold.


If it's just gold and silver, a gold ingot would be worth 2000gp and a silver ingot would be worth 200gp.  If we assume that a given precious metal ingot will be silver 17 times for every 1 gold ingot then, on average, a precious metal ingot will be worth about 300gp.

If you add in copper, worth 20gp, the ratio would change further and have a couple possible permutations.  As long as (2000x+200y+20z)/(x+y+z) = 300, you'd have a valid mix.


Ah, thank you, that's the angle I was looking for.

How much of the relative ratios then are due to rarity, and how much is due to percieved value? No idea.

Aryxymaraki's Mining Rules are what I've been working with. From his tables, chances to find a given vein of metal are as such by depth:

Metal 0-100 feet 101-500 501-1000 1001-2000 2001-3000
Copper 45.00% 25.00% 15% 5% 0%
Tin 15.00% 15.00% 15.00% 15.00% 10.00%
Lead 15.00% 15.00% 15.00% 15.00% 15.00%
Iron 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00%
Silver 5.40% 12.20% 15.60% 19.00% 22.40%
Electrum 3.30% 7.90% 10.20% 12.50% 14.80%
Gold 4.10% 8.30% 10.40% 12.50% 14.60%
Platinum 1.10% 3.30% 4.40% 5.50% 6.60%
Mithril* 0.10% 2.30% 3.40% 4.50% 5.60%
Gemstone** 1.00% 1.00% 1.00% 1.00%


That was sourced from the 2E Book of Dwarves, so not sure how much that follows any real-world ratio.


I personally wouldn't worry about percieved vs. real value.  Gold is of course known for it's worth as a status symbol, but it's actual physical properties, such as not tarnishing, justify its worth. That being said, this might break down in other ways. Gold was not always exactly 10 times the value of silver or 1/10th the value of platinum, but we can ignore that for a moment.

If we assume this mining chart is correct, we don't know what the average/most common depths mined at are, which prevents us from doing a weighted average.  The best we could do is assume all the depths are equally likely, but I have a feeling that would make mithril and other rare metals unusually common.  A pyramid might make sense (out of 2 mines with depths of at least 0-100ft, one will extend up to 500ft, and for every 2 mines extending between 101-500ft, one will continue to 501-1000ft, etc.) but this is still just arbitrary.

I suspect when Alex finally chimes in he will have some real world prevalences of metals in the late antiquity era that justified his 300gp number.


I'm totally lost as to how trading ingots of precious metals is supposed to work. Gold, silver and copper are hard currency in ACKS valued by their weight. 20 stones of gold should be worth 20 stones of gold whether it is in the form of ingots or coins. Coins are just more convenient. (They also provide the state the opportunity to dilute the purity of the metal.) Precious metals might be valued higher than their weight if they are used to construct jewelry or other art objects, but that is due to the skill involved in making such items. If fiat currency somehow made it into ACKS I missed that.

Yet, we have an entry in the trade table for ingots, and I doubt Alex put that in there without some thought. I just can't see what it is, unless he really meant metals other than those used for currency.

If fiat currency somehow made it into ACKS I missed that.

Next time my players have trouble making mercenary payday, I’m going to suggest this. Should be hilarious.

Seems reasonable to me.  Off in the remote edges of the empire, Minington sits upon a mine with such rich veins of precious metals that the demand modifier for precious metals is -2.  In the local area, the metals are plentiful and less valuable, and trying to mint them into coins will get you into trouble with the local authorities. The local towns have all reached an equillibrium point where they similarly devalue precious metal ingots (or perhaps raised minington from even lower depths.)

Meanwhile, far away on the other side of the world, Smithandria has developed a reputation for finely crafted jewelry, that the local and regional nobility nevertheless swallow up, giving the city a demand modifier of +2 for such trinkets, slightly more than the +1 for the precious metals they're made from.  The jewelers, not wishing to miss the opportunity for markup, pay more for precious metals even knowing it's not worth as much as they're paying.  Their goal is to never lack for materials.

Suddenly, however, adventurers show up from far away, laden with precious ingots, and willing to sell them for slightly less than the usual going rate.  The adventurers make money, the jewelers make a larger margin, and the miners in minington have more precious metals than they know what to do with and are happy to trade them away for other goods and services.  It's possible that little actual coins even changed hands, but a series of goods were traded as part of tense negotiations, ala dwarf fortress.

The value of precious metals as a trading good was a problem for me when designing these rules, because the weight of metal is so incredibly less than that of the lesser types.

The fact that it’s possible to create identical loads of gold ingots and silver ingots in them is basically an abstraction, because ACKS by default doesn’t split them up and I felt it was valuable to maintain that simplicity instead of adding a new trade good for each type of metal.

For the same reason, the primary distinction between mine types is their metal-bearing ore mined per week, instead of an actual value difference. In order to maintain mixability and the single trade good approach, all common metals are worth the same per final weight and all precious metals are worth the same per final weight.

If you want to actually be able to differentiate, say, a precious metals load of silver from one of platinum, you’d need to be able to value them differently, which was a step I didn’t want to take. Once that’s done and you have separate trade good entries for each type of metal individually, you’d want to normalize the ore gained per week by metal type (most likely, you’d want to randomize it by mine, reflecting the hardness of stone or any other aspect that would make it harder or easier to extract metal-bearing ore from the surrounding rock), and then you’d have another way to make mines more individualized.

So this is kind of a long-winded way of saying “my rules don’t cover this, we need Alex to tell us why all precious metal ingots seem to be valued the same” :stuck_out_tongue:


I got onto this thread because I've been messing around with Blackmarsh, and I wanted to see if I could tie the collection of viz (as the Wizard of the Isle evidently does) to a mage's expected domain income (that he'd turn around and use on research activities, as that Wizard has no "domain" in the ACKS sense) 

That got me to messing around with your mining rules to see what sort of rarity I'd assign to the substance in different areas in Blackmarsh, and led me down this rabbit hole.

At any rate, the route you took was definitely the right one; it's not really germaine to the experience that the ingots are defined as anything else but a resultant trade good.

Oh, also, since I have you on the horn, I recalled the name of the product that I last saw vis-a-vis mining in D&D, an old Mongoose "Quintessential" product.

The OGL portion of it is here, the Mining chapter specifically:


Neat! A quick look appears that they also started with the CBoD, and expanded it in different directions than I did.

They definitely have better random events than me.

Between the various posts here, I think you've all figured it out.

For simplicity, ACKS coinage is uniform in size, weight, and value for each type of coin. All coins weigh the same, all coins of the same sort are worth the same, and all coins of the same sort trade with each other at a fixed ratio. This is, of course, absurd; history was replete with coins of varying size, purity, value, and exchange ratio - so bewildering as to make it impossible for even experts to agree.

Since weights of precious metal are the fixed unit of value in ACKS, they couldn't be traded using the arbitrage rules in ACKS except insofar as one had a general price level that varied by region. Yet we know from history that the price of gold and silver did fluctuate by region and time. 

The use of "precious metals" as a generic commodity was therefore an abstraction that would allow trading in the currency metals without requiring constant recalculation of the value of currency found as treasure. The ingots are assumed to be a mix of various precious metals, something approaching 75gp, 1500sp, and 39750cp or other combinations. Since it's abstract, a gold-mining region that nevertheless has a high price for precious ingots might be importing silver and copper.

I have never studied the mining system above or in Complete Book of Dwarves to assess how well it would work with ACKS, so I'm afraid I can't comment there. It is true that precious metals in ACKS are worth less than they were in our real world. This was deliberate, because it's more fun to have big dragon hoards, though the differential in value is not so high as in AD&D 1e, where 10gp = 1lb. 

I blame the oddness on a little-known demigod descended from Calefa, the Rornish venturer Bretton Woods. Once one creates a gold standard, all else goes out the window. ;)


On a more serious note, ingots may contain impurities. If fluxes to remove impurities aren't naturally occurring in the area, some of them may not be removed simply because it's more effort than its worth. Copper is rarely found in a pure state (and some of the impurities, particularly arsenic, may cause the ore to naturally form bronze when smelted). If bronze coins are used instead of copper, then tin would also be valuable, since numismatic bronze was often 30% or more tin (tool bronze is usually around 10% tin so it doesn't become too brittle). Silver's also rarely in pure form; ancient silver-producing ores were mostly lead sulfide and lead carbonate. Gold appears in relatively pure forms (and the most common impurities are silver, copper, zinc, and lead), and can be blended with silver to form electrum or copper to form tumbaga.

One unusual ingot that could be added is glass. Before glassblowing became common, it was often formed in ingots and shipped to another location where the ingots would be melted and cast into shape in molds.


Also, at least some coins were more valuable than their metal content - the Roman denarius' worth varied from about 1.5 to 3 times its weight of metal, and the tetradrachm was defined as equal in value, even though it contained less silver. The modern US nickel would be similar, containing roughly 3 cents' worth of metals but being worth 5 cents face value.